Ravel: Sheherazade (CD review)

Also, Debussy: La damoiselle ellue; Britten:  Les illuminations. Sylvia McNair; Susan Graham; Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Philips 289 446 682-2.

The three song cycles assembled on this 1999 Philips release are voluptuous and sensitive, even if the musical setting for Britten's collection of short poems is in a somewhat less ethereal world than the other two.

The highlight, as one might expect from its greater popularity, is the opening composition, Maurice Ravel's Sheherazade. Inspired by the impressionism of Debussy, Ravel's Sheherazade inhabits a far different landscape than Rimsky-Korsakov's earlier, more literal series of tone poems. The Ravel is all shapes and shadows and sinuous lines.

Debussy's early piece La damoiselle ellue is likewise more figuratively evocative than literal. It is based on the verses of British poet and illustrator Dante Gabriel Rossetti describing his painting of "The Blessed Damozel," and adds to the mix a chorus with soprano narration. In some ways it is more lyrical than the Ravel and equally atmospheric.

Sylvia McNair
English composer, conductor, and pianist Benjamin Britten's Les illuminations is the newer of the three works, the composer having completed it in 1939, based on poems by French poet Arthur Rimbaud. It is the most eclectic of the written compositions represented here, and, appropriately, the musical accompaniment is the most varied, from serene and seductive to almost raucous by turns. To suggest that all of this music is quite sensuous and sexual in nature would be an understatement.

American opera and Broadway soprano Sylvia McNair sings the title roles expressively yet without fuss. They are reasonably straightforward renderings that allow the songs to breath in their own right. Some listeners may prefer more dramatic, perhaps even more sensitive, readings, but no other interpretation, I'm sure, captures the simple beauty of the poetry any better than these. Maestro Seiji Ozawa's accompaniment, likewise, is unobtrusive, serving only to reinforce the mood and never drawing attention to itself, while the Boston Symphony play with a velvety smoothness.

The Philips sound is slightly dark, with Ms. McNair clearly at stage front. There is good orchestral depth, a sometimes soft high end, and little need for extended dynamic impact or a sweeping frequency range. The recording does not sparkle, but it doesn't need to. The singing and phrasing sparkle enough.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Walton: Viola Concerto (SACD review)

Also, Partita for Orchestra; Sonata for String Orchestra. James Ehnes, viola; Edward Gardner, BBC Symphony Orchestra. Chandos CHSA 5210.

Welcome today a guest reviewer, Karl W. Nehring. For over 20 years Karl was the editor of "The $ensible Sound" magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I hope he'll become a regular contributor to "Classical Candor" as well, and I have asked him to give us a little background on his approach to music reviewing. This is what he had to say:

"Thanks, John, for the invitation to contribute to 'Classical Candor,' a truly enjoyable and highly reliable guide to classical music recordings. I will try my best not to diminish your achievement! I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, 'classical' especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me – point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer." 

Sir William Walton (1902-1983) was a prolific British composer of symphonies (but only two), concerti, and film scores who seems to have been largely overshadowed by other Brits such as Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Britten, and Holst. Indeed, although I have a fair number of recordings of Walton's music in my CD collection, I must confess that I seldom play any of them – yes, when I am in the mood for some British music (which happens often), I am much more likely to play the music of Vaughan Williams, Arnold, Elgar, Britten, Holst, Finzi, Delius, et al.

Because I am such a big fan of British music, when I came across this new Chandos release at my favorite library, I dutifully plucked it from the rack, mostly curious about Walton's Viola Concerto, which I could not recall ever having heard before. Looking at the back cover, I was surprised to see that the piece was first composed in 1928-29 and then revised in 1936-37 and then yet again in 1961. Digging into the liner notes while still standing around at the library, I discovered that Walton composed the piece at the suggestion of the conductor Thomas Beecham. It was targeted for viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis, who declined to play it because it sounded too modern for his sensibilities. Interestingly enough, it was none other than the composer Paul Hindemith (also a violist) who then took up the score and gave the premier performance in 1929.

James Ehnes
Having read a little about the piece I was frankly not expecting to be all that impressed, but still, I was curious enough to check the disc out, bring it home, and fire it up. (My remarks below are based on listening to the two-channel CD layer of this Chandos SACD.)

From the opening notes, I was immediately entranced. Ehnes's viola just seems to sing above the sensitive accompaniment of the orchestra. The overall mood of the opening movement is thoughtful, but there are moments of energy counterbalanced by moments of quiet introspection, with the sound of the viola at times being augmented by the woodwinds. The second movement is more lively and energetic, with more input from the brass section of the orchestra. The third movement returns to a more thoughtful, sometimes introspective mood, ending with a satisfyingly tranquil conclusion.

The other two pieces in this program also proved to be quite satisfying. The Sonata for String Orchestra is a transcription made by Walton and Malcolm Arnold of Walton's String Quartet in A minor. It is a lyrical piece, quite enjoyable. Hearing it has made me want to track down the original quartet version.

The program closes with the Partita for Orchestra, composed in 1957 and dedicated to George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. As you might expect, it is a more flamboyant piece, leaping out of the gate with a burst of energy and at times producing bass sounds that will give your woofers a workout.

The sound quality of the recording is warm and clean in the Chandos tradition. Overall, then, this release is a winner both musically and sonically that should bring enjoyment to many a listener.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 27, 2018

Jazz at Princeton University Opens 2018-2019 Season: Nov. 14-May 11

The 2018-2019 Jazz at Princeton University season under the direction of Rudresh Mahanthappa presents a dynamic roster of guest artists including trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalist Nnenna Freelon, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington alongside student ensembles led by faculty members Mahanthappa, Trineice Robinson-Martin, Darcy James Argue, Jay Clayton, and Matthew Parrish.

Highlights include performances by student groups joined by guest artists including Blue Note Records trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, legendary vocalist Nnenna Freelon, and Grammy winner and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. In April, Jazz at Princeton will present Princeton University's first-ever outdoor Jazz Festival.

"This year's Jazz at Princeton program is going to be extraordinary," says Mahanthappa. "With the contribution of so many of jazz's most articulate voices – both as guest artists and ensemble leaders – we are thrilled to offer performances that will engage, inspire and entertain students, educators and the community at large.  I am also excited that we'll be hosting our first outdoor jazz festival."

Jazz at Princeton's six major student ensembles include the Creative Large Ensemble directed by Darcy James Argue, Small Groups I and A directed by Mahanthappa, Small Group X directed by Matthew Parrish, the Jazz Vocal Collective directed by Trineice Robinson-Martin, and the Vocal Improvisation Ensemble directed by Jay Clayton.

For complete information, visit http://music.princeton.edu/current-students/jazz-princeton-university

Also, The Richardson Chamber Players, Princeton University Concerts' resident ensemble of performance faculty, distinguished guest artists and supremely talented students, offer a Sunday afternoon concert of mixed chamber works on November 11, 2018 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

Tickets are $15 General/$5 Students, available online at princetonuniversityconcerts.org, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at Richardson Auditorium.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Introducing Vocal Currents...Young People's Chorus
"Vocal Currents: Music in our Changing World" reimagines and redefines today's music by bringing YPC's young singers together with composers to spark their visions and imaginations to create the music of tomorrow. Vocal Currents launches with Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez conducting YPC in eight 2018 YPC commissions and a choral arrangement of a 2010 work.

Vocal Currents: Music in our Changing World
November 3 at 3:00 p.m. -  Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center, NYC

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

American Classical Orchestra Presents Imperial Haydn
On Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 8:00pm at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC, American Classical Orchestra (ACO) presents "Imperial Haydn," with guest soloist Aisslinn Nosky (violin) and ACO principals Marc Schachman (oboe), Andrew Schwartz (bassoon), and Myron Lutzke (cello). Along with Haydn's "L'Impériale" (No. 53), the program also features his Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat major and a rare performance of Kalliwoda's Symphony No. 5 in B minor.

The orchestra's current season includes two more concerts at Lincoln Center: Joyous Bach, featuring ACO principal flutist Sandra Miller and The ACO Chorus (Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 8:00pm); and Beethoven's Eroica, a performance of the composer's monumental Symphony No. 3, preceded by his Coriolan Overture (Friday, May 17, 2019 at 8:00pm). In addition, ACO is presenting two salon concerts at landmark New York City venues: Bass (Thursday, January 24, 2019) a revelatory look back at the instrument's role in classical music, with ACO principal bassist John Feeney; and "A Ladies' Journey 1876" (Thursday, June 6, 2019), an evening of 19th century parlor music with soprano Christina Kay, Alex Cook on horn and Gwendolyn Toth on fortepiano.

For more information, visit www.aconyc.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Musica Viva NY Commemorates 100th Anniversary of WWI Conclusion
Musica Viva NY commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with a program entitled the "End of the War to End All Wars" on Sunday, November 11 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church, NYC.

The concert features mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever and the Musica Viva NY Choir led by Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez Valdez performing works by composers directly affected by World War I, including Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Holst's Ode to Death. Also on the program is a NY premiere for choir and chamber orchestra based on texts by World War I poets composed by Joseph Turrin, co-commissioned by Musica Viva NY, the New Orchestra of Washington, and the Washington Master Chorale.

Tickets, priced at $40, are available by visiting musicaviva.org/tickets or can be purchased at the door. For discounted pricing, please visit musicaviva.org for details.

--Will Albach, Morahan Arts and Media

NYFOS Opens 2018-19 Season with Celebration of W.C. Handy and the Birth of the Blues
New York Festival of Song--the "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)--opens its 2018-2019 season by delving into the world of W. C. Handy, often referred to as the "Father of the Blues," and his vast influence as a prominent African-American composer and publisher in the early 20th century.

The concert takes place at Merkin Concert Hall, NYC, on Wednesday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m.

For complete information, visit http://nyfos.org/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
On Site Opera (OSO) will present Gian Carlo Menotti's holiday opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen December 6-8, 2018. In partnership with Breaking Ground, New York City's largest provider of permanent supportive housing for the homeless, performances will feature a chorus made up of community members who have experienced homelessness.

Tickets will be free, part of OSO's "Opera Free For All" initiative, though the company asks that all attendees bring a small donation of non-perishable food items, to be given to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

December 6 & 7, 2018 at 7:30pm
December 8, 2018 at 2:00pm & 6:00pm
Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
296 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

For more information, visit https://osopera.org/productions/amahl/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Music in our Changing World
Don't miss "Vocal Currents," the newest commissioning series from Young People's Chorus of New York City: Saturday, November 3 at 8:00 p.m., at the Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center, NYC.

"Vocal Currents: Music in our Changing World" reimagines and redefines today's music by bringing YPC's young singers together with composers to create the music of tomorrow. Tickets on sale now at KaufmanMusicCenter.org: $25 general admission | $15 students.

For more information, visit https://ypc.org/event/vocal-currents-music-in-our-changing-world/

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Saint Thomas Church Announces Jeremy Filsell as New Organist and Director of Music
The Rector, Wardens and Vestry of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue announce that Dr. Jeremy Filsell has been called as Organist and Director of Music to succeed Daniel Hyde who is returning to the prestigious King's College, Cambridge in the Spring of 2019.

As a U.S. citizen and a British subject, Jeremy is uniquely placed to lead the finest professional choir of men and boys in North America, whose life owes much to the great English choral tradition since T. Tertius Noble was invited to found the Saint Thomas Choir School in 1919.

"I am very excited to welcome Jeremy to join a hard-working team at Saint Thomas Church and to build on the great legacy of his predecessors.  Jeremy not only has an international reputation on the organ, but is also passionate about music changing peoples' lives, and I know how much he is looking forward to leading our Choir as its unique Choir School celebrates the centenary of its founding," said the Rector, Canon Carl Turner.

For more information, visit http://www.jeremyfilsell.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

WMI Presents NY Debut of Balkan/Classical Duo Aritmia
World Music Institute presents two celebrated instrumentalists who ruminate on their common roots and love of traditional Balkan and classical music with original works and arrangements of Erik Satie, Manuel de Falla, and the mournful music of sevdah—sometimes called 'Bosnian blues.' Known for their sheer virtuosity combined with a blend of improvisation and jazz with their sound, they are able to create powerful, distinct sound-worlds through their own compositions as well as their own arrangements of folk and classical works.

Bosnian-born Merima Kljuco is one of the world's finest concert accordionists. She is a frequent guest soloist with orchestras including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Holland Symphonia, and has worked with internationally renowned artists and ensembles such as Theodore Bikel, MusikFabrik and the Schönberg Ensemble.

An acclaimed guitarist of Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian origins, Miroslav Tadic has performed and recorded with luminaries such as Terry Riley, Plácido Domingo, Wadada Leo Smith, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo. He has also recorded duo albums with such luminaries as guitarists Vlatko Stefanovski, Dusan Bogdanovic, vocalists Teofilovic brothers, and saxophonist Peter Epstein, and he is on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts.

Saturday, November 17, 2018
Doors, 7 p.m.
Show, 7:30 p.m.
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway, NYC

For more information, visit http://siteline.vendini.com/site/worldmusicinstitute.org/aritmia

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Meet the Juilliard Grads in "Vivaldi the Teacher"
Meet the Future of Period Perfomance!

November 7-11, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra welcomes three recent graduates of the Historical Performance program at The Juilliard School. Violinist Alana Youssefian (Class of 2018), oboist David Dickey (Class of 2016) and cellist Keiran Campbell (Class of 2017) have all been instructed by PBO musicians during their studies. Now, they are coming to PBO to reunite with their former teachers Elizabeth Blumenstock, Gonzalo X. Ruiz and Phoebe Carrai to perform Vivaldi double concerti in "Vivaldi the Teacher."

PBO is pleased to introduce you to our November Guest Artists in the following videos.

Alana Youssefian performs Bach's Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003 (Bach):

David Dickey performs Pierre Danican Philidor's Cinquieme Suite:

Keiran Campell performs Bach's Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major BWV 1012:

For more information and tickets, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/vivaldi-teacher/

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale

The Crypt Sessions Presents Thibaut Garcia on November 14
Unison Media's acclaimed concert series The Crypt Sessions continues its third season on November 14, with French/Spanish guitarist Thibaut Garcia, performing a program of music composed and inspired by Bach - centering around his towering Chaconne, and also including music by 20th Century composers Heitor Villa-Lobos, Agustín Barrios Mangore, and Alexandre Tansman. The program stems from Thibaut's new Erato album "Bach Inspirations," which was released October 5.

The young guitarist spent six months touring the U.S. in 2016-17, playing over 50 dates across the country while witnessing a period of profound social and political change.

Wed, November 14, 2018
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST
Crypt Chapel of The Church of the Intercession
550 West 155th Street
New York, NY 10032

For complete information and tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-crypt-sessions-thibaut-garcia-november-14-tickets-51340333319

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (CD review)

Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Decca Originals B0006627-02.

There was a time year ago that I had almost given up hope the major classical record labels were going to remaster and reissue any more of their back catalogue in audiophile or near-audiophile editions. Production of EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century," DG's "Originals," and Decca's "Classic Sound" had begun to slow down precipitously by 2006. But then Decca came back with a series of reissues in 96kHz/24-bit remasterings they called "The Originals," presumably taking the nod from their former rival, DG, and now stablemate at Universal Music.

Among the first releases in Decca's "Originals" series was the late Neville Marriner's 1969 Argo recording (issued in 1970) of Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with violinist Alan Loveday and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. And I'm so glad that Decca not only remastered the recording in their most modern technology but included a front picture of the original Argo cover as well. Not only is it appropriate, it reminds me that I wasn't imagining things in remembering that in their beginning the Academy used hyphens in their name. I often still do, regardless of how they punctuate it now. Anyway, another retro thing the new Decca reissues do is embellish the top of each "Originals" disc with a replica of the old LP. In other words, the CD looks like a miniature vinyl record.

Sir Neville Marriner
It seems as though I have so many Four Seasons in my collection and so many that pass through the house for review that the only time I get a chance to listen to Marriner's performance is when a new edition of it comes along. Then it reminds me just how good it is. The last time was in the late Nineties when it appeared as a "Penguin Classic."

Years ago I included the Marriner recording in a survey of The Four Seasons, and I used the word "surrealistic" to describe it, a term suggesting the interpretation's imaginative touches. I'm not sure it's actually a compliment, but it seems appropriate. Marriner's views of the individual tone poems are highly evocative, as they should be, and are characterized by considerable polish, subtle embellishments, and sometimes dramatic shifts in tempo and dynamics. The fast movements are lively, often sparkling, and the central, slow movements are graceful and refined. However, it is those dynamic contrasts that stand out. The disc has had me jumping for the volume control on more than one occasion over the years. I couldn't say whether Marriner had a really precise control over his Academy musicians (likely), or whether the balance engineer did some tweaking of the dynamics after the fact (also possible), but the results are both startling and pleasant.

Yes, the sound is agreeable, although perhaps not the epitome of transparency. Still, it is warm and smooth. The new mastering seems to add a touch more clarity in the midrange, a bit more body in the upper bass, and, more important, eliminates the slightly sour overtones I remember hearing in its first CD rendering in the early Eighties.

Now, to make a good thing even better, Decca coupled The Four Seasons with three wind concertos that Marriner and the Academy recorded in the mid Seventies. If anything, they sound even better recorded than the Four Seasons, and they almost double the playing time of the disc over all previous editions of Marriner's Four Seasons alone. These added items are the Concerto for Two Oboes in D minor, with Neil Black and Celia Nicklin, oboes; the Bassoon Concerto in A minor, with Martin Gatt, bassoon; and the Piccolo Concerto in C major, with William Bennett, piccolo. Needless to day, they, too, are performed in impeccable style and grace by all parties.

While my tastes have changed somewhat over time, and I now tend to favor the period-instrument recordings by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble (BIS), the English Concert (Archiv), La Petite Bande (Sony), and Tafelmusik (Sony), Marriner's modern-instrument version easily takes its place beside them.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Haydn: Concerti per Esterhazy (CD review)

Violin Concertos No. 1 in C major and No. 4 in G major; Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major. Amandine Beyer, violin; Marco Ceccato, cello; Gli Incogniti. Harmonia Mundi HMM 902314.

There was a time when it seemed that a period-instrument band was performing on every other disc crossing my desk. Maybe it was a passing fad because in past few years I've seen relatively few such recorded performances. So it's refreshing to note they haven't gone away entirely, as evidenced by this Harmonia Mundi release by violinist Amandine Beyer, cellist Marco Ceccato, and the historically informed, period-instrument ensemble Gli Incogniti performing some early works from Joseph Haydn.

Gli Incogniti is a small musical group formed in 2007 to play historically informed performances of mostly Baroque material on period instruments. Their number usually includes about seven performers, although here they are augmented by other performers to double their numbers. (The size of orchestras would increase dramatically over Haydn's lifetime, but the size for which he wrote the concertos on this disc was more in the range of fifteen-to-twenty players.) Ms. Beyer and Mr. Ceccato are members of the original ensemble. The album under review marks their by my count their eighth album.

Amandine Beyer
All three of the concertos on the program date probably from somewhere between 1765-1771, the early classical period. The exact dates are unknown and the approximate dates are educated guesses. Anyway, Haydn (1732-1809) was employed at the time as Kapellmeister by Princes Paul Anton and then Nickolaus, heads of the wealthy Esterházy family. As such, Haydn was in charge of the Esterhazy's orchestra, and he was anxious to impress the princes with his compositional and playing skills. Except for a few miscellaneous concertos for lyre and such that he wrote some twenty years later, it was mainly during the 1760s and early 1770s that Haydn composed concertos for various virtuoso instrumentalists. As his career proceeded, Haydn would increasingly spend his time on the symphony, understandable as he would eventually write 104 of them.

As for the quality of the three concertos, well, there is probably a reason why they have never entered the basic repertoire. This is not to suggest they are boring or trite. Indeed, all three are imaginative and filled with Haydn's usual felicitous touches. It's just that there is little in them that stands out or sets them apart. They are simply good natured, charming, and entertaining. Of course, we also have to remember that they contributed to the early blossoming of the concerto genre, a category that in another quarter century or so would take its place alongside the symphony as a dominant genre of the classical world.

As for the quality of the playing, there is no doubt. Both soloists--Ms. Beyer on violin and Mr. Ceccato on cello--perform splendidly. It is clear that their affinity to this music and their love of it are driving forces in the success of the performances. What's more, it is clear that Gli Incogniti enjoy what they're doing and have done it often enough that it comes through with a precision that does not preclude a joyous spontaneity.

Producer, engineer, and editor Alban Moraud recorded the concertos at the Theatre Auditorium, Poitiers, France in January 2018. Even though the miking distance seems moderate, there is a healthy bloom from the auditorium, helping the sound to appear more lifelike. Yet it does nothing to detract from the detail of the sonics. The solo instruments shine, and the accompaniment is well defined. The stage width is relatively narrow, and the depth is quite good. This is a small group, after all, and their very size ensures a welcome transparency. The balance is about as neutral as one could want, and the whole affair is smooth and comfortable. It's a fine production.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 20, 2018

New Century Presents Anthony Marwood

New Century Chamber Orchestra opens its 2018-2019 season November 1-4 with debut performances by British violinist Anthony Marwood.

A renowned interpreter of contemporary music, Marwood leads New Century as guest concertmaster for the U.S. Premiere of Seavaigers for Violin, Accordion and Strings by British composer Sally Beamish, featuring Scottish accordion pioneer James Crabb in his Bay Area debut. Marwood also takes to the stage as soloist in Concerto for Violin and Strings, 'Distant Light' by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks with Dvorák's classic Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22 rounding off the program.

The program will be performed on four different occasions throughout the SF Bay Area:
Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Friday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Saturday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA
Sunday, November 4 at 3 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael, CA

This season, New Century will offer free admission to its popular Open Rehearsal at 10 AM on Wednesday, October 31 at Trinity & St. Peter's Church, San Francisco.

For more information on New Century, please visit http://www.ncco.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

Third Coast Percussion to Premiere Brand-New Work by Philip Glass
Third Coast Percussion, GRAMMY winners for their 2016 album "Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich," turn to Philip Glass, another composer known for music with repetitive structures, for their latest recording. The centerpiece of the album is a brand-new work by Glass, "Perpetulum," which also gives the disc its title. "Perpetulum" is Glass's first-ever work for percussion ensemble and was commissioned by Third Coast Percussion and a consortium of partners (see below); it will receive its world premiere on November 9, 2018 in Third Coast's home base of Chicago, presented by the Chicago Humanities Festival. Third Coast Percussion will take "Perpetulum" out on tour in the spring of 2019, and the album release is set for March 29, 2019 on Glass's label Orange Mountain Music.

For more information, visit https://www.chicagohumanities.org/events/607-philip-glass-third-coast-percussion/

--Caroline Heaney, Bucklesweet

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Presents "Stars Aligned" at Carnegie Hall
On Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 7:00pm, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presents "Stars Aligned," an exploration of classical works by composers who revolutionized America's collective imagination and cultural heritage through film scoring, at Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. Stars Aligned features works by composers with deep cinematic roots — Nino Rota, Miklós Rózsa, and Franz Waxman.

The unique duo of Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital and Latvian accordionist Ksenija Sidorova joins Orpheus in the premiere performances of Golden Globe, Grammy, and Emmy nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch's Monomachía (Concerto for Mandolin and Accordion) commissioned by Orpheus as part of its American Notes initiative, and a novel rendition of Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor, BWV 1060R. The premiere will be paired with Waxman's Sinfonietta for Strings and Timpani; Rota's Canzona (1935); and Rózsa's Hungarian Serenade, Op. 25 (1945).

Single tickets for the November 10 performance, priced from $12.50 to $75, are available for purchase at the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th and 7th, NYC, can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or by visiting the Carnegie Hall Web site at carnegiehall.org.

The program will also be performed on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 7:30pm at the Weis Center at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA: https://orpheusnyc.org/event/stars-aligned-mandolin-accordion-duo-4/

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 7:00pm at DePaul University in Chicago, IL:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 7:00pm at the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO:

Friday, November 9, 2018 at 8:00pm at the Staller Center for the Performing Arts in Stony Brook, NY:

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Miller Theatre Debut of the Dutch Vocal Ensemble Cappella Pratensis
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts continues its 2018–2019 Early Music series with Cappella Pratensis: "The Josquin Imitation Game."

Josquin des Prez paid homage to his predecessors through the use of imitation. By the same token, subsequent composers played this game as a deliberate tribute, utilizing the same texts, melodies, and other characteristics of his music. The acclaimed Cappella Pratensis, known for their period interpretations, makes their Miller debut with a program anchored by Josquin masterpieces and exploring some of the great polyphonic works of the period by composers who inspired Josquin and those who were later inspired by him.

Saturday, November 10, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
(145 West 46th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, NYC)

Tickets $30–$45; Students with valid ID: $7–$27

For more information, visit http://www.cappellapratensis.nl/ and https://www.millertheatre.com/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Juilliard Grads Face Off with Former Instructors in "Vivaldi the Teacher"
Vivaldi composed his most exceptional concerti to spotlight his most talented students. How apropos to showcase three recent graduates of The Juilliard School's esteemed Historical Performance program, alongside three PBO orchestra musicians--their Juilliard teachers! Watch them "double down" on these Vivaldi double concerti, bookended by sumptuous music by Corelli and Geminiani—including the most famous theme in musical history, La Follia.

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Elizabeth Blumenstock & Alana Youssefian, violin
Phoebe Carrai & Keiran Campbell, violoncello
Gonzalo X. Ruiz & David Dickey, oboe

Wednesday November 7 @ 7:30 pm: First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Friday November 9 @ 8 pm: Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday November 10 @ 8 pm: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday November 11 @ 4 pm: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

All concert tickets available at City Box Office: (415) 392-4400 or cityboxoffice.com.
For complete information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/vivaldi-teacher/.

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Music Institute and Dance Chicago "Duke It Out" December 8
Classical, jazz and dance combine when the Music Institute of Chicago collaborates with Dance Chicago to present a family concert, "Duke It Out!," Saturday, December 8 at 2 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

This Nutcracker performance, curated by Dance Chicago, pairs the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) versions of the holiday favorite, performed by Axiom Brass and Music Institute Ensemble-in-Residence Quintet Attacca. Featured ensembles in past years have included Forum Jazz Dance Theatre, Moscow Ballet's children's cast, The Kate Jablonski Statement, Tapman Productions, Visceral Dance Chicago, Wheatland Dance Theater, and other companies and choreographers participating in Dance Chicago. The performance is a family-friendly 60 minutes, followed by a festive holiday reception featuring refreshments and a photo booth with the artists.

For more information, visit https://www.musicinst.org/news-events/event/2018/8/family-event-duke-it-out

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Announcing Gustavo Dudamel Residency Public Events
Princeton University Concerts is thrilled to announce a comprehensive schedule of public events for Gustavo Dudamel's upcoming residency. Maestro Dudamel will come to campus in three separate visits throughout the 2018-19 season for series of events showcasing his dedication to music's unique capacity to unite people and disciplines, and to serve as a catalyst for social change.

The unprecedented scope of the residency includes concerts curated and led by Maestro Dudamel, numerous community and educational events, and a series of themed talks, discussions and interdisciplinary exhibits exploring relationship between music and the world around us.

The residency concludes with Maestro Dudamel conducting two performances with the Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club, including a newly-announced FREE concert April 27 in Trenton, NJ, and an April 28 "seminario" with hundreds of students from El Sistema-inspired programs across New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region.

For complete information, visit http://www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org/docs/1819_Residency_Brochure_Web_Final_Small.pdf

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Buy One, Get One Free for PBO Sessions: H.I.P. Revolution Nov. 8
From HIP's rebellious beginnings to today, come hear three recent Juilliard grads and their teachers (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra members) in this dynamic evening of discussion, history, and music. Audiences will learn about the history of Historically Informed Performance (HIP) from Nicholas McGegan, Ben Sosland, and Bruce Lamott and experience it for themselves as the musicians perform works by Vivaldi, Handel, Corelli and Geminiani.

Now, you can buy one $25 ticket and get one free! Use discount code: HIP18 at checkout.

Nicholas McGegan, PBO Music Director
Ben Sosland, Director of Juilliard Historical Performance
Bruce Lamott, PBO Chorale Director

For more information, visit https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/ticket/#sections_a0F0H00000Zr8fWUAR

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

JACK Quartet named Musical America's 2019 Ensemble of the Year
JACK Quartet is proud to announce that it has been named Musical America's 2019 Ensemble of the Year. In his tribute article, Allan Kozinn said of the quartet: "This group's fresh, energetic, and stylistically omnivorous approach to the contemporary repertoire makes it a worthy heir to the tradition of new-music quartets that goes back to the Composers Quartet in the 1960s and rivals the Kronos and Arditti Quartets of today...If JACK thought a piece was worth programming, you wanted to be there to hear why."

The announcement precedes the December publication of the 2019 Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts, which, in addition to its comprehensive industry listings, pays homage to each of these artists in its editorial pages. The annual Musical America Awards will be presented in a special ceremony at Carnegie Hall.

For more information, visit https://us15.campaign-archive.com/?u=b46a21e625c2860c04e74e0f9&id=88cf4ec86a and http://jackquartet.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Fifth Graders to Perform Songs They Wrote Themselves
"Be Brave!" and "Just Say Yes!" are two of the rules of collaboration fifth grade students follow when they take part in the Los Angeles Master Chorale's "Voices Within" program. The Fall series of "Voices Within" concerts featuring students performing songs they have written will take place on Wednesday, November 14 at Carlos Santana Arts Academy and Friday, November 16 at Hooper Avenue Elementary School.

The concerts are the culmination of the 12-week Voices Within program that brings three teaching artists--a composer, a lyricist, and a performer--into the schools to introduce the students to music ideas such as pitch, rhythm, and melody, and teaches them how to apply these concepts to songwriting. The students perform their songs for fellow students, teachers, and friends and family. Each school will give two performances.

Carlos Santana Arts Academy
Wednesday, November 14, 9:20 AM & 10:40 AM
9301 Columbus Avenue, North Hills, CA 91343

Hooper Avenue Elementary School
Friday, November 16, 10:00 AM & 11:25 AM
1225 E 52nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90011

For more information, visit http://www.lamasterchorale.org/voices-within

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

The Rubies 2018: Spotlight on Dominique Labelle
Soprano and vocal pedagogue Dominique Labelle feels honoured to receive one of this year's Opera Canada Awards (a 'Ruby'). "It is humbling but heart-warming to be recognised by your country and your peers." Dominique Labelle adds with a wistful grin, "in addition the ruby is my birth stone but I've never possessed one" and laughing adds, "until now that is." Meeting Labelle is like a breath of fresh air. She both reassures and inspires with her uncomplicated but positive approach to life and to her musical vocation. Because in many respects, music is, for her, a vocation.

Montréal-born Labelle comes from a rich musical background. Her ancestor, Louise Labelle, was grandmother of the famous, late 19th-century Québécoise soprano, Emma Albani, and Dominique's major musical influence was her own paternal grandmother, Marie-Flore Labelle. Not only did Marie-Flore sing all the time, but she also collected folk and popular songs. I had the privilege of seeing a beautifully annotated ledger of these songs, supplemented by several cassettes of her grandmother singing them. These treasured possessions are not only souvenirs, but also help explain why music became an integral part of Dominique's life.

For more information, visit https://schwalbeandpartners.com/project/dominique-labelle-soprano/

--Schwalbe and Partners

I-Hao Lee Joins Music Institute's Academy Faculty
The Music Institute of Chicago announces the appointment of noteworthy violinist I-Hao Lee, who joins a group of esteemed faculty members at the Academy, a training center for gifted pre-college musicians. Lee also teaches at The Juilliard School's Pre-College Division and DePaul University's School of Music.

"The Music Institute is thrilled to welcome I-Hao Lee to our Academy faculty," said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. "His achievements as a violin teacher are truly remarkable. I am very impressed with his high energy and gracious collegiality." Lee's active teaching career has culminated in notable achievements by his students, including top prizes at the Queen Elisabeth, Young Concert Artists, Sarasate, Sion-Valais (Tibor Varga), Cooper, and Postacchini International Competitions; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and performances with major orchestras such as the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony OrchestraO and Mariinsky orchestra. Lee has given master classes throughout the U.S., China, and Taiwan and has taught violin and chamber music at Manhattanville College and the Great Mountains Music Festival and School.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 40 and 41 (CD review)

Also, Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Jane Glover, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. RPO 204404-201.

About twenty years ago, seeing the need for good, reasonably priced classical recordings--an area the Naxos label had already cultivated--the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra embarked on a project to provide the public with just such low-cost material. With an initial catalogue of over fifty basic repertoire items on the Intersound/Tring label, the RPO enterprise did very well for itself. Today, one can still find most of the material on other labels, like Planet Media and the RPO's own Masterworks.

Certainly, there was no question about the RPO organization's credentials, the orchestra founded in 1932 by conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. At the time of the project's inception, 1998, it's patron was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth; the President was Lord Menuhin; the Music Director was Vladimir Ashkenazy; the Principal Conductor was Yuri Temirkanov; the Associate Conductors were Sir Charles Mackerras, Vernon Handley, and Gennadi Rozdestvensky; and the Composer in Residence was Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Whew! That's quite an assemblage. The RPO's various recordings selected for initial release were conducted by the aforementioned people, plus by Paavo Jarvi, Mark Ermler, Barry Wordsworth, James Lockhart, Raymond Leppard, Yuri Simonov, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Jane Glover, and others. So you knew going in that this whole venture was of the highest order.

Jane Glover
I sampled half a dozen of the RPO organization's first releases in the then-new series, recorded between 1993-1996, with five different conductors. Of the six recordings, the one I was most fond of and can recommend without hesitation is Jane Glover's disc of Mozart's last two symphonies, Nos. 40 and 41, and the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Leading an RPO trimmed down from its normal complement of ninety-odd players to an ensemble of about half that size, Ms. Glover provides fleet, unmannered interpretations of all three Mozart works. Her tempos are brisk but never breathless; she indulges in very little rubato; and she keeps her dynamic contrasts at a minimum. She sticks closely to the printed page, offering performances more in accord with the practices of period instruments groups than of large, twentieth-century orchestras.

You will find here none of the grand Romanticism or personal idiosyncrasies of a Karajan, Klemperer, Jochum, Bernstein, or Bohm. The readings are more on the order of Daniel Barenboim's old recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra for EMI in the late Sixties. The emotion is derived from the clean, unforced energy Ms. Glover delivers throughout.

The sound, recorded at All Saints Church, Petersham, Surrey in 1993, is likewise clear and straightforward, with good definition and respectable stereo imaging. There is not a lot of weight in the bass, but that may be a boon for audiophiles who often don't want much bass overhang to interfere with the transparency of the midrange, anyway. Besides, this music does not cry out for mass so much as it does for lithe power, which is what the sonics deliver.

The other discs I auditioned in the series included Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, with Barry  Wordsworth, which I thought a notably tidy recording. Bizet's Carmen Suites, with Mark Ermler, was energetic and flavorful, and comes coupled with Grieg's Peer Gynt Suites. Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, with Sir Charles Mackerras, seemed rather pedestrian by Mackerras's standards; its sound is lifelike if a little thin. Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet and 1812 Overtures, with Yuri Simonov, built up a good head of steam in several of the pieces but offered little that I hadn't heard before. And Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, with Mark Ermler, I found a little too slack for my taste, especially when combined with its somewhat thick, muffled sonics.

Overall, though, this was fine line of CDs, one that can provide the occasional gems it would be a shame for one to miss.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Songs for Strings (CD review)

Arranged and conducted by Donald Fraser, English Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra. Avie AV2391.

These days in particular, it's important for any new classical release to offer something unique, something that hasn't been done (much) before. Hardly any record company wants to do another Beethoven symphony; the catalogue is too filled already with great recordings of the basic repertoire. Thus, a new release has to feature a hot, new star; or it has to feature some unusual instrument or instruments; or it has to feature new arrangements of other things, as we have here.

Donald Fraser is an English composer, arranger, conductor, and record producer whose album Songs for Strings features fifteen selections, some old, some new, some well known, others not so well known, rearranged for string orchestra, either the English Symphony or the English Chamber Orchestra. Fraser conducts both ensembles and produces some decidedly winning and entertaining results.

Here's a run-down on the program:
  1. Edward Elgar (1857-1934): The Queen's Hall
  2. John Dowland (1563-1626): And Time Stands Still
  3. Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Ground in C
  4. Antonio Lotti (1667-1740): Crucifixus
  5. Nicola Antonio Porpora (1686-1768): Fugue in G
  6. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Largo from Concerto for Two Cellos
  7. David Fraser: Lord Lovat's Lament
  8. Franz Liszt (1811-1886): Nuage Gris (Grey Clouds)
  9. Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915): 9. Canon
10. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Valse (in the manner of Borodin)
11. Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Pleading
12. Edward Elgar: A Child Asleep
13. Edward Elgar: Queen Mary's Lute Song
14. Donald Fraser: Epilogue for Strings
15. Marin Marais (1656-1728): Sonnerie

All of the tracks are attractive: lush yet transparent and beautifully presented. If there's any drawback, it's that the pieces are rather brief, three or four minutes each at best. The program doesn't attempt to present a unified whole, so it's more like a pop album with a lot of varied material. Not that that's bad; just different for a classical album. Call it a crossover album if you will. Whatever, it makes for sweet, easy listening.

Favorites? Of course. "The Queen's Hall" sets the tone for the program: rich, plush, flowing, and thoroughly delightful. Everything else follows suit. Purcell's "Ground in C minor" has a Pachelbel quality to it, which Fraser alludes to in a booklet note. Lotti's choral hymn "Cruxifixus" translates well to strings.

Donald Fraser
Vivaldi's Largo from the Concerto for 2 Cellos sounds lovely, but we have come to hear so much of Vivaldi's music expanded for larger string forces that it doesn't carry quite the distinctiveness of many of the album's other pieces.

"Lord Lovat's Lament" is an arrangement of a Scottish tune originally written by an ancestor of the present David Fraser. It has an attractive folk-song lilt to it and sounds quite charming in its present incarnation. I kind of missed a bagpipe, though. That arrangement sounds positively ancient compared to the work that follows it, a very modern-sounding, impressionistic "Grey Clouds" by Franz Liszt. While it's probably the second most-unusual track on the program, it's also among the most interesting.

Alexander Scriabin wrote his "Canon" when he was twelve years old. Remarkable, and Fraser's transcription for strings holds up well, perhaps giving it new life. Again, as a contrast, we get Ravel's little "Valse" (in the style of Borodin), an engaging moment that flies by only too fast. Then there are four vocal works--three by Elgar and one by Fraser himself--that sound pastoral and entrancing in their new string attire.

Fraser ends the program with the only non-orchestral track, Marin Marais's "Sonnerie" ("The Bells of St. Genevieve"), a remix for violin and electronics and inspired by the imitation of bells. It was a hit for Fraser back in the late 90's, and it's without question the most singular work he offers, sounding a bit more like Wendy Carlos or Tomita than the other works on the program. Still, it's an attractive piece and holds its own fascinating if disparate pleasures.

Producer Donald Fraser and engineer Simon Kiln recorded the music at Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London in  July 2013 (ECO) and Studio No. 2, Abbey Road in April 2018 (ESO). They recorded the final track on the album at The Barn Studio, Shirland, Illinois in May 2018. Like so many recordings before it made at the Abbey Road studios, this one sounds lifelike and detailed, never dull or veiled. The solid bass line stands out without overpowering the midrange; the highs glisten; and the mids are about as transparent as one could want. It's a bit close, yet a mild studio bloom enhances the overall effect of realism. Although from Avie, it actually sounds like a vintage EMI-London Symphony analogue recording from the 1970's, for me, anyway, a golden age of fine recording. So, yeah, I liked it a lot.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 13, 2018

Nigel North at the House of the Redeemer Opens Tenth Salon/Sanctuary Season

Salon/Sanctuary opens its tenth season with two concerts in the exquisite 17th-century library of the House of the Redeemer. We look forward to seeing you at these paired events, which celebrate Francesco da Milano and Giulio Caccini, (called Il Romano), one composer who concluded the Renaissance and another who ignited the baroque.

A Decoration of Silence
The lute music of "il Divino" Francesco Canova da Milano (1497 – 1543)
Set in the 17th-century library of the House of the Redeemer, this recital by one of the world's leading lutenists transports the 21st century listener into a historical world of sensual delight.

Monday, November 5th, 8:00pm
The Library of the House of the Redeemer
7 East 95th Street, New York City

Tickets and information: https://www.showclix.com/event/NigelNorth

Giulio Il Romano
A Concert for Caccini (1551 – 1618)
Riccardo Pisani, tenor, with Ensemble Ricercare Antico

Thursday, November 9th, 8:00pm
The Library of the House of the Redeemer
7 East 95th Street, New York City

Tickets and information: https://www.showclix.com/event/GiulioRomano

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

St. Charles Singers to Ignite "Candlelight Carols" Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 & 2
The St. Charles Singers have announced details of their 35th annual Candlelight Carols program, the holiday tradition which launched the choir's career in 1984.

The 2018 Christmas program, to be presented in St. Charles, Il., and Chicago, will feature world premieres of two seasonal songs written for the St. Charles Singers by Illinois composers, along with  "engaging arrangements of Christmas classics, some of them new to our repertoire," says Jeffrey Hunt, founder and music director of the professional chamber choir.
The mixed-voice choir of 30-plus singers will present "Candlelight Carols" at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles; 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago; and 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 2, at Baker Church in St. Charles.

For complete information, visit www.stcharlessingers.com

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Join the H.I.P. Revolution at PBO Sessions November 8
You Say You Want a Revolution?

Sixty years ago a revolution began when a group of musicians rebelled against "mainstream" classical music and sparked the historically-informed performance (HIP) movement. They wanted to play on original instruments, in the performance style the composers intended, and give their audience an authentic experience. These rebels put Baroque music on the map and today more students than ever are choosing HIP.

From HIP's rebellious beginnings to today, come hear three recent Juilliard grads and their teachers (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra members) in this dynamic evening of discussion, history, and music. Audiences will hear these musicians "double down" on Vivaldi double concerti and experience music by Handel, Corelli and Geminiani—including the the most famous theme in musical history, La Follia.

For more information, visit https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/ticket/#sections_a0F0H00000Zr8fWUAR

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents Corónica: "An Empire of Silver and Gold"
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) and GEMAS (Gotham Early Music Scene / Americas Society) present Corónica, a collective of musicians from Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Argentina and the US, in "An Empire of Silver and Gold" on Monday, November 5, 2018 at 7:00pm at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church.

Curated and led by Daniel Zuluaga, the program explores 18th-century vocal and instrumental pieces from Latin American manuscript sources, including works by Juan de Araujo, Andrés Flores, Joseph de Torres, & Juan Franzés Yribarren, and others. Zuluaga reconstructs musical archives from cathedrals in Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru, woven together to provide an overview of music in Colonial Latin America.

Additional 5BMF performances in the 2018-19 season include the return of baroque virtuosi, Les Délices, in a new program entitled "Songs Without Words" on February 23 & 24; the award-winning all female Aizuri Quartet on March 22; a collaboration with pianist Martin Katz and the Brooklyn Art Song Society in Hugo Wolf: The Complete Mörike-Lieder on April 28, May 3 and 4; and concludes with two special programs celebrating LGBT composers and librettists in collaboration with the New York Festival of Song and the LGBT Community Center ("The Center") on June 11 and 25.

For complete information, visit http://5bmf.org/

--Will Albach, Morahan Arts and Media

Bach's Magnificat & Reena Esmail's This Love Between Us Performed Nov. 18
When Los Angeles composer Reena Esmail created This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity, she envisioned it as a contemporary counterpoint to Bach's Magnificat, using the same Baroque instrumentation, but seeking new textures to convey a specific message. The two works will be performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, on Sunday, November 18 at 7 PM in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The concert will feature 62 singers, orchestra, and soloists.

This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity for chorus, orchestra, sitar, and tabla was premiered by Yale Schola Cantorum and Juilliard415 at the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York City in March 2017 and called a "powerful piece of music" by Opera News magazine. The work juxtaposes words from the seven major religion traditions of India — Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Islam — to explore how they each approach the topics of unity and harmony. The title comes from the 15th-century Indian mystic saint-poet Kabir, who wrote, "This love between us cannot be annihilated," a phrase Esmail says she felt encapsulated the nature of unity, namely, love and friendship between people.

Sunday, November 18, 7 PM
6PM: ListenUp! Pre-concert talk with Grant Gershon, Reena Esmail, & KUSC's Alan Chapman in BP Hall.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA

Tickets are available now, starting from $39, by phone at 213-972-7282 or online at lamasterchorale.org.

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

"Off to the Hunt" Oct. 19-22
American Bach Soloists will present Bach's wonderfully fun "Hunting Cantata." If you wonder why he wrote it, you might wonder if Bach himself was a fan of the hunt. We know that he frequently accompanied Prince Leopold (when Bach was working at the court of Cöthen) on all kinds of outdoor excursions. But the "Hunting Cantata" was written a decade earlier.

Friday October 19 2018 8:00 p.m.
St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA

Saturday October 20 2018 8:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday October 21 2018 4:00 p.m.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA

Monday October 22 2018 7:00 p.m.
Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For complete information, visit https://americanbach.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2641&ActCode=150129

--American Bach Soloists

WinterMezzo Is Just Around the Corner
The opening weekend of the 2018-2019 WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series is just around the corner! Don't delay - tickets are on sale now! Buy tickets online at http://www.festivalmozaic.com/wintermezzo-2018-19 or by calling our office at (805) 781-3009.

Festival Mozaic's internationally-renowned artists present chamber music concerts in spectacular venues on the California Central Coast in the fall and winter. This season, Music Director Scott Yoo and friends present two weekends of great works of chamber music and offers three sequential ways to connect to the music and the musicians. We encourage you to attend all events in each weekend, and experience the special connections to the composers, the musicians, and this beautiful place.

For complete information on the 2018-19 WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/wintermezzo-2018-19.

--Festival Mosaic

Trio con Brio's 20th Anniversary Continues
The much-admired Trio con Brio Copenhagen continue their twentieth anniversary celebrations from October 7th with the launch of their latest North America tour, to include performances in Texas, Minneapolis, Utah, Oregon, Iowa and Vermont. This coincides with the release, on Orchid Classics, of volume two of the Trio's complete recorded cycle of the complete Beethoven trios. This follows volume one, released earlier this year to fabulous reviews including five stars in Diapason ("A delight.").

The Trio, in demand around the world, will follow this American tour with another in February 2019, after a tour of South Korea in December. This continues the success of last season's U.S. tour, which included an appearance at Lincoln Centre's 'Great Performances' series. The November tour will take in Brookings (OR), San Antonio (TX), Cedar Falls (IA), St Cloud (MN), Minneapolis/St Paul, Salt Lake City (UT) and Burlington (VT).

For more information, visit http://trioconbrio.dk/.

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Quartet 212 Replaces Simón Bolívar Quartet, Dec 2 at Princeton University Concerts
Due to an unfortunate combination of injury and recently escalated geopolitical circumstance, the Simón Bolívar String Quartet, (scheduled to perform at Princeton University Concerts on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 2PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall), is unable to perform as part of the Gustavo Dudamel: Artist-in-Residence series. Maestro Dudamel--making his Metropolitan Opera debut this season--has invited Quartet 212, an ensemble featuring principal members of the MET Orchestra, to replace them.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Robert Trevino Named New Artist of the Month by Musical America
Shortly after his announcement as incoming Music Director of the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, the fast-rising American conductor Robert Trevino has been named Musical America's new artist of the month.

Trevino, who is also Chief Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra, has enjoyed a string of dramatic successes deputising with major institutions, from a Don Carlo at the Bolshoi (that one reviewer called the most exciting American debut in Russia "since Van Cliburn") to, recently, Mahler's Fifth Symphony with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (standing in for an ailing Donald Runnicles) and Mahler's Third Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra (where he deputised at short notice for Daniel Harding).

Read the Musical America new artist of the month article here: https://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?archived=0&categoryid=2&storyid=41247

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Beijing Meets Banjo: Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei in New Concert Series
Princeton University Concerts is thrilled to launch a brand new concert series, "Crossroads," with banjo virtuoso Abigail Washburn and Chinese guzheng rockstar Wu Fei in a program titled "Beijing Meets Banjo."

The duo will launch their visit with a free Public Talk at the Princeton Public Library, moderated by Princeton University Professor Dan Trueman, on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 7PM. The following afternoon, they will participate in PUC's second Live Music Meditation of the season at 12:30PM, an event that is also free and unticketed. The visit culminates at 7:30PM with a concert of musical storytelling that crosses continents to find commonalities.

For complete information, visit http://www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org/.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Wine, Dinner, Conversation and an Interactive Concert with Mosaic Festival Artists
Join us for the first WinterMezzo Notable Encounter Dinner of the season at the historic Park Ballroom in Paso Robles. You'll mingle with friends new and old, including the Festival's visiting musicians, as you sip wines from SummerWood Winery and enjoy delectable bites by Chef Jeffery Scott. Then you'll be seated for a gourmet three-course meal inspired by the fall season, complete with wine pairings. View the full dinner menu by clicking here.

As you are enjoying your dessert and coffee, Scott Yoo and the artists will take you on a one-tour behind two selections from this weekend's repertoire: Rossini's playful duet for cello and bass and Dvorak's second string quintet. The artists will share insights into the composer's life, the historical context of the works, and what to listen for, giving you a richer understanding of the music.

Thursday, October 25 | 5:30 PM
Park Ballroom, Paso Robles, CA
Information and tickets: http://www.festivalmozaic.com/event/2efda3631c7efbaeccd54f16eefdca40

--Marketing, Festival Mosaic

Savage Winter Is Coming
In this fiercely contemporary re-imagining of Wilhelm Müller's poetry cycle Die Winterreise, composer Douglas J. Cuomo and director Jonathan Moore transform Müller's lovelorn winter wanderer into a demon-haunted everyman. The "radiant, communicative tenor" (Opera News) Tony Boutté assumes the existential mantle, giving a searing, intense performance as a man desperate for atonement, while electric guitar (Cuomo), trumpet (Frank London), keyboards (conductor Alan Johnson), and electronics—infused with acid jazz and a punk energy--narrate his delirious fever dream.

October 19
Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston
Houston, TX
Tickets: https://matchouston.org/events/2018/savage-winter

AOP and Pittsburgh Opera present
New York Premiere
November 7 - 10
BAM Next Wave Festival
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
Tickets: https://tickets.bam.org/production/?pid=13695

--American Opera Projects

Cannabich: Symphonies Nos. 59, 63, 64, 67, and 68 (CD review)

Viktor Lukas, Lukas Consort. Naxos 8.553960.

The folks at Naxos seem determined to provide us with every symphony ever composed in the 1700s in their "18th Century Symphony" series, and at a modest price who could not resist wanting them all.
Like other releases I've heard in the line, this one released in 1998 is technically and artistically first-rate. German violinist, composer, and Kapellmeister Christian Cannabich (1731-1798) was yet another contemporary of Mozart who was popular in his day but whose light quickly faded into history. Mozart was apparently fond of Cannabich's composing, and especially of his conducting; he was among the few musicians Mozart praised. Perhaps it's no wonder; Cannabich's music sounds more like Mozart's than some of Mozart's own early works. 

Viktor Lukas
Whatever, the present disc contains five short symphonies, each in three movements and about a quarter hour long. Why Naxos present them in the order they are in is anybody's guess, but they appear on the disc as Nos. 63, 67, 64, 59, and 68. Why not chronological? Who would really care one way or the other?

One is tempted to mix and match the movements to program a new symphony of one's own--a favorite opening Allegro here, a slow Andante there, maybe a zesty Presto from somewhere else. Key changes in the pieces are pretty abrupt, anyway, and there is little or no apparent thematic continuity between movements as they are. (At least not apparent to me.) Nevertheless, the symphonies are all rather enjoyable, played with a lightness of heart by Viktor Lukas and his small Lukas Consort, a group of about fifteen strings and an assortment of solo wind players.

The accompanying booklet note tells us that Cannabich himself led a rather large ensemble as the Director of the Mannheim Orchestra of his day (1774-1798), an orchestra sometimes reaching as many as ninety-five musicians and finally, because of budget restraints, reduced to about fifty-five players. Certainly, the more diminutive size of the Lukas Consort gives them the advantage of clarity, which is enhanced by the general excellence of the Naxos recording.


To listen to a few brief excerpts from this album, click below:

Strauss, R.: Ein Heldenleben (SACD review)

Also, Burleske. Denis Kozhukhin, piano; Marc Albrecht, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Pentatone PTC 5186 617.

I've said this before many times but it bears repeating: I don't think it's such big leap from the heroic swagger of Franz Liszt's Les Preludes to the heroic swagger of Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben. Or from Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben to Erich Wolfgang Korngold's The Sea Hawk. Or from The Sea Hawk to John Williams's Star Wars. All composers owe something to those who went before them, and Strauss's Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life") was a natural step in the progression of the tone poem.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949), German composer and conductor, wrote Ein Heldenleben in 1899 as a mock autobiography, a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait. The composer was only thirty-four years old when he wrote it, proving his self-confidence in writing a musical autobiography at so early an age. Mostly, however, he seems to have composed it to defend himself against his critics, whom he silences through the music. In response, many of Strauss's critics continued their attacks on Strauss, saying his music was indulgent and narcissistic.

Whatever, Strauss divided Ein Heldenleben into several parts describing the various stages in the artist's life. The first segment, "The Hero," describes Strauss himself and does so on a big, swashbuckling scale. Maestro Marc Albrecht handles it in fine if slightly perfunctory style. In other words, I would have liked more swash in that buckle. If we see the opening movement as setting the tone for the composer lampooning himself and his critics, it could have benefited from more juice doing it.

Next, the music turns to "The Hero's Adversaries," obviously his critics, where we hear them squabbling among themselves in amusing fashion. Following that is "The Hero's Companion," his wife, defined by the violin. Under Albrecht the adversaries seem somewhat complacent, but the wife seems appropriately temperamental. Throughout these sections, the Netherlands Philharmonic and, I assume, first violinist Vadim Tsibulvsky as the wife, perform admirably, with a polished decorum.

Marc Albrecht
"The Hero's Battlefield" is where Strauss engages in all-out combat with his critics, reminding them of his (musical) accomplishments by throwing in bits from Don Juan and Zarathustra, as well as a few horns from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Albrecht seems to be having a good time here, never rushing things and never overemphasizing the obvious. Yet the conducting also appears rather cautious, as though Albrecht didn't want to stick his neck out too far. I wish he had done so because we already have a plethora of conventional Heldenlebens; something a touch more vibrant might have been more interesting.

Albrecht wraps up the piece with the greater certainty that peace and love will prevail in the hero's life. It is here that the conductor's slightly conservative approach pays off best because the music needs such a light and tender touch as he provides.

Coupled with Ein Heldenleben (and preceding it on the program as a kind of warm-up act) is the Burleske in D minor, which Strauss wrote for piano and orchestra in 1885-86 when he was still young, about twenty-one. The work had a rocky beginning. He wrote it for the pianist and conductor Hans van Bulow, who proclaimed it a "complicated piece of nonsense" and refused to play it. The piece, slightly revised, wouldn't see a première until 1890 or a publication until 1894. Even revised, it still seems like a complicated work, full of satire, whimsy, playfulness, and youthful mischief and still a handful for the soloist, especially, to negotiate. Nevertheless, pianist Denis Kozhurkhin does a first-rate job with it, and the whole affair comes off with a splendid flair.

Producers Renaud Loranger and Wolfram Nehis and engineers Erdo Groot and Jean-Marie Geijsen recorded the music in hybrid SACD at the NedPhO-Koepel, Amsterdam in February (Burleske) and December 2017. You can play the disc in multichannel or two-channel SACD from an SACD player or in two-channel stereo from a regular CD player. I listened in the two-channel SACD mode.

It's a good, modern recording, smooth, warm, and wide ranging. Although it probably doesn't have enough completely outstanding qualities to qualify as a stereophile recording, it makes for good, relaxed listening and satisfactorily approaches the sound of a real orchestra in a real acoustic setting. A modest reverberation defines the hall, while stereo depth and spread remain more than acceptable. I would have expected a tad more dynamic range and impact from an SACD recording, yet such minor shortcomings fail to detract much from the disc's overall sense of realism.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 6, 2018

The Emerson Quartet Celebrates the 80th Birthday of American Composer William Bolcom

The world-renowned Emerson String Quartet celebrates the 80th birthday of American composer and pianist, winner of the National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award, William Bolcom at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 5 PM.

Joined by the acclaimed pianist Shai Wosner, the Quartet performs Bolcom's Piano Quintet No. 1.  Composed in commemoration of the 80th birthday of the legendary violinist Isaac Stern, the piece was premiered in 2001 by Stern and members of the Emerson Quartet (Philip Setzer, violin, Lawrence Dutton, viola, David Finckel, cello) along with pianist Jonathan Biss at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Bolcom's Piano Quintet, the upcoming concert features the Mozart Quartet in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, K. 493 and concludes with the vibrant and unabashedly joyful Dvorák Quartet in G major for Strings, Op. 106 of which the slow movement is considered one of the glories of Dvorák's whole catalog.

Emerson String Quartet, with Shai Wosner, piano
Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Alice Tully Hall, New York, NY

For more information, visit http://www.lincolncenter.org/show/quartet-variations-1

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Hurry! Ticket Prices to "Mozart Magnified" Go Up at the Door!
Join PBO with exquisite Puerto Rican soprano Camille Ortiz and a star-studded cast as we celebrate Mozart for our season opener. With the full force of the Chorale, and the Orchestra's vibrant range on period instruments, PBO's authenticity shines brightest in simple and dramatic moments of Mozart's most glorious vocal works.

Mozart: Litaniae Lauretanae, BMV in D Major, K. 195
Mozart: Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
Mozart: Mass No. 15 in C major, "Coronation"

Remaining performances:
Saturday, October 6 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, October 7 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

For more information and tickets, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/mozart-magnified/

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

PARMA Fall 2018 Call For Scores
It's hard to believe that fall is here, and the end of 2018 is right around the corner. PARMA has experienced a fruitful summer, with the successful launch of our China tours, dozens of innovative new releases, and recording sessions in Croatia and the Czech Republic. Now, we are looking forward to an equally exciting fall season - which includes our latest Call for Scores. In addition to being recorded, selected submissions will be considered for live performances. Previously accepted scores have been performed in Poland, Russia, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the United States, and more.

We are currently accepting submissions for
- Solo Piano or Piano Concerto Works - Prague CZ
- Woodwind Quintet Works - Boston MA
- Orchestral Works with or without soloists - Prague CZ

Please submit PDF scores and corresponding MIDI files or live recordings via our Project Submission form.

Selected scores will be recorded and commercially released by PARMA Recordings. The submitter is responsible for securing funds associated with the production, and retains all ownership of the master and underlying composition.

Works should ideally be between 5 and 15 minutes in length, but pieces outside of that range will still be considered.

Deadline for all submissions is October 19, 2018. There is no fee to submit.

You will receive a confirmation of receipt for submissions. We will work with the performers and our Sessions, Audio, and A&R Teams to select pieces that could fit these open projects. Should your music be selected, we will reach out to you with more information on pricing, scheduling, and other details.

Upload PDF scores and audio files via our Project Submission form: http://parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores.html

For more information, visit http://parmarecordings.com/

--PARMA Recordings

Spooktacular Concert and Haunted Open House
The Music Institute of Chicago's Faculty and Guest Artist Series continues Sunday, October 28 with a 3 p.m. "Spooktacular" Concert and 4 p.m. Haunted Musical Open House at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Using a festive Halloween theme as inspiration, the Music Institute's award-winning faculty perform appropriately "scary" music that showcases the historic 1914 E. M. Skinner pipe organ as well as a variety of instruments and musical styles.

This family-friendly, 60-minute concert is followed by a "Haunted Musical Open House." Guests make their way to the lower-level Community Music School to travel from room to room for spooky music and trick-or-treating. Audience members of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes and show their Halloween spirit.

For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Wet Ink Ensemble Collaborates This Fall with Nate Wooley and Darius Jones
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble is pleased to collaborate on two exciting fall projects: Nate Wooley's FOR/WITH Festival at Issue Project Room and For The People, a special event curated by saxophonist/composer Darius Jones, at Roulette.

Wet Ink makes an appearance on FOR, the first evening of the FOR/WITH Festival, organized by trumpeter/composer/writer Nate Wooley, at ISSUE Project Room on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 8:00pm. Members of the Wet Ink Large Ensemble will present the U.S. Premiere of Catherine Lamb's Prisma Interius VII. Previously staged in London at Cafe Oto in March 2018, Lamb's work is the most recent development of a series of pieces constructed around the Secondary Rainbow Synthesizer, an instrument—in development with Bryan Eubanks—that spectrally filters a live sound input of the outer atmosphere to the listening space within which the the performance piece is situated. In this iteration, the piece is staged with violin, clarinet, guitar, cello, and the Secondary Rainbow Synthesizer.

On Monday, November 5, 2018 at 8:00pm, Wet Ink joins saxophonist/composer Darius Jones at Roulette as part of "For the People," a community-based event and concert organized by Jones on the eve of the November Congressional Election. The evening is centered around a collection of compositions by Jones, in collaboration with The Wet Ink Large Ensemble that upholds the belief that artists have the duty and power to inform, inspire, and empower their surrounding community. The evening includes the world premiere of Jones's Being Caged in ICE, followed by the second performance ever of America The Joke (written for Wet Ink in 2018), and concludes with the return of LawNOrder (pronounced "law no order"), a 45-minute game piece dealing with social justice and American history. Each player represents a separate character (unknown to the other players) and is handed a law to follow at the beginning of the piece.

For complete information, visit www.wetink.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Festival Mozaic Brings Chamber Music to San Luis Obispo County, CA
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Series runs October 25-27, 2018 with three days of music, food, wine and education. Well-known for its popular summer music festival, Festival Mozaic brings world-class chamber music performances to scenic San Luis Obispo County, California, throughout the year with its WinterMezzo series.

Scott Yoo, the Festival's Music Director, curates the WinterMezzo series, which showcases exceptional artists performing in intimate venues. Yoo will perform as violinist in these programs along with featured artists. Yoo is in residence in San Luis Obispo six weeks annually; he serves as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic and he recently conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in two recording projects. Yoo is also the host and co-executive producer of "Now Hear This," a music and travel television program slated to air as part of Great Performances on PBS in Spring 2019.

For complete information, visit FestivalMozaic.com.

--David George, Festival Mosaic

October 2018 Newsletter from the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
The 2018/2019 school year is off to a great start. Students in our beginning violin class have been busy practicing with a wooden practice bow and finally after 6 classes it was time to trade in their practice bow for a real violin to take home and practice. On September 17 it was my privilege to assist in the distribution of violins to Ms. Chung's beginning class at the East Las Vegas Community Center. Mr. Tim Thomas assisted Ms. Johnson distribute violins to her beginning students at the Pearson Center on the same day. Students knew the day for violin distribution was that day and as they entered the classroom the air was filled with anticipation from students and parents.

You can see from some of the photos that the students were elated to finally hold a violin in their hands. Parents were busy taking pictures of their child receiving their violin and I am sure they were anticipating the day that their child would soon appear on stage and perform for an audience.

Our first recital for the year is scheduled for October 20. The beginning classes will not perform for that recital but they will definitely have a song or two to play on the next recital scheduled for December 8.

We now have a beginning orchestra, advanced orchestra, chamber orchestra, beginning mariachi, beginning guitar/guitarrón/and vihuela, advanced mariachi, beginning cello, second-year cello, and classes for levels 1-4 violin. Our program is growing and we strongly believe it is making a difference in the lives of our FAYMsters. Many thanks to all the generous contributors to FAYM. It is your support that makes all this possible. If you like what we are doing, please share our website with friends and businesses that may also join in supporting what we do. Hal Weller, the FAYM Board, and I do our best to assure that all donations are used to provide services, scholarships, and materials for our students.

For more information, visit www.thefaym.org

--Arturo Ochoa, Board President

Nicholas McGegan to Retire After 35 Years at Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale
Nicholas McGegan, Music Director for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO), has announced that he will retire from his leadership post at America's preeminent period performance ensemble after the 2019-20 Season; at that time, he will have guided the organization for 35 years. He will be designated Music Director Laureate in recognition of his many contributions to the Orchestra at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. At the time of this announcement, the organization's Board of Directors, led by President Kay Sprinkel Grace, and institutional leadership will convene to begin the search for a new Music Director to build upon McGegan's legacy of programming and presenting period music at the highest level of artistic integrity.

"Nicholas McGegan has led Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for 35 years. We have benefitted from the strength of his programmatic vision, energy, and aptitude for making historic performances accessible to broader audiences," said the ensemble's Board of Directors president Kay Sprinkel Grace. "He has embraced and advanced our mission throughout his decades of leadership of Philharmonia, and his passion for everything from early music to new works continues to propel Philharmonia to new heights. We look forward to having him remain an integral part of our future."

"This certainly isn't a farewell," said Music Director Nicholas McGegan. "It has been an enormous honour and privilege but also tremendous fun to work with our terrific musicians for half my life, and I look forward to many more years of performances as Music Director Laureate, with fewer administrative responsibilities. Thanks to the musicians, board, staff, donors and our wonderful audience, I've been able to realise so many of my artistic dreams, creating lots of happy memories along the way."

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/about/nicholas-mcgegan/

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

Harpsichord Star Mahan Esfahani Opens Miller Theatre's New "Signature Keys" Series
Back by popular demand, the exceptionally gifted Mahan Esfahani returns for two harpsichord recitals featuring J.S. Bach's treasured Well-Tempered Clavier at Columbia University's Miller Theatre, NYC. Over two nights, Esfahani pairs selections from Bach's masterpiece with a world premiere commission by George Lewis, as well as contemporary works from Luciano Berio and Tristan Perich.

Concert I: Wednesday, November 7
J.S. Bach selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (1722)
George Lewis new work for harpsichord (2018), world premiere, Miller Theatre commission

Concert II: Thursday, November 8
J.S. Bach selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (1742)
Luciano Berio Rounds (1966)
Tristan Perich Dual Synthesis (2009)

For complete information, visit millertheatre.com

--Aleba & Co.

Baby Got Bach Family Concert with Orli Shaham & Westerlies Brass
Princeton University Concerts' popular family concert for kids 3-6 and their families, "Baby Got Bach," returns on Saturday, November 3 at 1 PM at Richardson Auditorium. Hosted by pianist Orli Shaham with guest artists the Westerlies Brass Quartet, this year's concert will focus on introducing pre-school-aged kids to the joy of live classical music.

"Baby Got Bach: Bring on the Brass!"
Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 1PM
A family chamber music concert for kids ages 3-6
Princeton University Concerts, Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton University

Tickets: $5 Kids/$10 Adults. Tickets are available online at princetonuniversityconcerts.org, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office.

For more information, visit http://www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org/

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Cellist Maksin Joins Orion Ensemble in November
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, continues its 26th season with "Russian Passion," welcoming guest cellist Ian Maksin and guest violist Stephen Boe.

Performances take place November 11 at a new venue, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Il; November 14 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and November 18 at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Il.

For more information, visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman

Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to both its equipment and recordings review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me — point out recordings that they think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura’s hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can’t imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
The reader will find Classical Candor's Mission Statement, Staff Profiles, and contact information (classicalcandor@gmail.com) toward the bottom of each page.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Writer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Most recently I’ve moved to my “ultimate system” consisting of a BlueSound Node streamer, an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a CD transport, Legacy Wavelet DAC/preamp/crossover, Tandberg 2016A and Legacy PowerBloc2 amps, and Legacy Signature SE speakers (biamped), all connected with decently made, no-frills cables. With the arrival of CD and higher resolution streaming, that is now the source for most of my listening.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa