Classical Music News of the Week, December 1, 2018

Princeton University Glee Club Presents: "Out of the Deep"

"Out of the Deep: Russian Choral Music and the Basso Profundo." Sunday, December 9 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

The Princeton University Glee Club has invited leading oktavists Vladimir Miller (Russia), Adrian Peacock (United Kingdom) and Glenn Miller (United States), to come together in an unprecedented gathering--the first time that three such legends of the basso profundo voice from the western and eastern traditions have combined in concert, in the United States.

The student singers of the Princeton University Glee Club have spent the current semester learning about the Moscow Synodal tradition, mastering the challenges of the 'church slavonic' language, and preparing repertoire by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kastalsky, Chesnokov, Gretchaninoff, and Golovanov. In the first week of December, the three guest vocalists will arrive in Princeton for a week of intensive work with Princeton University students, in which they will lead rehearsals on December 3, 5, 7 and 8. During these rehearsals they will teach members of the Princeton University Glee Club to sing the Church Slavonic language, how to intone Znamenny and Kievan chant, and how to infuse Synodal repertoire with the rich vocal colors it needs to sound authentic. This work will culminate in a collaborative concert staged by the Glee Club, and featuring the three guest oktavists on Sunday, December 9 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

Tickets: $15 general and $5 students, available at; by calling Princeton University Ticketing at 609-258-9220; or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson
Auditorium Box Office.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

The Chelsea Symphony's December 7 Holiday Concert
The Chelsea Symphony, featured in the hit Amazon show Mozart in the Jungle, continues its 2018/19 season, entitled "Resolution," with a holiday concert on December 7 featuring actress and musician Annie Golden, known for her role in Orange is the New Black, as the guest narrator for the orchestra's own special version of The Night Before Christmas by composer Aaron Dai. This concert is conducted by Reuben Blundell, Mark Seto, and Nell Flanders and will be presented at St. Paul's Church, 315 West 22nd Street, NYC.

The holiday concert also includes selections from Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck, the Christmas Overture by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." As is the tradition, "Sleigh Ride" will be conducted by the winner of the previous year's silent auction, Ray Cerabone.

Clarinetist Erik Jönsson performs as featured soloist on Paul Ben-Haim's Pastorale Variée for clarinet, harp, and string orchestra, clarinetist Christine Todd performs the Adagio movement from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major, and violinists Nicholas Pappone and E. J. Lee, violist Elizabeth Holub, and cellist Talia Dicker join forces for the string quartet part to Edward Elgar's Introduction and Allegro.

The Chelsea Symphony, conducted by Reuben Blundell, Mark Seto, Nell Flanders, and special guest Ray Cerabone
Friday, December 7 at 8:00 PM
St. Paul's Church (315 West 22nd Street), New York, NY

Premium unassigned seating in special reserved areas are $25 on Eventbrite.
Limited day-of tickets available at the door for a suggested donation of $20.

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

Viennese Pivot with Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the PBO, Feb 6-10
Come away to Vienna in the dawning decades of the 19th century, as late fruits of Classicism ripen alongside early blossoms of Romanticism. Violin virtuoso and impresario Franz Clement has composed a violin concerto that will inspire Beethoven to pen one of his own for Clement the next year. Guest soloist Rachel Barton Pine was the first in the world to record the Clement Violin Concerto, and will reprise her deeply-researched performance with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in a perfect match of historically-informed sensibilities. Delicious works by Mozart and Schubert round out the program.

Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
Clement: Violin Concerto in D major
Schubert: Symphony No. 6 in C major

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Rachel Barton Pine, violin

Wednesday February 6, 2019 @ 7:30 pm | First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Friday February 8, 2019 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday February 9, 2019 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday February 10, 2019 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Special E-mail Offer:
50% Off Tickets to Viennese Pivot!
Use Discount Code: ROMANTIC

For more information, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale

Indonesia in the National Cathedral - How the Gamelan Changed Classical Music
Gamelan has by far been the non-Western musical genre that has most impacted the Western classical music tradition. On Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at the Washington National Cathedral, conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez and PostClassical Ensemble (PCE) will take listeners on a survey of gamelan, the traditional percussive ensemble music of Indonesia, in "CULTURAL FUSION: The Gamelan Experience."

The concert explores the gamelan's influence on classical music across 120 years, beginning with the 1889 Paris Exposition (World's Fair), where Claude Debussy first experienced the allure of Indonesian music and dance—an introduction that transformed Western music via Debussy and countless other composers. From there, PCE explores other celebrated composers who have incorporated the sound and spirit of gamelan into their work—from Maurice Ravel, François Poulenc, and Olivier Messiaen, to the trailblazing Colin McPhee (the first Western composer to lead an ethnomusicological study of Bali), and Bill Alves and Lou Harrison. Tickets and information are available at

A gamelan is a collection of primarily percussive instruments played by multiple performers at once. Audiences will simultaneously hear a tapestry of metallophones, xylophones, gongs, and voice, as well as bowed and plucked strings. Indonesia boasts two different styles of gamelan, both of which can be heard during "CULTURAL FUSION: The Gamelan Experience." During intermission, audience members can approach the gamelan up-close and enjoy informal demonstrations from the musicians.

The immersive concert will transform the Washington National Cathedral with dancers, archival films, and more. Both a Javanese and Balinese gamelan and accompanying musicians will be assembled in the middle of the Cathedral's nave, with the audience seated around them for a 360-degree viewing experience.

For complete information and tickets, visit

--Mike Fila, Bucklesweet

Oberlin Conservatory Performs at Carnegie Hall, Dizzy's Coca-Cola
For the first time since 2013, musicians from the prestigious Oberlin College Conservatory of Music come to New York in January 2019 performing diverse concerts in two of the city's most celebrated venues.  Representing not only the exemplary standard of young artists who study at Oberlin, but the extensive range of opportunities offered to them while studying, these performances include both instrumentalists and vocalists in classical, contemporary, and jazz repertoire ranging from Debussy to 29-year-old Oberlin faculty composer Elizabeth Ogonek. These concerts include the debut of Oberlin's new jazz ensemble initiated by jazz legend Sonny Rollins, made possible by a substantial gift to the conservatory from Mr. Rollins himself, and a large-scale performance with the full Oberlin Orchestra and Choir at Carnegie Hall.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 7:30PM
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola - Jazz at Lincoln Center
Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble (performance debut)

Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 8:00PM
Carnegie Hall - Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Oberlin College Choir
Gregory Ristow, conductor

Tour website:

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Ermonela Jaho Returns to Covent Garden
Winner of the 2016 International Opera Readers Award, Ermonela Jaho became a firm favourite with London audiences following her moving portrayal of Suor Angelica in Puccini's Il trittico staged at Covent Garden in 2016. As the London Evening Standard wrote, her performance was "as glorious as ever, investing the character of the traumatised nun with the same combination of gleaming tone and expressive intensity." The following season saw her Cio-Cio San, hailed by The Independent "as the best Madama Butterfly London has seen in years".

Following a one-off concert performance in the autumn at the Royal Festival Hall as Anna in Le Willis--Puccini's first stage work heard for the first time in 120 years in its original one-act version--Jaho returns to Covent Garden in the New Year to sing the role that at the age of 14 made her fall in love with opera--Violetta in Verdi's ever-green La traviata.

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
January 14, 17, 21, 23, 26 & 30, 2019

--Moe Faulkner, Macbeth Media Relations

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" (CD review)

Also, Symphony No. 7. Rudolf Firkusny, piano; William Steinberg, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. EMI CDM 7243-66888-2-7.

Some of the best releases from the major classical record labels have been old reissues. And why not? Classics have endured the test of time. Many of them have become old friends, and it's nice to see them freshened up and repackaged.

For example, the disc on hand: Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto in the hands of Czech-born American pianist Rudolf Firkusny (1912-1994) fairly crackles with energy. Firkusny avoids excesses, indulging in little of the bravura we hear from Vladimir Ashkenazy (London), the nuance of Stephen Kovacevich (Philips), or the lyrical poetry of Wilhelm Kempff (DG), yet offering a performance of great strength and precision. Above all, it is Firkusny's crispness of attack that sets the interpretation apart. He appears to know exactly what he wants, and he gets it done with the least amount of fuss or bother. What's more, conductor William Steinberg obviously understands this approach and matches it perfectly with his Pittsburgh Symphony accompaniment.

Rudolf Fiskusny
The companion piece, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, is likewise full of crisp energy. It dances along in the first movement and then proceeds most naturally to the gravity of the Allegretto. The Presto has requisite zip, and the Finale soars in a more than matter-of-fact way. Steinberg's reading hasn't perhaps the energy of a Fritz Reiner (RCA/JVC), the  lyricism of a Colin Davis (EMI), or the directness of a Carlos Kleiber (DG), but it carries a good tune.

EMI digitally remastered both pieces from original session tapes made in March and October of 1957 in what EMI called at the time FDS, "Full Dimensional Sound." Although the sound is strong on midrange, it's not particularly weighty in bass. Highs are not terribly smooth or extended, either, but, like the rest of the sonic image, they are clear and well defined. The piano sound is especially noteworthy for its clarity and articulation. There is some inevitable tape hiss noticeable in the quietest passages that should not be a concern except to those who place digital silence above everything else.

The disc makes an easy recommendation for its performances, with only minor hesitations about the decades-old remastered sonics. 


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

Gershwin Reimagined (CD review)

An American in London. Shelly Berg, piano; various featured artists; Jose Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Decca Gold B0028889-02.

The idea of combining jazz artists with a symphony orchestra is hardly new; after all, pop composer George Gershwin (1898-1937) wrote Rhapsody in Blue in 1924 originally for solo piano and jazz band, and it wasn't rescored for orchestra (theatrical and symphony) by Ferde Grofe until several years thereafter. As a result, we have in the record catalogue any number of fine discs by various ensembles, large and small, from duets to full orchestra.

On the present album, we find American pianist, arranger, and orchestrator Shelly Berg (b. 1955), his trio, and various other artists doing Berg's own jazz interpolations with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Jose Serebrier. The results are every bit as satisfying as I would imagine Gershwin intended--jazzy, swinging, rhythmic, rhapsodic, and lush. Considering the talents involved, it's the kind of album that's almost self-recommending.

The first two items on the program are the longest: Rhapsody in Blue (23:31 min.), featuring the Shelly Berg Trio in original jazz variations and the RPO and An American in Paris/Home Blues (21:24 min.), featuring American R&B and jazz artist Ledisi Anibade Young and the orchestra.

After those tracks are four shorter items: "I Loves You Porgy/My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess, featuring American singer (and daughter of composer Henry Mancini) Monica Mancini and Cuban-American jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer Arturo Sandoval and orchestra. Next is "Fascinating Rhythm," featuring American violinist Mark O'Connor and orchestra. After that we find "Three Preludes," with Serebrier and the orchestra. Then the album concludes with "I Got Rhythm," featuring the Shelly Berg Trio and orchestra.

Shelly Berg
Since Rhapsody in Blue is the most prominent piece in the collection and since it represents the best of the selections, let's take a look at it in particular. Serebreir's accompaniment of the piano is nicely jazzy and bluesy, with solid rhythms. He is able to generate a good deal of excitement with his interpretation. Likewise, Shelly Berg's piano solos are lively and invigorating on the one hand, lyrical and introspective on the other. The difference, of course, is that a few minutes into the piece, Berg and his trio go into their own variations and kind of leave Gershwin behind for intervals. It's not at all inappropriate, and I'm sure if Gershwin were alive he would approve. In fact, it gives the old warhorse a new look. So, for most folks who already own multiple versions of the music, this one should provide some much-needed variety in their collection.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed An American in Paris best of all, with Ledisi singing Gershwin's lyrics to the familiar "Home Blues" section. The whole thing is delightfully done and a real charmer. The other soloists are equally spirited and heartfelt by turns for a rewarding whole.

So, all the tracks work well. Overall, they're fairly conventional, except for their new additions, yet they're polished, innovative, and extremely well performed. Obviously, these arrangements would not be first-choice recommendations for people looking for a one and only recording of Gershwin standards. They are for people who already have favorites and want to supplement them.

The booklet notes, incidentally, contain a good deal of information on the artists involved in the production but almost no info on the music. I suppose the folks at Decca think we already know enough about Gershwin and his tunes that they didn't need to add anything more. Fair enough.

Producer Gregg Field and engineer Mike Hatch recorded the music at Air Lyndhurst Studios and Henry Wood Hall, London, releasing the album in 2018. The sound is pretty much in the long-established tradition of Decca stereo recordings. It's very clear and clean, and it has a healthy dynamic range. But it also appears multimiked, with the soloists clearly out in front, and the orchestra taking a literal backseat. It's not at all unpleasant or distracting, just a little different from what you might hear in a concert hall. Indeed, once you get used to it, it is quite entertaining, especially the clarity.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, November 24, 2018

Other Minds Presents Terry Riley Piano Works

Other Minds launches its 2018-2019 25th anniversary season on Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum with an evening recital showcasing the piano works of Terry Riley. The composer himself will perform a selection of his semi-improvised solo piano works including Simply M and Requiem for Wally, with longtime collaborator and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng performing The Heaven Ladder, Book 7, The Walrus in Memoriam and Two Pieces for Piano. Riley and Cheng will conclude the program by joining forces for the Bay Area Premiere of Cheng Tiger Growl Roar, a new four-hand work composed for the pair.

Gloria Cheng & Terry Riley
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission St, San Francisco

Over a career spanning six decades, Terry Riley has influenced countless classical artists as well as those from the jazz, rock and electronic scenes. His seminal 1964 work In C is widely considered to be the first minimalist composition and had a profound effect on the evolution of 20th century classical music. Demonstrating his trademark improvisational approach, Riley will appear as soloist for two of his piano works written for mentors that had a significant impact on his career: Requiem for Wally, in memory of his close friend and teacher, the American ragtime pianist Wally Rose (1989) and Simply M (2007), written in memory of Margaret Lyon, chair of the Mills College music department.

Tickets range in price from $35 and $45, and can be purchased through or by phone at 415-978-2787. $15 student tickets can be purchased in-person with valid student ID.

For further information on Other Minds, please visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Cendrillon à Berlin
On December 8th at the Maison Symphonique, Jean-François Rivest and Walter Boudreau will share the stage to conduct the Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal (OUM) in a major concert, presented by the SMCQ and the Faculté de musique de l'Université de Montréal. The concert will also showcase the talents of young dancers from the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. 

Between Cendrillon, Prokofiev's mythical ballet, and the fourth section of Boudreau's Berliner Momente, strongly inspired by famous works from Haydn and Wagner, the two conductors will present orchestral music that is simultaneously avant-garde and in the symphonic traditional style. The program, which will bring together 100 musicians and dancers, will be rounded out by an original work from young composer Keiko Devaux, winner of the "Concours de composition de l'OUM", À perte de vue… .

Cendrillon à Berlin

Saturday, December 8, 2018, 7:30 pm

Maison symphonique de Montréal
1600, rue Saint-Urbain (Métro Place-des-arts)

$30 (regular), $25 (seniors) $15 (students)

Information :
514 843-9305 poste 301

And Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC) also invites music lovers to their Happy Hour Concerts, a golden opportunity to hear the best emerging artists in the classical world in a casual atmosphere, while sipping on a glass of wine after work.

Starting at 6:15 p.m., JMC partner RéZin offers a selection of wines. Then, at 7 p.m., the audience is in for a little over an hour of music, including commentary by the artists, in a intimate venue with impeccable acoustics. Don't miss this unique occasion, taking place at Joseph Rouleau Hall, located at 305, Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, in Montréal, just a few steps from the Mont-Royal metro station.

Next concert:
Will to Live, December 5, 2018
Philippe Prud'homme, piano

For complete information about Jeunesses Musicales Canada events, visit

--France Gaignard, Media Relations

Treefort Music Fest 2019
Treefort Music Fest is an annual music and arts festival featuring over 400 bands plus film, art, comedy, yoga, and more across multiple venues in downtown Boise, Idaho in March. Now in its eighth year and set for March 20-24th, Treefort Music Fest is excited to announce its first round of performers, which includes Liz Phair, Toro Y Moi, Angelique Kidjo's Remain In Light, Black Mountain, Dan Deacon, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Laura Veirs, Y La Bamba, Rituals of Mine, Rubblebucket, and more. Be on the lookout for the second wave of artist announcements next month!

With the first artist announcement comes the release of the first official Treefort Music Fest 2019 playlists, which can be found on Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music.

For more information and tickets, visit and https://www.treefortmusicfest.comtickets/

--Terra Lopez, Terrorbird

YPC 2018 Holiday Performances
Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) celebrates the holidays with a variety of performances around the city, including its "Winter Wonder" concert at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m. Led by YPC Founder / Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, the program features special guest string trio Time for Three.

YPC also performs this fall and winter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Lincoln Square, and the Church of the Intercession, as well as in televised appearances on "The Today Show" and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For complete information, visit

--Shuman Associates

Philharmonic Fire with Patrick Dupré Quigley December 5-9
Monteverdi: "Confitebor tibi Domine," No. 2, from Selva Morale e Spirituale
Bach: Cantata No. 61 Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland
Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus
Purcell: The Frost Scene (Act III, Scene II), from King Arthur
Bach: Cantata No. 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Patrick Dupré Quigley, conductor
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Margot Rood, soprano
Reginald Mobley, countertenor
Steven Soph, tenor
Steven Eddy, baritone

Performance schedule:
Wednesday December 5, 7:30 pm - Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Friday December 7, 8 pm - Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday December 8, 8 pm - First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday December 9, 4 pm - First Congregational Church, Berkeley

For more information, visit

--PBO Marketing

Clarinetist Martin Fröst Makes Rare Appearance
"Until you've heard Martin Fröst, you really haven't heard the clarinet" claims The Times (London) – and Princeton University Concerts is offering one of only two U.S. appearances this season during which audiences can do so. Fröst is a performer who truly transcends his instrument and makes music that simply feels alive, from his riveting on-stage presence (he's been known to dress up like a bird in concert) to his inventive approach to programming...if anyone is going to convert you to the clarinet, it is Fröst.

His visit to Princeton University Concerts with pianist Henrik Måwe on Thursday, December 13, 2018 will begin at 12:30PM with a Live Music Meditation, guided by Princeton University Associate Dean of Religious Life Matthew Weiner, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. This is a FREE, unticketed opportunity to experience world-class music on an incredibly personal and visceral level while meditating to live music performed by the duo. No experience is necessary.

At 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Fröst and Måwe present a recital of works by Francis Poulenc, Antonio Vivaldi, and Johannes Brahms on Princeton University Concerts' 125th anniversary Concert Classics series. At 7PM, students in the Princeton University Clarinet Ensemble, "Anches Cantori," will start the evening off with arrangements of works for multiple clarinets in a tribute to the instrument. This pre-concert event is free to all concert ticket-holders.

The Live Music Meditation is free and unticketed. Tickets for the evening concert are $10-$55, available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

In One Week: Experiential Nutcracker
In one week, on Saturday December 1st, you are invited to dance to the Nutcracker with a live beautiful symphony orchestra!

Because of the nature of this performance, seats are limited. Buy your tickets now. And for our EXO friends, we are offering a 30% discount on the 7:30pm show. Just enter "EXO30" at checkout.

In our signature interactive performance of the Nutcracker, we invite you to be transported inside the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, as you'll have the opportunity to dance, drink and be merry at this fully immersive concert.

Come at 3:30pm for a family friendly experience, and 7:30pm for adults (with full bar).

Take it from our audience last year in this video--dancing to Tchaikovsky's ballet yourself is beautiful and unlike anything else this holiday season.

This unique holiday experience will be held at the beautiful Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, NYC, easily accessible to the Q at 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue.

For complete information, visit

--Experiential Orchestra

The Fantastic Philadelphians (CD review)

Eugene Ormandy, the Philadelphia Orchestra. RCA High Performance 09026-63313-2.

By the late Nineties, the folks at RCA had finally figured out what to do with all those old quadraphonic recordings they made in the early Seventies. If this disc was any indication, they probably thought they could remaster the whole lot of them in Dolby Pro Logic and 24-bit technology and market them in their "High Performance" series. But apparently they thought better of the idea. Although the sonic results here are not bad, they are a far cry from audiophile quality.

The disc is filled with showstoppers, things like Saint-Saens's Dance Macabre, Chabrier's Espana, and Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, some of them making a good impression, others not so much. And the sound is equally up and down. The single most outstanding characteristic of the album is the quality of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which sounds wonderfully lush and lustrous.

Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy was at the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra for an amazing forty-four years, yet his catalogue of recordings restored to CD remains relatively meager, especially his output for RCA, a little better for Sony (CBS/Columbia). One can understand why, though. He simply did not produce enough critically celebrated albums. OK, I know that statement is not going to go over well with Ormandy's multitude of fans, but unlike some of Ormandy's contemporaries in America during hi-fi's golden age of stereo--Reiner, Fiedler, Bernstein, Solti, et al--Ormandy, with his fairly foursquare rhythms and conservative phrasing, was rather conventional in his approach to music making. These performances demonstrate the fact. They are perfectly acceptable and perfectly ordinary to the last. Which isn't, as I say, bad, just not good enough to endure very well the test of time.

RCA's sound, too, has its pluses and minuses. Producer Max Wilcox and engineer Paul Goodman recorded the material in 1971-72, and RCA digitally remastered it in 1998 in 24-bit Dolby Surround. In its favor, it is extremely dynamic, with occasional thunderous lows and clean, clear highs. Counting against these merits are its multi-miked two-dimensionality and its sometimes over-spacious acoustic when played back in regular two-channel stereo.

Some of the tracks sound reasonably free of this property--Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours, for instance, and Kabalevsky's Galop, probably the best piece on the disc. Nevertheless, much of the music sounds like it's adjusted to one of those overactive "Stadium" settings that hardly anybody uses on a surround-sound receiver.

In short, I wasn't exactly bowled over by Ormandy or his newfound sound of the day.


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

Strauss, R.: Don Quixote (CD review)

Also, works for cello. Ophelie Gaillard, cello; Julien Masmondet, Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Aparte Music AP174.

Quixote. You remember him: the guy with the impossible dream.

Long before the stage musical and film Man of La Mancha, Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) created Don Quixote, the famous elderly gentleman who fancied himself a knight of high ideals, and his sidekick Sancho Panza. Then came German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) with his tone poem describing some of Quixote's adventures. Strauss composed the piece in 1896, just a couple of years after Also Sprach Zarathustra and while he was making a name for himself with his highly descriptive, impressionistic musical sketches.

Strauss's Don Quixote is a work for cello, viola, and orchestra. He subtitled it "Phantastische Variationen über ein Thema ritterlichen Charakters" ("Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character") and based the music on episodes from Cervantes's novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. Strauss wrote the score in the form of a theme and variations, with a solo cello depicting Don Quixote, and a solo viola, among other instruments, portraying his squire Sancho Panza. Of the ten variations within the piece, perhaps the most famous is the first one, the Don's "Adventures at the Windmill." The second variation, too, is quite evocative, a section in which Quixote encounters a herd of sheep and sees them as an approaching army. Here, Strauss uses a flutter-tonguing in the brass to represent the bleating of the sheep. It's all quite colorful and fun.

Of course, the question with any new recording of a well-known and oft-recorded piece of music is how well it compares to older, favored performances. For me, some old favorites would include Herbert von Karajan's lush, ripe presentation with Mstislav Rostropovich and the Berlin Philharmonic (EMI); Rudolf Kempe's leaner, tauter interpretation with Paul Tortelier and the Dresden Staatskapelle (EMI); Fritz Reiner's more energetic reading with Antonio Janigro and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (RCA); and Andre Previn's better recorded but more straightforward account with Franz Bartolomey the Vienna Philharmonic (Telarc). The answer to whether this new Aparte recording with Maestro Julien Masmondet, Ms. Ophelie Gaillard, and the Czech National Symphony is any better than the rest is a definite sort of, or maybe, or maybe not.

Ophelie Gaillard
The reason I can't be more enthusiastic about the soloist or interpretation is that it never struck me as being as colorful as it could be. Certainly, Ms. Gaillard's playing is technically beyond reproach, as is the violin work by Alexandra Conunova and the expertise of the Czech orchestra. But the performance itself seems rather reticent. I don't hear much of the old Don's eccentricities, and his adventures seem more than a little mundane rather than sad, humorous, peculiar, stimulating, pathetic, satiric, biting, or inspiring. In other words, I wasn't sure just how Ms. Gaillard and company wanted to represent their Quixote.

I'm sure Strauss intended his musical depiction of the addled old Don to offer some particular point of view on him without actually specifying that point of view, so the choices of approach are boundless. Nevertheless, under the direction of Masmondet and playing of Gaillard, the music simply appears beautiful and well performed, with a little less in the way of secondary responses than one might expect.

Regardless, there's a lot to be said for the beauty of Ms. Gaillard's playing, and the performance makes a charming listening experience. She is especially effectual in the softer, more introspective, more melancholy moments of the score, and one can hardly complain about the serenity of some sections.

Coupled with the main tone poem we find three additional Strauss pieces for cello: the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 6, with Vassilis Varvaresos, piano; the Romance for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 13; and "Morgan," the final section of Four Songs, Op. 27, arranged for cello, piano, and soprano, with Beatrice Uria Monzon, soprano. Because Strauss probably didn't mean for the listener to ascribe too much literal meaning to these pieces, I found them more effective as pure music.

Artistic Director Nicolas Bartholomee and engineers Nicolas Bartholomee, Maximilien Ciup, and Clement Rousset in conjunction with Little Tribeca recorded the music at the studio of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague in 2017 and in Paris, January 2018. The sound they obtained is as good as almost anything I've heard for a while. The solo cello is fairly well balanced with the orchestra; the stereo spread is wide; the highs are sparkling; the dynamic range is strong without being overwhelming, and the impact is good. What's more, the clarity and detailing are very fine, indeed.

My only minor caveats with the sound are that it's a tad closer than I usually like; it doesn't provide a lot of depth, front-to-back perspective; and there is some spotlighting of instruments, with the cello and violin in particular seeming to move closer to the audience at times and then recede into the distance. Fortunately, these issues are relatively small and should not distract most listeners from enjoying the sonics.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, November 17, 2018

LA Master Chorale to Present Five Christmas Concerts in Walt Disney Concert Hall

"English Cathedral Christmas"
Sunday, December 2 – 7 PM

"Festival of Carols"
Saturday, December 8 & 15 – 2 PM

Handel's Messiah
Sunday, December 16 – 7 PM

38th Annual Messiah Sing-Along
Monday, December 17 – 7:30 PM

All concerts conducted by Grant Gershon,
Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Directors

The Los Angeles Master Chorale will perform five festive Christmas concerts in Walt Disney Concert Hall in December including a new program called English Cathedral Christmas on December 2 that aims to bring the unbroken advent tradition of British carols and anthems to Walt Disney Concert Hall with works by a range of composers dating from the 16th century to today. The concerts include the popular "Festival of Carols" concerts (December 8 and 15), Handel's Messiah (December 16) and the 38th Annual Messiah Sing-Along (December 17) when the 2,200-strong audience sings as the chorus.

Tickets are available now, starting from $29:
Phone: 213-972-7282
Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM.

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

Nu Deco Ensemble To Perform With Macy Gray and BJ The Chicago Kid at the Arsht Center
December 15 will see the Nu Deco Ensemble's first concert at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Florida in their 2018–19 season, in a soul music-infused program that will center around special collaborations with superstar Macy Gray, R&B singer/songwriter BJ The Chicago Kid, and the Miami Mass Choir. This will be the ensemble's second concert in their fourth season, continuing a commitment to forward-thinking programming and genre-bending performances.

Having kicked off their 2018–19 season with a jazz-influenced program in early October, this December concert offers a smooth segue from jazz to soul. Beginning with Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances" from West Side Story, the first half of the program will end with a suite honoring Aretha Franklin, arranged by Nu Deco's Sam Hyken, Aaron Lebos, Armando López, and Jason Matthews. Contemporary R&B stars Macy Gray and BJ The Chicago Kid will join Nu Deco on stage for the second half of the evening, backed by the Miami Mass Choir featuring original works and reimagined arrangements.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Princeton University Orchestra Presents World Premiere
The Princeton University Orchestra ("PUO") will include the world premiere of Three Places
in Grand Rapids by its principal cellist, Princeton University senior Calvin Van Zytveld , in two
performances on December 6 & 7, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander
Hall, Princeton, NJ.

On the heels of a busy October that included presenting internationally renowned conductor Ivan Fischer leading the Orchestra of the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala as well as the ensemble's own season opening concerts, PUO continues to showcase its vibrant season under the baton of associate conductor Ruth Ochs, standing in for Michael Pratt. The December programs also include Aaron Copland 's Fanfare for the Common Man, Manuel De Falla 's The Three-Cornered Hat Ballet Suite, and will conclude with Claude Debussy's orchestral masterpiece La mer.

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

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Presents "In the Wake of the Marseillaise"
Songs for soprano and early romantic guitar by Cimarosa, Crescentini, Doisy, Haydn, Domenico Puccini, and Fernando Sor join jewel-like arrangements from the popular operas of the day by Rossini and Halévy, speaking of an age of liberation and a growing taste for bel canto singing.

Jessica Gould, soprano
Pascal Valois, early romantic guitar

Thursday, December 13th, 8:00pm

The Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
NY, NY 10003

Tickets: or 1 888 718 4253

For more information, visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Young People's Chorus of NYC Performs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) brings together two holiday traditions under the baton of Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, who conducts contemporary stagings of Benjamin Britten's Christmas cantata A Ceremony of Carols and Samuel Adler's Hanukkah cantata "The Flames of Freedom" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, December 9 at 3:00 p.m. Heard for the first time in New York City, "The Flames of Freedom" was composed as a musical counterpart to Britten's classic, and both works are explored on the program through sets, lighting, and choreography.

This YPC program is one of two performances by the chorus on back-to-back weekends at The Met's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. On Sunday, December 2 at 3:00 p.m., the chorus performs two settings of poetry by Langston Hughes: Ricky Ian Gordon's new choral version of "Litany" and YPC alumna Jessie Montgomery's "Danse Africaine," which was commissioned by the chorus. YPC Founder and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez conducts both works as part of "A Dream Deferred: Langston Hughes in Song," a program created by the Museum's 2018–19 Artist-in-Residence, soprano Julia Bullock.

Tickets start at $50 for December 2 and $65 for December 9, and are available online at or by phone at 212-570-3949. Tickets are $1 for children ages 6 to 16 with the purchase of one adult ticket. For groups of 15 or more, call 212-570-3750.

For more information, visit

--Shuman Associates PR

Lake Simons Directs Holiday Production of Saint-Saëns's' Carnival of the Animals
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

Miller's annual holiday treat returns, a playful production that brings Camille Saint-Saëns's beloved work to life--Carnival of the Animals. A compelling merging of puppets, set design, poetry and music, this production has been described as "enchanting" by The New Yorker and "splendidly witty" by TheaterScene. Audiences will experience magic as everyday objects take on new lives as lions, elephants, and birds, through the incredible vision of director Lake Simons and some of New York's best puppeteers.

Saint-Saens's score, performed by a ten-piece onstage chamber orchestra that is "virtuosic, nuanced, and sublime" (ZealNYC), literally comes to life with Lake's puppets. Lucid Culture calls the ensemble's playing "exquisitely detailed" and "unselfconsciously playful."

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Wet Ink Ensemble and Being & Becoming Perform at St. Peter's Church, Dec. 1
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble teams up with renowned trumpeter/composer and longtime collaborator Peter Evans for an evening of sonic adventure on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 8:00pm at St. Peter's Church, 346 W 20th St., New York, NY.

The concert features a new set of music by Peter Evans with a lineup that Evans describes as "an unholy amalgam of current and closest collaborators in a holiday season blow-out." Performers include 12 musicians from Wet Ink and Being & Becoming (Joel Ross, vibes; Nick Jozwiack, bass and cello; Savannah Grace Harris, drums; Peter Evans, trumpet), with special guests Mazz Swift (violin) and Levy Lorenzo (percussion). Evans writes, "this evening will represent an ongoing process of discovery and collaborative creativity with these players - it is not a culmination of anything. Old and new compositions will be combined together with the improvisational talents of all the musicians, creating an hour-long work tailored specifically for this concert."

Tickets are $10 general admission, students free. No pre-orders, cash only at the door.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Nutcracker Dance Party with the Experiential Orchestra
December 1st, 2018 at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 E. 73rd Street, NY, NY 10021.
3:30pm (Kids with Adult Dancing Companions); 7:30pm (Adults only with full cash bar).

Have you always wanted to dance to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker with a symphony orchestra?
Now is your chance!

Whether you danced ballet as a child or have never set foot in pointe shoes, EXO is expanding the magical experience of the Nutcracker as they invite the audience to dance to
the complete ballet with a live symphony orchestra of top-level freelancers. (Experiential
Orchestra draws from New York freelancers who also perform as subs with the New York
Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra among others).

Video, descriptions, and tickets available at, or

For more information, visit

--James Blachly, Experiential Orchestra

SF Girls Chorus Presents "Holidays at Davies"
San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) presents its annual holiday concert, "Holidays at Davies," on Monday, December 17, 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA.

A longstanding tradition in the San Francisco Bay Area's holiday concert schedule, the program will build on the success of last year's multi-cultural theme with a variety of traditional and holiday music from around the world. SFGC welcomes frequent collaborators Kronos Quartet for works including the West Coast Premiere of Michael Gordon's Exalted, Alexandra Vrebalov's Missa Supratext, Reena Esmail's Still I Rise, and Stacy Garrop's Glorious Mahalia. Women's choral group Musae also features alongside hundreds of members from six Chorus School levels, SFGC's Premier Ensemble and Alumnae.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 6 "Pastoral" (CD review)

Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra. EMI CDM 7243-5-66792-2.

When Klemperer's producer, Walter Legge, asked if he didn't think Klemperer took his recording of the Beethoven Sixth Symphony's scherzo a little too slowly, Klemperer replied, "Walter, you will get used to it." Well, we've had over sixty years to get used to it, and I suspect it has by now pretty much grown on us.

Klemperer's performance of the Sixth continues to be one of the most relaxed, leisurely, bucolic interpretations ever put to disc. It has not and will not find favor among the Toscanini crowd, but it has delighted most everyone else since EMI recorded it in 1957.

The conductor takes the first movement, "The Arrival in the Country," very deliberately, very purposefully, its repetitions made weightier through its unhurried pace, yet never dragging, never feeling lugubrious. The second movement, "The Scene at the Brook," flows naturally and smoothly, maintaining the easygoing nature of the setting. Then comes Klemperer's famous third movement, usually a quick and boisterous Allegro representing peasant merrymaking, but here taken as though the peasants were more than tipsy when the scherzo started. The storm that follows is weightily structured in big, bold outlines, flowing effortlessly into one of the most joyous "Shepherd's Hymn" in any Sixth interpretation around. This is no namby-pamby performance, but one with a clear and assertive vision of pastoral life.

Otto Klemperer
For what it's worth, by the way, I consider it pretty much a toss-up among four classic recordings of the Sixth as to which is my favorite: Karl Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic (DG); Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony (JVC, HDTT, or RCA); Bruno Walter and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Sony, and especially Sony Japan's Blu-Spec CD); and this Klemperer release on EMI. Any time I play any one of them, that one goes to the top of my list, so there's no clear winner for me.

My past reservations about the recording (made by producer Walter Legge and engineer Douglas Larter in Kingsway Hall, London) were in regard to the sound of the original LP and the recording's previous CD embodiment, which tended to be somewhat thin, harsh, and noisy. By comparison, this 1998 20-bit remastering, a part of EMI's "Klemperer Legacy" series, is smoother, fuller, and quieter. Nonetheless, the remastering retains a good deal of clarity, sounding more transparent than a lot of new releases.

The disc's coupling, Klemperer's recording of the Beethoven First Symphony, seems not nearly so characterful as his Sixth, sounding a little too massive to convey all of the work's good cheer. Nevertheless, it also seems more richly recorded than the Sixth. Go figure.

Of final note: EMI later reissued the same mastering of the Sixth as here in their "Great Performances of the Century" series, albeit with several Beethoven overtures as couplings instead of the First Symphony. You'll find that review here:


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

A Certain Slant of Light (SACD review)

Songs on poems by Emily Dickinson. Lisa Delan, soprano; Lawrence Foster, Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille. Pentatone PTC 5186 634.

"I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog - 
To tell one's name - the livelong June - 
To an admiring Bog!"

American poet Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830-1886) was among the country's most unusual artists in that she was almost unknown as a poet in her lifetime. She was withdrawn and reclusive, never married, and allowed the publication of only a handful of her poems while she was alive. After her death, her relatives found a veritable treasure trove of her poems and published many of them. Then, she became quite famous, yet, remarkably, her complete and largely unedited works would not see publication until 1955.

Although Ms. Dickinson's poems are most often brief and simple, they contain a wealth of insight. Conciseness is probably the single most important element in her poems, her succinctness in expressing big ideas in a small space. She had the unique ability to condense her observations on Nature, spirituality, consciousness, death, solitude, and essential human emotions like fear, longing, and ambition into just a few lines.

It was, perhaps, the breadth of Ms. Dickinson's insights that led a number of composers to set at least some of her poems to music. On the present album we find the work of four such composers, Copland, Heggie, Getty, and Tilson Thomas, effectively sung by soprano Lisa Delan, accompanied by conductor Lawrence Foster and the Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra.

Here's a rundown of the album's contents:

Aaron Copland:
  1. Nature, the gentlest mother
  2. There came a wind like a bugle
  3. The world feels dusty
  4. Heart, we will forget him
  5. Dear March, come in!
  6. Sleep is supposed to be
  7. Going to Heaven!
  8. The Chariot

Jake Heggie:
  9. Silence
10. I'm Nobody! Who are you?
11. Fame
12. That I did always love
13. Goodnight

Gordon Getty:
14. Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers
15. A Bird Came Down the Walk
16. There's a Certain Slant of Light
17. Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Michael Tilson Thomas:
18. Down Time's Quaint Stream
19. The Bible
20. Fame
21. The Earth Has Many Keys
22. Take All Away From Me

The earliest of the musical compositions, Aaron Copland's, date from 1948-50; the others from 2001 (Tilson Thomas) to 2014 (Jake Heggie), with Gordon Getty's pieces deriving from 2004.

Lisa Delan
Soprano Lisa Delan provides a lovely presentation of the poems, her voice radiant and expressive. Maestro Foster's accompaniment with the Marseille Orchestra is sweet and sympathetic. One cannot doubt that the album's selections get a treatment the composers would approve.

That said, I don't know that I appreciated the music as much as I might. Having practically grown up with the poetry of Ms. Dickinson (well, since my teens, at least, in the 1950's), I not sure her poems need the added distinction of music. Would the words of Shakespeare be any better sung? Besides, poetry needs time for reflection, often line by line, maybe word by word, and by turning Ms. Dickinson's poems into songs, we don't get that meditative opportunity (unless you're going to hit the pause button every few seconds).

But I quibble. Of the song-poems presented, I preferred the ones set to music by Aaron Copland. They seemed the most musical and most evocative to me, perhaps because Copland was so used to staging ballet. By contrast, Jake Heggie's arrangements seem more energetic, with more pronounced, more dramatic accompaniments. Gordon Getty's take on some of the poems appears lighter than the others, but certainly appropriate--maybe the most appropriate of all considering the simplicity of the poems. However, he offers up the title poem, "There's a Certain Slant of Light," with a gravity, a seriousness, it deserves. The program ends with five poems by conductor-composer Michael Tilson Thomas, who affords them the most creative, most theatrical frameworks, with a hint of Leonard Bernstein thrown in.

Certainly, there is variety here, with everyone doing his and her part in the proceedings with evident care. I just wish, as I said, I could have enjoyed the music as much as I admired it.

Producers Job Maarse and Lisa Delan and engineers Jean-Marie Geijsen and Karel Bruggeman recorded the music at Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille, France in June and July 2017. They made the album in hybrid SACD for multichannel and two-channel playback from an SACD player and two-channel playback from any ordinary CD player. As usual, I listened in two-channel SACD.

Ms. Delan's voice sounds clear, if a tad strident in the highs, and well integrated with the orchestra--out in front but not excessively so, just realistically placed. The orchestral accompaniment is not too widely spaced behind her but again realistically, and it provides a good stage depth. The overall sonic picture is smooth and gentle, nicely complementing the music.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, November 10, 2018

Concerts at Saint Thomas in December: Handel's Messiah, Britten and Messiaen

Concerts at Saint Thomas will host a special series of holiday programs this December, featuring their annual tradition of Handel's Messiah December 4 & 6, Britten's introspective A Ceremony of Carols December 13, and Messiaen's masterful organ cycle La Nativité du Seigneur December 22, performed on their newly inaugurated Miller-Scott Organ.

Handel: Messiah
December 4 & 6, 2018 | Tuesday & Thursday at 7:30 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
December 13, 2018 | Thursday at 5:30 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

Messiaen: La Nativite du Seigneur
December 22, 2018 | Saturday at 3:00 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Andrea Bocelli Achieves First Ever U.S. #1 Record
In the year of his 60th birthday and almost a quarter century since his debut release, global classical music icon Andrea Bocelli has topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for the first time in his illustrious career with the release of 'Sì' (Decca/Sugar Music), his first album of new original material in 14 years. The album, released in the U.S. on October 26, through Universal Music Classics, part of Verve Label Group, sold 126,000 equivalent units in its first week to debut at #1 stateside and simultaneously topped the charts in the U.K. for the first time.

One of the most universally loved and recognizable performers on the planet, Andrea Bocelli has sold in-excess of 90 million albums to date. His latest album 'Sì' has captivated audiences around the world and features Andrea collaborating with artists including Josh Groban, Dua Lipa, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, Ed Sheeran and his 21-year-old son Matteo Bocelli. Uniquely for a classical artist, their duet together 'Fall on Me' has become a viral hit around the world with its music video garnering more than 21million views in just 5 weeks, while charting on streaming playlists globally.
'Fall on Me' also appears in the end credits of Disney's latest feature film 'The Nutcracker and The Four Realms' starring Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman which debuted in theaters this week. 'Sì' was recorded at his home in Italy and produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Thirty Seconds To Mars).

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Naxos Music Group Acquires Opus Arte Label
Naxos is happy to announce its acquisition of the Opus Arte label from the Royal Opera House. The acquisition marks an important step in the company's expansion of its audiovisual activities, as video is gaining importance in the classical music industry.

The Naxos Music Group has been distributing the label worldwide almost since its launch in 1999.  Opus Arte is one of the most important top-line international DVD and Blu-ray labels today, focused on opera, ballet and theatre. The acquisition includes an important catalogue of some 600 productions, many of which are also available for licensing for television and video on demand. While productions of the Royal Opera House are central to its activities, Opus Arte also regularly releases productions of its key partners, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Globe and Glyndebourne.

With the addition of the Opus Arte catalogue, the Naxos Music Group holds rights to some 1,600 audiovisual programmes and is now a major player in the business of performing arts on screen.  Along with the acquisition of Opus Arte, the Naxos Music Group signed a long-term cooperation agreement with the Royal Opera House, giving Naxos the first option to distribute and market new and upcoming audiovisual recordings of opera and ballet performances from the Royal Opera House on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as to television, video on demand platforms and educational and other licensing partners.

For more information, visit

--Mara Miller, Naxos USA

Annenberg Center Live Presents The Crossing @ Christmas
On Friday, December 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, The Crossing gives its annual Christmas concert, The Crossing @ Christmas, presented by Annenberg Center Live. The concert is in memorial of Jeffrey Dinsmore, co-founder of The Crossing, and features an evening-length world premiere by Gavin Bryars, composer of The Fifth Century, for which The Crossing won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.

The Crossing @ Christmas will receive a special encore performance on Sunday, December 16 at 5:00 p.m. at The Crossing's home venue, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. A pre-concert talk with conductor Donald Nally and composer Gavin Bryars takes place on Sunday at 4:00 pm in the Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel.

For complete information, call (215) 898-3900 or visit

--Katy Solomon, Morahan Arts and Media

First Annual Andrew Park Composition Prize and Concert
The Andrew Park Foundation has named composers June Young Kim (South Korea) and Joseph Lee (USA) prize-winners in the Foundation's first annual Andrew Park Composition Prize. Messrs. Kim and Lee will each receive a cash prize valued at $1,500 and will have their new works premiered at New York's Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday, December 16, 2018, 3 p.m.

The purpose of the Andrew Park Composition Prize is to build a broader understanding of the connections between the traditions of the West and East through music and poetry. In the past, Toru Takemitsu and Isang Yun produced some of the most important works of Asian modernism, combining their experiences of their own and Western cultures. The Foundation encourages composers to continue in this spirit, bridging differences and forging stronger ties.

Applications for the 2019 Andrew Park Composition Prize will be available in February, 2019. For more information please visit

--Raphael Zinman, Nancy Shear Arts Services

Patrick Dupré Quigley leads PBO in December Program
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale will welcome guest conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley at their "Philharmonic Fire" program December 5-9. Currently the founder and artistic director of the Grammy-nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire, Quigley brings a passionate approach to scholarship and conducting with his program of Bach cantatas and vocal works by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, and Purcell.

"The program features two sides of Bach's musical personality: the florid, Italianate Bach who studied the music of the Roman priest Antonio Vivaldi, and the firm, Lutheran Bach in the capitol of Saxony," says Quigley.

Wednesday December 5 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford*
Friday December 7 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday December 8 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday December 9 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

*Bing Tickets available at Stanford Live
(650) 724-BING (2464) or

All other concert tickets available at
City Box Office: (415) 392-4400 or
Price range: $32–$120.

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

ASPECT Foundation Presents Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann
The ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts continues its third New York City season of illuminating performances on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30pm with Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann at Bohemian National Hall. The program features Mozart's String Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516 and Schumann's Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44 performed by an ensemble of world-class musicians: violinists Philippe Quint and Grace Park, violists Matthew Lipman and Kyle Armbrust, cellist Zlatomir Fung, and pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin.

Journalist and author Damian Fowler returns for an illustrated talk on writer E.T.A Hoffmann, about whom Schumann wrote "One hardly dares breathe when reading Hoffmann." Fowler discusses Hoffmann's influence on composers like Schumann, Brahms, and Mozart, having inspired ballets by Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker) and Delibes (Coppélia), as well as operas by Offenbach, Busoni (Die Brautwahl) and Hindemith (Cardillac). His reach as a author, meanwhile, can be seen in the writings of Baudelaire, Balzac, Maupassant, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30pm
Bohemian National Hall | 321 E 73rd St | New York, NY
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

The Nutcracker in New York
In New York on Saturday December 1st, Experiential Theater is thrilled to be bringing the "Nutcracker Dance Party" to the beautiful Bohemian National Hall, NYC. Be transported inside the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. You'll have the opportunity to dance, drink and be merry at this fully interactive concert. Come at 3:30pm for a family friendly experience, and 7:30pm for Adults (with full bar).

Take it from our audience last year, who were dancing to Tchaikovsky's ballet in a magical experience unlike anything else this holiday season!

Did you attend our Nutcracker last year? If so, we'd love to hear from you! We're looking for any and all kinds of feedback, stories, even photos and videos if you have them. If you're willing to share your Nutcracker experience with us, please let us know. We might even feature you on a future post.

Because of the nature of this performance, seats are limited.  Buy your tickets here:

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Experietial Orchestra

Details about Gustavo Dudamel Residency Opening, Dec 1-2
Maestro Gustavo Dudamel's residency at Princeton University Concerts, in honor of our 125th anniversary, will launch on December 1-2, 2018.

As outlined in the press release attached to this email, Maestro Dudamel's first visit to campus will include performances by Afro-Venezuelan folk singer Betsayda Machado, Quartet 212 from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo, students from the El Sistema-inspired Boston String Academy, and two public discussions with Maestro Dudamel about Art, Education and Social Change: one with musicologist Don Michael Randel, and one with New York Philharmonic President & CEO Deborah Borda.

An updated residency public schedule is available online at

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein Plays Couperin, Glass, Satie, Schumann at Miller Theatre
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 8 p.m.; Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, NYC
"An Evening with Simone Dinnerstein"

The celebrated pianist Simone Dinnerstein brings her signature expressive elegance to works by Schumann, Satie, Couperin, and Glass. This collection of intriguing musical curios was chosen by Dinnerstein for their lyrical, contemplative, and exuberant qualities.

For complete information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Chanticleer Presents "A Chanticleer Christmas"
Chanticleer presents its beloved annual holiday tradition, "A Chanticleer Christmas," with eleven performances in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area, December 11 through 23. Chanticleer will present an offering of sacred music from the Renaissance to joyful spirituals and traditional carols in some of the Bay Area's most ornately decorated missions, churches and cathedrals.

The program will be performed on eleven occasions at eight different venues throughout the Bay Area: Tuesday, December 11 at 8:00 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Friday, December 14 at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., St. Vincent Church, Petaluma; Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m., St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco; Sunday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland; Tuesday, December 18 at 8:00 p.m., Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento; Friday, December 21 at 6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., Carmel Mission, Carmel; Saturday, December 22 at 6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., Mission Santa Clara, Santa Clara; and Sunday, December 23 at 8:00 p.m., St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco. This season, Chanticleer will also present "A Very Special Chanticleer Christmas" as part of its Salon Series on Monday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m., Trinity & St. Peter's Church, San Francisco, featuring repertoire from "A Chanticleer Christmas," solo selections and music featuring the church's famed 1924 Skinner Organ.

For further information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Mezzo-Soprano J'Nai Bridges to Make Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Debut
Mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges makes her highly-anticipated Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Debut on December 13 in a recital with pianist Mark Markham.

The program showcases the breadth of her music-making with a mix of contemporary and core repertoire, from Danielpour to Mahler and Ravel, along with songs of faith and spirituals including works by Undine S. Moore and Margaret Bonds that she feels express her views as a woman of color living in America today.

Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall
154 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
Recital with Mark Markham
Thu, Dec 13 @ 7:30pm

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Savannah Music Festival Announces 30th Anniversary Season
From March 28 through April 13, 2019, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF), Savannah, Georgia, celebrates its landmark 30th season with a stellar lineup of concerts, recitals, dance parties and events, and family-friendly performances in nine venues across Savannah's Historic District. From its origins as Savannah On Stage, SMF has grown to become one of the nation's leading multi-disciplinary musical arts events, distinguished by its commitment to innovative programming and known for attracting top-flight artists and audiences from across the country and overseas.

A non-profit performing arts organization, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is dedicated to presenting world-class celebrations of the musical arts by creating timeless and adventurous productions that stimulate arts education, foster economic growth and unite artists and audiences in Savannah. In addition to year-round music education and broadcast initiatives, SMF produces one of the most distinctive cross-genre music festivals in the world. The 2019 festival marks the organization's 30th festival season and runs March 28 through April 13, including performances in venues throughout Savannah's historic district.

For more information, visit

--Mike Fila, Bucklesweet

Pops Stoppers (CD review)

Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra. RCA 09026-63304-2.

Here's another of those jaw-dropping recordings that make one stop and say, "How'd they do that over fifty years ago?" The answer is that the engineers of this "Living Stereo" offering from 1958 didn't know any better than to use relatively simple miking techniques.

By coincidence, I listened to this 1999 release the morning after I attended a concert with Kent Nagano conducting at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. I was immediately struck by how much this disc sounded like the real thing. (About once a month is as often as I get to hear live music, not nearly as much as I'd like. Audiophiles might want to listen even more often, just to learn what they're missing.) Maybe it was the seats we had had the night before and the fact that this recording struck just the right ambiance to duplicate the previous night's listening, I don't know.

Arthur Fiedler
In any event, the sound, recorded in 1958 by Richard Mohr and Lewis Layton, is close to real, but don't expect an audiophile's dream. It isn't. The midrange lacks ultimate clarity, the lower treble lacks a bit of sparkle, and the background noise, some of it from the musicians themselves, is occasionally noticeable. But mark the overall musicality, the breadth and depth of the orchestral picture, the proper resonance, the wide dynamics, and the deep bass. It simply sounds like real music.

Not all of the brief pieces on the disc come off sounding as persuasive as others, however. This is definitely a varied "pops" affair. Among the best tracks are the opening number, Gade's tango "Jealousie," Waldteufel's "The Skaters' Waltz," Liszt's "Liebestraum," Chabrier's "Espana," and especially Sibelius's "Alla Marcia."

Among those that do not fare as well are Ketelbey's "In a Persian Market," the "baksheesh" chorus sounding rough and ill placed; Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," odd considering Fiedler must have known it backwards; and the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Nevertheless, these are minor glitches in an otherwise fine set of sonic accomplishments. It hasn't the glitter or glamour of Fiedler's celebrated recording of Gaite parisienne from a few years earlier, but it's just as musical in its own slightly different way.


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

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" (SACD review)

Also, Richard Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1. William Caballero, horn; Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Reference Recordings FR-728SACD.

Dynamic. That's the best word to describe Manfred Honeck's performance of the Beethoven Third. It's dynamic in terms of Honeck's interpretation and in terms of Soundmirror/Reference Recordings' sonics. Of course, if "dynamic" is not the first thing you want from a Beethoven symphony, you might not appreciate Honeck's way with it. But there is no questioning the excitement the recording generates.

Anyway, you'll recall that in 1804 Beethoven originally wrote his Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" to honor Napoleon Bonaparte, whom the composer greatly admired. However, just before Beethoven premiered the piece in 1805, he learned that Bonaparte had declared himself "Emperor," corrupting the ideals of the French Revolution, so he removed the man's name from the manuscript, inscribing it, instead, "to celebrate the memory of a great man." More important, the symphony marked a turning point in Beethoven's artistic output with its daring length, range, and emotional commitment, marking something of a new beginning in the development of symphonic structure and prompting endless discussions among critics about what it all meant.

The first movement Allegro con brio contains the usual complement of rhythms and harmonies we expect of Beethoven. The opening chords set the tone. Under Honeck, they are decisive, forceful, impactful. However, this is not to suggest that Maestro Honeck takes anything too fast. The speeds may sometimes be brisk, sometimes less so, but they are pretty well judged, the rhythms firm but not erratic. So it's a movement of considerable shifts in emphasis--from heroic to downhearted--just as the composer no doubt intended.

Nevertheless, it is in the second-movement funeral march that conductors must prove their worth. Too slow and it becomes a monumental drag; too fast and it no longer sounds like a funeral march. Here, Honeck adopts a pace about midway between the extremes. He doesn't follow Beethoven's original crazy-fast tempo markings (as most period-instrument and historically informed performances do) nor does he allow it to drag on endlessly. Instead, it sounds appropriately solemn and elegiac, opening up beautifully in the second half with dauntless propulsion before returning to earth.

The third-movement Scherzo is quite lively, even by Beethoven's standards. Honeck attacks it with vigor, in truth outpacing Roger Norrington in his period performance. However, I found it a little too relentless and without much requisite charm.

Manfred Honeck
As a conclusion, Beethoven's Finale is both regal and triumphant, a folklike summing up of the whole piece. Honeck begins with a tremendous flourish of passion before settling into Beethoven's joyous cadences. Again, though, Honeck's relentlessly forward momentum almost does him in, the music seeming in parts almost chaotic rather than flowing.

So, what we get from Maestro Honeck is a performance that stresses what the conductor calls "the novelties" of the symphony. It is certainly not a traditional approach, and it is one that a listener might find taking a little getting used to. Yet it is not so out of the mainstream that one could call it eccentric. Given the quality of the Pittsburgh Symphony's playing as an added bonus, I have a feeling most listeners will enjoy it.

As a coupling, Honeck offers Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11, with William Caballero, horn. Strauss was only eighteen when he wrote it in 1882-83 while a philosophy student at Munich University. It has since become one of the most-popular horn concertos in the classical repertoire, an interesting feat considering the range (and difficulty) of the piece. I suspect the conductor chose it to accompany the Beethoven because it is more directly related to the earlier composer than to Strauss's own later work. Honeck, Caballero, and the Pittsburgh players give it a good workout.

Producer Dirk Sobotka and engineers Mark Donahue (Beethoven) and John Newton (Strauss) of Soundmirror, Boston recorded the music live at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA in October 2017 (Beethoven) and September 2012 (Strauss). They present the recordings on disc in hybrid SACD, meaning you can play it in 5.0 multichannel sound or 2.0 stereo from an SACD player or 2.0 stereo from a regular CD player. I listened in 2-channel stereo from the SACD layer.

Despite its being a live recording, the sound in the Beethoven is not as close-up as it is in most such enterprises, thus ensuring a fairly natural perspective. The Strauss, recorded some five years earlier appears slightly closer but is still good. There is a nice ambient glow around the instruments in the Beethoven, too, and a realistic sense of the concert hall. There is a mild background noise, but it is hardly troubling, and, of course, the dynamic range and impact are excellent. The overall sonic effect is warm, smooth, and comfortable. The producers have thankfully removed all traces of applause.


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

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.

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, Goldpoint SA4 “passive preamp,” 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.

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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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 First Symphony. 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 that 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. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa