On Sure Things…

By Bryan Geyer

When it comes to creating or upgrading a modern audio system, these are my ten general “good sense guidelines.” I apply them with confident certainty, and I recommend them without reservation.


(1) That solid-state class A (and pseudo class A) high-bias power amplifier design is extremely inefficient, and that such amplifiers run w-a-y too hot to be tolerable. In addition, those amplifiers commonly weigh ~ 100 pounds, a mass that’s grossly inconsistent with home decor and display. Instead, stick with solid-state class A/B bias, or the best of the new class D power amp. designs. For admirable excellence at a practical price ($1,495 list), consider Parasound’s recently upgraded model Halo A23+, http://www.parasound.com/a23+.php. It’s a well designed type A/B powerhouse (160 watts per channel into 8Ω, both channels driven) in a package that’s 17 1/4” wide by 15 1/4” deep, and weighs 27 pounds. This product will fit nicely on a 16” deep wall-mounted shelf if you use a replacement power cord (AWG 14, type SJT, fully molded) with a 90˚ angled C13 socket (refer http://www.stayonline.com/molded-cord-configurator.aspx). Also use right-angled RCA adapters, available at https://www.parts-express.com/gold-rca-right-angle-adapter-long--091-184.

(2) That a vacuum tube power amplifier bears consideration only if you intend to recreate a 1950s-’60s vintage replica, and knowingly accept all of the penalties that ensue when compared to a solid-state equivalent. Expect elevated hum+noise, 15X-to-40X more THD, a 8X-to-10X increase in output impedance, grossly inefficient operation, lots of heat, incessant bias drift, infrequent but inevitable failures, and periodic high expense to replace matched sets of archaic output tubes that are produced solely by obscure sources in China, Russia, and Slovakia.

(3) That an active analog crossover network is technically superior to a conventional passive crossover network in every vital respect: Initial accuracy, slope accuracy, long term stability, response flexibility, and operating convenience. Further, an external active analog 4th order crossover is essential if you expect to use subwoofers in your setup (refer “Tech Talk”, sidebar). Consider the Marchand XM66 active crossover that I currently use; https://www.marchandelec.com/xm66.html.

(4) That fully-sealed self-powered subwoofers (minimum = 2, but more are welcome if your space and decor permit) will improve the acoustic performance of any system, in any listening room that’s smaller than a public auditorium, regardless of the quality of the main speakers in use. Of course, all subs need to be optimally adjusted with respect to input gain and phase delay, but that’s easy to accomplish—with full visual assurance (see “Tech Talk”)—if you utilize some basic instrumentation.

(5) That a fine audio system should be located in the primary living room. It’s likely the largest enclosed space available—probably has the least number of fully-paired parallel surfaces—and it might have a higher ceiling. Do recognize that displaying your power amplifiers as a “techno-heap” in the middle of one end of that room is messy, obsessive, and selfish. (Also entirely unnecessary unless you own monstrous 50-100 lb. power amps.) Instead, use sturdy wall-mounted shelves, such as those sold by https://www.containerstore.com/s/elfa/components/elfa-solid-shelving/123, or buy some attractive contemporary audio furniture to house your electronic baggage. A giant mound of hi-end tech may seem gorgeous to audiophiles, but it looks like pawned overstock to others.

(6) That acoustic excellence can be achieved without resorting to massive loudspeakers, and that enjoyable listening rooms should never look like the photo that’s on this page.

(7) That classical music will become a vital source of great personal pleasure if you start by acquiring these redbook CDs: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=709279, plus a quality CD player. (I definitely recommend real CD discs rather than digital downloads. The latter process can vary; it’s not always as promised.) The Mozart piano concertos are forever fresh, and always good company. Given the benefit of regular exposure, even the junior members of the household will eventually concur, although realization might take 30 years.

(8) That Belden’s type 5000 loudspeaker wire, in AWG 10 or AWG 12, as sourced from Blue Jeans Cable (https://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/speaker/index.htm), will perform (and measure) every bit as good—or better—than anything else that you can buy, at any price, including the most exotic audiophile hi-end speaker cable from any source, anywhere. Science knows best.

(9) That you can be assured of top quality performance and long term zero-maintenance listening if you select compatible (has proper input/output impedance, correct stage gain) solid state components, and install your equipment in a stable and secure manner, in a logical layout, with adequate ventilation (no “stacking”). Assuming normal residential EMI environs and interconnect lengths that don’t exceed 1 meter (self-powered subwoofers excepted, and not an issue), good RCA style cordage will assure noise free performance that’s fully equivalent to what you’d get with an XLR hookup.

(10) That a good FM tuner (+ proper antenna) can still be a desirable input source if you have access to a reliable signal from a non-commercial public broadcast station that transmits classical music via the HD-FM process. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio.) I live on the central coast of California, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, where we have a local low power repeater that relays the HD-FM signal from KUSC/Los Angeles, the last non-commercial public radio station in the U.S. that’s dedicated exclusively to classical music, 24/7. (No NPR, no PRI, no news, no jazz or folk music—it’s purely classical*.) KUSC does much of this with live in-studio program hosts, so the music is properly identified, and there’s a concurrent playlist on their website. KUSC’s transmission consumes the full 96 kbps bandwidth of their federally licensed HD-FM allocation (no HD subcarriers), so listeners can access the best possible HD-FM broadcast fidelity. If you tune in with a top quality FM-HD receiver that’s optimally aligned, the sound is totally free of noise, with wide frequency response and fine dynamic range. It’s a whole lot better sound from radio than you ever heard before!

*Well, their programmers seem to feel that movie themes (think Star Wars) are classical too. There’s a bit too much of such John Williams’ music for me, but that might be more welcome in other galaxies.

BG

20th Century Harpsichord Concertos (CD review)

Jory Vinikour, harpsichord; Scott Speck, Chicago Philharmonic. Cedille CDR 90000 188.

You'd have thought that so relatively antique an instrument as the harpsichord, deriving as it does from various designs dating back as far as the Middle Ages, would have relatively few new compositions written for it. But, in fact, as its popularity died out in the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in favor of the newfangled piano, it made a comeback of sorts in the twentieth century. In part this was due to a renewed interest in historically informed performances, but it was also due to a resurgence in new music written for the harpsichord. That's what this album is all about: Four modern concertos designed specifically for the harpsichord and played by harpsichord specialist Jory Vinikour.

Thus, the program presents four harpsichord pieces by twentieth-century composers. The first is the Concertino for Harpsichord and Strings by English composer Walter Leigh (1905-1942). He wrote the little work in 1934, and it is concise, melodic, and poetic. Vinikour plays a mean harpsichord, so there is nothing pretentious or hoity-toity here; the guy could probably play a rock concert on his harpsichord. Moreover, Maestro Scott Speck and the dozen or so Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players who accompany Vinikour do so in exemplary fashion, never overwhelming the soloist, never leaving him behind or forgotten, either. The music is well presented in vigorous style.

Jory Vinikour
Next is the Concertino de Camera by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Ned Rorem (b. 1923). He wrote it in 1946, although it didn't see a première until 1993. Vinikour's present recording is its debut on record. The work is cheerful, melancholy, and vivacious by turns and always tuneful. I suspect this is because of Vinikour's enthusiasm as much as it is the music. Vinikour attacks it with energy and élan. Yes, it does appear a little more "modern" than the Leigh piece that precedes it, yet it is always accessible and charming. I especially liked the delicate ornamental work of the middle, slow movement and the sensitive ensemble work of the half dozen or so accompanists.

After that is the Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings, Op. 42 by Czech composer Victor Kalabis (1923-2006). He wrote it in 1974-75, and Vinikour says "...it is difficult to imagine a work, distinctly a product of the 20th-century though it is, fitting the harpsichord so perfectly." I can't imagine the piece being played any better than Vinikour handles it, particularly the soulfully pensive Andante.

The final selection on the disc is the Concerto for Amplified Harpsichord and Strings by the English composer, pianist, and musicologist Michael Nyman (b. 1944). He wrote his concerto in 1994-95, and like much of Nyman's work, it is a minimalist creation. Yet, as Vinikour says, it "is thrilling both for performer and audience!" I have to admit that being a rather old-fashioned kind of fellow, I probably can't enjoy Nyman as much as many other listeners might. It gets a little raucous for my taste, but there's no denying the appeal of its driving rhythms and often exciting tango-like interludes.

Additionally, there is an excellent, twenty-page booklet insert that one should not ignore. It contains extensive notes by the soloist on each of the selections as well as information on the performers and production crew.

Producer James Ginsburg and engineer Bill Maylone recorded the concertos at Wentz Hall, Naperville, Illinois in November 2016; at the Feinberg Theater, Spertus Institute, Chicago, Illinois in March 2018; and at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago (Rorem) in May 2018.

As always from this team, the sound is quite natural, like sitting in the seventh or eighth row at a concert hall. There is plenty of bass warmth and a minimum but realistic ambient hall bloom. It is perhaps a tad closer than usual from them, but it captures the sound of the harpsichord most vividly. What's more, the dynamic range and frequency response are up to the task of reproducing the concertos in lifelike fashion.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, August 17, 2019

MCANA Award for Best New Opera Announced

Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) is pleased to announce that its 3rd Annual Award for Best New Opera has been given to composer and sound artist Ellen Reid and librettist Roxie Perkins for p r i s m — "a riveting new opera" (I Care If You Listen) with "an enchanting libretto" (The Log) that "treads a fine line between poetic abstraction and gut-wrenching reality" (San Francisco Classical Voice).

The MCANA Award for Best New Opera is a major recognition given annually by an Awards Committee of distinguished music critics. Honoring an opera premiered in either the United States or Canada, it is the only award for "Best New Opera" in the U.S., and one of the few in the world that simultaneously recognizes both the composer and librettist.

p r i s m received its premiere as part of Los Angeles Opera's "Off Grand" series on November 29, 2018, commissioned and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects. The opera, which addresses the psychological effects of surviving sexual assault, is a haunting, kaleidoscopic work of opera-theatre that traverses the elasticity of memory after trauma. Ellen Reid's music uses choral and orchestral manipulation to deliver an eerily distinct sonic world. This past April, Reid won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for p r i s m.

The Award was presented to composer and librettist on Friday, July 26, 2019 at the opening reception of the MCANA Annual Meeting, which this year was held at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshires.

Watch the pris m trailer here: https://vimeo.com/325270884

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

CSO Violinist Robert Chen, Pianist Matthew Hagle Open Music Institute Season
To open its 2019–20 season of performances at Nichols Concert Hall, the Music Institute of Chicago celebrates Beethoven's 250th birthday with a concert featuring Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) concertmaster Robert Chen and Music Institute piano faculty Matthew Hagle Sunday, September 29 at 3 p.m. Nichols Concert Hall is located at 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

The program includes Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 12, No. 3, along with Fauré's Sonata No. 1 in A Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 13; Schubert's Rondo in B minor for Violin and Piano, D 895; and several Kreisler works to be announced.

Admission is $50 for VIP seating, $25 for advance purchase, and $30 at the door. Tickets are available by calling 847-905-1500 ext. 108 or at musicinst.org/nch.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Concerts at Saint Thomas Opens 2019-20 Season with a Grand Organ Series
Concerts at Saint Thomas will begin its 2019-20 season, the centennial year for the choir school, on Friday, September 27 at 7:00 pm with the first of five Grand Organ Series performances on the Miller-Scott Organ.

Jeremy Filsell, Saint Thomas's newest Organist and Director of Music, performs a program that unites New York and Paris to mark both the legacy Jeremy Filsell inherits at Saint Thomas and the French 20th-century repertoire for which he has become known as a performer.

Grand Organ Recital - Jeremy Filsell
September 27, 2019 | Friday at 7:00 pm
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, New York City

For more information, visit https://www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/concerts

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Chanticleer Opens Season with "Trade Winds"
Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer opens its 2019-2020 subscription season with "Trade Winds" in locations across the San Francisco Bay Area, September 15 through 29.

Appropriately saluting their upcoming world travels, the twelve-man vocal ensemble will present the music of sea-faring people and tropical climates in a program that includes the U.S. premiere of a commissioned work, also entitled "Trade Winds," by Chinese composer Zhou Tian. Works range from Monteverdi to Grieg, as well as a selection of traditional folk songs and sea shanties from all over the world.

The program will be presented as part of Chanticleer's subscription season in five SF Bay Area locations: Wednesday, September 18 at 7:30 p.m., Santa Clara Mission; Sunday, September 22 at 5 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael; Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music; Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m. at St. Augustine Church, Pleasanton; and Sunday September 29 at 5 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Sacramento. A special "Salon Series" performance will be presented on Sunday, September 15 at 4 p.m. in the nautical setting of the Spaulding Marine Center, Sausalito.

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

--Brenden Guy Media

21st Edition of La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant
Angèle Dubeau, founder and Artistic Director of La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant, which unveiled its program today, invites festival-goers to an event presented by Québecor and not to be missed, which will be held over the long Labour Day weekend from August 30 to September 2, 2019.

"This annual gathering has been part of our lives for over 20 years and I still have plenty of music to share with you. Our greatest musicians and singers will be the heart of the party for this long weekend in Tremblant's majestic setting. I promise you beautiful encounters and pure emotion," says Angèle Dubeau.

The heart of Tremblant's pedestrian village will be the venue of more than thirty free concerts offered by great Canadian artists.

For complete information, visit www.fetedelamusiquetremblant.com

--France Gaignard

The Crypt Sessions Presents Joshua Roman and Conor Hanick
The Crypt Sessions will return to The Church of the Intercession, Harlem, New York, to continue its fourth season on September 18, 2019, with cellist Joshua Roman and pianist Conor Hanick performing a program entitled "The Instant and the Eternal," featuring Arvo Pärt's Fratres (Brothers) and Spiegel im Spigel (The Mirror in the Mirror), interspersed with Alfred Schnittke's Sonata for Cello and Piano. Each piece will be followed by an extended period of silent meditation.

The performance will begin at 8:00 pm with a food and wine pre-concert reception at 7:00 pm included in the ticket price.

For full information, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/cryptsessions

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Free Concert by So Percussion
Internationally renowned percussion ensemble So Percussion present a free (ticketed) concert
on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, New Jersey.

One of two free concerts that the Princeton University Department of Music's Edward T. Cone
Performers-in-Residence present annually, and the first concert in the Department of Music's
robust 2019/20 public programming, this performance features an unusual program with works
by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe and the ensemble's own Jason Treuting.

Wolfe's Forbidden Love , co-commissioned by the LA Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, is
written for the instruments of a string quartet to be performed percussively. Treuting's Amid the
Noise is a communal music-making project that will be presented alongside guest Princeton
University student artists. Both works highlight the incredible range of percussion instruments,
and the exciting genre-defying trajectory of music written for these instruments.

Free tickets are required for this concert, which will be released on Friday, September 6,
2019 at 10AM online and in person during box office hours at the Frist Campus Center
and Lewis Arts complex box offices. Remaining tickets will be available one hour before
the concert at the venue.

So Percussion's second free concert of the season, taking place on Saturday February 15, 2020 at
7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, will feature guest artist and Pulitzer prize-winning composer
Caroline Shaw.

For more information, visit music.princeton.edu

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Marketing & Outreach Manager

Summer 2019 Call for Scores - PARMA Recordings
Who can believe that 2019 is already past the halfway point? While we shift into late summer (and maybe dust off those old New Years' resolutions?), it bears remembering that the year is far from over. There is still plenty of time to start doing things to make this the best year yet—starting a gym routine or traveling somewhere new, or maybe releasing that musical idea, score, or recording that you've been dreaming of bringing to life. If you've had the latter on your mind, the Summer 2019 Call for Scores can help. In addition to being recorded, selected submissions will be considered for live performance. Previously accepted scores have been performed in Russia, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the United States, and more.

We are currently accepting submissions for:
    Works for Orchestra (with or without soloists) - Glasgow, Scotland
    Works for Chamber Ensemble or Chamber Opera - Athens, Greece
    Live Recordings of Orchestral Works

Guidelines:
Please submit PDF scores and audio examples via our Project Submission form:  http://parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores.html

Selected scores will be recorded and commercially released by PARMA Recordings; selected live recordings will be mastered and commercially released by PARMA Recordings. The submitter is responsible for securing funds associated with the production and release 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 September 6, 2019. 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.

Again, for the Project Submission form, visit http://parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores.html

--PARMA Recordings

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: Operetta Arias (CD review)

Otto Ackermann, Philharmonia Orchestra. EMI 7243 5 66989 2 5.

If you are like me, one of the joys of owning a large record collection is rediscovering something you haven't played in years. A friend of mine reminded me of this disc when he played a few excerpts from his own copy on the eve of his departure for Sri Lanka. He was heading off for two years in the Peace Corp, his idea of retirement, and since he could only bring a few CDs along with him, he was trying to decide which couple of dozen to take. Ms. Schwarzkopf headed his list.

The recording, from 1957 (released in 1959), remains one of the finest things the German-born Austro-British soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006) ever did, and she recorded a mountain of marvelous discs. She and her record-producer husband, Walter Legge, were meticulous about every detail of a song and a recording. Here, it shows.

It is a testament to their work that this is one of the oldest EMI recordings still selling briskly almost everywhere and in various different formats. Ms. Schwarzkopf excelled at opera, light opera, operetta, and lieder, and she and Legge would practice for hours on a single passage or the phrasing of a single note. Again, it shows.

Excerpts from Benatzky-Strauss's Casanova, Suppe's Boccaccio, Lehar's Der Graf von Luxemburg and Giuditta, and others have never come across more perfectly. The complete listing is as follows:

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf
  1. Heuberger: Der Opernball - "Im Chambre Séparée"
  2. Zeller: Der Vogelhändler - "Ich Bin Die Christel Von Der Post"
  3. Zeller: Der Vogelhandler - "Schenkt Man Sich Rosen in Tirol"
  4. Lehar: Der Zarewitsch - "Einer Wird Kommen"
  5. Lehar: Der Graf Von Luxemburg - "Hoch, Evoë, Angèle Didier"
  6. Benatsky: Casanova - "Nun's Chorus" and "Laura's Song"
  7. Millocker: Die Dubarry - "Ich Schenk Mein Herz"
  8. Millocker: Die Dubarry - "Was Ich Im Leben Beginne"
  9. Suppe: Boccaccio - "Hab Ich Nur Deine Liebe"
10. Lehar: Der Graf von Luxemburg - "Heut Noch Werd Ich Ehefrau"
11. Zeller: Der Obersteiger - "Sei Nicht Bös"
12. Lehar: Guiditta - "Meine Lippen, Sie Küssen So Heiss"
13. Sieczynsky: "Wien Du Stadt Meiner Träume"

What's more, EMI's sound is above reproach even after all these years, especially as remastered here in 1999 as part of EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" series. It is perhaps a little rough around the edges by today's standards, but it is better than most of today's digital recordings in its sense of naturalness and its emphasis on the beauty of the human voice. Indeed, one hardly notices the orchestral accompaniment, the voice is so aesthetically dominant, which is as it should be.

This is a disc of sweetness and refinement and great joy.

JJP

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


Copland: Billy the Kid, complete ballet (CD review)

Also, Grohg. Leonard Slatkin, Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.559862.

Was there ever another composer who so captured the American spirit as Aaron Copland (1900-1990)? His fellow composers referred to him as "the Dean of American composers," his having written such classics as Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, The Red Pony, Fanfare for the Common Man, Of Mice and Men, Our Town, and Billy the Kid. And what conductor has done more to advance the cause of musical Americana than Leonard Slatkin? Leonard Bernstein perhaps? Michael Tilson Thomas, Eugene Ormandy, Erich Kunzel? I dunno. In any case, before this recording with his Detroit Symphony, Slatkin had already recorded Billy the Kid at least twice, the previous releases being with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC Music) and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (EMI, Musical Heritage Society, and Warner Classics). This time, however, he does the work complete.

Copland wrote Billy the Kid in 1938 on commission from Lincoln Kirstein, a noted New York impresario and cofounder of the New York City Ballet. The music became an instant success, incorporating as it does several well-known folk and Western tunes and telling an episodic story more about the Wild West in general than specifically about the notorious outlaw William H. Bonney (born Henry McCartney).

Leonard Slatkin
This work was the first in Copland's newfound "Americanized" style, and Slatkin takes advantage of it. There's a jaunty Western rhythm to the music, yet it's never a simple forward beat. The conductor is able to wring empathy, tenderness, and excitement from the piece, all the while making it seem almost cinematic, like a John Ford picture. Although I have to admit a slight preference for the composer's own late-Sixties recording with the London Symphony (Sony), the composer stuck with the suite rather than the full ballet. So this rendering with Slatkin may be among the best complete scores you'll find. And it's good to find it at so reasonable a price, too.

In addition to the complete Billy the Kid ballet is what may be for many listeners, perhaps, an oddity, the one-act Copland ballet from 1925 called Grohg. No, I hadn't heard of it before, either. The composer was inspired to write it after seeing German director F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent expressionist film Nosferatu, a retelling of the Dracula story. Although the tale is morbid, even gruesome, Copland said he meant his music to be "fantastic rather than ghastly."

The work may be short, less than thirty minutes, but it's colorful, a little jazzy, and certainly bizarre. Slatkin takes advantage of all of these characteristics, making it a rather fun piece of music and unaccountably overlooked by most other conductors. While it's no underrated masterpiece by any means, it does come off under Slatkin as something like a good film score. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of trying to incorporate it with the silent Murnau flick? Probably. In any event, Slatkin does make it come alive (pun intended) for the listener, and one can easily imagine the action of the story as it unfolds and feel the atmosphere of the scenes.

Producer Blanton Alspaugh and engineers Matthew Pons and Mark Donahue recorded the music at Orchestra Hall, Detroit, in October and November 2014. It's a pleasure listening to a recording not made live with an audience present. The perspective here is natural, not close-up, the frequency and dynamic responses are wide (the shot that kills Billy may jolt you from your seat), and the sense of hall presence in a fairly ambient bloom is pleasing to the ear. There could have been, I suppose, a bit more warmth in the upper bass to enhance the realism even further, but the overall clarity is, nevertheless, quite welcome.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, August 10, 2019

Uzbek Pianist Behzod Abduraimov Delights Audiences and Critics Alike

The young Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov continues to delight audiences and critics alike, enjoying a growing chorus of acclaim rarely bestowed on a 28-year-old. He has justly been called "the most perfectly accomplished pianist of his generation" (The Independent, UK), and he will accomplish this season what many pianists fail to achieve over the course of a lifetime: two concerts at Carnegie Hall, both in the majestic Stern Auditorium. He has earned that privilege with performances that display immense musicality, phenomenal technique and breath-taking delicacy, exciting audiences in large halls and bringing a fresh perspective to each program. NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands was not engaging in hyperbole when they wrote, "Abduraimov can do anything,… His secret: authenticity, control and a velvet pianissimo."

For his first concert this season at Carnegie, in October, he joins the Munich Philharmonic, conducted by Valery Gergiev, for Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1 (a piece he recorded on Decca Classics with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai under Juraj Valcuha), and appears with them again two days later at NJ PAC in Newark. In December, Abduraimov returns to Carnegie Hall for a solo recital in Stern Auditorium with a program of music by Chopin, Debussy, and Mussorgsky.

In 2009, Abduraimov won First Prize at the London International Piano Competition, and his debut recital CD in 2012 won both the Choc de Classica and the Diapason De´couverte. In 2018, his impressive debut at the BBC Proms with the Munich Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev was released as a DVD, and more recordings are due out this season.

In addition to having performed dozens of times with Valery Gergiev, Abduraimov performs regularly on the world's major concert stages as a recitalist and with premier orchestras, including Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl.

For complete information, visit http://www.behzodabduraimov.com/

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Following Israel Philharmonic Jump-in, Tom Borrow Signs to James Inverne Music
Being named "the very definition of a 'one to watch''' in a two-page International Piano magazine feature at the tender age of 18 might be considered a dramatic development. But fast-rising Israeli pianist Tom Borrow knows all about drama.

Earlier this year he received a dramatic phone call from the Israel Philharmonic; Khatia Buniatishvili was ill. Could he step in to play the Ravel Piano Concerto in G, in an entire subscription series of 12 concerts under the baton of Yoel Levi? The first concert was in 36 hours. Despite not having the concerto 'in his hands' at that moment, nor having performed with the IPO before, Tom of course accepted - his debut was a sensational success. Israel's main radio reviewer Yossi Schifmann opined, "Brilliant...outstanding...Tom Borrow is already a star and we will all surely hear more about him." Overnight Tom Borrow was the great young hope of Israeli pianists.

Tom Borrow says, "I already know how crucial it is to have good people, who care, around you. James was recommended to me very highly and we immediately struck up a great relationship, which is already yielding some great things - not least my London Philharmonic Orchestra debut next year. I am very excited to have James and his colleagues by my side for this journey."

Watch Tom Borrow play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra / Yoel Levi) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RH4LLB9a5M&feature=youtu.be

For more, visit https://aicf.org/artist/tom-borrow/

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

West Edge Opera Announces Lineup for 2020 Festival
West Edge Opera is thrilled to announce its 2020 festival lineup, a provocative trio of works spanning 350 years of operatic thought. The festival will occur a week earlier than prior seasons, spanning July 25-August 9, 2020.

2020 will mark the return of celebrated bay area soprano Carrie Hennessey in Leoš Janácek's Kátya Kabanová, a passionate work inspired by the composer's unrequited love, late in life, for a much younger woman, Kamila Stösslová. Ms Hennessey was last seen with West Edge in Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair in 2014.

Representing contemporary opera will be Elizabeth Cree, from the pulitzer winning team of composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell. This darkly comic chamber opera follows the life of an orphaned, impoverished young girl as she finds notoriety.

Rounding out the festival will be Eliogabolo by early Baroque composer Francesco Cavalli. Composed in1667, banned in Cavalli's lifetime, and in fact never performed until 1999.

For complete information, visit https://www.westedgeopera.org/

--West Edge Opera

Miller Theatre Announces the Fall 2019 Season
Pop-Up Concerts: A musical happy hour with the audience onstage.

Tuesday, September 10:
Stephen Gosling
Music of John Zorn

Tuesday, October 29:
counter)induction
Music of Jessica Meyer

Tuesday, November 26:
TAK Ensemble

Tuesday, December 10:
Bridget Kibbey

Free admission. Doors open at 5:30pm, music at 6:00pm at Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC).

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Nashville Symphony Welcomes Five Rising Composers
The Nashville Symphony has selected five promising young composers from across the country to participate in the third edition of its Composer Lab & Workshop, a unique initiative designed to discover and cultivate the next generation of great American composers.

The five composers – Jack Frerer, SiHyun Uhm, Brian Raphael Nabors, Niloufar Nourbakhsh and Jared Miller – will be in Nashville on September 3-5 to take part in the comprehensive program, led by Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. During their three-day visit to Nashville, each composer will showcase their music and gain firsthand insights into working with a major American orchestra.

The centerpiece of the program will be an open rehearsal at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4, when the Nashville Symphony will perform works by all five Composer Lab & Workshop participants at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Admission is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required for entry. Tickets are available at NashvilleSymphony.org/ComposerLab.

--Rebecca Davis PR

Third Coast Baroque to Bask in Handel, Vivaldi, and Gallic Greats
Third Coast Baroque, Chicago's newest early music ensemble, has announced its 2019–2020 concert season, which will feature music of George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, and French Baroque masters at performances in Chicago and suburbs.

This season, the flourishing arts organization increases its subscription concert series from two to three distinct programs. Under the artistic direction of Rubén Dubrovsky, "Chicago's most accomplished period instrumentalists and singers" (Chicago Tribune) will perform concerts spotlighting heroines of Handel cantatas, 18th-century instrumental masterworks by Francois Couperin and Jean-Marie Leclair, and arias from Antonio Vivaldi's opera Orlando furioso.

Concerts are 7:30pm Friday, September 6, 2019, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston; and 5:00pm Saturday, September 7, at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple 77 W Washington Street, Chicago, Il.

Audience members are invited to attend a post-concert discussion with Maestro Dubrovsky, the artists, and partners from local organizations that provide support for women.

Tickets can be purchased in advance ($10-50) online at thirdcoastbaroque.org or by calling 847-216-1859. Tickets may also be purchased at the door ($10-60). Season passes also are available ($56.25-$135). Special pricing is available for seniors (65+), students (with valid ID), and patrons under 35.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

On the Road with YPC National
Early on the morning of Tuesday, July 16, forty Young People's Chorus of New York City singers, along with their Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez, YPC conductors, and staff began a new chapter in the 30-year history of the award-winning chorus. Boarding a plane bound for the Dominican Republic, they were on their way to the first leg of the YPC National maiden tour, which over the next two weeks, would feature three inaugural concerts heralding the debut of Concinamus, the YPC National choral ensemble.

Sing with YPC:
Saturday, October 19 at Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Save the date for our second annual YPC Big Sing! Back by popular demand, Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, and special guests will lead the audience in a program of songs everyone knows and loves.

For complete information Young People's Chorus of NYC, visit www.ypc.org

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

A Look Back on the Outstanding 42nd Edition of the Festival de Lanaudière
The 42nd season of the Festival de Lanaudière has just come to a close with a breathtaking weekend to crown this memorable edition. "We immediately felt the public's confidence in this first season entrusted to Renaud Loranger. This paves the way for a bright future," points out François Bédard, the event's executive director.

The Festival has rekindled its founder's original vision: to share classical music with a large public and to shine a spotlight on talent from around the world. Powerful pieces, stunning performances, wonderful discoveries, international stars from the world of classical music, several Canadian and Quebec debuts, and a very enthusiastic response from the public. "At the Festival, we breathe, listen to and watch music differently," expresses Renaud Loranger, artistic director.

For complete information on the Festival de Lanaudiere, visit http://www2.lanaudiere.org/fr/

--France Gaignard

The Angel's Share Presents Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin
The Angel's Share returns this Fall from September 24-27, with boundary-pushing pianists Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin taking a tag-team approach to Liszt's towering ten-movement ode to transcendence, the Poetic and Religious Harmonies, in the Catacombs of The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

The performances will also feature a specially-made mirror installation above the piano, allowing audiences to get the chance to look down on the strings and keys of the piano. There will also be an intermission (with additional whiskey) at the half point of the program.

The Angel's Share series takes its name from the distiller's term for whiskey that evaporates while maturing in the barrel, thus going to the angels. Accordingly, each performance will begin with a pre-concert reception with food, drinks, and a whiskey tasting overlooking the Manhattan skyline and the New York Harbor at sunset. At dusk, guests will then follow a candle-lit pathway down to the Catacombs for the performance.

For more information, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/angelshare

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Copland House 2019 Residency Awards Announced
A wide-ranging group of twelve composers has been selected to receive this year's coveted Copland House Residency Awards. Ranging in age from 25 to 55 and coming from ten states and varied backgrounds, these gifted artists have pursued diverse creative interests and idioms, ranging from concert music to jazz, acoustic to electronic, fully-notated to improvisatory, socially-engaged to abstract.

Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin announced that Copland House's Residents for the 2019-2020 season will be Lembit Beecher, 38 (New York, NY), Luke Carlson, 35 (Point Lookout, MO), Chen Yihan, 25 (Lawrence Township, NJ), Joshua Hey, 31 (Philadelphia, PA), Amelia Kaplan, 55 (Muncie, IN), Emily Koh, 33 (Norcross, GA), Pascal LeBoeuf, 32 (Princeton, NJ), Joel Love, 36 (Houston, TX), Patrick O'Malley, 29 (Los Angeles, CA), Tawnie Olson, 44 (New Haven, CT), James Romig, 47 (Macomb, IL), and Christopher Zuar, 32 (New York, NY). Beecher and Romig will be returning for their second Residencies, and O'Malley was a Copland House CULTIVATE Emerging Composer Fellows in 2017 and one of its "What's the Score?" Fellows (for public school commissions) last season.

The new Residents were selected out of over 140 applicants from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and three countries. They were chosen by this year's eminent composer jury, which included Pierre Jalbert (a two-time Copland House Resident), Laura Kaminsky, and James Primosch.

For complete information, visit coplandhouse.org

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

OneBeat Announces 2019 Fellows - Twenty-Five Pioneering Musicians
OneBeat, a cultural exchange initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs produced by Bang on a Can's Found Sound Nation, is among the world's leading music diplomacy programs.  From September 16-October 14, 2019, twenty-five innovative and socially engaged musicians from seventeen countries, ranging from Algeria to Cuba to Madagascar to the United States, will participate in an intense month of musical collaboration, public performances, installations, pop-up events and workshops in Gainesville, FL; Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville, TN.

"It makes so much sense, to use music as a strategy to generate peace and cooperation.  Found Sound Nation, our former Fellows and now our esteemed colleagues, have built through OneBeat a global community of young visionaries, based on a common belief - that music can open hearts, bridge differences and collaboratively create a better world.  We're so fortunate that the U.S. Department of State supports these noble goals," says Pulitzer Prize winning composer and co-founder of Bang on a Can David Lang.

This year's eclectic musicians include: Rodney Barreto, one of Cuba's leading jazz drummers and member of the Chucho Valdes Quintet; Nepalese multi-instrumentalist and film music composer Jason Kunwar; pioneering modular Chinese synth designer and sound-artist Meng Qi; Baltimore-based producer, educator and award-winning entrepreneur Kariz Marcel; and virtuosic young Mongolian Yatga player Oyuntuya Enkhbat.

To read about all the OneBeat fellows, visit www.1beat.org/people

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

New Music Choir, The Crossing, Announces 2019-2020 Season
Winner of the 2018 and 2019 Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with conductor Donald Nally, has announced its 2019-2020 season.

The season, which is centered around how humans use their words and voices to promote change, includes nine performances of Aniara: fragments of time and space in Helsinki presented by the Finnish National Opera; the world premiere of Gavin s Bryars's A Native Hill at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill; The Crossing @ Christmas featuring a world premiere by Edie Hill at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, presented by the Annenberg Center, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, and The Met Cloisters; Knee Plays featuring the music of Philip Glass and David Byrne presented by the Annenberg Center as part of a season long residency; the world premiere of Michael Gordon's Travel Guide to Nicaragua presented by the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia and the New York premiere presented by Carnegie Hall in New York City; "The Month of Moderns 2020" featuring world premieres by Daniel Felsenfeld, Tawnie Olson, and Aaron Helgeson and music by Nicholas Cline, Morton Feldman, and Toivo Tulev; and The Crossing's Annual Residency at Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, where they continue work on a 24-hour piece of music and film with Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

For complete information, visit www.crossingchoir.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Piano Works by Women, Beethoven Open Orion's Season
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, opens its 27th season with a program welcoming guest violist Stephen Boe and celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, along with a collection of piano-focused works. Performances take place at a new venue--New England Congregational Church in Aurora, Illinois--September 29, PianoForte Studios in Chicago October 2 and Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Il, October 6.

The Orion Ensemble's opening concert program of its 27th season takes place Sunday, September 29 at 7 p.m. at its new venue, New England Congregational Church, 406 W. Galena Boulevard in Aurora, Il; Wednesday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston.

Single tickets are $30, $25 for seniors (65+) and $15 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet (CD review)

Catherine Robbin, soprano; Jean Paul Fouchecourt, tenor; Giles Cachemaille, bass. John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. Decca 478 3934 (2-disc set).

It was just year earlier, in 1997, that Philips released Sir Colin Davis's remake of Hector Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet with the Vienna Philharmonic; then, in 1998 Philips almost competed with itself with this set by John Eliot Gardiner. Fortunately, it really wasn't a competition since Gardiner conducts a period-instrument band and Davis does not. Plus, the newer Gardiner recording has the added feature of the listener being able to program it three different ways: In the standard performing version, presumably Berlioz's last word on the subject; in Berlioz's original version of it from 1839; and in Gardiner's own preferred version.

John Eliot Gardiner
No, I didn't try all three arrangements. For comparison purposes I stuck to the standard version that Colin Davis followed because it was the best known to me. Nevertheless, the original version includes some attractive material the composer decided to omit, while, of course, leaving out a few items that he later added. I listened to the optional material independently of the rest of the work; not fair, I know, but the best I could do. I thought at the time it would be fascinating to hear the other arrangements in their entirety when I had more time. Well, as of this writing some twenty years on, I still haven't found the time.

As to the performances themselves, Gardiner's and Davis's, Gardiner's is the more dynamic. In general, it is a little swifter in its tempos and seemingly, smaller, overall, in scope. What's more, by a slight margin Gardiner's 1995 Philips recording, made in the Colosseum, Watford, England and now released on Decca, seems more clearly recorded than Davis's. As expected, though, under Davis the VPO, being a larger ensemble and playing modern instruments, present a bigger, weightier picture; and Davis's direction, a bit broader and more lyrical than Gardiner's, complements the image nicely.

I am not sure which set I prefer over the other. I certainly enjoyed them both. If I had to live with just one, however, I would go with the more familiar Davis. The music seems to flow more naturally in his hands, and the nuances are not quite so forced. Tough choices, though.

JJP

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


Elgar: Enigma Variations (CD review)

Also, In the South; Serenade for Strings. Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Onyx 4205.

Like him or not, Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is among the most popular English composers in history. His biggest hit is probably the "Land of Hope and Glory" section of his March No. 1 in D, heard in graduation ceremonies throughout the world. Then there are his violin and cello concertos, his two symphonies, and, of course, among many other things the piece that put him on the map, the Enigma Variations. On the present album Vasily Petrenko and his Royal Liverpool Philharmonic present three of Elgar's most famous tunes, the concert overture In the South, the Serenade for Strings, and the aforementioned Enigma Variations. Despite strong recorded competition from British stalwarts like Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Adrian Boult, Petrenko's new album is a pleasant reminder of just how good Elgar's music is.

First up is the concert overture In the South, Op. 50, written in 1903-04, is really a sort of tone poem. It's rather lengthy for a "concert overture," explained in part by the fact that Elgar wrote it after setting aside an attempt at a symphony. Elgar claimed the music represented a holiday he spent in Italy, which may be so, but with its big, bold statements along the lines of Richard Strauss's Don Juan from a decade or so earlier, it sounds more heroic than it does balmy, sunny, or Italianate.

Maestro Petrenko does his best with it, perhaps overemphasizing the more bombastic episodes but making it sound colorful and exciting. Although it remains a somewhat shallow piece, it makes a good, if drawn-out curtain raiser.

Next is the Serenade for String Orchestra, Op. 20, written in 1892 but not premiered publicly until 1896. It is one of Elgar's earliest works, and although it may not match Dvorak's or Tchaikovsky's string serenades, it has a charming, youthful vitality about it. Here, Petrenko is at his best. He keeps the music light and lilting, with a touch of reflective contemplation thrown in. It's really quite lovely.

Vasily Petrenko
Then, it's on to the album's main item, the one that made him famous, the Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 "Enigma," written in 1898,. The fourteen variations on an initial theme began life as improvisations that Elgar continued to toy with, bringing in all sorts of clever, hidden, and not-so-hidden meanings. Elgar dedicated the music "to my friends pictured within," with each variation being a musical sketch of one of his close acquaintances, including his wife, his publisher, and the composer himself. In a programme note for a performance in 1911, Elgar wrote: "This work, commenced in a spirit of humour & continued in deep seriousness, contains sketches of the composer's friends. It may be understood that these personages comment or reflect on the original theme & each one attempts a solution of the Enigma, for so the theme is called. The sketches are not 'portraits' but each variation contains a distinct idea founded on some particular personality or perhaps on some incident known only to two people. This is the basis of the composition, but the work may be listened to as a 'piece of music' apart from any extraneous consideration."

Petrenko takes it all very seriously, starting with the main theme itself. In fact, he appears at first to be taking everything at an almost solemn gait, maybe trying to hold all the variations together under a common structure. Nevertheless, as the music continues, Petrenko begins to loosen up and offer some ripsnorting action. By the middle of these brief variations, the conductor seems to be having fun with the more satiric elements in the score. The famous "Nimrod" variation comes off with a special delight in its gently soaring, almost ceremonial manner, yet without exaggeration. To cap things off, fans of Elgar's music will relish the Liverpool Orchestra's precise, lovingly affectionate playing.

Producers Matthew Cosgrove and Andrew Cornall and engineer Philip Siney recorded the music at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool in January and July 2018. The sound is remarkably clean and clear, with excellent detail and delineation. Unfortunately, it can also be a bit on the bright and forward side, too, which kind of diminishes its overall naturalness. That aside, there is a good sense of ambience, hall bloom, in the reproduction, as well a fairly wide dynamic range.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, August 3, 2019

On Site Opera to Present Britten's The Turn of the Screw

On Site Opera (OSO) will present Benjamin Britten's operatic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, at Wave Hill, a public garden and former estate in the Bronx, October 25-27, 2019. The immersive production will unfold in several locations around the estate, both indoors and outdoors, with audience members following the characters from place to place.

Director Eric Einhorn says, "The incredible grounds at Wave Hill will allow us to take audiences on a journey like never before. The opera will begin outside on a sweeping overlook of the Hudson River, then literally follow the Governess on her journey into and through two rooms of the stately Wave Hill house, where mysterious things await her."

The cast includes Jennifer Check as the Governess, Dominic Armstrong as Peter Quint, Adriana Zabala as Miss Jessell, Margaret Lattimore as Mrs. Grose, Ashley Emerson as Flora, and Darius Elmore as Miles. OSO Music Director Geoffrey McDonald will lead the instrumental ensemble.

A gothic thriller originally written in 1898 by American novelist Henry James, The Turn of the Screw embodies supernatural elements and suspense. A governess arrives at a remote country estate to care for two children with explicit orders from her employer to never write to him about the children, never inquire about the history of the house, and to never abandon the children. Alone and anxious, the Governess begins to feel that the grounds might be haunted and that the malevolent spirits are targeting the children in her charge.

The Turn of the Screw
Music by Benjamin Britten; libretto by Myfanwy Piper; based on the novella by Henry James.

October 25, 2019, 7:30pm.
October 26, 2019, 7:30pm.
October 27, 2019, 5:00pm.

Presented on the grounds of Wave Hill (West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Bronx, NY 10471-2899). General admission – $75. All tickets include admission to the grounds of Wave Hill.

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

ROCO Opens Their 15th Season with Time for Hope
ROCO's (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) 15th season, "Coming of Age," will kick off on with two performances of Time for Hope, their first In Concert series of the 2019-20 season. The first performance will take place at the Miller Outdoor Theatre on September 27, while the second performance will happen at Houston's Church of St. John the Divine on September 28.

Time for Hope will be built around a world premiere commission by composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa entitled "Centuries in the Hours." This piece for conductorless orchestra will feature a special guest performance from mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, who will sing a collection of personal writings from American women from the 18th-20th centuries who were rendered as historically invisible. ROCO's first-ever Artistic Partner, Mei-Ann Chen, will lead the orchestra with works by Mexican composer Alejandro Basulto, as well as Franz Joseph Haydn, and Judith Shatin, whose piece "Ice Becomes Water," a work about climate change and global warming, will feature photos by Houston artist Libbie Masterson.

For complete information, visit https://roco.org/performances/roco-in-concert-time-for-hope/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Hilton Head International Piano Competition Winner at Carnegia Hall Recital
The Hilton Head International Piano Competition (HHIPC) will present its 2019 First Prize winner, Chaeyoung Park, at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, October 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m. Ms. Park will perform works by Ligeti, Ravel, Bartok and Brahms.

"Chaeyoung Park possesses great artistic personality, impressive virtuosity, genuine musicality, and a thoroughly engaging stage presence." -- Pavlina Dokovska, Chair, 2019 HHIPC, and Chair, Piano Department, The Mannes School of Music.

The mission of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition is to encourage and support excellence in the performance of classical piano music by showcasing the talents of young pianists on the threshold of their careers. The competition is adjudicated by internationally-acclaimed judges, and offers important performance opportunities.

Chaeyoung Park, piano
Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
57th Street and 7th Avenue, New York City

Tickets: $40 ($15 students at Box Office only), available July 29, 2019, at carnegiehall.org; by calling CarnegieCharge (212) 247-7800; or by visiting the Carnegie Hall box office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, NYC.

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

August Message from the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
Dear FAYM family,

It is a pleasure for me to be part of FAYM. I have been a volunteer mother for 5 years which I have enjoyed a lot as I have learned much more from this wonderful foundation.  Now I have the pleasure of serving as chair of the board. We are very excited because the beginning of classes is approaching and we want to invite you to know our foundation.

Before we go forward, let me fill you in on the past few months. On May 2 our Mariachi had the honor to play at an exclusive event for the Founders Club at the House of Blues; it was a new experience for our students.

Our Orchestra Chamber group was invited to perform for the second time at the event of Empowered Women of the Scouting program.

Thank you to the teachers, fathers and students for their dedication to our foundation. We are on the final sprint of this scholar year but we are already planning for the next school year. Our hope is to make it even better.

To keep up-to-date with FAYM news, click here: https://www.thefaym.org/

--Claudia Rivera, President, FAYM

Heartbeat Opera Announces Its 2019-2020 Season
Heartbeat Opera announces its sixth season, featuring Heartbeat's hottest Drag Extravaganza yet with designer-extraordinaire Miodrag Guberinic riffing on the theme of Mother Earth; and two operatic masterpieces, reimagined, boldly staged, trimmed down, and re-orchestrated: Weber's Der Freischutz and Verdi's Macbeth (retitled Lady M). The daring young company's unconventional orchestrations and stagings of classic operas have been called "a radical endeavor" by Alex Ross in The New Yorker.

The creators of visceral hit productions such as a Fidelio that recruited real prison choirs as the chorus, and a Carmen that cut the celebrated "Habanera" from the opening but inserted it as the harrowing finale—are once again at the helm: Heartbeat Co-Artistic Directors Ethan Heard and Louisa Proske and Co-Music Directors Jacob Ashworth and Daniel Schlosberg.

The season opens with...
Hot Mama: Singing Gays Saving Gaia
Sixth Annual Halloween Drag Extravaganza
October 30, 2019, 8pm Benefit Performance
October 31, 2019, 7 and 9:30pm Performances
Roulette, Brooklyn, NY

Der Freischutz
December 4-15, 2019
Baruch Performing Arts Center, Manhattan, NY

Lady M
May 11-16, 2020
Irondale, Brooklyn, NY

For complete information, visit heartbeatopera.org

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Additional Seats Added to Popular Bach Explorations Concert
Due to popular demand, the American Bach Soloists Festival has added additional seating for next Tuesday night's "Bach Explorations" concert titled "Bach to Bluegrass & Beyond."

Tickets to that event have been sold out for more than a week, so Festival producers have moved the performance into the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Concert Hall, adding approximately 200 additional seats.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
50 Oak Street near Van Ness & Market
San Francisco, CA

General Admission Seating $35
Tickets by phone: 800-595-4849
Tickets online: americanbach.org

--American Bach Soloists

On PBS: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2019
"Great Performances: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2019" premieres nationwide on Friday, August 9 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf, and the PBS Video app.

Under the baton of famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel and featuring renowned pianist Yuja Wang, both American and European classics are revisited, including "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor, op. 64 #2 for an encore.

For more information and videos, visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/great-performances-vienna-philharmonic-summer-night-concert-2019-about/9786/

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

Schwalbe Artists in August
August 2:
Matthew Halls, conductor
Mozart: Great Mass in C Minor, K.427
Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland, Ohio

August 5:
Douglas Williams, bass-baritone
Mozart: Great Mass in C Minor, K.427
Camerata Salzburg
Salzburg Festival, Austria

August 6:
Michael Schade, tenor
Mozart: Requiem
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, LA

August 9 - 21:
Patrick Dupre Quigley, conductor
Seraphic Fire Professional Choral Institute
Aspen Music Festival and School
Aspen, CO

August 16 & 17:
Michael Kelly, baritone
Kaminsky: As One
Opera Memphis
Memphis, TN

August 23:
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel, Zwilich
La Jolla Music Summerfest 2019
San Diego, CA

August 25:
Stephen Stubbs, conductor
Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Graupner: Antiochus und Stratonica
Musikfest Bremen
Boston Early Music Festival
Bremen, Germany

August 27 - 31:
Marc Molomot, tenor
Opera performances
Dramatic Voices
Berlin, Germany

August 29, 30, 31:
Paul Agnew, conductor
Byrd and Bach
The festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie
Les Arts Florissants
Thiré Church, Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France

August 29 & September 1:
Michael Schade, tenor
Beethoven: Fidelio
NHK Symphony Orchestra
Tokyo, Japan

--Schwalbe and Partners

On the Certainty of Science…

By Bryan Geyer

“What I see happening around me is depressing. The knowledge of how to create stunning reproduced sound exists, but because people in general don’t read, and many don’t believe in science, the average consumer ends up living with inferior sound when the same money could have purchased more. Countless hours in audio forum discussions are no substitute for a few days reading peer-reviewed science.” Also “…far too many audiophiles follow faith-based notions that the answers to perfect sound lie in distractions like power cords, speaker wires, and exotic electronics. This is money not well spent.”

These are the words of Floyd E. Toole, as taken from an article that appeared in the December 2017 issue of AudioExpress, in an interview by author Shannon Becker. Floyd Toole is the noted author of Sound Reproduction (Routledge, 3rd edition, 2018), a valued audio reference that’s now in its third printing. Prior to his recent retirement Toole was VP in charge of acoustical engineering at Harman International, one of the largest audio equipment conglomerates in the U.S. He is widely recognized and respected for a lifetime of research and achievement within the audio engineering industry.

One of the things that Toole finds vexing is the illogical means favored by audiophiles to assess the potential benefit of component upgrades. That process generally initiates with obvious and overt disinterest in any of the related technical issues. Critical detail like impedance compatibility, input sensitivity, and stage gain get dismissed without review, overrun by the compulsion to conduct listening trials of how stuff sounds. In truth, listening tests bear no consequence. A comprehensive 2012 paper (http://www.pnas.org/content/110/36/14580) that was devoted to the study of aural memory plainly shows that listening perception is a fleeting sensory response that’s readily swamped by overriding visual influences. Subjective aural impression is just too elusive to serve as a reference for later comparison. Barring cases of badly mismatched circuit compatibility, attempts to evaluate component quality by subjective listening will yield randomized results. The ear cannot serve as a viable accuracy indicator unless the response is monitored in a collective group setting, administered under “double blind” test conditions, and summarized with appropriate statistical oversight.

Another flaw innate in evaluating audio quality by ear is that the implied goal has become so very conflicted. The original aim was “high fidelity”, meaning faithful to the original; i.e. accuracy. In more recent decades this zest for accuracy has softened. The present target is more often “sound that I like”; i.e. a euphonious sound. This state of euphony gets variously described as lying somewhere between select extremes that are popularly labeled “too warm” and “too detailed”, a.k.a. “too analytical”. Of course, that’s a slippery scale, and alternate choices are likely to bob ahead dependent on the source material, mood, hour, choice of libation, and the velocity of warp speed when expressed in furlongs-per-fortnight.

Given this evidence, it’s apparent that mere listening alone is not a reliable basis for assessing the excellence of audio equipment. So, what’s a better alternative? What’s a good way to rate equipment and system upgrades without resorting to the groupthink blather that pervades most of the audiophile forums? Well, here are some suggestions….

Per Toole, try reading. Reacquaint your expectations with the glorious certainty of science. Do some basic study of the established physics, e.g. Ohms law, impedance requirements, voltage gain, load compatibility—the standard analog essentials that describe operative fit and function. Determine precisely what your equipment specifications mean; learn about their significance and the limitations that they imply. Understand why low resistance is the only parameter that will matter when you connect eight feet of cable between the output terminations on your power amplifier and the input terminations on your loudspeakers.

Seek objective resources. Most of the audio advisory publications are hopelessly subjective, but there are exceptions, notably the Audioholics site: https://www.audioholics.com. In addition to competently researched product reviews they also offer intelligent tutorial and opinion guidance; note the numerous technical articles that are cited toward the bottom of this section that introduces the Audioholics owner at https://www.audioholics.com/authors/gene-dellasala.

Last—buy this reference compendium*: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30158293718&searchurl=isbn%3D9780415788847%26n%3D100121501%26sortby%3D17&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title7. It’s The Audio Expert, by Ethan Winer (Routledge, 2nd Edition, Dec. 2017). Be absolutely certain that you buy only the new 2nd edition (Dec. 2017); ISBN-13 9780415788847. This book is a 783 page (fully indexed) source for “Everything You Need To Know About Audio”. The author is a solid science-based audio engineer who subscribes to all of the vital basics (nicely capsuled in Chapter 23). In addition, he’s a patient psycho-acoustician who can explain to you why you felt that the sound improved after installing those new $1,200 speaker cables. (There’s more to it than mere confirmation bias; refer p. 100.)

*The referenced site is that of bookseller C. Clayton Thompson (https://www.abebooks.com/c-clayton-thompson-bookseller-boone-nc/44399/sf). This shop’s collection of books relating to military history is unique; well worth perusing. As is Thompson’s vacation rental hideaway at https://www.petitemaisondulac.com/cabin.html. This is a nice place to buy books, regardless of theme.

BG

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 (SACD review)

Also, Nocturnes Nos. 4, 5, 7, and 8; Ballade No 1; Polonaise No. 6.  Maurizio Pollini, piano; Paul Kletzki, Philharmonia Orchestra. Warner Classics WPCS-13543 (Japan).

From LP's to CD's, I've owned this recording in one format or another almost since the day it came out in 1960. The last time I reviewed it was about ten years ago when EMI remastered it. Now, Warner Music Japan have remastered it yet again, this time in SACD. A good thing keeps getting better and better.

The mid Fifties and early Sixties saw the introduction of a remarkable number of great pianists, among them Alfred Brendel, Van Cliburn, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Ogdon, Stephen Kovacevich, and others, including Maurizio Pollini. With the exception of Mr. Ogdon, who died relatively young, all of them have more than lived up to their potential. As I say, remarkable.

Anyway, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines "classic" as "a work of the first rank, esp. one of demonstrably enduring quality; an artistic production considered a standard; a work that is honored as definitive in its field; something noteworthy of its kind and worth remembering; one that is considered to be highly prestigious or the most important of its kind." One might easily apply all of those meanings to Maurizio Pollini's recording of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. The music is classic, the performance is classic, and the sound is classic.

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was only around twenty years old when he wrote his two Piano Concertos, writing the Concerto we know today as No. 2 before he wrote No. 1 but publishing it later, thus giving it the misleading number 2. So, if No. 1 seems more mature and has become more popular, it's because it wasn't Chopin's first attempt in the genre. And the reason I mention the composer's age when he composed the piece is because Pollini was only eighteen when he recorded it, shortly after he won the International Ettore Pozzoli Piano Competition in Seregno, Italy (1959), and the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Poland (1960). Youth serves youth.

Maurizio Pollini
In the first movement, Pollini is in equal measure poetic and heroic without an ounce of sappiness, a movement that comes through all the more powerfully for its straightforwardness. When Pollini executes the famous main theme, it, too, flows effortlessly with a gentle, expressive, unforced charm. I suppose you could call it a restrained passion, which makes it all the more passionate.

Chopin himself described the second movement Romanze as "...calm and melancholy, giving the impression of someone looking gently towards a spot which calls to mind a thousand happy memories. It is a kind of reverie in the moonlight on a beautiful spring evening." Such is Pollini's interpretation, which lingers dreamily in the moonlight as much as any other account, the pianist striking every note with uncluttered assurance and conveying a mood of unlimited tranquility. Pollini floats the melody along in the most lyrical possible manner, yet never drawing attention to anything but the music.

Finally, in the closing Rondo Vivace, Pollini produces an interpretation both playful and vigorous, his unaffected technique dazzling and persuasive.

Pollini recorded the program's accompanying solo works in 1968, and they lend an added value to the disc. The solo pieces include the Nocturne No. 4 in F, Op. 15, No. 1; Nocturne No. 5 in F sharp, Op. 15, No. 2; Nocturne No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1; Nocturne No. 8 in D flat, Op. 27, No. 2; the Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23; and the Polonaise No. 6 in A flat, Op. 53, "Heroic." They demonstrate the pianist's range in Chopin interpretation, from the quietest and most serene pieces to the most bravura.

Producer Victor Olof and engineer Douglas Larter of EMI Records recorded the Concerto in April 1960 at Abbey Road Studio No. 1, and Warner Music Japan remastered it in hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) in 2016. Although the sound remains two-channel stereo, it gains a degree of impact and range from the new processing, and I for one welcome any improvements to an already good thing.

On either a regular or SACD player, the sound of the Concerto is remarkably strong, clear, robust, and dynamic for its age (or for any age). The piano sparkles, well focused and crisply defined. The orchestral support spreads out behind the piano like an extension of the solo instrument itself, with respectable transparency, air, and depth. In SACD the sound is slightly more dynamic, with more impact and slightly better definition. One can also hear the difference from a regular CD player, but it isn't quite as evident. In any case, I doubt than anyone could tell the difference who didn't play the CD and SACD versions of the recording side by side and level matched as I did, and even then, as I say, the distinctions are still relatively minor. I could not in all conscience recommend that anyone who already owns the recording on CD buy the newer remastering unless one has very deep pockets or is really obsessive about sound, as I admit I am.

EMI recorded the accompanying short pieces in Paris eight years later, again reproducing the sonics quite well, cleanly and even more warmly.

Should I also mention that this recording of the Concerto is about my absolute favorite recording of anything, anywhere, any time? It is perfect.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, July 27, 2019

Dudamel Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic on PBS's "Great Performances"

Famed conductor and music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel returns to the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace with the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra for "Great Performances: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2019," premiering Friday, August 9 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf, and the PBS Video app. The program features popular selections from both European and American composers and is dedicated to the musical connection between continents: the old world of Europe and the new world of America.

The program includes Leonard Bernstein's overture to "Candide" and American classics such as John Philipp Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Renowned pianist Yuja Wang joins the orchestra for George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and performs Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor, op. 64 #2 for an encore.

This year marks Dudamel's second time conducting the annual concert special, having led the orchestra in 2012. Past conductors include Bobby McFerrin (2004), Zubin Mehta (2005 and 2015), Plácido Domingo (2006), Valery Gergiev (2007, 2011 and 2018), Georges Prêtre (2008), Daniel Barenboim (2009), Franz Welser-Möst (2010), Lorin Maazel (2013), Christoph Eschenbach (2014 and 2017) and Semyon Bychkov (2016). The free outdoor concert is broadcast to more than 80 countries worldwide.

For complete information, visit http://www.pbs.org/gperf and http://www.facebook.com/GreatPerformances.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

Free Events at the ABS Festival
American Bach Soloists' annual Summer Festival & Academy is now expanded to include an additional weekend of performances, stunning programs of absolutely sensational musical works, ventures into new and imaginative territory, and more free public events to bring you closer to the excitement that surrounds our annual Academy, now in its 10th year. All Festival events are presented at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

Public Forum Series, 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday July 30 2019
Steven Lehning
"Am I in Tune? - Practical Tuning & Temperaments"

Wednesday July 31 2019
Corey Jamason
"Seeing Ourselves: 500 Years of Musical Iconography"
Inspiration from the Visual Arts through
Images of Musicians from 1300–1800

Public Colloquium, 2:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Session I: 2:00 p.m.
"How to Form a Concert Society: (Ten) Lessons from Lyon"

Session II: 3:00 p.m.
"Le Goût Italien: Performing Italian Music in France"

Session III: 4:00 p.m.
"A(nother) Tale of Two Cities: A Dickens of a Musical Surprise"

Public Master Classes & Lectures
August 5–9 2019

Master Class Series 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The ABS Academy opens its doors to the public to witness the artistic transformations that make Master Classes so tremendously exciting, as performers and their master teachers share their knowledge and insights.

Monday August 5 2019
Harpsichord, with Corey Jamason

Tuesday August 6 2019
Violin & Viola, with Elizabeth Blumenstock & Robert Mealy

Wednesday August 7 2019
Violoncello, Viola da gamba, Violone, and Contrabass, with William Skeen, Kenneth Slowik, and Steven Lehning

Thursday August 8 2019
Winds & Brass, with Sandra Miller, Debra Nagy, and John Thiessen

Friday August 9 2019
Voice, with Judith Malafronte and William Sharp

Lecture Series 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Join the members of the American Bach Soloists Academy for a series of enlightening and informative public lectures presented by the Academy faculty on a wide range of subjects centered on Festival themes.

Academy-In-Action "Baroque Marathon" Concerts
Monday August 5 2019 7:00 p.m. (Chamber Music)
Saturday August 10 2019 2:00 p.m. (Bach Arias)

"Coffee House" Concert
August 10 2019 7:00 p.m.

For complete details on events, visit https://americanbach.org/sfbachfestival/index.html

--American Bach Soloists

The SMCQ at the Montreal First Peoples' Festival
For the first time in its history, as part of this year's Homage Series the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) is partnering with Montreal First Peoples' Festival, to present two events honouring composer Katia Makdissi-Warren.

"Katia has been working with the Aboriginal community for many years," notes SMCQ Artistic Director Walter Boudreau. "And it was crucial for us to reflect this remarkable involvement on the occasion of the Homage Series in her honour." The conductor and composer also stressed the importance of this first collaboration for the SMCQ: "By providing the SMCQ with the opportunity to exchange and work with the First Peoples' Festival, Katia highlights the proven contemporaneity of Aboriginal musical traditions … An opening of unquestionable wealth for the contemporary music sector, on the path towards inclusion!"

This first collaboration will feature a major event on August 7 at 8 pm at Place des Festivals. Under the direction of choirmaster Tiphaine Legrand, both passionate amateurs as well as those who are simply curious will be invited to perform one of Katia Makdissi-Warren's choral works, Les grands espaces, (commissioned by the SMCQ in 2019), in the company of two Inuit throat singers. "An echo of [Inuit] lullabies mixed with the sounds of the wind, the rain, the cries of the geese and the hoots of the owls," the work will allow all to experience innovative choral singing in the context of Aboriginal tradition.

Katia Makdissi-Warren will be making another appearance at the Place des Festivals on August 8, from 8:30 pm, this time during a major concert (Ondes transcontinentales) presented in collaboration with the Ensemble SMCQ, Ensemble Oktoécho (Montreal) and the Orchid Ensemble (Vancouver). On the program: Inuit (Katajjaq) and Mongolian throat singing (Khoomii) gathered together in mixed compositions by Katia Makdissi-Warren and Lan Tung. An atypical encounter, where the surprising similarities between these two types of ancestral songs reproducing sounds of nature will be highlighted.

For complete information, visit http://www.smcq.qc.ca/

--France Gaignard

JACK Quartet Announces Inaugural JACK Studio Artists
The JACK Quartet announces its 2019 JACK Studio (formerly Fulcrum Project) artists: Eduardo Aguilar (Mexico), Khyam Allami (Iraq/United Kingdom), inti figgis-vizueta (United States), Brittany J. Green (United States), Elliot Reed (United States), and Olivia Shortt (Canada). JACK received 443 applications from 34 states across the United States and 44 countries around the world, and is grateful to all of the applicants.

Each artist will receive $5,000, workshops, recording sessions, and performances with all travel expenses covered. A concert of JACK Studio works will be presented by Kaufman Music Center on May 2, 2020 as part of the 10th season of Ecstatic Music at Merkin Hall. Throughout the process, JACK will also help pair artists with mentors for additional guidance and inspiration.

For more information, visit http://jackquartet.com/studio

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Princeton University Concerts Single Tickets Now On Sale
Single tickets to all Princeton University Concerts' ("PUC") 2019-20 season events are now on sale, online at princetonuniversityconcerts.org, and by phone at 609-258-2800. Prices range from just $5-10 students and $25-55 general for concerts featuring some of the most revered musicians of our time.

Highlights include the rare opportunity to hear Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the piano in a reimagining of Schubert's beloved song cycle Winterreise, sung by PUC-favorite mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; jazz legend pianist Brad Mehldau alongside tenor Ian Bostridge; and the debut of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with the inimitable Mitsuko Uchida leading from the keyboard.

Not available as part of subscription packages, the audience-favorite Performances Up Close series—hour-long concerts with audience seated onstage—is also now available for purchase. This year's programs focus on "The Artist as Improviser," and feature live improvisations by the Vision String Quartet, pianist Gabriela Montero, and pianist Conrad Tao with tap dancer Caleb Teicher. [More info]

For a complete listing of upcoming concerts, please visit princetonuniversityconcerts.org.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Kent Nagano, the OSM, and the Grands Ballets
One last weekend at the Festival de Lanaudière! These are two great opportunities to hear the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and its great conductor Kent Nagano!

On August 2, the guest soloist and great violinist Veronica Erbele will be on the stage at the Amphitheatre and will leave with the OSM on tour in Latin America. On August 3, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill returns, to our delight, a second time this summer.

Also, for the first time in Lanaudière, the Grands Ballets Canadiens will be on stage at the Amphithéâtre Fernand-Lindsay.

Get complete information here: http://www2.lanaudiere.org/fr/

--France Gaignard

New York Festival of Song Announces 2019-2020 Season
Four concerts co-presented by Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center and New York Festival of Song: Merkin Hall, 129 West 67th Street, NYC. Complimentary wine receptions with the artists to follow each program.

$150-$240 subscriptions for entire series.
$20-$65 for single tickets; $10 for student tickets.
For complete information and tickets, visit nyfos.org.

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Premiere and 2019-20 Tour Dates for THE DAY
World-renowned cellist Maya Beiser, legendary dancer Wendy Whelan, and seminal choreographer Lucinda Childs join forces to present the new music/dance work THE DAY, with music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. A collaboration among legends, THE DAY is an evening-long sensory exploration of two journeys – life and the eternal, post-mortal voyage of the soul. This bold, highly collaborative work explores universal themes through the shared language of music and dance.

Cellist Maya Beiser, who conceived the piece, has been described by the Boston Globe as "a force of nature" and by Rolling Stone as a "cello rock star," and is a veteran of the world's most revered stages. Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world's leading dancers, spent 30 years as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and originated numerous roles in new works by the world's most esteemed choreographers. The two will be onstage all evening, embodying the iconic choreography of Lucinda Childs (a Commandeur in France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and 2018 inductee in Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance) to the original music of Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang.

Watch the trailer: http://bit.ly/thedaypreview
More information: www.jensenartists.com/the-day

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Final Performances at Miami Classical Music Festival
The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart
Sunday, July 28 | 1:00 PM *Family Performance
Temple Emanu-El Synagogue

A hero on a quest and a princess finding her way encounter enchanted creatures, an evil queen and ultimately, each other – all with the help of a Magic Flute! A part of MMF's popular Family Opera series, this production is created specifically for young children and will be performed with English Dialogue and Sung in German with English supertitles. Mozart's classic "singspiel" includes both spoken and sung dialogue, with familiar melodies you'll be singing along to. Families are invited to participate in free supplementary activities for children. Allow your children to experience opera and live theater in a family-friendly setting.

Tickets and information: https://miamimusicfestival.com/magic-flute-2019

Armide by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Sunday, July 28 | 6:00 PM
Miami Beach Woman's Club

Written by the court composer of Louis XIV and premiered for the Grand Dauphin, Armide is the story of a Damascene Princess and the Crusader that she falls in love with. Princess Armide is a sorcerer sent to kill Renaud, an invading crusader. She falls in love with him instead, casting a spell on him so that he loves her back. When she comes to regret her decision, will anything short of divine intervention turn her heart? MMF's Opera Studio Program presents an intimate setting of this classic opera.

Tickets and information: https://miamimusicfestival.com/armide-2019

--Miami Music Festival

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 John 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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical 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 I 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 an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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