Classical Music News of the Week, March 23, 2019

PBO Ends Season with All-Star Production of Handel's Saul

To culminate its 2018/19 season, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) presents Handel's epic oratorio Saul, an ideal vehicle for leading Handel expert and PBO Music Director Nicholas McGegan. With an all-star cast comprised of both frequent PBO collaborators and notable debuts, and the award-winning Philharmonia Chorale, Saul will have four performances in the Bay Area on April 6, 7, 12, and 13, with a touring performance in Los Angeles at Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 10.

Saturday April 6, 2019 @ 7 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday April 7, 2019 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Friday April 12, 2019 @ 7 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday April 13, 2019 @ 7:30 pm | First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA

Prices range from $32 to $125. Tickets available at City Box Office at (415) 392-4400 or

For further information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Marketing & Communications Director

Classical Discoveries
Musica Camerata Montréal, one of Canada's foremost chamber music ensembles presents "Classical Discoveries," the 3rd concert of the 49th season on Saturday April 6 at 6 PM at the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur.

Continuing with their tradition, Musica Camerata Montréal showcases works by great composers very seldom performed. On this occasion, the musicians will feature Mozart-Bach, Dussek and, as a Canadian premiere, a piano quintet by the French composer George Onslow, considered during the XIX Century an important composer admired by no less than Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann.

W. A. Mozart (1756-1791) – Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784)
Prelude and Fugue in F minor, K404a for violin, viola and cello

Jan Ladislav Dussek (Caslav, Czech Republic, 1760 – Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, 1812)
Quintet in F minor op 41 for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass

George Onslow (Clermont-Ferrand, France 1784 – 1853)
First Quintet in B minor op 70 for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass

Saturday April 6 at 6 PM
Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur (100, Sherbrooke East)
Tickets: $40, $30 (seniors and students)
Information and reservations: 514 489- 8713 or visit

--France Gaignard, Relationniste de presse

Steven Mercurio New Music Director of The Czech National Symphony Orchestra
The Czech National Symphony Orchestra (CNSO) announced today that Steven Mercurio will become its new Music Director as of the upcoming 2019/20 season. Maestro Mercurio, an American conductor and composer known for his exceptional versatility and dynamism, has fostered a vibrant, ten-year affiliation with the orchestra, with extensive collaborations taking place across multiple musical genres and in every capacity: symphonically, operatically, and through extensive recording projects. Maestro Mercurio is currently in Prague, conducting the orchestra in music by Martinu and Shostakovich.

The Czech National Symphony Orchestra is self-governed and Maestro Mercurio's appointment is at the behest of the musicians themselves. Jan Hasenöhrl, the orchestra's artistic director said: "After many years of wonderful collaborations, we are very much looking forward to having Maestro Mercurio with us as our Music Director. His musicianship, energy, and versatility make him the ideal conductor for the future of the CNSO." Mercurio succeeds Maestro Libor Pešek, who had held the position since 2007.

--Shira Gilbert PR

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

Starting at 6:15 p.m., April 3, JMC partner RéZin offers a selection of wines. Then, at 7 p.m., the audience is in for a little over an hour of music, including commentary by the artists, in a intimate venue with impeccable acoustics. Don't miss this unique occasion, taking place at Joseph Rouleau Hall, located at 305, Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, in Montréal, just a few steps from the Mont-Royal metro station.

Sounds & Scenery, April 3, 2019
Lara Deutsch, flute
Emily Belvedere, harp

--France Gaignard, JMC

Takács Quartet/Marc-André Hamelin/John Feeney
Princeton University Concerts is proud to bring back the Takács String Quartet for their twentieth appearance on our series on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 8PM. In addition to performing string quartets by Haydn and Shostakovich, the beloved ensemble will be joined by pianist Marc-André Hamelin and bassist John Feeney to perform Schubert's "Trout" Quintet -- a work overwhelmingly selected by our audiences as one of their "favorite chamber works of all time" in our audience survey last year. Tickets $10-55.

For complete information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Miller Theatre Announces Spring 2019 Season of Its Free Pop-Up Concerts
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts announces the spring 2019 season of Pop-Up Concerts, a musical happy hour with the audience onstage.

Tuesday, April 2
Rebecca Fischer

Tuesday, May 7
big dog little dog

Tuesday, May 14
Jason Treuting
Go Placidly with Haste

Tuesday, June 4
Bent Duo

Tuesday, June 11
Ensemble Échappé

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

Directions and information are available via the Miller Theatre Box Office at 212.854.7799 or online at

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Brazilian-American Phenom Clarice Assad Returns to San Antonio
Join us for a concert-length musical collaboration with Clarice Assad. Sunday, March 31 @ 3:00 PM | JAZZ TX and Tuesday, April 2 @ 7:30 PM | Ruth Taylor.

Grammy-nominated composer, performer, and music educator of depth and versatility Clarice Assad returns for an evening of musical delight.

Ever since her sensational SOLI Debut in 2016, we have been eagerly crafting another collaboration together to include concerts in San Antonio, followed by a National Tour with the program, and a recording project to memorialize her unique and genre-bending music.

For more information, visit!an-evening-with-clarice/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Music Mountain Celebrates 90 Years
The venerable, Connecticut-based Music Mountain concert series has announced its full 2019 summer season comprising two distinct series. Marking 90 continuous years of presenting outstanding artists and beloved repertoire to East Coast concertgoers, Music Mountain is now the oldest running chamber music series in the nation, which now features the Chamber Music Concerts series and Twilight Series. 

Founded by Jacques Gordon in 1930 and directed by his son, Nicholas, for 45 years until his passing in 2017, Music Mountain is housed in the idyllic Falls Village community in Northern Connecticut, where the 355-seat Gordon Hall remains at the heart of the campus.

Opening on June 9 with a special benefit concert and reception to celebrate this milestone year, globally-renowned pianist Peter Serkin joins violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Fred Sherry, and clarinetist Kristyna Petišková in the Music Mountain debut of Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), arranged by Eduard Steuermann, as well as Brahms's A Minor Clarinet Trio and Beethoven's "Ghost" piano trio.

Find out more at Music Mountain's Web site:

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Jam
Calling amateur string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players of all levels and ages! Join members of the Berlin Philharmonic in a FREE community sight-reading fest on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ. All players of orchestral instruments are invited to jam with members of one of the world's greatest orchestras, reading Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" in the eighth annual Princeton University Concerts Chamber Jam.

This incredible chance to "jam" with the pros -- a free opportunity offered to the entire community -- is always one of PUC's most popular offerings. This is the first time that the Chamber Jam is programmed as a stand-alone event; in past seasons, the Chamber Jam was scheduled directly following a Princeton University Concerts performance. Although the Chamber Jam is free, advanced registration is required and can be completed online at or

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

ICE Premieres Seven New Works at Abrons Arts Center
On Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8pm and Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 7:30pm the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) continues its collaboration with the innovative composers of New York University College of Arts and Sciences.

On Monday, April 8 at 8pm, the International Contemporary Ensemble performs the world premieres of works by NYU graduate student composers Fabian Beltran, Michael Seltenreich, Vasiliki Krimitza, Aine Eva Nakamura, and Michael Rose.

On Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30pm, the Ensemble presents an event featuring artists from the ICEcommons composer-discovery database – Merche Blasco, Sofy Yuditskaya and David Coll – in collaboration with the Radical 2 percussion duo. Guest performers include Shelley Hirsch, Dafna Naphtali, Jess Rowland, and Margaret Schedel.

Ross Karre, co-artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble says, "ICEcommons, a crowd-sourced index of information about new works, has become the means by which new collaborations form between emerging artists and the International Contemporary Ensemble. The Abrons Arts Center Underground is the perfect environment for the creation of eight brand new works in two free events on April 8th and 10th."

Program Information
NYU Graduate Composers of the College of Arts and Sciences & ICEcommons
Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8:00pm
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 7:30pm
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., New York, NY
Tickets: Free

For complete information, visit:

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

New Century Chamber Orchestra Announces Debut European Tour
Music Director Daniel Hope and New Century Chamber Orchestra announce details of the ensemble's inaugural European Tour including nine performances at prestigious festivals and venues across Germany and Poland, June 17 through 27, 2019.

The tour opens with two performances in Germany beginning at the world-renowned Philharmonie Essen Afried Krupp Hall (June 17) and the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm (June 19) before making a stop in Poland at the Filharmonia Szczecin (June 20). The ensemble will then make three appearances at one of Europe's largest music festivals, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, performing in Ulrichshusen (June 21), Stolpe (June 22) and Schwerin (June 23). The tour concludes with a performance at the Stiftung Frauenkirche in Dresden (June 25) and two more festival appearances at Kissinger Sommer in Bad Kissingen (June 26) and the venerable Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Rendsburg (June 27).

For more information about the New Century Chamber Orchestra, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Brooklyn's AOP to Select Composer, Librettists for Free Training
American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2019-21 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, six composers and up to three librettists will be selected for two-year fellowships to learn the fundamentals of writing for the voice and opera stage.

Workshop sessions with professional opera singers, mentors, and instructors are held at AOP's home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 18 at The deadline for applications is April 26 with fellowships announced by July 16.

--American Opera Projects

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa