Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 18, Nos. 4-6 (CD review)

Eybler Quartet. CORO Connections COR16174.

It's probably best to start by reminding you that the Eybler Quartet is a unique group of musicians who play historically informed performances on period instruments. Their Web site describes them as coming "together in late 2004 to explore the works of the first century of the string quartet, with a healthy attention to lesser known composers such as their namesake, Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler. The group plays on instruments appropriate to the period of the music it performs. Violinist Julia Wedman and violist Patrick G. Jordan are members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra; Aisslinn and Julia are also members of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. Cellist Margaret Gay is much in demand as both a modern and period instrument player. The group brings a unique combination of talents and skills: years of collective experience as chamber musicians, technical prowess, experience in period instrument performance and an unquenchable passion for the repertoire."

As of this album, the Eybler Quartet has six albums to their credit, mostly music of Haydn, Mozart, Vanhal, Backofen, and their namesake, the Austrian composer and conductor Joseph Eybler (1765-1846). Here, the Eybler ensemble present volume two of Beethoven's String Quartets, Op. 18, Nos. 4-6, having already done a splendid job with Nos. 1-3. As I said about the group before, if you like chamber music and you like Beethoven, there's plenty of both around, but to hear these early Beethoven quartets played in something approaching what Beethoven himself might have heard (which, given his deteriorating hearing isn't saying a lot), the Eybler group is hard to beat.

Eybler Quartet
Of the sixteen string quartets Beethoven wrote, the six in Op. 18 are the earliest, published in two volumes in 1801, about the time he wrote his Symphony No. 1. He wrote Nos. 4-6 between 1798 and 1800. They are each in four movements, although the movements vary in timing and style from quartet to quartet. Much of the material for the Nos. 4 and 5 Beethoven based either on his own previous compositions or modeled after Mozart, with No. 6 perhaps the most original of all.

Quartet No. 4 projects a sweet youthful bounce together with a more serious almost-operatic gravitas that the Eyblers capitalize on nicely. Beethoven's tempo markings indicate some lively (if pre-metronome) speeds, which the Eyblers are happy to provide. Yet they never sound rushed or frenetic and are quite refreshing throughout. The Eybler's articulation is always crisp, their interactions accomplished, and the sound of their instruments pleasantly agreeable. And did I mention that all four musicians sound virtuosic? They are.

Quartet No. 5 is even sunnier than No. 4, and the Eyblers appear to take great delight in it. There is a fair amount of interaction among the instruments in the second-movement minuet, and it's fun hearing the Eyblers intermingling of voices. The slow-movement theme and variations takes top honors, though, for its sheer inventiveness, and it's hard not to remember it above everything else in the piece.

Quartet No. 6 is maybe the most reminiscent of Mozart's tunes in its first few minutes with allusions to Figaro before going off in different directions. It's certainly the most obvious in its diversity, too, varying from blusteringly comedic to elegantly refined, and from fleetingly quick to serenely contemplative. The Eyblers handle all of these contrasts with relative ease and make everything about Beethoven seem to sparkle anew. They're a joy altogether.

Producer Dan Merceruio and engineer Ron Searles recorded the music at the Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, Ontario in October 2016. As with their previous Beethoven album, the sound is among the best I've heard in a small-group performance. And as with the previous album, this one is slightly close for my taste, the four performers widely spaced across the sound stage. Otherwise, the sonics are nicely detailed without being bright, hard, or edgy. Indeed, they are quite realistic in their presence, with good dynamics, impact, and definition. It makes for a pleasurable listen.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, June 29, 2019

Naumburg Orchestral Concerts Presents Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Bandoneonist JP Jofre

On Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 7pm, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra returns to Naumburg Orchestral Concerts for the series' 114th season, this year held in Temple Emanu-El due to repairs on the iconic Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park.

The free program, titled "Pasión – A Concert Of Spanish/South American Music," features bandoneon virtuoso JP Jofre in his own composition Tangodromo 1 for bandoneon and strings (2016) and Piazzolla's Adiós Nonino for bandoneon and strings. Orpheus recorded Jofre's Double Concerto for Violin and Bandoneon with Jofre and violinist Michael Guttman for a 2018 release on the Progressive Sounds Label.

The program also includes Turina's La Oración del torero, Op. 34; Rodrigo's Zarabanda lejana y villancico; Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasilieras No. 9; Gabriela Lena Frank's "Chasqui and Coqueteos" from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout; and Ponce's Estampas Nocturnas.

Program Information
Naumburg Orchestral Concerts Presents Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 7pm (Doors Open at 6:15pm)
Temple Emanu-El | Fifth Avenue and 65th Street | NYC
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
JP Jofre, bandoneon

RSVP link:

Tickets: These FREE events ALL require tickets, available online or by registering with a form at the door. Allow extra time for tickets and for a security check when arriving for the concerts.

For more information about Orpheus, call 212.896.1700 or visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

We Can't Do It Without Your Help
On average, Young People's Chorus of NYC choristers spend 7-9 years participating in the Young People's Chorus. Your support will allow our choristers to continue making
 memories that will last a lifetime.

We are just six days away from the end of our text-to-donate campaign. Please help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 to support YPC's Scholarship Fund! All gifts made between now and June 30th will be doubled by a matching grant!

Join our Text-to-Donate campaign by texting the code "YPC19" to 443-21 or donate here:

"Singing with YPC meant building and sharing values that I hope to bring with me forever...." --YPC Graduate 2019

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Opera Rara Announces Change of Artistic Directorship
Opera Rara, are delighted to announce the appointment of Carlo Rizzi as Opera Rara's Artistic Director to succeed Sir Mark Elder who will be stepping down in September 2019.

Speaking about his work with Opera Rara since 2012, Sir Mark Elder said: "My years as Artistic Director of Opera Rara have been enormously rewarding and I have now decided that it is time to hand on the baton. Bringing so many unknown operas to life has been challenging, but there is certainly an appetite for discovery among artists as much as the public. Opera Rara has an important role to play in that discovery, and I am so happy that my distinguished colleague, Carlo Rizzi, will continue the work of this remarkable organisation."

Commenting on his new role at Opera Rara, Carlo Rizzi said: "Opera is my passion and I strongly believe in its future. Just as it is important to present known masterpieces afresh and to commission new works, I believe that finding and bringing back to life the hidden jewels of this endlessly enriching art form is equally vital to excite modern audiences. Throughout my career I have conducted many "opera(s) rara(s)" and the journey that I am starting here with this unique organisation will allow me to go even further in exploring many strands of less known repertoire. I am looking forward to it!"

--Martina Furlan, Macbeth Media Relations

Summer at Strathmore
School's out, summer's here, and it's time to unwind, relax, and enjoy spending more time with the family. Finding fun activities to suit all budgets and tastes can be challenging, but whether you're looking for a fun date night, time with friends and family, or children-oriented programs, Strathmore has a host of fun and enriching events to keep the whole family entertained over the coming months.

Enter the magical world of David Dimitri and his L'homme Cirque—or one-man circus—in the intimate setting of a one-of-a-kind tent. He'll keep you on the edge of your seat as he balances dramatic feats like high wire flips and a human cannon launch with humor, poetry, and serenades on the accordion. Gasp as you watch him exit the tent on his high wire 150 feet above the ground against the backdrop of Strathmore's new Bernard Family Foundation Pavilion in Bethesda, Maryland.

Continuing its long tradition of bringing the community together, Strathmore's Live from the Lawn free concert series returns.

For information about each event, please visit:
L'homme Cirque:
Backyard Theater For Kids:
Live From The Lawn:

--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet

Great Classics, Italian Charms, and Romanticism Mark the Festival de Lanaudière
To kick off its 42nd season, the Festival de Lanaudière will receive the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), the Orchestre Métropolitain (OM) and the Venice Baroque Orchestra.

The opening concert will be presented by the OSM on Friday, July 5, under the renowned French conductor Alain Altinoglu, back after his highly successful Montreal debut last fall. On the programme are works inspired by the great classics of literature: Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard Wagner's Prelude and Death of Isolde, and Till Eulenspiegel by Richard Strauss. The extraordinary pianist Francesco Piemontesi joins the orchestra for his first concert in the province of Quebec, performing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1.

For complete details, visit

--France Gaignard

SF Girls Chorus Announces European Summer Tour Appearances
Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe and the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) announce details of their European summer tour, which will include six performances at festivals and venues across England and France over a ten-day period, July 18–29.

The tour opens in London with a performance at Cafe OTO (July 20), the renowned free jazz, experimental, and free improvisation venue. SFGC will present the European premiere of excerpts from its recent commission from English composer/avant-rocker Fred Frith, Rags of Time, just three weeks after the venue fêtes the composer in a three-day 70th birthday celebration. Following this, SFGC will be presented at Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge by the prestigious Cambridge Summer Music Festival (July 21), the ensemble's first return to the festival since its 1985 debut.

The ensemble will then make two more concert appearances in England including St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle (July 23) and London's St. Marylebone Festival (July 24), before heading to France for the final leg of its tour. In Paris, SFGC will be presented in two performances, at Église Saint-Sulpice (July 27), which replaces a performance originally scheduled on July 26 at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and at L'Église de la Madeleine as part of the Les Dimanches Musicaux Series (July 28).

For complete details, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

International Contemporary Ensemble Returns to Lincoln Center's "Mostly Mozart"
The pioneering International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns to Lincoln Center's 2019 Mostly Mozart Festival for its twelfth consecutive season with three unique programs: Fure and Thorvaldsdottir on July 25, Inside Voice on August 3, and IFCA Composer Portraits on August 5. Having performed annually at the Mostly Mozart Festival since 2008, ICE was named Artist-in-Residence for the festival in 2011.

On Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 7:30pm in Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium, the International Contemporary Ensemble performs a concert celebrating the sound worlds of pioneering composers Ashley Fure, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir. Works to be performed include Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Sequences (2016) and Illumine (2016), Ashley Fure's Something to Hunt (2014), and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir's Esoteric Mass (2014).

On Saturday, August 3, 2019 at 9:00pm at Merkin Concert Hall, the International Contemporary Ensemble explores the expressive potential of traditional Persian, Hungarian, American, and Japanese instruments in a program of works influenced by ancient ritual, oceanic wonderment, Irish Bardic poetry, and beyond in Inside Voice. This inventive evening, led by conductor Vimbayi Kaziboni in his Mostly Mozart Festival debut, features the New York premiere of Nathan Davis's Inside Voice (2018), Irish composer Ann Cleare's teeth of light, tongue of waves (2017–18), György Kurtág's Tre pezzi, Kate Soper's The Ultimate Poem is Abstract (2016) featuring Soper as soprano soloist, Anahita Abbasi's Sketch I (2012), and culminates in the world premiere of Dai Fujikura's Shamisen Concerto performed by Hidejiro Honjoh in his Mostly Mozart Festival debut.

The International Contemporary Ensemble performs the music of Anahita Abbasi, Aida Shirazi, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh from the Iranian Female Composers Association (IFCA) at Bruno Walter Auditorium on Monday, August 5, 2019 at 7:00pm.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

JACK Quartet Announced as One of Kaufman Music Center's 2019-20 Artists-in-Residence
Kaufman Music Center recently announced that the JACK Quartet, a 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner hailed as the "nation's most important quartet" (New York Times) and "superheroes of the new music world" (Boston Globe), will take part in their new Artist-in-Residence program that embeds acclaimed, multi-faceted artists who are transforming the music world within a broad range of KMC programs spanning the concert stage and the classroom.

The JACK joins Nathalie Joachim, flutist, composer, multi-genre performance artist and member of the urban art pop duo Flutronix and the multiple Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird; and Rob Kapilow, NPR and PBS music commentator, conductor, composer, author and host of the concert series What Makes It Great?

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Dominic Miller: Absinthe (CD review)

By Karl W. Nehring

Dominic Miller, guitar; Santiago Arias, bandoneon; Mike Lindup, keyboard; Nicolas Fiszman, bass; Manu Katché, drums. ECM 2614 6788468.

One glance through the lineup of musicians and you are probably already wondering why this CD is being reviewed in Classical Candor, but trust me, I can give you a couple of good reasons. First, if you want to immediately classify this as a jazz recording, please note that several other jazz recordings have been reviewed on this site. Second, and more importantly, Dominic Miller's Absinthe has a chamber-music sensibility to it that lends itself quite well to being taken seriously as quite akin to what we like to think of as "classical" music. I truly believe that many folks who listen primarily to classical music would find this recording involving and enjoyable.

All of the compositions on Absinthe are by Dominic Miller, who writes in the liner notes that he was inspired by Impressionist art, adding that "musically the influences come from the usual sources: Bach, Beatles, etc. Pointless trying to explain music but when you have an idea or concept the music kind of writes itself." Miller, an Argentina-born guitarist who has long been a member of Sting's road band, plays acoustic guitar on Absinthe. His previous album for ECM, Silent Light, was essentially a solo guitar outing, accompanied on a few cuts by some subtle percussion, but Absinthe reveals him not only as a fine guitarist, but also an excellent composer. You might expect an album headed by a guitarist to feature blistering guitar solos, but that is not the case here.  The accent instead is on subtle interplay among the assembled musicians.

Dominic Miller
That mood of interplay is evident from the very first cut, the title cut, which opens with some soft picking on the guitar, then some colorful cymbal splashes, some sweet sounds from the bandoneon, and then the drums and bass kick in, with some subtle seasoning from a synthesizer as the tune rolls on. Miller explains in the liner notes that he thought the pure, expressive sound of the bandoneon (a cousin of the accordion, originally invented in Germany but nowadays most associated with tango music from Argentina and Uruguay – think Astor Piazzolla or Dino Saluzzi) would be appropriate for the musical vision he had in mind.

As the album continues, Miller's guitar and Arias's bandoneon spin some delightful melodies, but Lindup on synths (especially on the cut, "Mixed Blessing") and even Fiszman on bass (check out his subtly melodic picking on the cuts "Verveine" and "Christiana") get a chance to add to the magic, while drummer Katché (a remarkably inventive drummer who has played as both sideman and leader on numerous ECM albums) provides drive and seasoning throughout the ten cuts. The net result of this collaborative musical interplay is an album that truly does sound like a form of chamber music, a jazz album that lovers of classical music might well discover to be an unexpected delight should they be adventurous enough to give it an audition.

The ECM label has long been highly regarded for its excellent sound quality: well balanced, smooth, and clear. All things considered, then -- and I'm sure some of you saw this groaner coming -- Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.


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

Matthews: Symphony No. 9 (CD review)

Also, Variations for Strings; Double Concerto for Violin and Viola. Sara Trickey, violin; Sarah-Jane Bradley, viola. Kenneth Woods, English Symphony Orchestra and English String Orchestra. Nimbus Alliance NI 6382.

No, not the American pop performer Dave Matthews, founder and leader of the Dave Matthews Band. This is English composer David Matthews (b. 1943), known for his many orchestral, chamber, vocal, and piano works. Although, for that matter, conductor Kenneth Woods could probably do a great job conducting symphonic arrangements of Dave Matthews pieces, too; he seems fully capable of making anything sound good.

Whatever, David Matthews, like fellow British composer Philip Sawyers (another musician Maestro Woods has been recording lately) has the temerity to utilize things like melody, lyricism, and tonal harmony in his music, thereby flying in the face of much modern music and helping not only classical connoisseurs to enjoy it but everyday folks like me to appreciate it as well. In fact, speaking of the symphony here, Matthews says it began as a simple carol for his wife. "One day," he writes, "I was playing it on the piano and, beginning to improvise, I thought "I can turn this into something bigger, and why not a symphony?'" Thus began a journey into his Ninth Symphony.

The program begins, then, with the Symphony No. 9, Opus. 140, which he completed in 2016. It's not a very big symphony, nothing like Beethoven's, Schubert's, Bruckner's, or Mahler's. Instead, it's little more compact and a little less expansive. That is not to say it isn't large, however. The work is in five movements, a central slow movement reminiscent of Vaughan Williams, surrounded by two quick scherzos and bookended by an intriguing opening allegro and capped by a triumphant finale.

Kenneth Woods
The movements are fairly brief, though, and tend to go by rather quickly, with a series of varied tunes in each section. While I wouldn't say the whole is quite the sum of the individual parts, it is fun as it goes along, and Matthews hardly lets a moment go by in it that isn't fully charged. Or maybe that's partly Woods's contribution as well. Certainly, he does up the music with passion and color. Memorable? Not really, yet fun.

Next, we get Matthews's Variations for Strings, Opus. 40, written in 1986, based on Bach's "Die Nacht ist kommen" ("Night's darkness falleth"). The words are a "prayer for a peaceful night," so one might expect peaceful music, and for the most part it is. Maybe surprisingly, there are a number of jazz inflections throughout the piece, as well as contrasting pulses and rhythms. It's quite charming and original, actually.

The disc closes with Matthews's Double Concerto for violin, viola and strings, Op. 122, from 2013. The two soloists have a remarkably friendly rivalry in exchanges throughout the work, making it a delight in the hands of two such gifted musicians as Sara Trickey on violin and Sarah-Jane Bradley on viola. Maestro Woods and his string orchestra pretty much let them have full rein and do their best to just stay out of the way. Seriously, it's a terrific effort and became my favorite piece on the disc.

Producer and engineer Simon Fox-Gal recorded the symphony in May 2018 at St. George's, Bristol; and producer and engineer Philip Rowlands recorded the variations and double concerto in October 2018 at The Priory Church, Great Malvern. The first thing noticeable in the sound of the full orchestra is its spatial characteristics. It's not just nicely spread out across the speakers but nicely arranged front to back, with a good sense of ambient bloom from the acoustic. Then, too, the frequency response is wide, the dynamics realistic, the detailing sharply delineated, and the whole affair entirely lifelike. The string music, employing far fewer players, is understandably lighter and more transparent, and it appears a bit closer. Whatever, it's all good, enjoyable sound.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, June 22, 2019

Resonant Bodies Festival Kicks off NYC Concert Season

"In equal measures intelligent, playful, ambitious and moving, the program illuminated the shape-shifting power of the human voice." That intoxicating New York Times review of the inaugural Resonant Bodies Festival in 2013 marked its arrival as an immediately valuable contributor to the city's music scene. The festival has since evolved into something akin to New York Fashion Week for the new music set, offering a chance for buck-the-trendsetters to experience the high-energy epicenter of experimental vocal music.

The flagship festival returns to Roulette this September 3-5, kicking off the concert season with three fast-paced nights of vocal luminaries and artistic renegades converging in the best "see and be seen" creative energy New York has to offer.

"We bring together people who light each other up," said festival founder Lucy Dhegrae. "The palpable camaraderie among the nine featured artists – many of whom have never met – creates an incredible energy, and that transfers to the audience. The level of artistry, the distinctive projects, the flow between pools of sound – audiences can expect an unforgettable concert experience, unlike anything else in the world."

For complete information, visit

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

Support YPC and Double Your Impact Today!
Young People's Chorus of New York City reaches 2,000 children every year and we continue to grow. We are thankful to have such a strong network of choristers, alumni, families, friends, and supporters who are part of our YPC family. Your contributions give them the essential support they need every step along the way -- from chorister to college student!

Please help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 to support YPC's Scholarship Fund! All gifts made between now and June 30th will be DOUBLED by a matching grant.

Join our Text-to-Donate campaign by texting the code "YPC19" to 443-21.

Or donate here:

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Bach Festival & Academy: Treasures from Lyon
Friday August 2 2019 8:00 p.m.: Pergolesi and Handel in France.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

Three hundred miles to the south of Paris lay France's second largest city, Lyon. It had a thriving concert society, founded in 1713, with a beautiful concert hall designed by a famous royal architect.

Our Festival program titled "Treasures from Lyon" will present musical works from Italy and England that were found in the important library of the Concert de Lyon, a rival to the Concert Spirituel series that was flourishing in Paris at the same time.

For tickets and information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Upcoming at the Miami Classical Music Festival
The Magic Flute
June 27 & July 25 | 7:30 p.m.
June 30 & July 28 | 1:00 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El Synagogue

Join us as we present this iconic work in Miami Beach's Historic Temple Emanu-El. Our mission is to find new ways of presenting opera in non traditional spaces, bringing performances directly to the public. This production is created specifically for young children. 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.

For tickets and information, visit

The Marriage of Figaro
June 28, 29 | 7:30 p.m.
July 26, 27 | 7:30 p.m.
Miami Beach Senior High

One of Mozart's most beloved works gets a classic retelling, bringing to Miami the music and characters that have captured the hearts of opera lovers the world over. Servants Figaro and his promised Susanna prepare for their upcoming wedding, only to find that his employer the Count has impure intentions for her as well. The classes battle in a light-hearted comedy sung in Italian by the MMF Opera Institute, which features some of Mozart's most beautiful melodies ever written.

For tickets and information, visit

--Miami Music Festival

Orion Announces 2019-20 Season of Discoveries
Orion offers a "Season of Discoveries" in 2019-20. Guest musicians, classical mixed with contemporary, new Aurora venue plus downtown Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, announces its 27th season, featuring chamber works from the 18th, 19th 20th and 21st centuries; respected guest artists, including violinist/violist Stephen Boe on all four concerts, marimbist Josh Graham and violinist Mathias Tacke; and the widely praised musicianship of its core members: clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone.

Orion performs each concert program at venues spanning the Chicago area, including the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and, new this season, New England Congregational Church in Aurora.

For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Berkeley Symphony Announces 2019-2020 Season
Music Director Joseph Young and Berkeley Symphony announced today its 2019-2020 season including four Symphonic Series subscription concerts and five Chamber Series subscription concerts.

Recently appointed as the orchestra's new Music Director, Maestro Young will lead a season that includes world premieres by Chinese composer Xi Wang and Los Angeles-based composer Derrick Spiva Jr.; the San Francisco Bay Area premiere of Bryce Dessner's Voy a Dormir featuring the return of mezzo soprano Kelley O'Connor; the Bay Area premiere of Mary Kouyoumdjian's Become Who I Am in collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus; a debut appearance by trumpeter Sean Jones in two Bay Area premieres including Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Trumpet Concerto and Gunther Schuller's Journey into Jazz with the Berkeley High Jazz Combo; a rare performance of Shango Memory by former UC Berkeley professor and ground-breaking composer Olly Wilson; and the return of pianist Conrad Tao performing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major. And much more.

Berkeley Symphony opens the 2019-2020 season on Thursday, October 24, 2019. For complete information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Leslie Howard signs to JIMC
Not many pianists can boast a discography of more than 130 recordings;indeed, probably no pianist can, aside from Leslie Howard. And he is far from just any pianist. Best-known for his peerless knowledge and skill in the music of Franz Liszt, his 100-CD collection of Liszt's piano music for the Hyperion label is generally considered to be one of the most momentous and consequential recording projects since the invention of the gramophone ("This box, from the hands of a master, is without question the main event of Liszt's centenary year" - The Independent). It also won him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Yet there is far more to Leslie Howard than Liszt, staggering and famous though his achievements there are, as his concerts and recordings (almost all for Hyperion) of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky and others show. He is also greatly in demand internationally for his masterclasses, alongside his recitals, and serves on the juries of many prestigious competitions. BBC Music Magazine has called him "the finest living exponent of Liszt", the New York Times noted "some of the most exciting pianism of the season," while the New York Sun stated admiringly, "Leslie Howard sometimes seems more myth than man"!

James Inverne Music Consultancy is assume to become general management for Leslie Howard. James Inverne says, "From my days as the Editor of Gramophone I was aware of Leslie's reputation as Liszt's representative on Earth, and his consummate talent reaches into the music of many schools, many composers. It is a delight to work with him, and to bring him to even more audiences around the world."

Leslie Howard said, "It is a pleasure to be associated with James and his colleagues. He has some exciting plans and I look forward to being part of them, to my upcoming performances and to more exciting adventures with my dear label, Hyperion."

Watch Leslie Howard play Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 here:

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Alain Lefèvre To Unveil New Compositions for the Benefit of Les Foyers de la Création
The acclaimed pianist Alain Lefèvre will unveil his new compositions at a concert for the benefit of Les Foyers de la Création. This event will be held under the honorary chairmanship of Isabelle Brais, First Lady of Quebec. The event will take place on Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 pm at Saint-Pierre Claver Church (2000 Saint-Joseph Boulevard East, Montreal, Canada).

Les Foyers de la Création is a permanent shelter and respite center working with adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. Since its founding in 2012, it has helped more than 200 people and families by offering both a residential service and a day center.

During this very special evening, Alain Lefèvre will present new pieces from his next album of compositions entitled OPUS 7, to be released on the Warner Classics label. To purchase tickets and attend this unique event, call 514-903-9761, ext. 104. Online ticket purchase is also available at

--France Gaignard

Renowned Composer Rob Simonsen Signs to Sony Music Masterworks
With an impressive resume of film scores under his belt while having created a living legacy in the Los Angeles "new music" world via The Echo Society, composer Rob Simonsen launches a new chapter in his already successful career by signing to Sony Music Masterworks as a recording artist, with his label debut album set for a Fall 2019 release. To celebrate his signing, he's shared a new video from Spectre that he self-directed, featuring some unforgettable imagery that begins to frame up his thought-provoking modern compositions amongst a living and breathing natural aesthetic -- watch here:

"Spectre is about mystery, melancholy and wonder, " Rob describes. "The feeling of awakening from a dream, or waking into a dream. It was created entirely in Studios Les Saint Germain in Paris, France, with my co-producers Raphael Hamburger and Stan Neff. I wanted to use the colors of brass, cellos, choir, an ondes martenot, and piano. We brought in brilliant players who gave it great life and vibe. It is the first installment of a trilogy of music videos I directed, which starts with the awakening of a being and the journey they embark on."

Having learned to play the piano at a young age and with an educational background in jazz, electronic and traditional orchestral music, Simonsen has lent his scoring talents to a wide range of film projects.  Since the early 2000s, he's worked on an expansive list of film soundtracks, among them The Front Runner, Love, Simon, Nerve, Foxcatcher, The Way, Way Back, and The Spectacular Now.  He also provided additional music with his mentor Mychael Danna for scores such as Moneyball and Ang Lee's Life of Pi.

For more information about Rob Simonsen, visit

--George Corona

On Vacuum Tubes—Then and Now...

By Bryan Geyer

I returned from Korea in early 1954, and soon became absorbed in the new “hi fi” craze. Of course, that meant embracing vacuum tubes. Transistors were very new—not ready for prime time—so tubes were the sole option. Tube failures were common, and their heat would often cook some of the adjacent components, but I reasoned that those faults could be my gain if I learned basic radio/TV repair, so I built (from kits) a tube tester, a signal oscillator, a simple oscilloscope, and I bought a new Simpson model 269 multimeter. That marked the start of my 32 year career in the electronics industry.

Do recognize that vacuum tubes are not high precision parts. Why not? Well, to start, all of the tube makers present their products only by listing generic “average” or “typical” performance data. They don’t provide (or control) any of the specific operating characteristics*, so vacuum tubes of a given type can vary widely. Further, all tubes exhibit a constant, gradual, and persistent life cycle drift; plate current fades, grid bias shifts. So a tube’s functional day-to-day performance is never precisely the same. This natural cyclic drift starts when the tube initially enters service, and ends when the tube dies from cathode depletion failure—barring all of the many other modes of premature demise that might intervene (e.g.: open filaments, vacuum leaks, gassing, microphonics, atypical distortion, excessive hum/noise, and damage from external mechanical shock). As a consequence, vacuum tube circuits are not the best means to assure stable circuit performance; there’s simply no optimally constant operating phase. Regardless, for some 70 years tubes were all that we had. Circuit design got stale toward the end of that era because the chassis space available for tube sockets limited potential complexity; also because tubes are so woefully inefficient. But creative innovation blossomed when PNP silicon power transistors finally debuted in the mid 1970s, thereby making complementary differential solid state symmetry a plausible alternative.

Personal angst: In 1963 I bought a Fisher FM200B tuner, one of the premier signal-seekers of the day, but its IF stages exhibited incessant drift due to tube aging. I had to perform tedious IF realignment annually. And my 1962 Marantz 8B stereo power amplifier needed semi-annual output stage bias adjustment to hold the measured IM distortion inside 0.5%, plus I had to install four new EL34 output tubes every 2 or 3 years; that’s costly! Indeed, I got so hot to dump vacuum tubes that I finally built my own solid state power amps in 1976, when PNP silicon power transistors finally became affordable. (Refer p.39 of Hey, I was free at last!

Vacuum tube commerce has collapsed in the ensuing 43 years. All of the domestic, British, Dutch, and German producers are now either defunct (like Tung-Sol, my employer from ’57-’60), or they ceased making tubes decades ago. The entire world market for audio-type tubes is now confined solely to the needs of select audiophiles and guitar buffs, and currently fulfilled only by obscure producers in China, Russia, and Slovakia. All are without previous market recognition. The quality, consistency, and reliability of product from those arcane foreign sources is speculative, and supply will persist only as long as there’s viable demand, so the outlook for affordable access to replacement stock looks dicey. Further, this status prevails at a time when all audio engineers concur that the load-invariant advantage assured by driving the loudspeaker from an ultra-low impedance source is dependent on solid-state design. (The Zout for a solid-state power amp runs < 1/10th of the Zout for a tube amp.) Today’s audio-type vacuum tubes represent the detritus of a dead technology; it’s time to move on.

*Refer any vacuum tube specification sheet. For example, here’s the published data for type 6550, a common power output tube: Note that there are no minimum or maximum limits given for any of the various operating characteristics. (This traditional practice is in direct contrast with the semiconductor industry, wherein complete min./max. acceptance criteria is provided for almost every critical parameter on every registered device.)

BG (May 2019)

French Cello Concertos (CD review)

Saint-Saens, Lalo, Milhaud, Offenbach, Massenet. Hee-Young Lim, cello; Scott Yoo, London Symphony Orchestra. Sony Classical S80425C.

Her current recording, "French Cello Concertos," is the debut album for Korean cellist Hee-Young Lim, who has made quite a name for herself in the past few years. Not only has she won major international competitions, she is Principal Solo Cellist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the first Korean cello professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She tours as a soloist and recitalist and performs with the world's leading orchestras. It's no wonder, then, that so big and prestigious a record label as Sony Classical wanted to promote her first release.

Supported by conductor Scott Yoo and the London Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Lim performs five well-known cello pieces by French composers: Saint-Saens, Lalo, Milhaud, Offenbach, and Massenet. Not that there is exactly a surplus of cello concertos to play, though. The poor cello, a descendent of the bass violin, didn't find a serious place for itself until well into the Baroque period, and even then it held a limited position. Bach wrote his six cello suites, of course; later Haydn wrote a couple of cello concertos and Beethoven a few cello sonatas. Yet it wasn't until the later Romantic period that the cello began to flourish, with Schumann, Dvorak, and Brahms writing concertos for it. Then, the twentieth century saw a greater blossoming of material for the instrument. Anyway, the major attraction here, Saint-Saens's cello concerto, came somewhat late in the Romantic era, 1872, by which time the cello had firmly established itself as a commonly accepted part of the orchestral picture.

So, the first thing up is the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in A by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921). Written in one continuous movement split into three separate sections with interrelated ideas, Saint-Saens's concerto was unconventional for its time. Nevertheless, it became a favorite of cellists and composers everywhere, some of them like Rachmaninov and Shostakovich declaring it the greatest of all cello concertos.

Hee-Young Lim
The concerto keeps the solo instrument in the foreground almost the whole time, and Ms. Lim takes advantage of this situation with playing of steadfast command. Yet unlike so many other soloists, she never tries to dominate the music with the force of her personality. The musical lines are always clean and direct, the passion expressed through the score itself, not her own virtuosity. This is not to say she isn't a marvel to listen to; she is an accomplished musician and the concerto's finale is an amazing whirlwind of notes. But she is also a delicate, introspective musician, and much of her talent is in the nuances of her playing. In other words, while there are more bravura performances you can find, there are none more sensitively committed.

Next, and maybe equally famous, is the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in d minor by Edouard Lalo (1823-92), which he wrote in 1876. He arranged it in a more traditional style than Saint-Saens did his concerto a few years earlier, and perhaps because of its strong hints of Spanish flamenco music, it gets its fair share of performances and recordings. Ms. Lim takes the first two movements at a slightly more leisurely pace than one often hears, and it adds a sweet tone that complements the nature of this Spanish-influenced French music. It's an elegant reading, full of operatic color and character in its first two movements and a whole lot of zest in its final moments.

After that we find the Cello Concerto No. 1 by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974). Written in 1934, its more modern and jazz-inflected disposition is notably different from that of the more Romantic Saint-Saens and Lalo pieces. Milhaud's work relies less on pure melody and more on displays of seemingly indiscriminate mood swings from lyrical tenderness to somber reflection to a nearly cheerful giddiness. The oddness of the music continues despite a lovely opening stretch that Ms. Lim makes the most of before Milhaud starts going in all directions at once. Give Ms. Lim credit for holding the work together so well and having it come through so engagingly.

Following the three concertos, we get two shorter pieces: Les larmes de Jacqueline ("The Tears of Jacqueline") by Jacques Offenbach (1819-80) and the familiar "Meditation" from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet (1842-1912). They are the icing on the cake and bring the program to a satisfying end.

Producer Michael Fine and engineer Jin Choi recorded the music at Abbey Road Studios, London in July 2018. And what a pleasure it is to hear the London Symphony back recording at Abbey Road, the scene of so many of their previous successes. As I said earlier, the cello is in the forefront of the musical activity, which is, I suppose, the way it ought to be. In any case, the sound is precise, well defined, solid, and robust. The cello carries plenty of weight and makes a firm impression on the ear. The orchestra is almost secondary, but it, too, sounds splendid, with clean detailing, strong dynamics, and a realistic sense of presence. In fact, the sound of the LSO reminded me a lot of the sound of their EMI recordings of the late Sixties and Seventies, and that is high praise, indeed.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, June 15, 2019

Scott Yoo to Host New Television Program, "Now Hear This"

Festival Mozaic is proud to share the news that music director Scott Yoo is set to host a new television program on PBS titled "Now Hear This," slated to air this fall on PBS.

"Now Hear This" will be the first classical music series on U.S. prime time television in nearly 50 years. Through travel, adventure, humor and surprising performances, "Now Hear This" aims to build a new generation of classical enthusiasts, while giving existing fans new ways to love their music.

The series is projected to reach 35 million viewers in Season 1 through PBS, international public TV, free online streaming, and a companion public radio show. The show is hosted by Festival Mozaic's own Scott Yoo, also Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic and one of the world's leading violinists, and created by Emmy-winning producer, writer and director Harry Lynch.

Season 1 of "Now Hear This" will air as part of PBS's Great Performances series on Fridays in September 2019 at 8:00 p.m.

For an informative video, visit

--Festival Mozaic

Documentary on Choral Music Conductor Robert Shaw on PBS
American Masters presents the story of one of the greatest choral music conductors, Robert Shaw – Man of Many Voices, premiering nationwide Friday, June 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app.

Narrated by David Hyde Pierce, the documentary traces the journey of the self-taught choral conductor who became known as the "dean of American choral singing."

Shaw sold millions of recordings and received 16 Grammy Awards, a George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America, a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Medal of the Arts.

The documentary follows his unlikely career trajectory, from his early days working with band leader Fred Waring, to his advocacy for integrated ensembles and audiences during the civil rights movement, to his decades-long tenure at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

--Ava Tews, WNET

Frogs, Crickets, Forests, and Seasons
Throughout the centuries, composers have been fascinated by the deep-rooted relationship between Nature and Music. Music can imitate the sounds of nature, and the voices of nature have played a prominent role in music that we love, from madrigals to Mahler.

American Bach Soloist's 10th Annual Festival and Academy opens with a concert all about the magical sounds of Nature as transformed into musical works by Telemann, Vivaldi, and Geminiani.

The headliner of the program is Vivaldi's inimitable and irresistible set of four violin concertos known as "The Four Seasons," with additional music by Telemann, Vivaldi, and Geminiani.

Hear these extraordinary works on the Opening Day of the ABS Festival, Sunday, July 28, 2019, 4:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

The 21st Edition of La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant
The 21st edition of la Fête de la Musique de Tremblant: a family-friendly event not to be missed!
Jean-Pierre Ferland will be the special guest of Angèle Dubeau.

For its 21st edition, La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant is honoured to announce that Jean-Pierre Ferland, a Canadian music legend, will be Angèle Dubeau's special guest at the Angèle Dubeau & Friends concert. An evening of music, poetry and love, which promises to be a majestic!

Angèle Dubeau, founder and artistic director of the event, invites all music lovers to join her in the magnificent setting of Tremblant, during the Labor Day weekend from August 30th to September 2nd, for the opportunity to attend more than thirty free concerts by renowned Canadian musicians.

The family-oriented event, attended each year by tens of thousands of music lovers, will propose this year a musical trip around the world. The complete music programming of La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant will be announced on August 14.

For more advance information, visit

--France Gaignard

2019 Midsummer Mozart Festival, July 11-15
Dedicated to fresh interpretations of the composer's most enduring masterworks, the 2019 Midsummer Mozart Festival includes an opening night piano recital featuring local pianists Daniel Glover and Thomas Hansen (July 11 in Berkeley, CA); an evening of words, wine and music featuring anecdotes from Marrying Mozart author Stephanie Cowell, arias sung by soprano Christina Major and string quartets performed by the Midsummer Mozart Festival Chamber Players (July 12 in San Francisco, CA); and three orchestral performances with guest artist soprano Christina Major performing "Exsultate Jubilate," K. 165 and selected arias from Idomeneo and Don Giovanni (July 13 in San Jose, CA; July 14 in Sonoma, CA; and July 15  in Cazadero, CA).

For details, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

West Edge Opera Announces $19 Tickets for Their Upcoming Festival
West Edge Opera is offering $19 tickets for all performances in their upcoming summer festival, including the highly anticipated San Francisco Bay Area premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's adaptation of the Lars von Trier film Breaking the Waves. True to our East Bay roots, we have long been committed to presenting world class opera in unconventional locations and to an often overlooked audience. By offering tickets at only $19, we hope to erase any barrier that would keep patrons from experiencing the drama and intensity of fully produced opera.

The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht opens the season with performances on Saturday, August 3 at 8:30 with repeat performances on Sunday, August 11 at 3:00 and Thursday, August 15 at 8:30.

Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo & Euridice opens Sunday, August 4 at 3:00 with repeat performances Friday, August 9 at 8:30 and Saturday, August 17 at 8:30.

The final opera of our festival will be the West Coast Premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek with performances on Saturday, August 10 at 8:30, Friday, August 16 at 8:30 and Sunday, August 18 at 3:00.

3-Opera series tickets are priced from $129 to $339. Series ticket holders enjoy priority seating and a discount as well as easy exchanges. Single tickets are priced at $19-$125. All tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (510) 841-1903 (with the exception of the $19 Bronze tickets, which can only be purchased online.)

All performances are at The Bridge Yard: 210 Burma Road, Oakland, CA.

Information and tickets at

--West Edge Opera

Free Outdoor Concerts at the Foot of Mount Royal
Free outdoor concerts at the foot of Mount Royal. The mountain goes vintage on five summer Thursdays.

In the tradition of popular summer concerts in public parks at the beginning of the 20th century, Harmonie Laval and various ensembles will offer five free performances at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, July 4, 11 and 18 and August 1 and 8.

Music lovers will be transported back to a time when people gathered to hear beautiful music under the summer sky. The concerts will be held at the Mordecai Richler gazebo on Park Avenue, a stone's throw from the Sir George-Étienne-Cartier monument, rain or shine (unless there is a storm). No reservation required. Just bring your chair.

Please note that three of the performances (July 11, 18 and August 1) will bring together professional and amateur or student musicians. The pros will act as coaches to enrich the experience for the others.

July 4 - Big Band Intersection
Come and discover this jazz band created in Laval in 2005. The Beatles' music will take the spotlight under the direction of Louis Lemay.

July 11 - The sound of the flute
A unique opportunity to hear a flute ensemble made up of professional, amateur and student musicians from Laval and the surrounding area. They'll present a captivating program that will charm everyone.

July 18 – Spotlight on brass
A double program with the amateur brass quintet La musique civique de Montréal and an up-and-coming ensemble. Music for all tastes—Hockey Night in Canada, military tunes, and more!

August 1 – Saxophone soirée
The Ensemble de Saxophones de Montréal brings together 10 saxophonists, most of whom are both musicians and teachers. Four members of the group will perform with amateur and student saxophonists presenting a program of eclectic music for all tastes.

August 8 - Harmonie Laval, conducted by Catherine Parr
To end the concert series, Harmonie Laval will perform works from film and popular music.

--France Gaignard

Daily Schedule Announced for Bang on a Can's new festival LOUD Weekend at MASS MoCA
Bang on a Can and MASS MoCA announce the daily schedule today for a new, three-day music festival, LOUD Weekend, presented for the first time from Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4, 2019, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, located in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts (1040 MASS MoCA Way). Over the three-day period, more than 30 concerts will take place in the museum's vast galleries and throughout its stunning collection of indoor and outdoor performing arts venues.

LOUD Weekend is an expansion of Bang on a Can's long-running Bang on a Can Marathon, tripling that inclusive and ambitious programming from one day, to three days. Of the new project, Bang on a Can co-founders and artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe say:
"12 hours is not enough!  We are revving up the Marathon format so you can feel the full range of revolutionary curiosity in the music world today. We call it LOUD Weekend."

Festival Passes include museum addition to MASS MoCA's 250,000 sq. ft. of art, including installations by Annie Lennox, a major survey of Cauleen Smith, and the largest-ever exhibition of Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, in addition to virtual reality experiences by Laurie Anderson, nine immersive installations by James Turrell, two large galleries filled with the handmade instruments of musicologist Gunnar Schonbeck, and more. Performances will take place throughout the museum grounds in venues including the Hunter Center, Club B10, Building 6 Event Space, Wardwell Gallery, The Chalet, Building 5 Gallery, and more.

Gallery admission is $20 for adults, $18 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. The Hall Art Foundation's Anselm Kiefer exhibition will re-open on May 25. For additional information: 413.662.2111 x1 or visit

Bang on a Can LOUD Weekend at MASS MoCA
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, Massachusetts.

General Admission 3-Day Pass $70; Preferred 3-Day Pass $95
Available at 413.662.2111 or
Information on Accommodations:

More information:

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Academy Alumni Take Top Prizes in Int'l Competition
Two alumni of the Music Institute of Chicago's Academy for gifted pre-college pianists and string players have placed first and second in the prestigious and widely respected 10th International Violin Competition Leopold Mozart in Augsburg, Germany.

Joshua Brown, who moved to Gurnee, Ill. from Washington DC to study with Academy faculty Almita and Roland Vamos for five years, earned first prize; he also won the Kronberg Academy's Special Prize, which provides a scholarship for active participation in a master class at the Academy, and Prize by Jury Chairman Benjamin Schmid, which includes a personal invitation from Schmid to perform at the International Chamber Music Festival Kempten 2019.

Karisa Chiu, from Palatine, Ill., took second prize. While at the Academy, she studied with Almita Vamos for five years. She has won top prizes at numerous other national and international competitions, including the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, the Stulberg String Competition, the Cooper International Competition, and the Walgreens National Concerto Competition.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Arnold: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (CD review)

Andrew Penny, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. Naxos 8.553739.

English composer Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2016) continued to write symphonic music until 1990, when he abruptly stopped, saying he "had done enough." All the while a stubborn Romanticist, Arnold wrote music that steadfastly employed melodies and rhythm at a time when Modernists had shut the door on such anachronisms. Coincidentally, I had written about this same coupling of Arnold's Third and Fourth Symphonies about a year earlier, that time under Vernon Handley on the Conifer label. Now the two symphonies return on a lower-priced Naxos disc that is even more inviting.

The Third Symphony (finished in 1957), divided into three movements, is the least consequential of the two works on the disc. It is pleasant enough, don't get me wrong, but not particularly memorable.

Andrew Penny
The Fourth Symphony (1960), however, will remain in memory, especially for its opening movement, with its overlays of South and Central American percussion tunes. The Vivace ma non troppo that follows also uses a jazzy tune, but slightly more formally structured. The Andantino is the calm before the storm, the end of the finale bursting forth in a most provocative and, as the composer said, "completely crazy" manner.

On a side note, the composer later wrote that the Fourth Symphony was his response to the  1958 Notting Hill race riots. He was, he said, shocked that such a thing could happen in England, and he hoped that his symphony might help to diffuse the problems of racial divide.

The Naxos sound is clear and well defined, easily rivaling the more expensive Conifer disc. Maestro Penny recorded the Third and Fourth Symphonies in June 1996, with the composer in attendance. One could hardly ask for more authoritative readings. In fact, they are among the best Naxos recordings I've heard, so one can hardly go wrong with them.

The sense and value of purchasing low-to-middle priced Naxos releases should be self evident, at least in principle. However, I would add that not all Naxos recordings sound as good as this one, because on the same day I listened to the Arnold disc I also happened to listen to a recording of the Mozart Horn Concertos (Naxos 8.553592) that I found stodgy in performance and dark and murky in sound. Listening before you buy is still the best way to acquire what you are most likely to want to live with; trusted reviews and the recommendations of friends are obviously other good practices. Buying indiscriminately, though, even in so fine a label as Naxos, may cause too many, if occasional, disappointments.

No letdown in these Arnold symphonies, though. I applaud them strongly.


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

Lekeu: Music for Violin, Cello and Piano (CD review)

Bruno Monteiro, violin; Miguel Rocha, cello; Joao Paulo Santos, piano. Brilliant Classics 95739.

Another name, Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894), unfamiliar to me until now, was a Belgian composer who might have gone on to write a lot more good music if he hadn't died relatively young. He studied counterpoint and fugue with Cesar Franck and orchestration with Vincent d'Indy before contracting typhoid fever and dying the day after his twenty-fourth birthday.

On the present album Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro and his friends, cellist Miguel Rocha and pianist Joao Paulo Santos, play two of Lekeu's more celebrated chamber pieces. But first, I may need to remind you of just who Mr. Monteiro is. According to his biography, Monteiro is "heralded by the daily Publico as 'one of Portugal's premier violinists' and by the weekly Expresso as 'one of today's most renowned Portuguese musicians.' Fanfare describes him as having a 'burnished golden tone' and Strad states that his 'generous vibrato produces radiant colors.' Music Web International refers to his interpretations as having a 'vitality and an imagination that are looking unequivocally to the future' and that reach an 'almost ideal balance between the expressive and the intellectual.' Gramophone praises his 'unfailing assurance and eloquence,' and Strings Magazine says he is 'a young chamber musician of extraordinary sensitivity.'" So expect extraordinarily good performances.

The program begins with the Sonata for Violin and Piano in G, which Lekeu premiered in Brussels in 1893 to enormous success. According to Wikipedia, Lekeu's style was "prophetic of early-twentieth-century avant-garde French composers like Satie and Milhaud" and "influenced by Franck, Wagner, and Beethoven, though these influences did not manifest themselves as mere imitation." Whatever, the music's most obvious characteristic is its melancholy. Perhaps it was presaging his own early death, but I seriously doubt it.

Bruno Monteiro
There is a brief moment of cheer within the first of the Sonata's three movements, but for the most part the piece is melodic, lyrical, and, as observed above, not a little mournful. Monteiro appropriately plays the work in a most sympathetic manner, his violin sounding soulful and yearning, the piano accompaniment forceful but never interfering with Monteiro's splendidly forthright and emotionally affecting interpretation. While the third movement is clearly more animated than the others, particularly in the first section, the composer going out on a swirl of notes so to speak, the music nevertheless maintains the same mood of tempered sadness we see throughout. And Monteiro is careful to sustain that tone to the end. In all, it's a lovely piece, and Monteiro and Santos show their appreciation with a delicately wrought performance.

The second item on the agenda is the Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C minor, which dates from 1890 and as Monteiro notes is "free from Franckian and Wagnerian influences and more inclined toward Beethoven." Still, Lekeu appears to have struggled writing it and was not especially pleased with the work (he complained of "an overly disciplined and broken discourse"). Whatever, Monteiro and his friends play it with a full measure of fluid grace, sophistication, and brilliance, never sentimentalizing the plush harmonies.

Producer Bruno Monteiro and engineer Jose Fortes recorded the music at Igreja da Cartuxa, Caxias, Portugal in June and July 2018. The violin has a sweet, decorous tone, and its miking sets it back far enough to benefit from the room acoustics. The overall sound for the three instrumentalists is warm and smooth as well, with a natural presence, the several instruments together in excellent balance.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, June 8, 2019

Festival Mozaic Orchestra Series

In the Festival Mozaic Orchestra Series, musicians from the nation's top orchestras and ensembles come together under the dynamic leadership of our music director, Scott Yoo. This year's musicians hail from the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Colorado, Jacksonville, Minnesota, and St. Louis, as well as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and our hometown San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Complete 2019 Summer Festival Schedule
July 19: FILM: Scarlatti - Man Out of Time (Palm Theater)
July 24: Midday Mini-Concert: Susan Cahill Bass Recital (Atascadero)
July 24: Notable Encounter Dinner (Halter Ranch Vineyard)
July 25: Chamber Series: Opening Night (United Methodist Church)
July 26: UnClassical Series: An Evening of Flamenco (Dana Adobe)
July 27: Notable Encounter Luncheon (Dallidet Adobe)
July 27: Orchestra Series: Baroque in the Vines (Serra Chapel)
July 28: Chamber Series: European World Music (Cong. Beth David)
July 28: UnClassical Series: Ancient Future (See Canyon Fruit Ranch)
July 29: Family Concert: Carnival of the Animals (Cuesta College)
July 29: Orchestra Series: Resplendent Baroque (Cuesta College)
July 30: Notable Encounter Insight: Chopin Cello Sonata SOLD OUT
July 31: Midday Mini-Concert: Premieres by Michael Fine (Cambria)
July 31: Benefit Dinner in Mission Plaza
July 31: Orchestra Series: Mozart in the Mission
August 1: Midday Mini-Concert: Grace Park Violin Recital (SLO)
August 1: UnClassical Series: Take 3 Piano Trio (Clark Center)
August 2: Backstage Breakfast, Tour & Rehearsal (Cuesta College)
August 2: Chamber Series: Silver and Gold (Cuesta College)
August 3: Midday Mini-Concert: Novacek Piano Recital (Los Osos)
August 3: Orchestra Series: Spanish Flair (Cuesta College)
August 4: Notable Encounter Brunch: Brahms Quartet SOLD OUT
August 4: Chamber Series: Scott Yoo and Friends (Cuesta College)
Plus: master classes, open rehearsals, and lectures!

For complete information, visit

--Festival Mosaic

Who Was Terpsicore?
One of the nine Greek Muses who were believed to rule over all the major literary and artistic spheres, Terpsicore was the goddess of dance and choral song.

Usually depicted seated, holding a lyre, accompanying dancers and choirs with her music, her name (often spelled "Terpsichore") is derived from Greek words meaning "delight" and "dance."

In 1612, the German composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) assembled a compendium titled Terpsichore of more than 300 instrumental dances, taking credit only for arranging the music rather than composing the tunes. And in 1734, George Frideric Handel composed Terpsicore, a prologue to his previously performed opera, Il pastor fido, which had been premiered in 1712.

And, Are there really three choirs in the Lotti Mass? No, there are as many as five!

While the title of Lotti's captivating "Mass for Three Choirs" (Missa a tre cori) can be misleading, it is a work composed for more than 20 independent vocal and instrumental parts, often organized in up to five different and separated groups, drawing upon the Venetian tradition of polychoral—or "cori spezzati"—works from the time of the great composers at San Marco. If you enjoy performances of large-scale works by Monteverdi and Gabrieli, you'll love the Lotti Mass!

Handel: Terpscicore and Lotti: "Mass for Three Choirs"
Academy Orchestra & Soloists • Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

Hear these extraordinary works in the ABS Festival & Academy, performed by American Bach Soloists on Thursday August 8 2019 & Friday August 9 at 8:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Musikiwest Announces Inaugural Summer Festival
Artistic Director Michelle Djokic and Musikiwest, a Palo Alto-based chamber ensemble, announced today its inaugural summer festival, "Musikiwest ChamberFest," July 7-12, 2019 at the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, CA.

The six-day chamber music festival brings participants from some of the country's most prestigious music schools for intensive rehearsals and wellness workshops that focus on the collaborative power of chamber music. Led by a roster of professional musicians from across the United States and Bay Area, the festival will culminate in two public performances that bring faculty and students together for a variety of chamber masterworks including Antonín Dvorák's String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48 and Felix Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20.

The WholeHearted Musician Founder, Dana Fonteneau and Colburn School Wellness Professor, Jennie Morton appear as special guests for three public workshops that share insight into essential skills such as empathy, communication and creativity as it applies to both professional and personal life.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Chicago Duo Piano Festival Celebrates Crumb's 90th
The Music Institute of Chicago announces two concerts for its 31st Chicago Duo Piano Festival (CDPF), featuring performances by renowned Chicago piano duo performers and a mix of favorite repertoire for four hands at one and two pianos, as well as eight hand piano performances. The concerts take place Sunday, July 14 at 3 p.m. and Friday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Registration for the educational component is available at

Among the highlights of this year's concerts is a tribute to American composer George Crumb on the occasion of his 90th birthday. The July 14 Gala Opening Concert includes a complete performance of his Makrokosmos III: Music for a Summer Evening for two amplified pianos and percussion, with pianists Fiona Queen and Louise Chan and percussionists Joshua Graham and John Corkill. Other works include Weber's Invitation to the Dance in a version featuring Katherine Peterson, Katherine Lee, Soo Young Lee, and Camille Witos; Schubert's Andantino Varié with Matthew Hagle and Mio Isoda; and Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances" from Prince Igor with Xiaomin Liang and Jue He.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

California Arts Council Makes Largest Investment in Arts and Culture in Nearly Two Decades
The California Arts Council announced 1,243 grant awards totaling $20,823,541 in project and operational support for nonprofit organizations and units of government throughout the state of California. Two additional grant programs, providing support for local, regional and statewide arts partnerships, are slated for approval by the Council at its meeting on June 25, increasing the total award amount for the 2018-19 fiscal year to a projected $24,508,541 across more than 1,300 grants.

Awarded project designs span the whole of the arts and cultural fields, with funding offered in 14 unique grant program areas addressing access, equity, and inclusion; community vibrancy; and arts learning and engagement; and aligning with the California Arts Council's vision of a state strengthened by a spectrum of art and artists.

New artwork, events, classes, workshops, and other opportunities for creative expression funded through these projects will directly benefit our state's communities, with youth, veterans, returned citizens, and California's historically marginalized communities key among them. This year's projected total award amount marks an increase of more than $8.1 million over last year's investment, the second highest investment in statewide arts programming, surpassed only by the 2000-01 fiscal year.

Learn more at

--Kimberly Brown, Public Affairs Specialist

2019 Midsummer Mozart Festival
The Midsummer Mozart Festival and Music Director Paul Schrage today announced the lineup for their 2019 summer festival with five performances, July 11-15, 2019 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dedicated to fresh interpretations of the composer's most enduring masterworks, the Midsummer Mozart Festival includes an opening night piano recital featuring local pianists Daniel Glover and Thomas Hansen in a variety of works including Gluck Variations, K. 455 and Sonata for Four Hands in F, K. 497; three orchestral performances with guest artist, soprano Christina Major performing arias from Idomeneo and Don Giovanni and Exsultate Jubilate, K. 165; and an intimate evening of words, wine and music featuring anecdotes from Marrying Mozart author Stephanie Cowell alongside arias sung by Christina Major and selected string quartets performed by the Midsummer Mozart Festival Chamber Players.

The festival opens on Thursday, July 11, 8:00 p.m. at Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, with a solo piano recital featuring Bay Area based pianist Daniel Glover.

For further information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

2019 Concours Musical International de Montréal: Hao Zhou, Grand CMIM Winner
The Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM) unveiled the name of the winners of the 2019 Violin Edition. 22 year-old Hao Zhou from the United States was the Grand Laureate, acquiring the title of First Prize Winner and Radio-Canada Audience Prize Winner.

 $150 000 in prizes, divided into 8 different awards, were given during the award ceremony.

 "Hao Zhou broke the mold at every competition round this year," says Christiane LeBlanc, Artistic and Executive Director of the CMIM. "He touched both the jury and the public. That's the mark of a true artist."

From May 29 to June 5, 24 competitors from 11 countries performed in the competition. The First round and Semifinal took place at Bourgie Hall. The six finalists then went on to perform the Final round over two days, on June 4 and 5, at Maison symphonique with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, with guest conductor Alexander Shelley.

For complete information, visit

--France Gaignard

SF Symphony Presents Semi-Staged Performances of Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges
British conductor Martyn Brabbins leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and Chorus, joined by Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, San Francisco Boys Chorus, and an internationally-renowned cast featuring mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as The Child, in semi-staged performances of Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges ("The Child and the Magic Spells"), June 27 & 29–30 at Davies Symphony Hall.

Currently Music Director of the English National Opera, Brabbins has previously conducted Ravel's enchanting opera at the Opéra de Lyon in France in 2012, at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich in 2013, and again in Lyon in 2016—premiering a new production, which will be featured at the San Francisco Symphony's performances in June. Originally commissioned by Opéra de Lyon in association with L'Auditori de Barcelona and Maestro Arts, the production was conceived by Animator Grégoire Pont and Director James Bonas.

For further information, visit

--San Francisco Symphony PR

John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1
The Chelsea Symphony's (TCS) final concerts of their 2018/2019 season, on June 29 & 30, feature John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1,  and the winner of its 5th annual composition competition, Aaron Israel Levin's In Between.

John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 was written in the late 1980s as the AIDS pandemic was claiming the lives of many. The first of Corigliano's large-format works, the symphony commemorates, as the composer noted, "my friends – those I had lost and the one I was losing." Partly inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the first movement is subtitled "Apologue: Of Rage and Remembrance," and is dedicated to a pianist. The next two movements commemorate a music executive and a cellist. In the finale, a tarantella melody played by piano in a featured role and the cello line from the previous movements are juxtaposed against "a repeated pattern consisting of waves of brass chords ... [to convey] an image of timelessness."

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

Surround Sound!
We want to share an article from the latest issue of Symphony Magazine, the publication of the League of American Orchestras, in which we are described as one of the most innovative ensembles in the field, mentioning EXO ahead of such luminaries as Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, California Symphony, and many others.

This is the most widely read publication in the field of orchestral music, so it is something to celebrate that EXO is highlighted as a pioneer in the field and a trend-setting ensemble.

Read the complete article here:

--Experiential Orchestra

On Loudspeaker Wiring Connectors…

By Bryan Geyer

I suggest AWG 12 stranded all-copper (not copper-clad aluminum*) duplex wiring for your power amplifier-to-speaker cable runs. An excellent version is made by Belden, and it’s available from Blue Jeans Cable; refer Their “Twelve White” is a premium AWG 12 stranded copper cable (Belden 5000) that’s optimum. It’s properly insulated, and exhibits less tendency to kink than the imported AWG 12 wire sold by many retailers.

Despite what you hear to the contrary, it is neither necessary nor beneficial to maintain identical linear lengths for the left and right channel wiring runs. Given the speed that electrons travel, there will be no audible phase delay difference if one stereo side has a longer wiring run than the other side, nor will there be any difference in signal amplitude that might theoretically arise from some niggling variance in series impedance. Cut the cable lengths to fit your personal layout preference.

Do not consider any of the esoteric speaker cable that’s promoted within the hi-end audiophile community. As noted by Peter Aczel, who founded The Audio Critic…
“The transmission of electrical signals through a wire is governed by resistance, inductance, and capacitance (R, L, and C). That’s all, folks! (At least that’s all at audio frequencies. At radio frequencies the geometry of the cable begins to have certain effects.) An audio signal has no idea whether it is passing through expensive or inexpensive RLC. It retains its purity or impurity regardless.”

The basics are well summarized at this classic site: :

If your power amplifier and loudspeakers both utilize dual banana jack posts (with standard 19 mm [0.75 inch] on-center spacing), terminate your wiring with compatible dual banana plug connectors. Some nice gold-plated dual banana plugs with helpful bottom entry wire access (minimizes the rear clearance) are available from Parts Express...

My preference is to shorten these dual banana plugs by discarding their fancy knurled end posts and substituting #8-32 x 0.75 inch flat point stainless-steel set screws; see Drive those set screws with a 5/64 inch Allen hex wrench—or with an equivalent 5/64 inch hex bit (more elegant) from Chapman Manufacturing Co.; see (If you admire fine hand tools, get to know Chapman.)

*Lots of retail “speaker wire” is now copper-clad aluminum. Suspect sellers who shout “pure copper”. Their boast might relate only to the cladding—not to the core. (Hey, I may be an over-the-top skeptic, but do be wary of bargain wire!) FYI: 100% all-copper AWG 12 wire exhibits DC resistance ≈ 0.016 Ω per ten (10) linear feet. Use a 4 1/2 digit mode meter (e.g. Fluke 87) to read cable resistance. Measure in relative mode, and test 50 foot lengths that are serially-shorted to net 100 linear feet of conductor. Example: Minimum readout on the Fluke model 87v meter = 0.1Ω, with accuracy of ±0.2% + 2 counts. So 100 ft. of AWG 12 all-copper wire ≈  0.16 Ω.

BG (April 2019)

Meet the Staff

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

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

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

Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Writer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

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