On the Certainty of Science…

By Bryan Geyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BG (July 2019)

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 (SACD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Classical Music News of the Week, July 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Master Classes & Lectures
August 5–9 2019

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

Monday August 5 2019
Harpsichord, with Corey Jamason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--American Bach Soloists

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

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

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

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

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

--France Gaignard

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

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

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

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

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

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

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

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

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

--France Gaignard

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

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

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

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

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

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

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Miami Music Festival

Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 21 "Kaddish" (CD Review)

Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, Gidon Kremer, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica. DG 483 6566 GH2 (2-disc set).

By Karl W. Nehring

Occasionally a recording comes along that completely changes your opinion of a composer and his or her music. This new two-CD set has recently and rather startlingly done that for me in the case of Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996). Mind you, it was not that I did not care for his music, but rather that I had always found previous recordings of his music to be OK, but never any better than that. I always felt a sense of disappointment. I had wanted his symphonies and other orchestral works to sweep me off my feet the way that the symphonies of Mahler and Shostakovich had when I first heard them, but it just never came to pass.

To be honest, I was not immediately impressed when I played the first disc of this two-CD set, his Symphony No. 2, a string symphony here performed by Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica. It struck me as, well, OK, but that was about it. Given my underwhelmed reaction to the first disc in the set, it took me another day to muster enough enthusiasm to audition the second disc.

What a difference a day makes! Twenty-four little hours later, I found myself fascinated by Symphony No. 21 "Kaddish" (the term refers to a Jewish prayer), which is played by the combined forces of Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica plus the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of conductor Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla. Here was a piece that reminded both of Mahler and Shostakovitch in its intensity of expression and sometimes chamber-music-like employment of orchestral forces. Having been so impressed by No. 21, I made a determination to listen to both symphonies over and over again, and so I did -- in my car, my living room, and in my listening room. The more I listened, the more my appreciation grew – not just for No. 21, but also for No.2, another truly remarkable work.

Gidon Kremer
The first movement of Symphony No. 2, marked Allegro Moderato, opens lyrically, but soon you begin to feel a bit of an edge underlying the pleasantness. Kremer's violin weaves in and out of the sonic tapestry, and as the movement continues, the mood becomes reminiscent of some of Shostakovitch's music with its skittishness and underlying tension. The movement, which in some ways resembles a miniature symphony on itself, becomes agitated and ends abruptly, followed by the second movement, marked Adagio, which opens with a plaintive melody. The movement becomes more serious and reflective as it goes along, finally ending in a whisper. The third movement, marked Allegretto, returns to a mood more like the first movement, building up tension with repeated motifs as the music becomes more and more intense but then again ends in a whisper.

As for Symphony No. 21, violinist Kremer, who has played and recorded much of Weinberg's music over many years, remarks in the liner notes that "it was actually as if one had discovered Mahler's Eleventh Symphony. A musical monument that sets to music one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century." Conductor Gražinyte-Tyla notes of the work that it poses a special challenge to both the orchestra and the conductor. "It is hard to string this enormous bow. The reason is that long passages are dominated entirely by a solo voice and various chamber ensembles while the gigantic orchestral apparatus of almost 100 musicians sits on the stage… the deeper we dive into the music, and the more closely we study this work, the more beautifully it begins to radiate."

The symphony is constructed as one giant movement, with six sections marked but flowing into each other without pause. As Gražinyte-Tyla remarked, there are many instances featuring small groupings and soloists playing prominent roles, including violin, clarinet, piano, double-bass, and in the closing minutes, a soprano voice – surprisingly, that of Gražinyte-Tyla herself. But there are also passages featuring boisterous contributions from brass, percussion, woodwinds, and strings. Under Gražinyte-Tyla's direction, it all hangs together beautifully, and has been captured in splendid sound by the engineering team.

As I stated at the outset, there are recordings that make you change your opinion of a composer. Having been so entranced by this remarkable recording of these two splendid symphonies, I plan to seek out more recordings of Weinberg's music to see what further treasures I might be able to unearth. Ah, the joys of music!


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

Brubeck: Time Out (UltraHD review)

Dave Brubeck Quartet. Sony Music 88843026022 (remastered).

Alto saxophonist and composer Paul Desmond once said of "Take Five," "It was never supposed to be a hit. It was supposed to be a Joe Morello drum solo." Desmond's composition became the biggest-selling jazz single in history.

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) formed his quartet in 1951, and they continued playing until his death. Their biggest album, of course, was "Time Out," recorded in 1959 and included "Take Five." The album and the single have become jazz classics, so it was good that the late record producer Winston Ma (FIM, First Impression Music) helped in the album's audiophile remastering in 2014. It is currently available in its remastered form from Sony Music.

Although members of the quartet changed over the years, the personnel for "Time Out" consisted of Dave Brubeck, piano; Paul Desmond, alto sax; Eugene Wright, bass; and Joe Morello, drums.

The album featured several innovative moves for a jazz presentation, chief among them (and here I'm quoting) "exotic time signatures," "compound time," "layering rhythms of counterpoint," and a "blending of three cultures: the formation of classical Western music, the freedom of jazz improvisation, and the often complex pulse of African folk music."

Which brings us to the first track on the program, "Blue Rondo a la Turk," essentially a blues number in classical rondo form, with a nod to Mozert's rondo "Alla turca." Its strong pulsating rhythms provide a good show opener. After that is "Strange Meadow Lark," which seems rather common by comparison to the opening piece but is still quite lovely. Third up is "Take Five," the only work on the album that wasn't written by Brubeck but by Paul Desmond, and the only track that hardly needs any explanation, since it's been a staple of jazz ever since.

Dave Brubeck
Next is "Three to Get Ready," which starts as a kind of waltz and soon segues into a set of variations. Then, there's "Kathy's Waltz," a tune Brubeck wrote for his daughter, Cathy, which merges several waltz times; "Everybody's Jumpin'" is quite pliant in its rhythms; and the closing track, "Pick Up Sticks," superbly highlights Brubeck's piano work.

Originally recorded by producer Teo Macero and engineer Fred Plaut for Columbia Records in June 1959 at 30th Street Columbia Studio, the album was here remastered by producer Winston Ma in 2014 for Sony Music using FIM and JVC's UltraHD (Ultra High Definition), "PureFlection" (Pure Reflection), 32-bit mastering process. The results are about as good as current compact disc technology gets, considering one can play it on a regular CD player.

Now, here's the thing. I've owned this album in one format or another for most of most of my life yet never considered a particularly great audiophile recording. Most of the sound is miked in the left and right channels, and if the sweet spot in your listening configuration is on one point of the proverbial triangle, you're apt to get a hole in the middle, a slightly empty space between the speakers. Toeing the speakers in more toward the listening position and moving them a little closer together helps mitigate this issue quite bit, so experimentation is in order. Indeed, the disc might prove a blessing in disguise if it helps to improve one's seating arrangement.

Anyway, that said, the new remastering is superb, its main claim to fame being its absolute smoothness. Sony's previous releases of this recording have always seemed to me a bit hard; not really edgy but not as flowing as real music should be. The new remastering takes care of that, providing sound that is as natural as possible. It also improves, though only slightly, the recording's dynamic impact and bass response, as well as its overall clarity. Most important, the new remastering sounds lifelike, as if four musicians are there in the listening room with you.

Again, these are incrementally small distinctions and should not be construed as night-and-day differences. For most folks, the regular CD may suffice nicely. It's for the audiophile with deep pockets that record companies make these kinds of meticulous remasterings, and for them it should be a pleasure.

You can find ARC products at some of the best prices at Elusive Disc: http://www.elusivedisc.com/


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

Classical Music News of the Week, July 20, 2019

American Bach Soloists Present Bach's Mass in B Minor

Sunday August 4 & 11 2019 4:00 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

The 2019 Festival & Academy brings the 10th annual collaboration of the Academy Orchestra & Soloists with the American Bach Choir in Johann Sebastian Bach's consummate masterwork, the Mass in B Minor. These performances bring eye-opening revelations of Bach's score that draws upon 35 years of his compositions.

Sunday August 4, 2019 4:00 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 2019 4:00 p.m.

For more information on this and other Summer Fesitival & Academy events, visit https://americanbach.org/sfbachfestival/index.html#next

For tickets to the Mass in B Minor, visit https://americanbach.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2641&ActCode=161993

--American Bach Soloists

Death of Classical Announces Fall Performances of the Crypt Sessions
Death of Classical is excited to announce the Fall performances for the fourth season of The Crypt Sessions, its acclaimed concert series featuring chamber music at the Crypt Chapel under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, NY.

The season will continue on September 18 with cellist Joshua Roman and pianist Conor Hanick performing a program entitled "The Instant and The Eternal," featuring the music of Arvo Pärt and Alfred Schnittke. The acclaimed JACK Quartet will make their crypt debut on October 21, giving the New York premiere of John Luther Adams' "Lines Made By Walking." On November 19, pianist Matan Porat will perform a mixed program entitled "Lux" that centers around times of day, and features music that ranges from Gregorian chants to Beethoven to contemporary works by Thomas Adès, Matthias Pintscher, and more.

The season will close on December 4, with a "Salon Séance," in which an ensemble of musicians plus an actor, led by violinist Mari Lee, channel the spirit of Benjamin Britten on the 49th anniversary of his death. The program interweaves musical excerpts with spoken text from Britten's letters and reflections, tracing his relationship to poet W.H. Auden as they strive to find an answer to the question: 'How can we live in a broken world?'

Death of Classical's other concert series, The Angel's Share, will also continue its second season in September and October with performances by pianists Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin, as well as the String Orchestra of Brooklyn.

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

New This Summer! - Bach Explorations
Tuesday & Wednesday, August 6 & 7 2019 7:00 p.m.

For centuries, Bach's timeless music has influenced and enlightened listeners and performers alike. Utilizing it as a source of harmonic and melodic content, musicians from all genres have adapted and drawn inspiration from Bach's artistry.

Bach to Bluegrass & Beyond
Tuesday August 6, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

The first half of the program will explore the common ground found between Bach melodies and traditional Bluegrass fiddle styles. We highly encourage toe tapping as we experience Bach in a different way. Our selection of arrangements will include material from Bach's Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, Violin Partita in E Major, Violin Concerto in A Minor, the "Hunt Cantata," and the majestic "Brandenburgs" compiled with traditional fiddle repertoire such as Shady Grove, Foreign Lander, and Saint Anne's Reel.

A renowned improviser himself, Bach's music has been a fertile source of inspiration for jazz composers. In this half of the program, we will explore the relationship between Bach's masterworks and jazz featuring arrangements by Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Jacques Loussier, and others. We will also feature our own arrangements of well-known Bach compositions, such as Salsa treatments of the "Goldberg Variations," the Well-Tempered Clavier meets "Take 5," and a swinging double violin concerto!

Bach Re-Imagined
Wednesday August 7, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

"Bach Re-imagined" explores the sonorities of instruments outside the realm of the Baroque, drawing upon the richness of Bach transcriptions and the new repertoire they provide for performers.

Tickets and information at https://americanbach.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2641

--American Bach Soloists

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

Under the baton of famed conductor and music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel, the program is dedicated to the musical connection between continents: the old world of Europe and the new world of America.

Renowned pianist Yuja Wang joins the orchestra for George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and performs Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor, op. 64 #2 for an encore.

Watch the promo video here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/great-performances-vienna-philharmonic-summer-night-concert-2019-about/9786/

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

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

Also, An Elizabethan Suite. Sir John Barbirolli, BBC Symphony Orchestra. Dutton Laboratories CDSJB 1008.

I did not get to hear this recording when EMI first released it in 1967, and by the time I heard good news about it in the mid seventies, the company was no longer issuing it. Then, Dutton Labs remastered it in 1997, and I finally got to hear it. I have to admit it is seldom I am so completely taken by a performance that I am willing to recommend it as a top choice, but after several listening sessions with Sir John Barbirolli's Beethoven Third, I am inclined to do so.

Seldom do I remember just when, where, or how I first learned about a particular recording. Most of the time, it's something a record company has sent me for review. But when something like Barbirolli's BBC recording of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony found its way into my collection, it was a different story, and I recall exactly the way it came about. I read about it in a 1973 book I still own titled 101 Masterpieces of Music and Their Composers by the announcer, commentator, and author Martin Bookspan (b. 1926). In the book, Bookspan comments on various pieces of classical music and makes recommendations for specific recordings. For the Beethoven Third, he wrote, "...my own favorites among the many 'Eroica' recordings are the performances conducted by Barbirolli, Bernstein, and Schmidt-Isserstedt. Barbirolli's, in fact, is the finest 'Eroica' performance I have ever heard, on or off records; it is noble, visionary and truly heroic, with playing and recorded sound to match. The performance has lost none of its power and impact with the passage of time. If anything, its stature has grown as far as I'm concerned."

High praise, indeed, from a man who knew music well. But for a long time it was a recording hard to get a hold of. Thus, it was with open arms and welcome ears that I found it remastered by Dutton.

Barbirolli's performance is a marvel of sustained coherence, a noble, heroic vision from first to last. The opening movement is as exciting and energetic as any I have heard, in spite of its being a mite slower than some competing interpretations. The slow movement, the Funeral March, is more poignant than I have ever encountered. Thereafter, the Scherzo is as joyous and the Finale as high-spirited as anyone could want.

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

What it meant to Sir John, apparently, was something a bit kinder and gentler than it has meant to some other conductors. Barbirolli approached the work with a greater affection than many other conductors, offering up music of urgency and emotion, to be sure, but of resplendent love, stately nuances, and sublime caresses as well. It's not the kind of performance that sets the blood to boil, but it is a performance that is hard not to find appealing.

Take, for instance, those opening strokes that introduce us to Beethoven's vision of the emperor. With many conductors, the notes sound sharp and concise; with Barbirolli, they sound mellower, more resigned. It's as though the conductor wants us to know at the outset that this is going to be a more benign, more humane interpretation than you've probably heard before. The second-movement funeral march is more leisurely than most, too. Rather than bring out the stateliness of the music, Barbirolli chooses to bring out the beauty. By the time of the Scherzo, though, the conductor has picked up more steam and seems to want us to pay closer attention to details. Then we get a reasonably driving Finale, still not taken at a hectic pace but with a reassuringly triumphant conclusion.

So, Barbirolli's account of the symphony is more lyrical, more musical, more sensitive than we usually hear. Add to this a wonderfully alert response from the BBC Symphony, and you get possibly the most poetic account of the music you're likely to find. This was among the final recordings Barbirolli made, by the way, and it has an appropriately autumnal glow about it, with Sir John lingering over individual phrases as was his wont in later life. If the whole thing hasn't the tautness one cares for, well, that was his way. The performance is still well worth hearing.

The little "Elizabethan Suite," Barbirolli's own pastiche of various early seventeenth-century English tunes that accompanies the "Eroica," is icing on the cake.

Producer Ronald Kinloch Anderson and engineer Neville Boyling originally recorded the music for EMI at Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London in May 1967. In the years since EMI released it, the recording has appeared in several different forms and formats from LP and tape to CD. As of this writing, one can not only obtain it from Dutton Laboratories, who remastered it in 1997, but also from HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers), who remastered it in 2017, and from Warner Classics, who reissued it in 2018.

The Dutton disc sounds quite good, and, in fact, for overall clarity it surpasses the newer HDTT product mentioned above. The sound has depth, breadth, and clarity in spades. It doesn't sound its age at all and outstrips many new digital efforts. That said, there is still an argument for the smoother, warmer sound from HDTT, which flatters Barbirolli's overall design. Both versions provide plenty of dynamic range and a fairly quiet background. I have yet to hear the newest incarnation on Warner, but I have not doubt it sounds good, too. In the end, it may be one's choice of price, availability, or playback format that determines which of the editions to buy. The main thing is that the performance is a gem.


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

Vangelis: Nocturne (CD review)

The Piano Album. Vangelis. Decca B0029594-02.

After the introduction of the Moog synthesizer in the mid 1960's, several musicians were responsible for its rise in popularity. Chief among these people were Wendy Carlos, Tomita, and Vangelis. Each of them scored notable successes, but it may have been Vangelis who garnered the most attention thanks to his soundtrack music for the movies "Chariots of Fire" (1981) and "Blade Runner" (1982). Since the 60's he has been quite active with film and TV music, public appearances, and record albums. This latest of his recordings is called "Nocturne: The Piano Album."

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (b. 1943), better known by his professional name, Vangelis, is a Greek composer of, according to Wikipedia, "electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music." I suppose the present album falls into the "ambient" category for lack of any other description.

But here's the thing: It's called, as I say, "The Piano Album." Inside the accompanying booklet there's even a picture of Vangelis sitting behind what appears to be a grand piano. So far, so good. Then we take a quick listen, and the piano doesn't quite sound like a piano. It appears to sound artificial somehow. A moment later, we hear what appear to be strings coming from left field. Strings? There is no mention anywhere in the album about a string section. Finally, it dawns on the listener that Vangelis is probably not playing a conventional grand piano but a synthetic piano, bringing in synthetic strings to augment the synthetic piano notes. So why didn't the booklet tell us this? Well, to be fair, the booklet notes don't tell us much of anything except to provide a track listing and a few acknowledgments of people who helped create the album. So, you take what you get.

The program contains original Vangelis compositions, some of them new, some of them old. Here's a track listing:

  1. "Nocturnal Promenade"
  2. "To the Unknown Man" (from "Spiral")
  3. "Movement 9, Mythodea" (from "Mythodea")
  4. "Moonlight Reflections"
  5. "Through the Night Mist"
  6. "Early Years"
  7. "Love Theme, Blade Runner" (from "Blade Runner")
  8. "Sweet Nostalgia"
  9. "Intermezzo"
10. "To a Friend"
11. "La Petite Fille de la Mer" (from "L'Apocalypse des animaux")
12. "Longing"
13. "Chariots of Fire" (from "Chariots of Fire")
14. "Unfulfilled Desire"
15. "Lonesome"
16. "1492: Conquest of Paradise" (from "1492: Conquest of Paradise")
17. "Pour Melia"

As you no doubt know, a nocturne is a piece of music appropriate to the night or evening, usually a romantic character piece for piano, with an expressive, dreamy, or pensive melody. That's probably why Vangelis opens with a work called "Nocturnal Promenade," which, I assume, means a nighttime stroll, in this case evoking a starry night and a leisurely walk. It tends to rather meander along with no definite goal in mind, sort of a like work by Frederick Delius, maybe "Summer Night on the River," but without the Delius charm. The sudden appearance of strings in Vangelis's music calls up, perhaps, images of clouds or breezes, I dunno. It's tranquil enough, for sure.

I have never been a big fan of electronic music, so I found Vangelis's pared-down, simplified piano versions of his music more refreshing than his big, elaborate, overblown extravaganzas. Whether this is still an electronic piano or not is beside the point. The tunes are clean and clear, with minimum accompaniment beyond that which he produces himself.

For reasons unexplained, track three, "Movement 9, Mythodea," is performed by guest pianist Irina Valentinova. It sounds at first like an entirely different instrument from the one Vangelis plays and more like a conventional piano. But then the string accompaniment kicks in, and it begins sounding more like the rest of the program.

"Intermezzo" sounds for all the world like something by Elgar, all big strings, quiet pomp, and regal ceremony. There's no piano at all, which is a welcome break, to be sure. "Chariots of Fire" and "1492" remain the best numbers on the disc, despite their more romantic, dreamy moods here. The program ending in a lullaby seems appropriate.

Anyway, taken as a whole, the "Nocturne" album seems a little hit-and-miss, a little disjointed; beyond the vague "nocturne" theme and the general tranquillity of the music, it hasn't a central focus to hold it together. It's more like a New Age greatest hits collection, a "best of Vangelis" sort of thing, with less showy versions of some of his most popular melodies, plus a few newer ones. It's certainly not unpleasant, but it's hardly groundbreaking, either.

Producer Vangelis and engineer Philippe Colonna recorded the album in 2018 under licence to Decca Records. For maximum definition, the engineer miked the piano fairly close, yet it doesn't spread out too far across the speakers so it still sounds natural (if synthetic) enough. The synthetic strings, however, tend to air out all over the place. Whatever, we hear clean delineation, wide dynamics, and strong impact, which is about all you could want from the disc. It sounds like a good studio album in a pop style.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, July 13, 2019

Concerts at Saint Thomas Announces its 2019-2020 Season

Concerts at Saint Thomas announces its 2019-2020 season, which will celebrate the start of Jeremy Filsell's tenure as the new Organist and Director of Music, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Saint Thomas Choir School.

The season will begin with Filsell performing the first of five Grand Organ Series concerts on September 27, with a program reflecting the Saint Thomas legacy he inherits while highlighting some of the French twentieth-century virtuoso repertoire for which he has become best known. The Grand Organ Series will continue on October 19 with a performance by Christophe Mantoux, the current organist at the Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris.

Concerts continue from Sept. 27 to May 7. For complete listings, visit https://www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/concerts

All concerts take place at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at One West 53rd Street, New York City.

Tickets may be purchased at www.saintthomaschurch.org, by calling the Concerts Office at (212) 664-9360, by email at concerts@saintthomaschurch.org or in person at the Concerts Office at One West 53rd Street at Fifth Avenue (enter through the Parish House).

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Bach Soloists: "Les Goûts Réunis"
In the 18th century, both Italy and France had their own unique ways of composing and performing music. It became a widely held opinion that the unification of these two styles would amount to no less than the perfection of music. François Couperin's two musical apotheoses, intended to deify the leading exponents of each of these opposing styles, frame a program that draws attention to this "perfection" through the music of composers from both sides of what was a passionate discourse.

Goût, or "taste," was a matter of great social, and sometimes political, import in 18th-century France. A preference for the quintessentially French music of Couperin, for example, marked one as a supporter of Bourbon King Louis XV, whereas the proponents of Italian opera (which was barred from the stage of the Paris Opéra for almost a century) were often loyal to the rival House of Orléans. A number of this year's Festival events will focus on the ways that the factions sometimes met in the middle: the goûts-réunis ("blended taste"). Hear the sonorous results of two national styles and tastes being joined together!

Saturday August 3 2019 7:00 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

For complete information, visit americanbach.org.

--American Bach Soloists

Opera Maine Presents a New Production of The Magic Flute
To celebrate its 25th Anniversary–-and the magic of opera–-Opera Maine presents its first-ever production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The magnificent music and captivating story create a fantasy world, where a prince and a bird catcher set out on a trial-filled journey to rescue a beautiful princess. Armed with a magic flute and enchanted bells, they confront bewildering forces of good and evil and discover enlightenment and the power of love. The twisting tale has enthralled young and old alike since the opera's premiere in 1791, less than three months before Mozart's death.

Opera Maine's production of The Magic Flute will be presented at Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday, Portland, Maine, July 24 and Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The opera will be sung in German, with English dialogue and supertitles.

Tickets: $31 – $131 (includes service fees): (207) 842-0800 or porttix.com.

--Kristen Levesque PR

SF Choral Society Presents David Lang World Premiere Commission
The San Francisco Choral Society continues its 30th anniversary season with a semi-staged version of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and the world premiere of teach your children by David Lang, a new choral work commissioned by the organization in celebration of its milestone year.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Geary, the program will be presented twice at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, August 17, 2019, at 8 p.m. and features a selection of guest artists and ensembles including soprano Marnie Breckenridge, tenor J. Raymond Meyers, bass baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, California Chamber Symphony and the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir.

--Brenden Guy PR

New York's Concerts at St. Ignatius Announces 2019-20 Season
Formerly known as Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the series based at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola marks its 31st season with choral works by Verdi and Rossini and special guests including the Tallis Scholars, Paul Jacobs, and Amjad Ali Khan.

For three decades, the magnificent Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (980 Park Avenue) has presented choral masterworks, recitals on its N.P. Mander Organ, and guest artists from around the world on the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series. The newly-rechristened series Concerts at St. Ignatius continues the legacy of excellence of both its own choir and orchestra led by Artistic Director K. Scott Warren, as well as in the exemplary roster of guest artists performing during this 31st season.

On its Choral Classics series, Concerts at St. Ignatius celebrates and explores the deep friendship and musical relationship between two pillars of Italian classical music: Gioachino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi, through three concerts highlighting its own Choir and Orchestra under the direction of K. Scott Warren.

For complete season information, tickets, and additional info on Concerts at St. Ignatius, call 212-288-2520 or visit ignatius.nyc/concerts.

--Caroline Heaney, Bucklesweet

Frank Winkler Guest-Conducts Music Institute Chorale
Music Institue faculty Frank Winkler conducts Music Institute Chorale July 24, and looks back on a rewarding career.

Recently retired piano and conducting faculty member Frank Winkler has performed and taught a wide range of musical styles, from the classic to the contemporary, but he has found the people, from professional musicians to teaching colleagues to students of all ages, the most rewarding aspect of his career.

"The best thing about my conducting and performing experiences has been the interaction with the musicians," he said. "I may have been standing in front of them when I was conducting, but I also learned from them, and it was exciting to share the repertoire with them. As for my students, I benefited as much from their contributions as they did from mine."

Winkler spent 20 years at the Music Institute teaching piano and conducting. At various times during his tenure, he led as many as nine adult and student ensembles, including the Philharmonic and Honors Chamber Orchestra for youth and Community Symphony and Quartet Strings for adults. He has conducted the Grant Park Symphony and the Orchestra of Illinois and made a cameo appearance as the orchestra conductor in the movie Home Alone II. He is the founder of the Symphonic Pops Orchestra of Chicago, which performed in Taiwan under his direction in 2000. For 20 years he was the director of the Harper Symphony Orchestra. Formerly a member of the Grant Park Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, he has been director of the Elgin Choral Union and numerous church and community choruses. He has performed as pianist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Royal English and Bolshoi Ballets, and in a series of jazz concerts in Bombay, India.

Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Participation is $10. Audiences pay $10 at the door. An optional free rehearsal for participants takes place Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall. Call 847-905-1500 with questions or to reserve a copy of the score. Information about Chorale auditions and more is available at musicinst.org/chorale.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

49th Annual Summer Festival Is Just Weeks Away
Festival Mozaic is just two weeks away!

Join us for our 49th annual summer festival, Music of the Old World, July 24 - August 4, featuring 30 events in 19 different venues in beautiful San Luis Obispo County, California.

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

--Festival Mosaic

ROCO Announces ROCO Resound - a New Commissioning Consortium
In celebration of their 15th anniversary season, ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) has announced a new commissioning consortium known as ROCO Resound. The consortium, which supports ROCO's commissions, offers the opportunity for like-minded individuals to come together to invest in and contribute to the creation of new music.

Through membership in ROCO Resound, contributors will have the opportunity to interact with diverse, living composers, and to have their names printed on each commissioned score and musicians' parts, in honor of the impact of their gift.

ROCO has commissioned and performed the world premiere of nearly 80 new works since its formation, making it the 3rd highest commissioner of new music in the United States. By the end of its 15th Anniversary Season, ROCO will have performed 100 world premiere commissions.

Membership in the consortium is open to the public worldwide. Additional information on ROCO Resound can be found on their website: https://roco.org/rocoresound

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Tennessee Kick-Off for National Choral Organization
This past spring, Francisco J. Núñez, artistic director and founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC), announced the newest milestone in the chorus's renowned 30-year history:  the formation of  YPC National, Inc. an independent non-profit organization to support and inspire youth choruses across the country with a program of artistic excellence, diversity, and education modeled on YPC. 

The first activities of YPC National take place this month in Cleveland, Tennessee at Lee University, where YPC choristers will be joined by young singers from New Jersey, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Georgia for YPC National Lab workshops and rehearsals in preparation for their debut as Concinamus, the YPC National choral ensemble comprising the combined choristers. 
Concinamus will give two free concerts:  on July 25 in Cleveland and on July 26 in Murfreesboro, where Concinamus is the invited guest of the Tennessee American Choral Directors Association conference.

Find more information at www.ypcnational.org

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet stands apart in the history of string quartets with over four decades of an unparalleled list of achievements: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year," and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time. With a repertoire that spans three centuries of chamber music, the Emerson also looks towards the future by collaborating with today's most esteemed composers and premiering new works, thus proving their commitment to keeping the art form of the string quartet alive and more relevant than ever.

The coming season, beginning with a seven-city tour in Australia, reflects all aspects of the Emerson's venerable artistry with high-profile projects, collaborations and tours.

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

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

On Considering the Vinyl Revival…

By Bryan Geyer

Vinyl media invites disparate opinion. For some, vinyl conveys handling and listening pleasure that transcends the many shortcomings of its aged vintage. Others regard vinyl as obsolete, and view its performance and convenience limitations as intolerable.

LP discs are the product of a 1948 compromise that traded fidelity for the means to fit some 25 minutes/side onto a 12 inch record. Bass response was sacrificed to reduce groove excursion, and treble was boosted to mask surface noise. Complementary equalization is introduced during playback, but analog LPs still measure poorly when compared to standard “Red Book” CD media. CDs convey a dynamic range some 30 dB better than most vinyl, with much flatter frequency response, far less total harmonic distortion, and near-noiseless playback. These critical advantages compel the professional insiders, e.g. musicians, performing artists, conductors, and audio engineers, to express uniform preference for the superior realistic accuracy of CDs—see http://www.laweekly.com/music/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl-5352162.

Further, LP records undergo frictional abrasion with every play, causing groove wear (fussy cleaning often needed), while CDs are read without contact. And LPs deliver 25-28 mins./side, whereas CDs can store up to 80 minutes. Given this score, why would any audiophile prefer vinyl? Well, some say that “vinyl sounds better."  But objective listening isn’t likely if you’ve just bought your hi-end vinyl playback gear. Massive turntables, exotic tonearms, and costly cartridges exude strong visual karma, and will implant a potent vinyl bias that overrides even the most astute aural perception. (Refer http://www.pnas.org/content/110/36/14580 for a closely related study.)

The “vinyl revival” depicts what can happen when specious improvement meets marketing greed, with 50 lb. turntables (at > $5K ea.) to spin 1/4 lb. records. Vinyl is a potential option, but it’s best ignored unless you already own lots (and lots!) of LPs, or you feel compelled to support the groupthink cult at your local hi-end audio club. Conversely, CD media makes it easy to hear great sound without the brief play time, compressed dynamics, low signal-to-noise ratio, high harmonic distortion, endless groove wear, and dedicated equipment expense that’s forever innate with vinyl.

(1) NOTE:  Be aware that the analog era of LP vinyl has largely expired, at least for popular music discs of the recent decade. In SPARS code lingo, most vinyl releases are now DDA or ADA—not AAA. Most of the recording, and virtually all of the mixing, is now accomplished digitally. Only the final master is analog, so you’re listening to a digitally-sourced signal that’s delivered via LP microgroove. If you’re of the school that “can’t bear digital sound,” your shopping should be confined to musty tubs that stock old, used LP records.

(2) WARNING:  If you intend to “A/B” (compare) vinyl-to-CD sound, be aware that many pop market CDs are intentionally “hyper-comped” (mastered with gross dynamic range compression) to assure that they’ll peak the level meters (sound loud) when given any airplay; ditto when played in cars. This odious digital distortion will cause this freak CD to sound inferior when compared to its vinyl equivalent. Analog discs can’t be artificially despoiled to this same extent, so it's the CD release that gets intentionally compromised.

BG (June 2019)

Beethoven: Triple Concerto (CD review)

Also, Choral Fantasy. Laurence Equilbey, Accentus, Insula Orchestra. Erato 0190295505738.

The good news: The conductor, the orchestra, the chorus, and, of course, the music are all excellent.

The bad news: Erato chose to record the music live.

The conductor is Laurence Equilbey, a French music director of some renown in both the choral and orchestral fields. She founded the chamber choir Accentus in 1991 and here leads the Insula Orchestra, with which she is also the artistic and musical director.

Although the Triple Concerto gets top billing on the album cover, the program begins with the Choral Fantasy (more formally, the Fantasia for piano, vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra), Op. 80, which Beethoven wrote 1808. The composer premiered it with himself as soloist in a concert with his Piano Concerto No. 4, his Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, and excerpts from his Mass in C major. That was surely a concert for the ages, and Beethoven wanted the Choral Fantasy to conclude the event, utilizing all the performers assembled. The soloists on the current album are Bertrand Chamayou, piano; Sandrine Piau, soprano; Anaik Morel, alto; Stanislas de Barbeyrac, tenor; and Florian Sempey, baritone; along with the Accentus choir and Insula Orchestra. Ms. Equilbey's performance may not live up to Beethoven's extraordinary occasion, but it's quite nice in any case.

The Insula Orchestra play on period instruments, which is a major plus in terms of my taste, and both pieces of music use a period Pleyel piano from 1892, which Ms. Equilbey says is a good compromise between the fortepiano of Beethoven's time and today's modern instruments. In any case, the music they make is pleasant, not harsh, brash, or soggy. More important, Ms. Equilbey keeps the generally genial mood of the piece moving smoothly and energetically, with both grace and charm. While it's true it zips along in the tradition of historical performances, it maintains a proper decorum. In other words, there is nothing stodgy about the reading, and its relationship with the composer's later and more-celebrated Ninth Symphony is more evident than ever.

Laurence Equilbey
Following the Choral Fantasy we get Beethoven's Triple Concerto (more formally, the Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C major), Op. 56, written in 1803, several years earlier than the Choral Fantasy. It's the only concerto Beethoven composed for more than one solo instrument. The soloists are Alexandra Conunova, violin; Natalie Clein, cello; and David Kadduch, piano, with Ms. Equilbey and the Insula Orchestra. Ms. Equilbey's rendition would have to be splendid, indeed, to compete with something like the star-studded cast of EMI's recording with David Oistrakh, violin; Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Sviatoslav Richter, piano; Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (on EMI, Warner Classics, and remastered by JVC for Hi-Q). In any case, Ms. Equilbey's account is also quite nice.

Again, Ms. Equilbey keeps a strong forward momentum going, and the soloists intertwine effortlessly within the orchestral context. They maintain a reasonably balanced dialogue with the orchestra, although the piano tends to get a little drowned out at times by the other two instruments. Equilbey takes the slow central movement at an appropriately reflective gait, and Ms. Clein's cello sounds delightfully lyrical and not a little melancholy. The finale bursts forth with radiant beauty, perhaps more courtly and gracious than completely joyous but fitting in with the mood of the preceding movement.

Producer Laure Casenave-Pere and engineer Thomas Dappelo recorded the music live at the auditorium of La Seine Musicale, Boulogne, France in May 2017 and February 2018. As we might expect, the miking is fairly close, giving instrumental soloists an in-your-lap appearance. What's more, there's not a lot of depth to the orchestra nor much sense of ambience in the hall. When the chorus joins in, they sound a bit too strident for my ears. Fortunately, the sound is fairly clean, with clear definition and strong dynamics. The engineers have thankfully reduced audience noise and edited out any applause.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, July 6, 2019

NYO Canada Joined by EUYO for Canadian Tour This November

The outstanding young musicians of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) and the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) are joining forces for the first time for a four-city Canadian tour in November of 2019. This celebration of international musical collaboration and friendship will feature a total of 76 musicians between the two orchestras.

This ground-breaking tour is made possible by the generous support and vision of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada. Peteris Ustubs, Ambassador of the European Union to Canada, comments: "We are delighted to bring the European Union Youth Orchestra to Canada for the first-ever concert tour together with the National Youth Orchestra in Canada. It is wonderful to see young European and Canadian musicians come together, united by their shared love of music. We recognize the transformative force of the arts in our societies; intercultural exchanges, such as this concert tour, have the power to connect people and build bridges of mutual understanding and respect. This tour also reflects the depth of EU-Canada's friendship and our common commitment to supporting youth and the arts community."

Viennese conductor Sascha Goetzel will lead the four concerts, which will be presented at Koerner Hall in Toronto (November 12); the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston (November 13); the Basilique Notre-Dame in Montreal (November 14); and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (November 17). Each of the concerts will be offered at very affordable ticket prices. The programme will include music by Rossini, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Wagner, and by Canadian composer John Estacio. In advance of this new collaboration, two musicians from NYO Canada will be early ambassadors for Canada, joining their European colleagues for EUYO's summer tour in Europe.

Additional details on the November tour will be announced the first week of September 2019.

For more information, visit https://nyoc.org/

--Shira Gilbert PR

Foundation to Assist Young Muscians: Summer 2019
Since its founding in 2007, FAYM has raised contributions for scholarships and programs and has helped to secure scholarships for talented high school and university students to attend such fine institutions as the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY), the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Interlochen Arts Academy (Interlochen, MI) and the Carnegie-Mellon School of Music (Pittsburgh, PA).

One of the Foundation's most important programs is its "Violins for Kids" project which was established in 2009. Designed to serve youngsters in low-income communities, FAYM's "Violins for Kids" provides instruments, materials, up to four class lessons per week, trips to concerts, and a week-long summer camp at minimal cost to families. Enrollment has grown from 15 to 150 youngsters from 51 schools in greater Las Vegas with plans for further expansion this fall.

FAYM keeps administrative overhead low. There is no paid CEO or office staff, and no office or classroom rental fees or utility costs. Administrative functions are performed by highly qualified volunteers. Legal, accounting, website, instrument procurement & repair, and other services are generously donated 'pro bono' by experts in their fields.

FAYM guarantiees that your contribution will go entirely for instruments, materials, and teachers' salaries and scholarship assistance. In order to serve more youngsters, your help is needed. No gift is too small and ALL are most appreciated, from a one-time donation to monthly scheduled gifts!

$25       Welcomes you into the Family of FAYM
$60       Underwrites musical materials & accessories for a student.
$125     Provides an instrument for a beginning student.
$250     Sponsors a student to attend FAYM's Summer Camp.
$350     Underwrites lessons for a student for the 10-month school year.
$600     Underwrites a student with lessons for the school year and Summer Camp.
$1,000  Sponsors the FAYM Golden Violin Award.
$2,000  Sponsors a FAYM Collegiate Scholar for one year.
$3,000  Sponsors 10 students for the 10-month school year.
$5,000  Sponsors 10 students for the 10-month school year plus Summer Camp.
$10,000 Creates named scholarships to be awarded to exceptional musicians.

Donate by mailing your check to: FAYM;  PO Box 1993; Las Vegas, NV 89125-1993
Or online at https://www.mightycause.com/donate/Foundation-To-Assist-Young-Musicians

For more information, visit https://www.thefaym.org/donate

--Foundation to Assist Young Musicians

Schwalbe Artists in July
Diana Moore
July 5
Snape Maltings Concert Hall
Suffolk, England

Nicholas McGegan
July 5
Aspen Music Festival
Aspen, CO

Michael Kelly
July 9, 12, 15
Crested Butte Music Festival
Crested Butte, CO

Jory Vinikour
July 10 & 11
Aspen Music Festival
Aspen, CO

Marc Molomot
July 13
Berkshire Choral International
Richmond, VA

Paul Agnew
July 13, 15, 19
Basilique Notre-Dame
Beaune, France.
Abbaye aux Dames
Saintes, France.
Lessay, France.

Diana Moore
July 13
Cambridge Summer Music Festival
Cambridge, UK

Laurence Cummings
July 13 & 14
Rheingau Musik Festival
Rheingau, Germany

Thomas Cooley
July 13 - 23
Carmel Bach Festival
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Med Bragle
July 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 & 25
Carmel Beach Festival
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Anne Manson
July 15, 16, 17, 19 & 20
Music and Beyond Festival, Ottawa, Canada.
Festival de Lanaudière, Joliette, Quebec
Campbellford, Ontario

Daniel Taylor
July 18
Toronto Summer Music Festival
Toronto, Canada

Matthew Halls
July 20
SingFest Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Hadleigh Adams
July 20
Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL

Eric Jurenas
July 23, 26, 28 & 30
Bavarian State Opera & Staatsoper
Munich, Germany

Laurence Cummings
July 24, 25 & 26
Garsington Opera, Buckinghamshire, UK

Michael Schade
July 27
The Israel Vocal Art Institute
Tel Aviv, Israel

Mary Phillips
July 27 & 28
Tanglewood Music Festival
Lenox, MA

Benjamin Butterfield
July 31
Yellow Barn
Putney, VT

Emma Kirby
July 31
Dartington International Summer School & Festival
Totnes, Devon, England

For complete information, visit https://schwalbeandpartners.com/

--Schwalbe and Partners

Young People's Chorus of New York City Opens Summer Season
The summer season of the Young People's Chorus of New York City, under Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez, opens with two New York City concerts before they move on to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic; Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee; and the Tennessee American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in Murfreesboro, outside of Nashville.

Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. – "Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything." The Jewish Museum.
Saturday, July 13 at 7-8 p.m. – FREE YPC Concert. Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park.
July 16-27 - The Launch of YPC National Lab and Debut of Concinamus. Learn more at https://ypc.org/event/panglehall/.

For complete information, visit www.ypc.org

--Angela Duryea, Young People's Chorus of NYC

Festival de Lanaudière
The Festival de Lanaudière is the leading classical music festival in Canada, and is a member of Festivals and Major Events (FAME). More than 50,000 people attend its events every year. Its programming is accessible and is performed by world-famous musicians. The Festival's main stage is the Fernand Lindsay Amphitheatre, Montreal, which has 2,000 seats under the roof and space for 5,000 on the lawn.

Piemontesi, Bach and, a Schubertian Apotheosis:
On Tuesday, July 9, pianist Francesco Piemontesi performs at Église de Sainte-Mélanie.

A Miloš Exclusive:
For his first performance in Quebec, guitarist Miloš Karadaglic appears on July 10 at Église de Saint-Sulpice to transport us to a world of refinement and sensuality with works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paul McCartney/Sérgio Assad, Harold Arlen, George Harrison/Sérgio Assad and Carlo Domeniconi.

Intimate Spyres:
Opera star Michael Spyres performs in recital with his long-time chief collaborative pianist Mathieu Pordoy on Thursday, July 11 at Église de l'Assomption. Works by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky and many more are on the programme!

Mozartian Summits:
On Friday, July 12, the Amphithéâtre hosts one of the Festival's long-time partners, Les Violons du Roy. Led by their new Music Director Jonathan Cohen, with pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, the concert showcases the music of Mozart with the Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro, the Piano Concertos 22 and 24, as well as the Symphony no. 38.

A Unique Voice, a Historic Art Form:
On Saturday, July 13, American tenor Michael Spyres performs a grand lyric concert accompanied by the Festival Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Corrado Rovaris. Excerpts from operas by Berlioz, Rossini, Bellini and Offenbach are offered on this programme.

Tétreault, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky:
The weekend concludes on Sunday, July 14 with cellist Stéphane Tétreault, another favourite at Lanaudière, together with the Orchestre Métropolitain conducted by Nicolas Ellis.

For more information, visit http://www2.lanaudiere.org/fr/

--France Gaignard PR

A Series of Free Outdoor Concerts at the Foot of Mount Royal
The flute will take the spotlight on July 11, with a captivating program that will charm everyone. The performance will take place at the Mordecai Richler gazebo on Park Avenue, a stone's throw from the Sir George-Étienne-Cartier monument.

In the tradition of popular summer concerts in public parks at the beginning of the 20th century, Harmonie Laval and it's various ensembles will offer free performances at 7 p.m.

Music lovers will be transported back to a time when people gathered for evening concerts under the summer sky, rain or shine (except during a storm). No reservation required. Just bring your chair.

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.

About Harmonie Laval:
Harmonie Laval is a wind and percussion ensemble composed of about forty musicians—professionals, passionate amateurs as well as college and university students. This non-profit organization oversees the activities of three orchestras that work within the Laval community to enrich and promote musical culture across Quebec through their high level of artistic achievement.

--France Gaignard PR

Meet the Staff

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

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

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

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

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

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, Goldpoint SA4 “passive preamp,” Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura’s hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can’t imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.

Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

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

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa