Classical Music News of the Week, August 31, 2019

Alarm Will Sound Performs Donnacha Dennehy's The Hunger

Alarm Will Sound, "one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene" (The New York Times), tours the concert version of Donnacha Dennehy's modern cantata The Hunger to Princeton Sound Kitchen on September 17, 2019 and to Merkin Hall in collaboration with Irish Arts Center on September 19, 2019, part of Ecstatic Music's 10th anniversary season.

Rooted in the emotional, political, and socioeconomic devastation of Ireland's Great Famine (1845-52), The Hunger features Alarm Will Sound with soprano Katherine Manley and sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird. The Irish folk music narrative is interwoven with personal, historical accounts, where the libretto principally draws from first-hand accounts by Asenath Nicholson, an American humanitarian so moved by the waves of immigrants arriving in New York that she traveled to Ireland to report from the cabins of starving families.

Alarm Will Sound tours The Hunger to Princeton University, where Dennehy is a Professor of Music and Ó Lionáird is a Global Scholar, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 8:00pm. Presented by Princeton Sound Kitchen at Richardson Auditorium, the cantata will be paired with performances of compositions by Princeton graduate students Pascal Le Boeuf, Jenny Beck, Alyssa Weinberg, Tom Morrison, Connor Way, and Bora Yoon.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 8:00pm
Richardson Auditorium, 68 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ 08542
Tickets: FREE. (RSVPs encouraged at

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

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

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

The heart of Tremblant's pedestrian village will be the venue of more than thirty free concerts offered by great Canadian artists. One of the undeniable highlights of each edition of La Fête de la Musique de Tremblant is the Angèle Dubeau & Friends concert. Surrounded by the musicians of her ensemble, La Pietà, the violinist this year has invited the legendary Jean-Pierre Ferland for an evening of music, words, poetry and love, which promises to be terrific! In addition, Angèle Dubeau is premiering a few pieces from her next album, which will be released in October.

For complete information, visit

--France Gaignard

Announcing the 2019-2020 WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series features three weekends of great works of chamber music, offering sequential ways to connect to the music and the artists. We encourage you to attend all three events in each weekend to experience the special intimacy that only happens at Festival Mozaic.

Join Music Director and Violinist Scott Yoo, along with seven visiting artists, for nine intimate chamber music events throughout the year in San Luis Obispo County, California.

November 15-17, 2019: music of Beethoven, Dohnanyi, and Dvorak
February 21-23, 2020: Bach Cello Suites paired with ballet
April 17-19, 2020: music of Nino Rota and Franz Schubert

Special early-bird discount available now through September 15th only.
Save 25% when you purchase all nine events in the WinterMezzo season.  Packages range in price from $474-$531 per person based on seat selection. Premium seating is available to major donors at the $1,500 level or higher. Please call our office for premium donor seating or if you would like to place your order over the phone: (805) 781-3009 or (877) 881-8899.

Starting September 16, save 15% when you purchase the full WinterMezzo season package (9 events)
or save 10% when you purchase a single series package (3 events).

Starting October 14, purchase individual tickets at single ticket prices.

For complete details, visit

--Festival Mosaic

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

Ms. Park says of her program: "For my first solo Carnegie Hall concert, I chose works that I not only loved but which helped me grow as a musician. The pieces in the first half all evoke specific scenes. Some are schizophrenic or ridiculous, like the ones in Ligeti's Musica Ricercata. There are also dreams of romance and desire as depicted in Ravel's Valse Nobles et Sentimentales. Others are recreations of the natural world, raw and undecorated, such as in Bartok's Out of Doors.

"The shorter, lighter pieces in the first half lead to the main entrée of the program, Brahms's Third Sonata. With five movements, it is a lengthy work that has come to occupy a special place in my heart. It explores so many human emotions--despair, hope, courage, acceptance and gratitude. Through this work, I discovered a way to connect to those emotions in myself and as well as in others."

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

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

New Century Chamber Orchestra Presents "Fin de siècle"
New Century Chamber Orchestra's season-opening performances entitled "Fin de siècle" is September 26-29, in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area.

In a program that highlights music written at the turn of the 19th century, teenage piano sensation Maxim Lando will make his New Century debut performing alongside Daniel Hope for a string orchestra arrangement of Ernest Chausson's Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet. Greek violinist Simos Papanas also makes his debut leading the ensemble as Guest Concertmaster in works by Edward Elgar, Jules Massenet, Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, and Christian Sinding.

Thursday, September 26, 2019, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Saturday, September 28, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Sunday, September 29, 2019, 3:00 p.m., Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael, CA

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

An Enchanting Evening in Old Spain
American Bach Soloists
September 28, 2019, 5 p.m.
17th Annual Gala Auction, Concert, and Dinner

Celebrating the culture, dance, landscape, and music of Spain and the musicians who were inspired by that beautiful country, the 17th Annual ABS Gala Auction, Concert, and Dinner begins with an exclusive concert featuring soprano Hélène Brunet, hailed by the critics as a "singer of tremendous quality" with "a voice of perfect beauty" and "sincere expression."

Hors d'oeuvres, Flamenco dancing, and a silent auction--featuring travel, wine, art, concert tickets, and our much sought-after "ABS Exclusives"--are followed by a delicious dinner and live auction that will raise important funds to support American Bach Soloists.

Concert: 5 p.m.
Telemann: Burlesque de Quixotte
Geminiani: Concerto Grosso in D Minor "La Folia"
De Literes: Zarzuela arias
Purcell: Incidental songs for The Comical History of Don Quixote

Cocktails, Hors d'oeuvres, Silent Auction, and Flamenco Dancing: 6 p.m.
Dinner and Live Auction: 7:15 p.m.

James Leary Flood Mansion
2222 Broadway, San Francisco, CA

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Schwalbe Artists in September
Sept. 1:
Michael Schade, tenor
Beethoven: Fidelio
NHK Symphony Orchestra
Tokyo, Japan

Sept. 5:
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, Overture; Piano Concerto No. 23; Symphony No. 40
Hollywood Bowl/Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles, CA

Sept. 6, 13, 18, 21, 24, 29 & OCT 1:
Hadleigh Adams, baritone
Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
San Francisco Opera
San Francisco, CA

Sept. 7, 12, 15, 17, 20 & 22
Hadleigh Adams, baritone
Britten: Billy Budd
San Francisco Opera
San Francisco, CA

Sept 13:
Daniel Taylor, countertenor
Celebrating Ten Years of Musical Innovation
Candlelight Baroque
Trinity Wall Street
New York, NY

Sept. 14, 15:
Yulia Van Dorne, soprano
Bach: Mass in B minor
Music of the Baroque
Chicago, IL

Sept. 15:
Marc Molomot, tenor
Music of Berlin, Gershwin, Sondheim, Arlen, Rodgers, and Hart and Alpher
Untermeyer Gardens presents Summertime: Songs from the American Songbook
Yonkers, NY

Sept. 19:
Matthew Halls, conductor
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Lammermuir Festival
Haddington, Scotland

Sept. 20:
Daniel Tayler, countertenor
Handel: Arias and Duets
Sweetwater Festival Opening Gala
Ontario, Canada

Sept. 21:
Douglas Williams, bass-baritone
Handel: Agrippina
Festival Enescu Bucharest
Les Talens Lyriques
Bucharest, Romania

Sept. 21:
Gil Rose, conductor
Saint-Saëns: Henry VIII
Odyssey Opera
Boston, MA

Sept. 22:
Daniel Taylor, countertenor
Vivaldi: Gloria
Sweetwater Festival
Ontario, Canada

Sept. 23:
Eric Jurenas, countertenor
Handel: Agrippina
Royal Opera House
Covent Garden, London

Sept. 25:
Aanne Manson, conductor
Bach: Double Violin Concerto
Golijov: Night of the Flying Horses
Villa-Lobos: Suite No. 1 for Chamber Orchestra
Piazzola: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Manitoba, Canada

Sept. 27 - 29:
Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Bach: Cantata No. 51
Trinity Wall Street
New York, NY

--Schwalbe and Partners

Wagner: Preludes and Orchestral Music (CD review)

Christian Thielemann, the Philadelphia Orchestra. DG 289 453 485-2.

Good heavens, yet more bleeding chunks of Wagner? Well, not exactly. With one exception, it is the usual collection of Preludes and such that Wagner intended as purely instrumental music in the first place; the exception being the "Good Friday Music," shorn of its vocal accompaniment. The conductor is Christian Thielemann, Karajan's young assistant in the 1980s. He appears to have learned well from the master and presents an agreeable selection of Wagner items.

The program starts off with the First Act Prelude to Die Meistersinger, which I admit I found somewhat lugubrious. But by the time the third item rolls around, the Act Three Prelude to Lohengrin, the conductor has picked up a head of steam and is showing more dash and élan.

Christian Thielemann
The disc gets even better as it goes along. The Act One Prelude to Parsifal has breadth and dignity, and the "Good Friday Music" is genuinely moving. Of course, the real test of any Wagner's conductor's mettle is in his handling of Tristan and Isolde, perhaps the most romantic-erotic music of all time. Here Thielemann adds some nice touches in dynamic gradation that add a sense of nobility to the works; yet alongside his mentor's recordings (DG) or those of one of my favorites, Otto Klemperer's (EMI), his interpretations seem a bit pedestrian and lacking in ultimate passion.

This was the first time (1998) I had heard the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded by DG, and I had to ask, where was the famous "Philadelphia Sound"? Apparently, it was homogenized out of existence by the DG engineers. The sonics are big, warm, and heavy, with a slightly gritty texture and a much too-close and tubby bass drum. By comparison, the recording by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Philips) in much the same repertoire has better definition and better depth; and, what's more, the drums are in the right place.

In all, despite my reservations, this album is really pretty good. But there are always alternatives, and Thielemann would not be my first choice in this material.


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

Marsalis: Violin Concerto in D (CD review)

Also, Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin. Nicola Benedetti, violin; Cristian Macelaru, The Philadelphia Orchestra. Decca B0030521-02.

Oh joy. Yet another live recording.

Begin rant:
It's a sad state of affairs in the classical record business when good studio recordings of orchestral music have all but disappeared. The prohibitive costs of paying an orchestra, paying technicians, and paying for the venue have become too expensive most of the time for even the biggest recording companies and most prestigious orchestras to record without an audience to help subsidize the costs. Add to that issue the fact that pirating has become so rampant in the music industry, it's hard for anyone to make a profit anymore.

Well, we have what we have, and about all some of us who still prize good sound can do about it is complain, hope for the best, and thank our lucky stars there are still a few record companies making a few good studio recordings, usually with middle-European or lesser-known orchestras.
End rant.

Anyway, most people probably recognize Wynton Marsalis as a virtuoso jazz and classical trumpeter, but he is also a teacher, musical director, cofounder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and composer, one of his compositions being the first to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music (the oratorio Blood in the Fields). On the present album you can hear his Violin Concerto in D, which he wrote for Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who plays it on the recording, accompanied by no less than the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Cristian Macelaru.

According to a booklet note, while the Violin Concerto is "scored for symphony orchestra, with tremendous respect for the demands of the instrument, it is nonetheless written from the perspective of a jazz musician and New Orleans bluesman." That much is evident in the first few minutes, in which Marsalis pays more than a little tribute to George Gershwin.

Marsalis describes the first movement Rhapsody as "a complex dream that becomes a nightmare, progresses into peacefulness and dissolves into ancestral memory." It does seem to be all over the place, never quite congealing into a satisfying whole, but Ms. Benedetti does her best to keep up and has the whole thing moving at a respectable gait. I'm not sure the music required the services of the Philadelphia Orchestra to accompany it, though. They sound fine, of course, but the piece is really a showcase for the solo violin.

Nicola Benedetti
The second-movement Rondo Burlesque is, according to Marsalis, "a syncopated New Orleans jazz, calliope, circus clown, African gumbo, Mardi Gras party in odd meters." This scherzo is quick-tempoed and not a little goofy, with everything but the kitchen sink pounding away. However, it does provide Ms. Benedetti a chance to show off her virtuoso skills on the violin. It reminded me of the devil wildly playing the fiddle at a barn dance in "The Devil and Daniel Webster," which is actually a compliment to the music.

The third, slow movement, titled Blues, is by far the best part of the score, a "progression of flirtation, courtship, intimacy, sermonizing, final loss and abject loneliness that is out there to claim us all." Maybe it's because it's the first time the music slows down and invites to enjoy its beauty that I enjoyed it so much.

The final movement, Hootenanny, Marsalis describes as "a raucous, stomping and whimsical barnyard throw-down." Marsalis's description says it all. The music is quite cinematic and, and one can easily picture the scene in one's mind. Ms. Benedetti and the orchestra play it with gusto, and their enthusiasm carries the day.

I can't say that Mr. Marsalis's Violin Concerto will ever become a classic. It's quite accessible, to be sure, and much of it is no doubt fun. But it seems more than a little superficial as well, with its descriptive elements all too obvious and sometimes commonplace. While it goes down easily, thanks in large measure to Ms. Benedetti's playing, I doubt I'll be returning to it very often.

Accompanying the Concerto is Marsalis's Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin, another rollicking yet reflective affair he wrote for Ms. Benedetti. Marsalis gives the five movements the titles "Sidestep Reel," "As the Wind Goes," "Jones's Jig," "Nicola's Strathspey," and "Bye Bye Breakdown." No, I didn't know what a "strathspey" was either, so I looked it up. It's a slow Scottish dance, a nod to Ms. Benedetti's Scottish heritage. As in the Concerto, the violin playing in Fiddle Dance will no doubt please Ms. Benedetti's fans. It encompasses quite a range of emotions and requires quite an accomplished player to pull off.

Producer Steven Epstein and engineer Richard King recorded the Concerto in D live at the Kimmel Center, Verizon Hall, Philadelphia, PA in November 2017. Producer Andrew Walton and engineer Philip Siney recorded the Fiddle Dance Suite at the Menuhin Hall, Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey, England in March 2019.

The sound in the Concerto has a kind of in-your-face closeness to it, common to many live recordings, with little depth to the orchestra behind the soloist. So it's all a bit flat and one-dimensional. The upper bass displays a pleasant warmth, but none of the sound appears to reflect much hall ambience. Clarity is good, as is the treble extension--not too bright but shimmering nonetheless. Dynamics, too, are reasonably good though not too impactful. Audience applause intrudes after the Concerto's final notes.

The sound of the solo violin in the Fiddle Dance I found more realistically recorded, a little more distanced and natural in tone. It did not appear that Decca recorded it live.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 24, 2019

Gregory Taboloff Performs his Piano Concerto No. 1 in San Francisco

San Francisco Bay Area composer-pianist Gregory Taboloff makes his San Francisco debut orchestral appearance as soloist with the Taboloff Philharmonic performing his Piano Concerto No. 1 "The Mystic" alongside Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 on Sunday, September 8, 3:00 p.m. at Herbst Theatre. Conductor David Ramadanoff will lead an orchestra of professional musicians from across the Bay Area in a program that also features the Overture to Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Evoking the spirit of the works of great Russian romantics, Taboloff's Piano Concerto No. 1 "The Mystic" draws inspiration from Walt Whitman's poem "The Mystic Trumpeter" and a painting by his wife, Ann Marie Taboloff, also entitled "The Mystic." Originally given the title of "The Russian," the concerto received its world premiere at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek in 2000 to great success with the East Bay Times praising it as "a powerful, moving work." Over the subsequent years, the work was revised and evolved to depict Whitman's text with the newly revised version "The Mystic" premiering in 2017 at the Lesher Center for the Arts under the baton of David Ramadanoff. Both conductor and pianist return together to give the first performance of this work in San Francisco.

Composer Gregory Taboloff performs his piano concerto "The Mystic"
Sunday, September 8, 2019, 3:00 p.m.
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Say Amen, Somebody Opens at Lincoln Center September 6th
One of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time, Say Amen, Somebody, (1982) is George T. Nierenberg's exuberant, funny, and deeply moving celebration of 20th-century American gospel music and African American history. With unrivaled access to the movement's luminaries, Thomas Dorsey, and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, Nierenberg masterfully records their fascinating stories alongside earth-shaking, show-stopping performances by the Barrett Sisters, the O'Neal Twins, and others. The film also features cinematography by the legendary Edward Lachman and Don Lenzer.

As much a fascinating time capsule as it is a peerless concert movie, Say Amen, Somebody, returns to Film at Lincoln Center in a gorgeous 4K restoration by Milestone Films, with support from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and The Academy Film Archive.

George T. Nierenberg's acclaimed music doc, Say Amen, Somebody
New 4K restoration in glorious 5.1 sound
Opens at Film at Lincoln Center September 6th, with a nationwide rollout to follow.

--Dennis Doros, Milestone Films

Musica Camerata Montréal's 50th Season
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the chamber music ensemble Musica Camerata Montréal will offer four memorable evenings between September 2019 and May 2020. These exceptional events will take place at 6 PM at La Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur, located at 100 Sherbrooke East in Montreal.

To open the season the well renowned group - hailed as one of Canada's foremost chamber music ensembles in the country – will present on September 7th a program featuring the clarinet as the principal figure. For the occasion the guest will be the Montreal born young clarinetist Eric Abramovitz, principal clarinet of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  His partners for the occasion will be Berta Rosenohl (piano), Luis Grinhauz and Van Armenian (violins), Sofia Gentile (viola) and Sylvain Murray (cello).

The price for a subscription to 4 concerts is $130 for adults and $85 for seniors and students. Individual tickets are $40.- for adults and $30 for seniors and students.

For complete information, visit

--France Gaignard

Miller Theatre Opens Its 20th Composer Portraits Season
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens the 20th season of its signature series "Composer Portraits" with a deep dive into the music of Anthony Braxton, featuring
Either/Or and the JACK Quartet.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 8:00 P.M.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

Tickets start at $20; students with valid ID start at $7.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Alarm Will Sound, Dennehy's "The Hunger"
Alarm Will Sound, "one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene" (The New York Times), tours the concert version of Princeton University Professor Donnacha Dennehy's modern cantata, "The Hunger," to Princeton Sound Kitchen on September 17, 2019 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

Rooted in the emotional, political, and socioeconomic devastation of Ireland's Great Famine (1845-52), "The Hunger" features Alarm Will Sound with soprano Katherine Manley, and sean no´s singer, and Princeton University Global Scholar, Iarla O´ Liona´ird.  The cantata will be paired with performances of compositions by Princeton graduate students Pascal Le Boeuf, Jenny Beck, Alyssa Weinberg, Tom Morrison, Connor Way, and Bora Yoon.

Free tickets are required for this concert, available at and at 609-258-9220.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

New Century Opens Season with "Fin de siècle"
New Century Chamber Orchestra opens its 2019-2020 season, September 26-29, with a program entitled "Fin de siècle" featuring works written at the turn of the 19th century. Teenage piano sensation Maxim Lando makes his New Century debut performing alongside Daniel Hope for a string orchestra arrangement of Chausson's Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet. Greek violinist Simos Papanas, a longtime collaborator of Hope's, also makes his debut leading the ensemble as Guest Concertmaster in a program that includes Edward Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47 and Chanson de Matin; Jules Massenet's Méditation from Thaïs; Arnold Schoenberg's Notturno for Strings and Harp; a string orchestra arrangement of Richard Strauss's Morgen; and the second movement from Christian Sinding's Suite im alten Stil, Op. 10.

The program will be performed on three different occasions throughout the Bay Area: Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theater, San Francisco; and Sunday, September 29 at 3 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael. This season, New Century will offer free admission to its popular Open Rehearsal at 10 AM on Wednesday, September 25 at Trinity & St. Peter's Church, San Francisco.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Opens Season at Carnegie Hall
Now in its 47th year of innovative conductorless concerts in New York and around the world, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra kicks off its 2019-20 season on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 8:00pm in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall with a concert of spirited music inspired by the glittering urbanity of Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony, from the brilliant sunshine of Rome to the religious pageantry of Naples. The program features 24-year-old Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki in Mendelssohn's passionate Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40  as well as the composer's Symphony No. 4, Op. 90, A Major "Italian."

The evening begins with the world premiere of Orpheus Artistic Partner Jessie Montgomery's Shift, Change, Turn, and Variations, a piece that augments Mendelssohn's musical cityscape by tapping into the rhythms of modern life. Both a composer and violinist, Montgomery is Orpheus's first Artistic Partner, and her post includes taking part in Orpheus educational initiatives throughout the season and having two works premiered by Orpheus in concert: the world premiere of Shift, Change, Turn, and Variations on the season opening concert and a reimagining of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons, Op. 37a, co-arranged with Jannina Norpoth, to be performed in January 2020 with violinist Vadim Gluzman.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

On Sure Things…

By Bryan Geyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BG (August 2019)

20th Century Harpsichord Concertos (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 17, 2019

MCANA Award for Best New Opera Announced

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

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

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

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

Watch the pris m trailer here:

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

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

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

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

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

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

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

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

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

For complete information, visit

--Brenden Guy Media

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

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

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

For complete information, visit

--France Gaignard

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

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

For full information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Marketing & Outreach Manager

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

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

Please submit PDF scores and audio examples via our Project Submission form:

Selected scores will be recorded and commercially released by PARMA Recordings; selected live recordings will be mastered and commercially released by PARMA Recordings. The submitter is responsible for securing funds associated with the production and release and retains all ownership of the master and underlying composition.

Works should ideally be between 5 and 15 minutes in length, but pieces outside of that range will still be considered.

Deadline for all submissions is September 6, 2019. There is no fee to submit.

You will receive a confirmation of receipt for submissions. We will work with the performers and our Sessions, Audio, and A&R Teams to select pieces that could fit these open projects. Should your music be selected, we will reach out to you with more information on pricing, scheduling, and other details.

Again, for the Project Submission form, visit

--PARMA Recordings

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: Operetta Arias (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 10, 2019

Uzbek Pianist Behzod Abduraimov Delights Audiences and Critics Alike

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

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

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

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

For complete information, visit

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

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

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

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

Watch Tom Borrow play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra / Yoel Levi) here:

For more, visit

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

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

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

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

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

For complete information, visit

--West Edge Opera

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

Tuesday, September 10:
Stephen Gosling
Music of John Zorn

Tuesday, October 29:
Music of Jessica Meyer

Tuesday, November 26:
TAK Ensemble

Tuesday, December 10:
Bridget Kibbey

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

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

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

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

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

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

--Rebecca Davis PR

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

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

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

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

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

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

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

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

For complete information Young People's Chorus of NYC, visit

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

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

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

For complete information on the Festival de Lanaudiere, visit

--France Gaignard

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

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

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

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

For complete information, visit

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

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

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

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

To read about all the OneBeat fellows, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

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

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

For complete information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

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

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

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

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Elgar: Enigma Variations (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Meet the Staff

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

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

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

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

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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