Tangos... & Something More (CD review)

Alicia Terzian, Grupo Encuentros. Navona Records NV6246.

According to Wikipedia, the "tango is a popular partner dance and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. The tango is the result of a combination of the German Waltz, Czech Polka, Polish Mazurka, and Bohemian Schottische with the Spanish-Cuban Habanera, African Candombe, and Argentinian Milonga."

That's good to know, as this album, "Tangos... & Something More," offers us tangos new and old, over a dozen of them presented in a variety of styles. Most of the styles, however, are of the "nuevo"  or "new tango" kind, the style popularized in the 1980's by Argentinean composer and player Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), represented on the program by three selections. The track listings are as follows:

  1. Roggero: "Mimi Pinzon"
  2. Mores: "Cristal"
  3. Piazzolla: "Picasso"
  4. Piazzolla: "Invierno Porteno"
  5. Terzian: "Argentino Hasta La Muerte"
  6. Castro: "Lloron"
  7. Tienssuu: "Tango Lunar"
  8. Demare: "Malena"
  9. Pedro: "En El Bar..Como Un Tango"
10. Terzian: "Un Argentino de Vuelta"
11. Cobian: "Los Mareados"
12. Piazzolla: "Verano Porteno"
13. Binelli: "Llamado de Tambores"

All of these numbers are expertly performed by Alicia Terzian and Grupo Encuentros. Ms. Terzian is an Argentine composer, conductor, and musicologist who formed Grupo Encuentros (Group Encounters) in 1979 to promote new music by Argentine and Latin American composers. Group members on the present album include Mara Blanco, mezzo; Claudio Espector, piano; Sergio Polizzi, violin; Carlos Nozzi, cello; Fabio Mazzitelli, flute; Matias Tchicourel, clarinet; Daniel Bilelli, bandoneon; and Ms. Terzian, conductor.

Alicia Terzian
The first selection, Aquiles Ruggero's "Mimi Pinzon," one of the oldest compositions on the program, sounds quite traditional, romantic and lyrical. The next one, Mariano Mores's "Cristol," shows us the contrasts in tango music, with vocals and background sounds and a less obvious tango rhythm. Then it's back to a more customary tango with Astor Piazzolla's highly melodic "Picasso." But possibly the most bizarre "tango" on the album is Jukka Tienssuu's "Tango Lunar," which is hardly recognizable as a tango so much as a collection of random sound effects and vocals linked loosely together in a semi-harmonic manner. Following that is one of the loveliest of tangos, Lucio Demare's "Malena," so there's a little "something more" here for everyone.

And so it goes. The questions being, are these dance numbers really "authentic," and is the playing "authentic," whatever that may mean? Certainly, the music, new or old, is squarely in the tango tradition, so, yes, it is authentic, no matter how odd it may seem. And, certainly, one cannot question the validity of an Argentinean ensemble playing Argentinean music, and they've been doing it for so long I don't see how anyone could question their legitimacy in the subject matter. That they play so effectively and effortlessly is like icing on the cake.

To quibble about so excellent a product seems unfair. Still, there was one thing I didn't care for; namely, Navona's packaging. The disc comes tucked into the sleeve of a cardboard fold-over case, and it is impossible to remove the disc without getting your fingers on the playing surface. I can understand that maybe the cardboard is cheaper than a plastic jewel box and that many companies follow this cardboard practice, but that doesn't make it a better choice for the consumer. End quibble.

Executive producer Bob Lord, engineer Andres Polizzi, and mastering engineer Jorge Da Silva recorded the music at a private studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in August 2015. It's a small ensemble they're working with, and they handle it expertly. Each instrument, including the voice on several tracks, is realistically captured in a warm, lightly resonant environment. Although they are captured a tad close up, they have a fairly natural feel as well. Nicely done.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 28, 2019

More Orchestras Join InsideOut Concerts for 19/20 Season

After last season's sold-out concerts and much media acclaim, InsideOut Concerts - the innovative, audience-within-an-orchestra format created by Music Director David Bernard - announces ramped-up activities for the 2019-20 season. These include a greater number of concerts than ever before, the strengthening of old partnerships and the establishment of new ones. Headlines include a return to the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in New York City (as part of the orchestra's twentieth anniversary celebrations), a first public concert with the Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra, and a debut with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut.

InsideOut Concerts are highly interactive experiences which seat audiences inside a full symphony orchestra as part of a dynamic and developed program, designed to help orchestras grow their audiences, improve donor participation, and deliver meaningful outreach to families and children in the community. Developed and led by David Bernard, InsideOut Concerts have received wide and enthusiastic press coverage, including from New York One television ("The ultimate surround-sound experience..may very well be the future of classical music"- Stephanie Simon), WQXR ("InsideOut is transforming the traditional concert-going experience"), Newsday, Mail Online, Musical America, and Symphony.

The 19/20 season concerts are led/conducted by David Bernard and begin with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, October 26th 2019: Dvorak New World Symphony, at the Danbury Music Centre. For a complete list of following concerts, detail information, and tickets, visit https://insideoutconcerts.com/

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Soprano Golda Schultz Makes Carnegie Hall Recital Debut with Pianist Jonathan Ware
On Friday, November 1, 2019 at 7:30pm, Carnegie Hall presents celebrated South African soprano Golda Schultz in her Carnegie Hall recital debut in Weill Recital Hall with frequent collaborator, pianist Jonathan Ware.

Part of Carnegie Hall's series "Great Singers III: Evenings of Song," the recital features Schubert's "Der Morgenkuss," "Heimliches Lieben," "Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n" (Romanze) from Rosamunde, and Suleika I and II; Richard Strauss's "Morgen," "Heimliche Aufforderung," "Ruhe, meine Seele," and "Cäcilie;" Ravel's Shéhérazade; Amy Marcy Beach's Three Browning Songs, Op. 44; and John Carter's Cantata.

For details, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/11/01/golda-schultz-soprano-jonathan-ware-piano-0730pm

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Miller Theatre's Early Music series opens with Belgian group Vox Luminis
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens its 2019-2020 Early Music series with the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis in Scarlatti's Stabat Mater.

The first piece Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis ever sang together was Stabat Mater, Scarlatti's masterpiece about the Virgin Mary that pays homage to the great tradition of polyphony. This signature work anchors a collection of powerfully moving compositions depicting the suffering of the Mother of God at the foot of the cross, fittingly performed in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

Saturday, October 19, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
145 West 46th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, NYC
Tickets starting at $30; Students with valid ID: starting at $7

For complete information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/events/vox-luminis-stabat-Mater

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Book Launch, New Artists at Piatigorsky International Cello Festival
The 2020 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, recently listed by The New York Times as a classical season highlight, and Artistic Director Ralph Kirshbaum, have announced several new developments to the exciting 10-day event, taking place in Los Angeles from March 13-22, 2020, including the addition of several new guest artists, the complete roster of Festival Fellows, and the launch of a never-released work of fiction by the Festival's namesake, Gregor Piatigorsky, published by Adelaide Books. Tickets to all 42 events of this truly unique international celebration of the cello are now on sale.

In conjunction with the Piatigorsky Film Screening & Panel Discussion on Saturday, March 14, 2020, Joram Piatigorsky, Gregor's son, will present the fictional work entitled Mr. Blok. The novel is published with an introduction by Joram, who states about this release, "I am very grateful to Adelaide Books and Stevan Nikolic for publishing my father's novel, Mr. Blok, after it has languished unpublished for some sixty years. In my opinion, this wildly imaginative, surreal novel makes a significant contribution to literature by the creation of a unique fictional character – Mr. Blok – who my father calls in the forward, 'a likable fellow, who will not mind in the slightest being put aside, should he not succeed in holding your attention.'"

The Festival has also announced the addition of cellists Ye Lin (Stella) Cho, Evan Drachman, and Terry King; conductor Hilo Carriel; pianists Vivian Fan, Lily Maisky, and Alin Melik-Adamyan; soprano Sarah Shafer, and violist Yura Lee. The expertise, diversity, and artistry of these outstanding musicians serve to enhance the Festival's already-outstanding roster, through thoughtful programming, direct audience engagement, and mentorship of the Festival Fellows.

Additionally, the Festival Fellows have been selected and announced.  Recommended by the guest artists, each young musician was considered for their immense talent and accomplishments and spend the entirety of the Festival with their mentors and each other, building a network of the next generation of excellent cellists.

Tickets to and information about each Piatigorsky International Cello Festival event are now available for purchase by calling the USC Thornton Ticket Office at 213.740.4672 or clicking here: https://piatigorskyfestival.usc.edu/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

New York Festival of Song presents "Lyrics by Shakespeare"
The "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)—revisits the very first program it ever presented: "Lyrics By Shakespeare." This highly popular program, which explores the Bard's influence on music over the centuries, returned last August in a sold-out performance presented by Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival.

The 75-minute evening illuminates Shakespeare's classic poetry with musical settings by Berlioz, Dankworth, Kabalevsky, Poulenc, Sondheim, and others.

NYFOS brings back two singers who are not only refined vocalists, but also superb actors: mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O'Connell and bass Matt Boehler. Both are blessed with a theatrical imagination, and their chemistry with the great actress Kathleen Chalfant and pianist Steven Blier is magical.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street, NYC

For more information, visit http://nyfos.org/shakespeare/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

SF Girls Chorus Opens Season with "Daring Sisters / Atrevidas Hermanas"
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe open the 2019-2020 subscription season on Saturday, October 19, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco with Daring Sisters / Atrevidas Hermanas.

In a season that celebrates cultural diversity and the empowerment of women, the carefully curated program will pay homage to Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the first published feminists of the Americas and a champion of women's rights to education, with an evening of 17th century Latin American Baroque music. A rare performance of Madre la de los primores, the only surviving work written by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, will be featured alongside a selection of Mexican, Bolivian and Peruvian music. SFGC will be joined by a variety of Latin American and Spanish Baroque music specialists including soprano Nell Snaidas, who also serves as the program's curator; soprano and SFGC alumna Jennifer Ellis Kampani; and Richard Savino's Grammy-nominated chamber ensemble, El Mundo.

For more information, visit http://www.sfgirlschorus.org

--Brenden Guy PR

Princeton University Orchestra Launches Season
The Princeton University Orchestra launches its 2019-2020 season--the ensemble's 122nd season--on Friday and Saturday October 18-19 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

The program features sophomore percussion extraordinaire Elijah Shina performing Pulitzer prize-winning composer Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra in a tour de force showcase of percussive virtuosity, paired with Johannes Brahms' iconic Fourth Symphony. The program is conducted by the ensemble's director, Michael Pratt.

Tickets to the concert, performed by one of the most celebrated university orchestras in the nation, are only $15 General/$5 Student available by calling 609-258-9220 or at music.princeton.edu.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Behzod Abduraimov Returns to Carnegie Hall
Following the enormous success of his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2016, the 29-year-old Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov returns to Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on two occasions in Fall 2019.

On October 25, Mr. Abduraimov joins the storied Munich Philharmonic, under the direction of Valery Gergiev, as the soloist in the vibrant Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, which he also performs with the Philharmonic on October 27 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; he returns to Carnegie Hall on December 10 with a solo program displaying his enormous range, musical intelligence, and virtuosity which have earned him the international reputation as "the most perfectly accomplished pianist of his generation," (The Independent).

For complete information, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2019/10/25/Munich-Philharmonic-0800PM

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc

The YPC Big Sing Is Back
Following a series of high-profile performances earlier this month, Young People's Chorus of NYC opens its 2019-20 season two big events - the YPC Big Sing and 2019 WIT: Women Inspiring Tomorrow Conference. We are also celebrating the release of our new Decca Gold recording, and joining National Sawdust for its season opener.

The second YPC Big Sing is Saturday, October 19 at 3:00 p.m. at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, NYC.

Tickets are now on sale. Back by popular demand, Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, along with and special guests a cappella quartet Midtown and musical renegade Nick Demeris, will lead the audience in a program of songs everyone knows and loves.

For complete information, visit https://ypc.org/event/ypc-big-sing-2019/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Berkeley Symphony Opens Season with Joseph Young's First Appearance as Music Director
Berkeley Symphony opens its 2019-2020 season on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, California, featuring Joseph Young in his first appearance as the orchestra's new Music Director. Recently appointed in April, Maestro Young will lead a program that includes the return of Bay Area favorite Conrad Tao as soloist for Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, a rare performance of Shango Memory by former UC Berkeley professor of music Olly Wilson, and Beethoven's iconic Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

Maestro Young was appointed as Music Director in April 2019 following a highly successful and critically acclaimed debut appearance as guest conductor in January 2019. Due to a last-minute cancellation, Maestro Young stepped in at a moment's notice with only two days to prepare an ambitious program of works that included a Hannah Kendall world premiere, Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, and Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. The result was an instant success with Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle commenting that "Young's ability to tackle at short notice not only Kendall's world premiere but also significant works by Britten and Bernstein was an impressive display."

Single tickets for the concert are $15-$96. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

Mari: (CD Review)

Mari Samuelsen, violin; Christian Badzura, piano and synthesizer; Konzerthausorchester Berlin conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer. Works by Martynov, Richter, Glass, Vasks, Eno/Hopkins/Abrahams, Johansson, Bach, Badzura, Gregson, Eno/Roedelius/Moebius, and Clark. DG 483 58694 GH2.

By Karl W. Nehring

Violinist Mari Samuelsen has brought together a collection of interesting new music mixed with some pieces by Bach. Fortunately for us listeners, she proves adept in music from both eras, delivering us a two-CD set of delightful variety.

The set opens with the delightful second movement from Vladimir Martynov's "Come In!," a piece that will probably be unfamiliar to many of our readers. If you are delighted by this movement, which I believe many readers will be once they have heard Mari's version, you will do well to seek out a performance of the whole six-movement composition (there is an interesting CD titled Silencio by Gidon Kremer that contains the complete piece along with some music by Pärt and Glass). 

Next up is a composition by Max Richter titled Dona Nobis Pacem 2, a work that like much of Richter's music has both a minimalist and Romantic feel to it. That may sound contradictory, I know, but if you listen to this cut, you may well find those modes to be embodied in a complementary rather than contradictory fashion.

Knock knock
Knock knock
Knock knuck
Knock knock
Knock knick
Knack knock
Knock knock
Who's there?!
Philip Glass

The above joke, something I saw recently on Twitter, sets the stage for the next cut, Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach: Knee Play 2. I hope I have not offended any Philip Glass fans (to be honest, I am not much of a fan, although I do really enjoy some of his music, as you will discover below if you have not already stopped reading this review in disgust). In the liner notes, Ms. Samuelsen describes this piece as "fireworks of neurons in the brain… it's a ridiculous piece to play, never ending and very difficult. But it serves as a contrast, which I think is important." She certainly throws energy into her rendition, and yes, it does serve as quite a contrast to much of the other music in this collection.

Indeed, the next composition, Lonely Angel by Peteris Vasks, plumbs emotional depths of yearning and despair while yet offering a glimmer of hope and compassion. The solo violin sings eloquently above the orchestra. This is truly a moving performance of some beautiful music, which is followed by the brief but lovely Emerald and Stone by Eno et al., which is in turn followed by Vocal, in which Max Richter evokes the spirit of Bach in a gentle meditation for solo violin.

Mari Samuelsen
Another significant mood swing brings us an arrangement of Heptapod B by the late Johann Johannson from his soundtrack to the movie Arrival (a fascinating film, based on the short story "Story of your Life" by Ted Chiang, which you really should read before seeing the movie – or if you have already seen the movie, which you will probably want to watch again if you read the story for the first time. "Story of Your Life" can be found in Chiang's collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, a hardbound volume that has been republished in paperback with the new title – you guessed it! – Arrival. Fascinating story, fascinating film, fascinating soundtrack, and fascinating inclusion in this collection.

From science fiction the music then shifts to a brief arrangement for solo violin and strings of Bach's Invention No. 13 in A minor, BWV 784, then back to the future (for Bach, anyway – back to the recent past for us) and an absolutely lovely bit of music by Glass, the second movement of his Violin Concerto. I can still recall being totally entranced by his concerto when I first heard it many years ago in my driveway though some relatively (okay, absolutely) lo-fi speakers in one of my long-ago cars. The mood of the Glass Concerto carries into the final piece on CD1, Christian Badzura's 847, which sounds much like the Glass but with a touch less of wistfulness and a dash more of energy.

CD2 opens with the longest selection in the program, the Chaconne from Partita for Violin Solo in D minor, BWV 1004 by Bach, sounding both lively and lovely in Mari's performance. Immediately following is an arrangement for solo violin and strings of Bach's Prelude in D major, BWV 850.

Just as the Glass Violin Concerto had been followed by a Richter composition that echoed its overall sound and mood on CD1, on CD2 we find compositions first by Richter, Fragment, for solo violin, and then Peter Gregson, Sequence (Four), a piece for solo violin and strings, both of which are clearly in the spirit of Bach's music. The Gregson piece begins somewhat austerely, then grows in emotional content as it moves along, blossoming into an expressive, touching musical composition.

Also expressive in the next selection, another piece by Martynov, this one titled The Beatitudes. The melodic lines are fairly simple, but they carry great power, reminding us that beatitudes are blessings.

Simple melodies with expressive power are also manifest in By This River, a gentle composition by Brian Eno, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Dieter Moebius. In such simple melodies, tender feelings are given wings. 

Next on Mari's agenda is more Bach, the Presto from Sonata for Violin Solo in G minor, BWV 1001, which is followed by Christopher Clark's Mammal Step Sequence, a composition whose title might sound a bit out there, but which proves to be a relatively straightforward and pleasant composition for violin and piano, with Mari accompanied on the latter by Christian Badzura.

The delightfully titled Good Night, Day by Johann Johannson is next on the program, a gentle piece for violin and orchestra that casts a spell somewhere between a lament and a lullaby. Hearing this music, as enjoyable as it is, cannot help but make me sad to realize that its wonderfully creative composer left us all too early.

An echo of what has gone before returns in the penultimate piece in the program, Max Richter's November for violin and orchestra. There is plenty of propulsive energy here, a feeling of driving toward the finish, the end in sight, the race nearly won.

The program closes with Peter Gregson's Lullaby for solo violin, a peaceful composition that is not without an undercurrent of energy and agitation, the lullaby expressing what many of us need before retiring for the night, a working out of tension and anxiety before settling into slumber.

Ms. Samuelsen points out in the liner notes that she has "a personal connection to every single piece, and I think it's a very natural journey… the need of going into a room and just listening to sound – almost like sound therapy – is bigger than ever. People are hungry for it, and I wanted to use my creativity to collaborate and experiment with some of the great people living today. Slowing down, and people leaving their busy lives behind, is only going to become more important, so I think there will be more room for this type of collaboration, and this type of music."

Mari truly does deliver a remarkable musical experience, one that soothes the soul while still stimulating the mind. This is not dreamy New Age meandering, it is focused and purposeful serious "classical" music both old and new. The production values are top-notch. In closing, I will mention that Ms. Samuelsen has also made an earlier recording somewhat similar in tone titled Nordic Noir, which is also well worth seeking out. I look forward eagerly to future releases from this remarkable musician.


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

Mahler: Titan (CD review)

A Tone Poem in the Form of a Symphony. Francois-Xavier Roth, Les Siecles. Harmonia Mundi HMM 905299.

When most of us think of period-instrument performances, I'm betting we're thinking mainly of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and maybe before. By the time we get to the late nineteenth century, though, orchestras had pretty much settled into their place in modern instrumentation. But apparently that doesn't stop period-instrument aficionados from wanting more, which is what this Harmonia Mundi recording is all about.

Austrian-Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) originally wrote what was to become his Symphony No. 1 in D major in 1887-88. For its first two performances he called it a symphonic poem or tone poem and titled it "Titan." That didn't last long. Its public reception was anything but successful. So he revised it for its 1893 and 1894 performances and then further revised it before its first publication in 1898.

French conductor Francois-Xavier Roth and the period-instrument ensemble Les Siecles decided to do the present recording of what they say is close to the symphony's 1893 and 1894 performances. Is it? Well, almost but not quite. Working with original manuscripts in collaboration with Universal Edition, musicologist Anna Stoll Knecht, and author and conductor Benjaman Garzia, the team have put together a kind of blended early version of the score. Although you can't really call it authentic in that it doesn't attempt to duplicate any actual performance Mahler gave in 1893 or '94, it does surely come close to what the composer might have intended.

Period instruments? The conductor, Maestro Roth, writes in the booklet notes that "Mahler already had in mind an ideal sound nourished by his collaborations with German orchestras and his studies in Vienna. We therefore decided to use the instruments with which he would have been familiar in the pit of the Vienna Court Opera and the Musikverein, and selected Viennese oboes, German flutes, clarinets and bassoons, German and Viennese horns and trumpets, and German trombones and tubas. These instruments are built quite differently from their French contemporaries! The fingerings, the bores and even the mouthpieces of the clarinets were completely new to our musicians. In the case of the string section, each instrument is set up with bare gut for the higher strings and spun gut for the lower ones. Gut strings give you a sound material totally different from metal strings, more highly developed harmonics, and incisiveness in the attack and articulation."

Francois-Xavier Roth
Then, too, the recording uses Mahler's famous "Blumine" ("Flowers") Andante, a decision the composer reversed after the symphony's first three performances. So here is the movement, restored in full bloom, along with a myriad of tiny altered details in the rest of the score.

Will any of this make any difference to the casual listener? I'm sure not. Most of us will simply be enjoying the music. But it may divide the historically informed performance (HIP) crowd. Half of them will probably embrace the new version fully, while the other half will no doubt complain that the recording still doesn't provide anything Mahler himself might have conducted since it's a fusion of two separate performances from 1893 and 1894.

Anyway, in the work Mahler explained he was trying to describe his protagonist facing life, beginning with the lighter moments of youth and proceeding to the darker years of maturity. In the first movement, then, "Spring without End," we see Mahler's young hero as a part of the symbolic stirring of Nature before a long spring. In the restored second-movement Andante, we find peace and repose, Mahler calling the music "a youthful folly." In the third movement we get an intentionally awkward funeral march depicting a hunter's fairy-tale burial, which comes off as a typical Mahler parody. It might represent the hero's first glimpse of death or maybe Mahler's own recollection of a youthful encounter with the death of a loved one. With Mahler, who knows. He titled it "Gestrander!" ("Failed!"). Then, in the finale, Mahler conveys the panic "of a deeply wounded heart," as his central figure faces the suffering of life and fate and eventual death. Still, because Mahler was a spiritual optimist, he wanted Man to triumph in the end. Therefore, in the final twenty minutes or so Mahler pulls out all the stops and puts the orchestra into full swing before coming to a relatively self-assured conclusion. He called the final movement "Dall'Inferno" ("From Hell").

So, historical performance aside, how does Maestro Roth do with the piece? He certainly is in no hurry to get through it. He takes his time with the opening "Spring" movement, making it appear more tranquil, more the impressionable youth, than usual. Perhaps spring could have danced more merrily, more joyfully once underway, but close enough. It ends triumphantly in a swirl of color.

The restored second-movement "Flowers" is a serenade, a love song, and as such Maestro Roth imbues it with a buoyant, youthful passion. Still, he maintains an appropriately lyrical mood throughout. By the time of the central Scherzo, Roth has established his tone and cheerfully maintains it. Mahler's young hero is confidently moving forward.

For the start of the Part Two "Funeral March," Roth begins in a gravely earnest temper and then slowly opens it out to something more elaborately sinister and reassuring at the same time. I liked the way he handled it, making it a fitting lead-in to the finale that climaxes the hero's life in a tumultuous conclusion. Roth holds nothing back and then ends the work in typical Mahler ambiguity.

Producer Jiri Heger and engineers Jiri Heger and Alix Ewald recorded the symphony at the Philharmonie de Paris, the Theatre de Nimes, and the Cite de la Musique et de la Danse de Soissons, France in February, March, and October 2018. The engineers do a pretty good job with it. The dynamics are quite wide, so you don't want to be tempted to turn it up too high to begin with, even though it starts very softly. Definition is good, frequency extremes are more than adequate, impact is strong, and left-to-right and back-to-front spatial characteristics sound realistic. Nothing is too bright or forward, nor is anything dull or fuzzy. It's all very natural sounding and lifelike, even if there is little that stands out as overtly audiophile. Maybe that's the way it ought to be.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 21, 2019

World Premiere of Gavin Bryars's Evening-Length A Capella Work A Native Hill

Grammy-winning new-music choir The Crossing presents the world premiere of English composer Gavin Bryars's substantial new evening-length a cappella work, A Native Hill, on Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, PA.

The long-anticipated follow-up to Gavin Bryars's The Fifth Century, which won The Crossing its first Grammy award, A Native Hill sets texts by the American writer Wendell Berry from his 1968 essay of the same title offering meditations on how life can be experienced, with detailed descriptions of the minutiae of rural existence; where simple natural events reveal themselves as metaphors for universal truths. Bryars has been able to draw on his close working and personal relationship with The Crossing and his intimate knowledge of the singers' individual characteristics to create another meaningful work for the ensemble. The New York Times has called the music of Bryars "accessible and defiantly personal."

A Native Hill will launch The Crossing's domestic season, having just returned from Helsinki where they gave seven performances of Robert Maggio's Aniara: fragments of time and space at the Finnish National Opera, in collaboration with Helsinki's Klockriketeatern (Dan Henriksson, director).

Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Tickets: $35 General Admission, $25 Seniors, $20 Students.

For complete information, visit https://www.crossingchoir.org/events//2019/a-native-hill

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Statistics of Note
"In 2018 sales of classical music increased faster than any other type of music. Streaming rose 42 per cent. CDs are still 60 per cent of the market and sales rose by 6.9%"

--Boston Audio Society

"Classical music was the fastest-growing genre in 2018, figures released by the recording industry show. Buoyed by the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins, and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, sales and streams increased by 10.2% compared to 2017. That compares favourably to the 5.7% rise in music consumption across all genres.

In fact, sales of classical CDs actually increased by 6.9% - bucking the downward trend in pop and rock. Streams also showed significant growth in 2018, rising 42% year-on-year, compared to a 33% rise in the overall market. Streaming now accounts for a quarter of classical consumption, lagging far behind the rest of the market, where the figure is 63.6%."

--BBC News

Miller Theatre Presents World Premiere of Hannah Lash's Desire
A flowering garden sets the scene for the world premiere of award-winning composer Hannah Lash's newest chamber opera. Written for a cast of three singers and string quartet, Desire grapples with the human, personal struggle of trusting oneself in the midst of doubt.

The score paints a lush sonic landscape, performed by the brilliant JACK Quartet (who will be on stage and costumed, and are the heartbeat of the opera), and transports audiences to this metaphoric garden of creativity. Hannah Lash and JACK have been collaborators for many years, most recently on the album "Filigree: The Music of Hannah Lash" (July 2019).

Desire continues a long tradition of chamber opera at Columbia University, and follows the much-hailed NY premiere of Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek last year. It marks the second production of Miller Theatre's Chamber Opera Commissioning Initiative.

For more information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/events/desire-oct-16

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

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

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

For more information, visit https://lepointdevente.com/billets/ff8190928001

--France Gaignard

NYO Canada Teams Up with EUYO in Four Cities
The National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) and the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) are joining forces for The Frenergy Tour, a landmark collaboration and celebration of music and friendship, featuring a combined total of 76 outstanding young musicians. Acclaimed Viennese conductor Sascha Goetzel leads the four-city tour, with music by Rossini, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, and Wagner, as well as Canadian composer John Estacio's Frenergy for orchestra, connoting both friendship and frenetic energy! Fast-rising violinist and NYO Canada alumnus Blake Pouliot is featured as guest soloist. This ground-breaking tour, including concerts in Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Ottawa, is made possible by the European Union Delegation to Canada.

Toronto: Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 pm - Koerner Hall
Kingston: Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm - Isabel Bader Centre
Montreal: Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm - Notre-Dame Basilica
Ottawa: Sunday, November 17, 3:00 pm - National Arts Centre

For complete information, visit https://nyoc.org/frenergy

--Shira Gilbert PR

Berkeley Symphony Announces Strategic Realignments
Berkeley Symphony and Board President S. Shariq Yosufzai today announced a strategic realignment of key artistic and executive responsibilities that builds upon the respective strengths and expertise of its current leadership team. After eight years as Executive Director and Artistic Director, René Mandel will now devote his full-time efforts to the role of Artistic Director, working in close collaboration with Music Director Joseph Young to bring his artistic vision to life. Building on his deep relationships in the community, Mandel will also drive major donor fundraising, a key component in achieving the organization's artistic goals.

Former Associate Executive Director Jim Tibbs moves into the role of Executive Director and will be responsible for a variety of administrative tasks including strategic planning, budgeting, staff management, fundraising and achieving earned revenue targets. Young, Mandel, and Tibbs will continue to work in partnership to realize and fulfill Berkeley Symphony's mission.

--Brenden Guy PR

ROCO Continues Their 15th Season with "Flair"
ROCO's (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) 2019–20 Unchambered series, which brings small ensembles to an intimate environment, will begin on October 19 with "Flair" at MATCH.

The concert features the flair of ROCO clarinetists Nathan Williams and Maiko Sasaki as they musically tell their coming of age stories, through a wide-ranging program of classic favorites to more recently composed works by Theresa Martin, Michael Tenzer, and Houston's very own Marcus Maroney. Pianist Colette Valentine will join our clarinetists for Mendelssohn's Concert Piece No. 1, "The Meeting" by Amilcare Ponchielli, a Broadway-inspired tune by Gary Schocker, and the rabble-rousing "Greetings from the Balkan" by Béla Kovács.

For complete information, visit https://roco.org/performances/roco-unchambered-mendelssohn-to-maroney-roco-clarinetists-come-of-age/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Razzia(s): Travel Broadens the Mind!
The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) launches its 54th season, and the 7th edition of the Homage Series, dedicated this year to composer Katia Makdissi-Warren. On Friday, September 27, at 7:30 pm Razzia(s), will be performed at the Salle Pierre-Mercure as part of the "Journées de la culture."

The SMCQ Ensemble and the Oktoécho Ensemble will share the stage, under the direction of Katia Makdissi-Warren, Walter Boudreau and Véronique Lussier. The audience will enjoy three works by the honoured composer focussing on shades of of the Middle East (including "Orientalized" excerpts from Vivaldi's famous Seasons), a work by the late Claude Vivier evoking Marco Polo's China, and a creation by Keiko Devaux for ensemble and kanoun, a plucked string instrument from the zither family.

Concert Razzia(s)
SMCQ Ensemble and Oktoécho Ensemble

Friday, September 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Salle Pierre-Mercure – UQAM
Metro Berri-UQAM

Free admission

514 843-9305 #301

--France Gaignard

Calidore String Quartet to Tour Complete Beethoven String Quartet Cycle
The Calidore String Quartet celebrates its tenth anniversary and the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth by performing the complete Beethoven String Quartets at the University of Buffalo, University of Toronto and University of Delaware in concerts throughout the 2019-20 season. The Calidore will also take part in a complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets at the Colburn School in Los Angeles where the quartet was founded.

For Colburn's Beethoven 250 celebration, the Calidore String Quartet will coach student musicians in the days leading up to a presentation of six concerts in three days (October 16-18) during which the Calidore will perform nine of the Beethoven string quartets alongside faculty and students who will perform the rest.

For a complete listing of  their 2019-20 engagements, visit the Calidore String Quartet's Web site at https://www.calidorestringquartet.com/concerts/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Los Angeles Master Chorale Receives Challenge Grant
The Los Angeles Master Chorale announced today that the Abbott L. Brown Foundation (ALBF) has awarded a challenge grant to support the organization's mission and programs. The ALBF will match up to a total of $100,000 funded contributions to the newly formed Leadership Circle, founded by Abbott L. Brown and Jerrie Paula Ortega-Brown.

"I was proud to serve on the Board of Directors and as Chairman in the late 1980s when the Los Angeles Master Chorale was actively building upon its reputation as the leading choral ensemble in the country," said Brown. "The establishment of the Leadership Circle will help enable the Master Chorale to share its groundbreaking programs and the joy of choral music more broadly in our local communities and throughout the world."

Los Angeles Master Chorale President & CEO Jean Davidson said, "On behalf of the Master Chorale, we are extremely grateful for Abbott's support and generosity. This gift to establish the Master Chorale's first ever Leadership Circle is a wonderful recognition of our current efforts and successes, and helps secure the foundation for our broader aspirations for the future."

For information about how to join the Leadership Circle, please contact Elizabeth Greenway, Chief Advancement Officer, at 213-972-3114 or egreenway@lamasterchorale.org.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communicaitons

International Contemporary Ensemble Performs George Lewis's Soundlines
The pioneering International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns to NYU Skirball for two performances of George Lewis's Soundlines on Friday, October 18, 2019 and Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:30pm. Following the group's critically acclaimed, sold-out run of David Lang's the whisper opera in 2018, Soundlines features two premieres by composer and MacArthur Fellow George Lewis: the NYC premiere of Lewis's Soundlines: A Dreaming Track and the New York premiere of P. Multitudinis. Building on a decade of collaborative work, the International Contemporary Ensemble, George Lewis, Steven Schick, and Jim Findlay's Soundlines is a monodrama in the style of a radio play that explores and confronts the relationships between self, identity, and personal journeys within complex social constructs.

As a musical interpretation of percussionist Steven Schick's journal documenting his 700-mile walk from the US-Mexico border to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, Soundlines: A Dreaming Track traverses space in order to transmit an introspective narrative. Schick's diary, written during the many months of this trip, has been adapted as the text for a speaker, accompanied by a percussionist; a chamber ensemble of seven instruments; and an array of digitally spatialized multichannel electronics. Reminiscent of Alexis de Tocqueville and Henry David Thoreau, the text describes his inner moods, doubts, meditations, aesthetics, his personal musical practice, and social commentary.

Friday, October 18, 2019 at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:30pm
NYU Skirball | 566 LaGuardia Pl | NYC
Tickets: $35-45
Link: https://nyuskirball.org/events/ice-soundlines/#tickets

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Strathmore Announces 2019-20 Season
The theme of innovative and surprising collaborations between artists runs throughout Strathmore's 2019–2020 season. This concept of "Inspired Pairings" arose in response to the ways in which some of today's top artists are choosing to create and present their work. In these "Inspired Pairings," artists from within a single genre or across contrasting styles, come together and meld their unique perspectives to create a product that is more than the sum of its parts. "When artists collaborate, the range of colors and nuance expands," explains Strathmore Artistic Director Joi Brown. "The work becomes more dimensional and broadens in its perspective."

Strathmore Venues:
Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

(301) 581-5100

--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet

Elizabethan Serenade: The Best of British Light Music (CD review)

Various conductors and orchestras. Naxos 8.553515.

Let me admit my unabashed sentimentality here and now by recommending this disc as one of the most attractive I've come across. This year or any year. (Naxos put this compilation together for release in 1996).

The music on the program is the best of what the British call "light music," trifles for orchestra. These little jewels include Eric Coates's "By the Sleepy Lagoon," "Knightsbridge March," and "Dam Busters March"; Albert Ketelbey's "Bells across the Meadows," "In a Monastery Garden," and "In a Persian Market"; Haydn Wood's "Sketch of a Dandy"; Ernest Tomlinson's "Little Serenade"; Ronald Binge's "Sailing By"; Arthur Benjamin's "Jamaican Rumba"; Edward White's "Puffin' Billy"; Billy Mayerl's "Marigold"; and a host of others, twenty tracks in all, over seventy-eight minutes' worth, wonderfully played, and generally well recorded.

Ernest Tomlinson
The conductors are Ernest Tomlinson, Andrew Penny, Adrian Leaper, and Gary Carpenter. The ensembles include the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony, the RTE Concert Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony, and the Slovak Philharmonic Male Chorus. Now, where else can you get all of this for a reasonable price?

Needless to say, it's all very easygoing and old fashioned by today's standards. Almost all of these pieces were composed early in the twentieth century, pre-Elizabeth II, when things were moving a lot slower than they do today. But that doesn't make the music any the less entertaining. For instance, those of you who have resisted my prodding over the years to invest in the wonderfully syrupy works of Albert Ketelbey can get your feet wet with little risk. The Coates and Ketelbey numbers are not so well characterized as they are on several of EMI's Classics for Pleasure discs, but they are close.

What's more, all the selections have good to excellent sound as well, taken as they are from a variety of albums on Naxos's former full-priced companion label, Marco Polo: "good" sound meaning smooth and warm; "excellent" meaning added clarity and depth of field.

Look, we can't spend all our time listening to serious classical, loud rock, and things blowing up on movie soundtracks. We can use our audio systems for some shamelessly mushy musical enjoyment, too, and here it is.


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

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord (CD review)

Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Jory Vinikour, harpsichord. Cedille CDR 90000 177 (2-disc set).

As with so many of Bach's works, musical scholars have not found the origins clear for the six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV1014-1019. Although Bach probably wrote them during his final years in Cothen (1720-23), just before moving to Leipzig, the only existing scores derive from his Leipzig years and show continuing revisions.

In any case, what is known for sure is that musical scholars, critics, and listeners alike have all loved the sonatas, Bach himself saying of his style that all the voices should "work wondrously with each other." Apparently, he and his followers agreed they do. Bach's son, C.P.E. Bach, described them as among the finest things his father composed.

The two performers here are experts in their field. American concert violinist Rachel Barton Pine began playing the violin at age three, made her debut with the Chicago String Ensemble at the age of seven, and played with the Chicago Symphony at the age of ten. On the current disc she plays an original, unaltered instrument by Nicola Gagliano, 1770. American harpsichordist Jory Vinikour has twice been nominated for Grammy Awards and here plays a replica instrument built in 2012 by Tony Chinnery after a 1769 model by Pascal Taskin. Bach stipulated that the harpsichord pairing for the violin was mandatory (obbligato), although the bass line could be taken by an optional viola da gamba. Vinikour opts to do it himself.

One of the remarkable aspects of Bach's sonatas is that they are among the earliest examples of pairing the two instruments as coequals. The harpsichord doesn't so much accompany the violin as the two are treated as equivalent partners. One instrument doesn't just play along in the background, but both instruments share the center stage as a duet.

Rachel Barton Pine
The six sonatas are laid out here three to a disc in this Cedille two-CD set, with the addition of the Cantabile in G major, BWV1019a as a bonus track. The show gets off to a rather leisurely start with BWV1014, which seems, even apart from the Adagio, a little more dew-eyed than I would have expected from a historically informed performance. Still, it's charming, and the two performers provide a wonderful inaction with their presentation.

With BWV1015, things seem a bit more normal for period instruments. even though it, too, begins with a slow movement. The piece is graceful yet spirited, with the performers clearly taking delight in the music making. That takes us to the Sonata in E major, BWV1016, which is probably the highlight of the set. It's rich and lush, ornate and opulent, vibrant and vivacious. More important, it affords the two players a further chance to show off their skills, separately and together. The instruments intertwine so seamlessly they almost sing as one voice, like a great symphony orchestra where you never notice the contributions of any one or two sections but rejoice in the overall effect.

Disc two continues in much the same manner, with BWV1017-1019. But there is a difference. Bach appears to have done more revision on the final Sonata than the others, and here we find it presented in five movements rather than four. Apparently, it exists in a number of different versions, with yet another movement discarded, the Cantabile in G major, BWV1019a. It is about twice as long as any of the other movements, which is possibly why Bach didn't think it belonged, upsetting the balance of the movements as it would. So Ms. Barton Pine and Mr. Vinikour offer it as a stand-alone piece. It's certainly lyrically beautiful, and they do it supreme justice.

Producer James Ginsburg and engineer Bill Maylone recorded the sonatas at Nichols Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago in September 2017. The somewhat close miking seems to stretch the violin and harpsichord a little too far across the sound stage for my taste, but reducing the volume a decibel or two ameliorates the situation considerably. Maybe it's Cedille's way of telling you to turn it down.  Whatever, there is no question both instruments benefit from the miking's added clarity and presence, with excellent detailing and transparency. The instruments appear lifelike all the way around, with a hall resonance that flatters but never intrudes upon their sound.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 14, 2019

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Opens 2019/20 Season

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale (PBO) opens its 2019/20 season, Nicholas
McGegan's final season as Music Director, with a profound statement of commitment to expanding the period instrument repertoire: the world premiere of The Listeners by Caroline Shaw, the youngest composer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

The Listeners highlights the low vocal register, with contralto Avery Amereau and bass-baritone Dashon Burton both making their returns to PBO. Shaw's cosmic reflection pairs naturally with two works by Handel: a suite from Terpsichore and the celebratory cantata Eternal Source of Light Divine, featuring countertenor Reginald Mobley in his second PBO appearance. "A Cosmic Notion" runs from October 17-20 at venues across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 8pm
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Friday, October 18, 2019 at 7:30pm
First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 8pm
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 4pm
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

For complete information and tickets, visit https://philharmonia.org/shaw

--Stephanie Li, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Experiments in Opera Announces Its 2019-2020 Season
2019-2020 season, opening this week:
Looking at You, a new techno-noir opera by composer Kamala Sankaram, librettist Rob Handel, and director Kristin Marting confronts surveillance capitalism and erosion of individual privacy.
(September 6-21 at HERE)

Workshop performance of Rainbird by composer Aaron Siegel and librettist Mallory Catlett, based on the novel Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room by New Zealand's best known but least public author, Janet Frame.
(November 15 at Baryshnikov Arts Center)

Part One of a 10-episode serial opera by composers Jason Cady, Pauline Kim, and Phil Kline.
Librettos by Jason Cady, Jerome Parker, Lauren D'Errico.
(March 4-5 at The Flea)

Anthony Braxton Theater Improvisations (world premiere) in celebration of Braxton's 75th birthday.
(March 26-28 at The Flea)

And the ongoing work of the innovative EiO Writers' Room, inspired by television writers' rooms.
(Throughout the season)

For complete information, visit experimentsinopera.com

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Athens Philharmonic Makes Carnegie Hall Debut
On October 10, the newly-established Athens Philharmonic performs a special concert under the direction of Yiannis Hadjiloizou The Philharmonic is joined by the NY Choral Society and soloists Larisa Martínez and Daveda Karanas. Additionally, the concert program includes works by Mr. Hadjiloizou himself, as well as one by his father, composer Michael Hadjiloizou. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019, 8:00PM
Carnegie Hall - Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Athens Philharmonic
Yiannis Hadjiloizou, Music Director
NY Choral Society, David Hayes, Music Director
Larisa Martinez, Soprano
Daveda Karanas, Mezzo-Soprano

Michael Hadjilouzou: Interlude Act II from 9th of July 1821 (US Premiere)
Yiannis Hadjiloizou: Servikos Cyprus Dance No.1 (US Premiere)
Mahler: Symphony No.2 "Resurrection"

For more information, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2019/10/10/Athens-Philharmonic-Yiannis-Hadjiloizou-Artistic-Director-and-Conductor-0800PM

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates, Inc.

Miami Classical Music Festival at Sea
Miami Classical Music Fesitival is excited to present it's programming on the Brand New Celebrity Edge this winter, January 12-19. With luxuriously designed rooms that erase the boundary between indoors and out, a cantilevered Magic Carpet soaring above the sea, and a collection of 29 world-class restaurants, bars, and lounges, it's no wonder Celebrity Edge has been voted Best New Ship by the editors of Cruise Critic.

Now you do not have to wait until next summer to experience Miami Classical Music Festival. There will be a variety of entertainment, vocally and instrumentally, created by Michael Rossi, Director of the Festival. You may truly look forward to a new experience. Performing Artists and exciting programming will be announced in October. Don't miss the boat!

To reserve your cruise, a deposit of $500.00 per cabin is due at time of booking. Payment by credit card only.
Cruise Final Payment is due October 10, 2019.
Miami Music Festival Program Tax Deductible Donation $500.

Please Contact Vanessa Cohen | 786-206-2716 (Protravel Booking Consultant)
e-mail: vanessa.cohen@protravelinc.com

For complete information, visit https://miamimusicfestival.com/cruise

--Miami Music Festival

Experiential Orchestra Announces Two Concerts
Experiential Orchestra is excited to share with you the news that tickets are on sale for our upcoming concert at Lincoln Center on Thursday, September 26th: "Dvorak in Surround Sound!" This marks our third collaboration with Young Patrons of Lincoln Center, and once again will feature a fully-immersive experience for the audience.

Tickets available at https://tickets.lincolncenter.org/booking/production/bestavailable/20117.

Please note that they are currently open only to members of YPLC. If you live in New York, we highly recommend you join!

We are also thrilled to announce that tickets are now on sale for our highly anticipated concert return to Roulette Intermedium on Friday, November 15th called Bulgarian Virtuosity, which features EXO's superlative strings and Bulgarika, a virtuosic traditional ensemble on tour from Bulgaria. It will be a blast of a concert, evocative and thrilling.

Tickets available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bulgarian-virtuosity-with-exo-tickets-71536438413?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing.

For complete details, visit www.experientialorchestra.com

--Experiential Orchestra

This Fall the SMCQ Opens on the World
This Fall the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) is presenting an eclectic repertoire featuring two major concerts. As part of the Homage Series recently launched for composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, audiences will be introduced to music from the Middle East and the Orient, bringing together musicians from the Ensemble de la SMCQ and Oktoécho.

Notes SMCQ Artistic Director Walter Boudreau: "Katia Makdissi-Warren stands out on the Quebec music scene for the high quality and originality of her works, as an artist at the crossroads of Western and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as for her work as the founder, conductor and Artistic Director of Oktoécho. Thus is is essential for the SMCQ to provide a special opportunity for the musicians of this ensemble to present their own concerts in conjunction with our Homage Series. The result will be two concerts, particularly unique in the nature of the works and the instruments used."

Some 20 events are already listed on the SMCQ Web site: www.smcq.qc.ca

--France Gaignard

Music Institute "Spooktacular" Celebrates Halloween
The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes the Halloween season with a "Spooktacular" Concert and Haunted Musical Open House Sunday, October 27 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

The concert program features The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns, performed in costume by the Music Institute's acclaimed faculty. The Haunted Musical Open House following the concert invites guests to travel from room to room for music, trick or treating, and other activities. Audience members of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes and get into the spirit of the event.

Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL.
$10 general admission includes "Spooktacular" Concert and Haunted Musical Open House
$5 admission for each trick-or-treater, includes Haunted Musical Open House only (parents or guardians free).

Tickets are available at nicholsconcerthall.org or by calling 847.448.8326.

For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Michael Stern Extends Kansas City Symphony Contract
Kansas City Symphony Board Chair Patrick McCown and Executive Director Daniel Beckley are pleased to announce they have renewed Music Director Michael Stern's contract through the 2022-23 season.

Stern, whose current contract continues through the 2019/20 season, will have served as Kansas City Symphony's music director for 18 years when the new contract expires--one of the longest tenures for a major American orchestra.

To learn more about the Kansas City Symphony, visit kcsymphony.org

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents an Organ Recital by Christophe Mantoux
Concerts at Saint Thomas continues their 2019-20 season on Saturday, October 19 at 3:00 pm with the second of five Grand Organ Series performances on the Miller-Scott Organ at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (on West 53rd Street).

Christophe Mantoux, the current Organiste Titulaire at the Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris, will perform a program of works by French composers from the 19th and 20th centuries, including César Franck, Louis Vierne, Charles Tournemire, Maurice Duruflé, and Oliver Messiaen. Mantoux was the winner of the Grand Prix d'Interprétation at the Chartres International Organ Competition in 1984, and the San Diego Story praised him for his "unusually high standard of contemporary 18th-century performance practice combined with his own intuitive affinity for the style."

October 19, 2019, Saturday at 3:00 pm
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Princeton University Concerts Season Opens with American Program
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will open Princeton University Concerts' 2019/20 season on Thursday, October 10 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Princeton, NJ.

Their "New World Spirit" program will trace the rich cultural history of American classical music, including works by African American composer Harry T. Burleigh, his teacher Antonin Dvorak, and icons Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland.

Princeton University Professor Simon Morrison will illuminate the program in a pre-concert "Warm Up" free to all ticket-holders at 7PM. Tickets $10-$55, available at princetonuniversityconcerts.org.

In partnership with the Princeton Garden Theatre, Princeton University Concerts' first At the Movies event on Wednesday, October 2 at 7:30PM will relate to this program through a screening, introduced by Professor Morrison, of "Martha Graham: Dance on Film." This compilation of three of the legendary choreographer's ballets will include her original Appalachian Spring, a work for which Aaron Copland wrote the music. Copland's suite will be performed in its rarely-heard original instrumentation by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as part of their concert program. Movie tickets are available at the Princeton Garden Theatre.

In addition, Princeton University Concerts announces "Beyond the Music" programming, a diverse range of supplemental programming designed to bring audiences closer to the season's music and musicians. These include the internationally-acclaimed "Live Music Meditation" series launching with pianist Brad Mehldau, the annual "Late Night Chamber Jam" allowing amateur musicians to jam with the pros, an "At the Movies" series at the Princeton Garden Theatre and Public Library, and more.

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

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Percussionist Josh Graham Joins Orion for Concert 2
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, continues its 27th season with a program of less-frequently heard repertoire, including a work for bass clarinet and percussion featuring percussionist/marimbist Josh Graham.

Performances, which also feature guest violist Stephen Boe, take place at a new venue this season--New England Congregational Church in Aurora, Illinois--November 10, PianoForte Studios in Chicago, Illinois, November 13, and Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois, November 17.

For complete information, visit orionensemble.org

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Composer Max Richter to Perform 8-Hour "Sleep" at Great Wall of China
Composer Max Richter is bringing his monumental 8-hour lullaby "Sleep" to China for his most ambitious concert yet: a live outdoor performance at the Great Wall of China in front of more than 300 fans--in beds not seats. The ground-breaking performance marks Max's debut in China and the Asian premiere of "Sleep." It is set to take place from 10pm on October 4th to 6am on October 5th, on the opening night of the 22nd Beijing Music Festival (BMF).

It is the first time a concert of this scale has happened at the Great Wall. Max Richter says, "Performing "Sleep" at such an iconic location is a very special opportunity at BMF. This concert is a huge undertaking--physically, mentally and logistically--but we can't wait to do it. It is sure to be a night to remember."

For more information, visit www.maxrichtermusic.com

--Julia Casey, DG and Verve Label Group

ASPECT Chamber Music Series Opens 2019-2020 Season with Schubert Quintet
ASPECT Chamber Music Series opens its fourth New York City season of illuminating performances with Schubert quintet on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Italian Academy of Columbia University. The concert features the Formosa Quartet and cellist Peter Wiley in Schubert's String Quintet in C Major, D956.

The season continues with "Haunted Minds" on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Italian Academy of Columbia University featuring the Ariel Quartet and an illustrated talk by Nicholas Chong and "Russian Elegy" on Thursday, December 4, 2019 at 7:30pm at Bohemian National Hall featuring violinist Misha Keylin, cellist Zlatomir Fung, and pianist Pavel Nersessian with an illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson.

To find out more, please visit www.aspectmusic.net

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

On Elephants and Listening Trials...

By Bryan Geyer

On Elephants in the Room...
Two of the most notable absurdities in home audio share a common fault: They’re grossly oversized and/or overweight for any normally dimensioned residential living room. You’d really have to live in Hearst Castle in order to claim that the use of these components is sensible or appropriate. I’m talking about (a) those monster (100 pounds apiece) power amplifiers that cost $5k-$10k ea., and (b) those towering pairs of planar electrostatic loudspeakers that cost a bundle—despite their poor efficiency, inconsistent performance (always subject to numerous ambient variables), and comparatively (to dynamic/magnetic drivers) crummy reliability.

It’s very likely that the era of the 100 pound power amplifiers is now ending, and that all such boat anchors will eventually become obscure relics. Future hi-end speaker systems just won’t be built that way. The old concept wherein one big power amplifier is used to feed a passive crossover network that’s in series with all drivers is truly archaic. The modern trend is to use active line-level crossovers that feed multiple power amplifiers. Those bandpass amplifiers can then directly drive the separate segments of a multi-driver speaker system, and do so with precise accuracy, better damping, and fully independent gain control. This method presents vital convenience and flexibility advantages, since each amplifier’s response can then be optimized as needed to assist in attaining a desired room response (EQ) profile. The use of one big power amplifier/channel was a natural and practical solution that fit the past, but new size and integration breakthroughs have now made it preferable to consider this multi-amplifier alternative. Top quality hi-end systems will embrace this concept. In many cases, it’s likely that some of these bandpass power amplifiers will be fully integrated with their designated driver, and buried inside the speaker enclosure. In those instances, compact class D power amplifiers will become the preferred tool, just as with the self-powered subwoofers that are so popular today.

Big planar panel electrostatic loudspeakers (see photo) will soon become extinct unless there’s substantial design improvement. In general, the existing electrostatic means for implementing planar propagation is just too “buggy” to sustain consistent, reliable performance. Such speakers are sensitive to variations in ambient temperature, humidity, and altitude (moon phase too?). They’re  easily damaged, inefficient, and vulnerable when pushed to sustain high sound pressure levels. They’re also costly to make, ship, and sell. Robust redesign seems essential. It’s possible that new materials (such as graphene) might spur this progression. Regardless, dynamic/magnetic loudspeaker design has steadily evolved, and the focused propagation advantage that’s attributed to planar speakers seems less distinctive now than in prior decades. Barring a dramatic upgrade, I see a dim future for those big electrostatic panels that resemble room divider screens; they’re looking obsolescent. That said, the large planar model 10e ESL from Sanders Sound Systems looks exceptional. It’s an elegant “no compromise” product (price with designated Magtech Stereo amp ~ $22.5k) that’s aimed to satisfy the pride of its creator and the respect of the ultra-niche market that it serves. This looks to be a fine example at what’s possible when good engineering meets a targeted (lots of listening space + gobs of money) consumer. That’s a convergence that I’ve never experienced, but maybe it fits your profile.

And On Listening Trials…
If you want to conduct a listening trial face-off between your regular power amplifier and another amp that’s on loan from a friend or dealer, do make certain that you compare the two amplifiers fairly, under identical test conditions. Of course, that means using the same cable connections, same loudspeakers, same room setup, and the same listening seat, but don’t automatically use the same position on your master volume attenuator. Be aware that the internal voltage gain of various power amplifiers will routinely vary by design; they commonly range between ~ +23dB and +29dB. You can research differences in gain by checking the respective amplifiers’ specifications; they’re generally printed on the last page of the related instruction booklet, as well as appearing on makers’ websites. One can easily compensate for a gain difference by adjusting the main volume attenuator to assure that the sound pressure level (SPL) at the listening position is precisely equal for all amplifiers under test.* The incoming source signal’s amplitude range is normally sufficient to accommodate any adjustment of the attenuator that might be needed to set an accurate SPL match at any desired listening level.

To accurately monitor the SPL matching, use a basic SPL meter (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1149079-REG/nady_dsm_1x_digital_spl_meter.html), and position it (mounted on a tripod, or on a lighting or microphone stand) at the listening site. Use a fixed frequency sine wave source as the test signal; something between ~ 400 Hz and ~ 800 Hz is generally best. Match carefully! A difference of as little as ± 0.5 dB in SPL could unfairly bias your judgment, and the loudest output will always win, regardless of any other aural distinction that might seem evident.

Given modern solid-state power amplifier design, and assuming that such amplifiers are not driven into clipping, and that their sound pressure levels are accurately matched, you will probably conclude that there’s zero audible difference between the contending products. This expectation does not apply if the on-loan amplifier is an appealing new component that you’ve recently considered buying. In that instance, the on-loan amplifier will always sound spectacularly superior; it will “blow away” the old amp.

BG (September 2019)

*If your master stereo volume attenuator has calibrated stepped detents you might find it difficult to achieve a setting that yields a precise SPL match. In that event, check the rear panel of both power amplifiers. Many amps include a pair of rotary potentiometers, installed at the input stage, to facilitate balance adjustment of the incoming left/right stereo source signals. You can use these pots as supplementary volume controls to trim the SPL output in small increments that are finer than a stepped attenuator might resolve. Just remember to return these pots to their previous positions (generally full up) when your testing trial is finished.

Opera Phantasies from 150 Years (SACD review)

From Bel Canto to Jazz. Volker Reinhold, violin; Ralph Zedler, piano. MDG 903 2134-6.

The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music defines a musical fantasia (or fantasy or phantasy) in several ways, the definition best applying here being "Free and somewhat improvisatory treatments of existing themes, often from operas." OK, to an uninitiated novice like me in the classical realm, that sounds an awful lot like a medley of greatest hits. But what do I know. "Fantasy" (or especially "phantasy") sounds a lot better than "medley." Whatever the case, the music here is remarkably vibrant, pleasant, and soothing as performed by two experts in the field.

On the present disc, German violinist Volker Reinhold and German pianist Ralph Zedler offer five examples of such fantasias (or, again, fantasies, fantaisies, or phantasies, depending on the language) spanning some 150 years of classical music history. What's more, three of them are world-première recordings.

You may remember Reinhold and Zedler from their earlier albums or from my own review of their Sarasate recording. Violinist Reinhold became the concertmaster of the Mecklenburg State Orchestra in 1989. According to the accompanying booklet, Mr. Reinhold "has gone on to perform a wide range of solo assignments and to dedicate himself intensively to chamber music. Additionally, for some years he has often assisted as a concertmaster with several Northern German orchestras. He has a special predilection for the virtuosic violin literature, above all Fritz Kreisler and also Pablo de Sarasate. He has incorporated practically all of the former's music into his repertoire. For many years he has performed successfully with his regular piano partner Ralph Zedler. Mr. Reinhold performs on a 'Mougeot,' a French violin from the 19th century."

As for pianist Zedler, I quoted last time from his Web site: "...he graduated from Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. He worked regularly in the singing classes of Liselotte Hammes, Klesie Kelly, Kurt Moll, and Edda Moser. From the autumn of 1999 to January 2011 Mr. Zedler was engaged at the Mecklenburg State Theatre in Schwerin as soloist and Ballettrepetitor, participating in over seventy productions of opera, operetta, musical, oratorio, and ballet. Since 2011 he has worked at capital Opera, the smallest Opera Berlin, devoting himself to the repertoire of forgotten one-act plays. Mr. Zedler's concert career has taken him along with prominent figures such as singers Agnes Giebel, Ulrich Hielscher, Jean van Ree, and Edda Moser." And since the summer of 2016, again according to the accompanying booklet, "...he has been a solo repetiteur at the Volkstheater Rostock."

Volker Reinhold
Anyway, as I've said, here they offer five selections: the first is the Fantasia su motivi della Traviata di Giuseppe Verdi (1871) by Italian violinist, composer, and teacher Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897). Being Verdi opera, the music is understandably sentimental, poignant, and moving. Reinhold's violin is impassioned, as it should be, well echoing the voices on stage, and Zedler's piano accompaniment is unobtrusively sympathetic. Both players benefit from a long experience performing together, and they pretty much play as one. Listening from another room, my wife cheered at the closing passage.

After that is the Fantaisie sur Faust (1869) by Belgium violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881). Here, the fantasy on the music of Gounod is even more virtuosic, more dramatic than that of Verdi. It's also a bit more melodramatic and bombastic, so be aware. Vieuxtemps wrote his own introductions and interludes for the Gounod excerpts, so most of it hangs together, but until the famous music of the final third, little of it exhibits the lyricism of Verdi, despite Reinhold's superb technique and execution.

Next is the Fantaisie sur des motifs de l'opera 'La vie pour le Czar Ivan Susanin' de Glinka (1900) by Czech violinist and composer Frantisek Ondricek (1857-1922). With this fantasy, Ondricek covers more ground than the previous two composers in their fantasies, which may or may not be a good thing. Whatever, Reinhold and Zedler produce a big, robust piece of high intent and vivid contrasts.

Following that is Norma de Bellini, Fantaisie sur la quatrieme corde (1844), again by Henri Vieuxtemps but an earlier composition of his. The gimmick here is that Vieuxtemps instructs that the entire fantasy be played on a single string. Remarkable. And remarkable, too, is Reinhold's playing, which carries out Vieuxtemps's instructions flawlessly.

The final item is the Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin's Opera Porgy and Bess (1991) by Russian violinist and composer Igor Frolov (1937-2013). This is the one fantasy on the program that seems to include every familiar tune from the opera from which it derives. If you like Gershwin, you'll like Frolov's treatment of the themes, and you'll love Reinhold and Zedler's evocatively dreamy, jazzy realizations of the score.

Producers Werner Dabringhaus and Reimund Grimm and engineer Holger Schlegel recorded the music at the Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmunster, Germany in April 2019. They made the disc in hybrid SACD, which contains a regular two-channel stereo layer for playback on a regular CD player and an SACD layer, which contains a two-channel stereo format, a multichannel format, and a 2+2+2 format for playback on an SACD player. Apparently, the 2+2+2 format utilizes the middle and bass channels to provide a left and right height dimension to the sound, perhaps somewhat similar to what Dolby ATMOS also does. I say "perhaps" because my system is two-channel stereo only, so I listened
in SACD two-channel. Presumably, the 2+2+2 format requires that listeners reconfigure their speakers, something I doubt a lot of people are willing to do, given the scarcity of SACD recordings in general and 2+2+2 recordings in particular. I guess the folks at MDG (Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm) know what they're doing, and I applaud them for it, but I'd be surprised if more than a half dozen people worldwide have set up their sound systems specifically for 2+2+2 playback.

Still, that's neither here nor there. In the SACD two-channel stereo format to which I listened, the sound was quite natural, with good positioning of the two performers relative to one another, if miked slightly more to the left of center than I might have liked. The hall provides a pleasant bloom, enhancing the realism of the recording. The violin appears resplendent and the piano dynamic, both instruments rendered as lifelike as one could imagine.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 7, 2019

SF Girls Chorus Announces 2019-2020 Season

The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) announced its 2019-2020 season featuring four subscription performances and numerous appearances with leading arts organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Led by Artistic Director and Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the season will celebrate the empowerment of women during a year of national celebrations around the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Works from two rising star women composers, Angélica Negrón (SFGC commission) and Aviya Kopelman (SFGC co-commission with the Israel Institute), will be premiered in a choreographed program co-presented with Berkeley Ballet Theater that shines a light on the legacy of women who took part in the United States suffrage movement. An evening of 17th century Latin American Baroque masterworks will showcase music written by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the first published feminists of the Americas and champion of women's rights to education. Based on the diary of author Angeles Monrayo, an SFGC commissioned opera by Matthew Welch, Tomorrow's Memories, will be presented in a special preview performance ahead of the full world premiere during the 2020-2021 season. And continuing its popular annual holiday tradition at Davies Symphony Hall, SFGC will showcase the talents of more than 300 young women from across its seven Chorus levels in a program that features a rare performance of Benjamin Britten's masterwork A Ceremony of Carols for mixed chorus featuring Clerestory. Guest artists joining SFGC for these programs include The Living Earth Show, Amaranth Quartet, El Mundo, Sopranos Nell Snaidas and Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Harpist Bridget Kibbey, Guitarist Florante Aguilar, Violinist Patti Kilroy, and Percussionist Levy Lorenzo. And much  more.

The season opens on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco and concludes on Tuesday, June 16th, 2020. Four-concert subscriptions to San Francisco Girls Chorus self-produced concert season went on sale September 6 and are available at a discounted price of $170. Call (415) 392-4400 or visit http://www.cityboxoffice.com to purchase a subscription.

Single tickets range in price from $28 to $62 and went on sale September 6. Discounted student tickets are available at $10 with valid ID.

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

--Brenden Guy PR

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
Dear FAYM family: I welcome all to our FAYM family!

We are glad and like to assure you that this year will be better than the previous ones. We would like to thank all the families who took the time to attend FAYM Orientation Night on ELVCC as well as PCC. It was a pleasure to see all the returning families, and to see the new ones who we are hoping to meet and serve.

It is with great pleasure that I announce that FAYM keeps growing and this year we will partner with East Las Vegas Library where we will start violin lessons to students of first and second grades.

--Claudia Rivera, President

FAYM Brings Violins to the Library:
FAYM is excited to begin a "Violins for Kids" program for 1st and 2nd graders at the new East Las Vegas Library (2851 E. Bonanza Rd.). An Information and Registration Session for parents and students will be held on Thursday, September 12th at 4pm with weekly lessons beginning on September 19th.

The program is tuition-free, but donations are gladly accepted. For more information, please visit FAYM@live.com.

The East Las Vegas Library is located at 2851 E. Bonanza Road. Getting a head start on their music experience, area youngsters will begin at the Library and then progress to the East Las Vegas Community Center, which is just minutes away.

Summer vacation is officially over and FAYM is ready to start classes for the 2019/2020 school year. These hot summer months however were filled with work, planning, and meetings to make sure that we would be ready to have all things organized and in place.

Learn more about the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians by visiting https://www.thefaym.org/


Boston Baroque Orchestra Signs with Schwalbe and Partners, Inc.
Boston Baroque Orchestra has signed with Schwalbe and Partners, Inc. for worldwide management. Boston Baroque will expand their touring and recording in anticipation of their 50th-anniversary celebrations beginning in 2022-23.

Jennifer Ritvo Hughes, Executive Director of Boston Baroque said, "We're thrilled to join one of the most well-respected rosters in the field of Classical and Baroque music. As Boston Baroque looks ahead to our 50th anniversary in four years, we plan to reach even more music-lovers by growing our touring programs in the U.S. and abroad. Carrie and the team at Schwalbe will be the perfect partners to bring our fresh, intimate approach to early music audiences everywhere."

Boston Baroque's immediately available touring programs include Handel's Messiah, its trilogy of Monteverdi operas, Monteverdi's Vespers, and Heinrich Biber's acclaimed Mystery Sonatas.

In April of 2020, Boston Baroque returns to the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, performing music by Vivaldi, Rameau, Bach and Handel and featuring acclaimed soprano Yulia Van Doren as soloist.

For more information, visit https://schwalbeandpartners.com/project/boston-baroque/

--Schwalbe and Partners

Scott Yoo Honors Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in "Great Performances"
Join Scott Yoo, renowned violinist and conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, hosts "Now Hear This," a new four-part documentary miniseries presented by Great Performances that merges music, storytelling, travel and culture, as he chases the secret histories of some of the greatest music ever written. "Great Performances: Now Hear This" premieres Fridays, September 20-October 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis, and the PBS Video app.

Throughout the series, Scott Yoo meets and collaborates with world-renowned virtuosos, local musical heroes across many genres, artisan instrument makers, music historians and other charismatic characters on his travels through Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Morocco. He visits legendary concert halls, architectural masterworks, jazz jam sessions and never-before-filmed archives to connect the classics to the contemporary--finding time to explore and enjoy the culture along the way.

Episode 1: "Vivaldi: Something Completely Different"
Premieres Friday, September 20 at 9|8c on PBS (check local listings)

Explore northern Italy with host Scott Yoo and discover how Vivaldi's masterwork "The Four Seasons" merged religious melodies, opera and virtuosic violin-playing to create a new era of music.

For a sample video, click here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/now-hear-this-clip-1/9901/

For more information, visit http://pbs.org/nowhearthis

--Dorean Rose Pugh, WNET

Jazz at Princeton: 2019-20 Season
Jazz at Princeton University announces a diverse 2019-20 season, with performances October-May! Supremely talented student jazz performers will share the stage with world-renowned professionals, including acclaimed Portuguese vocalist/composer Sara Serpa with her Intimate Strangers project, Chilean vocal sensation Claudia Acuña, and Grammy-nominated Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto. After a resoundingly successful inaugural year, the Princeton University Jazz Festival will return on April 18, 2020 in its second annual reincarnation.

For more information, visit https://music.princeton.edu/current-students/jazz-princeton-university

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

PARMA Call for Scores Deadline Extension to 9/13
In order to accommodate our friends in academia, and based on several requests, we have decided to extend the deadline for submissions to our Summer 2019 Call for Scores by one week to September 13. For more information or to submit your music, please follow the link below or write to submissions@parmarecordings.com with any questions. We look forward to reviewing each of your submissions!

Project submission form: https://parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores.html#s19-cfs_form1200

--PARMA Recordings

Five Boroughs Music Festival Announces Appointment of New Artistic Director
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Unterman as its new Artistic Director, effective September 1, 2019. An accomplished cellist and chamber musician, Unterman steps into the role following the tenure of 5BMF's Founding Artistic Director, Jesse Blumberg. He joins the 5BMF leadership team alongside Executive Director Donna Breitzer, Board President Emily Kennerley, and 5BMF's dedicated Board of Directors and staff.

Of Unterman's appointment Jesse Blumberg says, "From the very earliest days of Five Boroughs Music Festival, I knew that I wanted the organization to grow, thrive, and survive, long past my own tenure as Artistic Director. When I began to think more seriously about stepping away from this role, I hoped that we would be able to find someone just like Michael to shepherd 5BMF into its next chapter. I am incredibly grateful to our Board and Search Committee for their tireless work in identifying such a talented, thoughtful, visionary, and inspiring new leader to move 5BMF forward, and to Michael for assuming the position with intellect and enthusiasm. It is already evident that he and my great friend and co-founder Donna Breitzer will make a wonderful team, and I look forward to transitioning into my new roles as advisor, volunteer, and 5BMF's biggest fan."

--Will Albach, Morahan Arts and Media

The Chelsea Symphony's 2019/2020 Season, "Rise Up"
New York's Chelsea Symphony's (TCS) 2019/2020 season, "Rise Up," focuses on compositions that are meant to inspire and uplift the audience. The season includes beloved works such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Gershwin's An American in Paris, the indomitable Fifth Symphony by Gustav Mahler, and Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter." Alongside these warhorses of the classical canon, we present nine works by female composers or composers of color, two NYC Premieres, and six World Premieres.

The September 20 and 21, 2019 concerts, "Here to Stay," includes one of the most well-known American compositions, Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, which has its roots in WWII and has since become an anthemic call to our sense of humanity, dignity, and the noble cause of a common purpose. "Concerti" on this series include the NYC premiere of a viola concerto by Jeremy Crosmer, Masks: A Heroine's Tale, with violist Mitsuru Kubo, Eric Ewazen's Shadowcatcher for Brass Quintet and Orchestra, featuring the Nautilus Brass Quintet, and Leonard Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs for clarinet and jazz ensemble, welcoming back clarinetist Alicia Bennett as soloist. Rounding out the concert are a world premiere from Mike Boyman and the concert finale, George Gershwin's An American in Paris.

For complete information, visit https://chelseasymphony.org/

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

OneBeat Announces Tour Concerts
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 12, 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.

Today, OneBeat announces its 2019 ten-day tour throughout the Southeast U.S.:
Sept. 21 at 7:30pm - Timucua White House - Orlando, FL
Sept. 28 at 7:30pm - Atlantic Center For The Arts - New Smyrna Beach, FL
Sept. 30 at 8pm - Heartwood Soundstage - Gainesville, FL
Oct. 2 at 8pm - ArtsXChange - East Point, GA
Oct. 3 at 8pm - Grocery on Home - Atlanta, GA
Oct. 4 at 6pm - The High Museum - Atlanta, GA
Oct. 5 at 12pm - Community Day at ArtsXChange - East Point, GA
Oct. 7 at 7pm - Fourth Presbyterian Church in partnership with Big Ears - Knoxville, TN
Oct. 9 at 7:30pm - The Bijou in partnership with Big Ears - Knoxville, TN

In each location, the OneBeat Fellows will present world premieres of their collaborative works-in-progress in a series of performances, workshops, and interactive public events.

Complete tour information: www.1beat.org/#events

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

The Angel's Share Presents "Stabat Mater"
The Angel's Share will close its second season October 8-10, with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn performing a program entitled "Stabat Mater" in the Catacombs of the Green-Wood Cemetery. Conducted by Eli Spindel, the music centers around the experience of grief, featuring Pergolesi's Stabat Mater (with soloists Kate Maroney and Molly Netter), Arvo Pärt's Fratres, and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

The performances will also incorporate wall-to-ceiling film projections that will be displayed throughout the length of the catacombs, reacting in real-time to the music as it's being performed.

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Misha Galant and Maxim Lando Named 2020 Gilmore Young Artists
Two young American pianists, Misha Galant and Maxim Lando, have been named recipients of the 2020 Gilmore Young Artist Award. The Awards were announced today by Pierre van der Westhuizen, Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Awards, which conducts and funds the Gilmore Artist Award program. Mr. Galant and Mr. Lando will each receive a $15,000 stipend to further their musical careers and educational development, as well as $10,000 towards the commissioning of a new piano composition for which the artist will have exclusive performance rights for one year. They will also give solo recitals and orchestral performances during the 2020 Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo—April 22 through May 10.

The Gilmore officially presents Young Artist Awards to Mr. Galant and Mr. Lando on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. ET hosted by longtime supporter Steinway & Sons at New York's Steinway Hall. In addition to being honored at this event, each artist also performs selected works, with Mr. Galant playing pieces by Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, and Mr. Lando performing the music of Tchaikovsky, Busoni, Lyapunov, Scriabin, Kapustin, and Led Zeppelin—the latter in a transcription by the pianist.

The entire evening may be live-streamed online for free via The Gilmore and Steinway & Sons Facebook pages, as well as at TheGilmore.org.

--John Hamby, Shuman Associates

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