Classical Music News of the Week, June 27, 2020

Now Available: Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music

University of North Texas Press announces the publication of Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music by renowned conductor Joseph Rescigno. The book discusses operas in the standard repertory from the perspective of a conductor with a lifetime of experience performing them. It focuses on Joseph Rescigno's approach to preparing and performing these masterworks so that the full greatness of each opera can be realized.

Opening with a chapter discussing his performance philosophy, Rescigno then covers Mozart's most frequently-performed operas; standards of the bel canto school including Il barbiere di Siviglia; five of Verdi's works including La traviata; a selection of Wagner's compositions; French Romantic operas such as Carmen; Puccini's major works; and finally four operas by Richard Strauss. An appendix contains a convenient guide to scores available online. Conducting Opera includes practical advice about propelling a story forward and bringing out the drama that the music is meant to express, as well as how to fully support singers. Rescigno identifies especially problematic passages, supplies suggestions on how to navigate them, and provides advice on staying true to the several styles under discussion.

Maestro Rescigno states, "This book is not just for conductors; it's also for avid opera lovers who seek to deepen their understanding of music and make their experiences more rewarding. For conductors, my intention is to give practical advice -- a collegial discussion of challenges and pitfalls, including how to fully support singers. Readers can now understand what a conductor must do before a first performance, and even a first rehearsal, and how a work's structure -- all of its sections -- fit together. A piece of music is greater than the sum of its parts, and this is especially true for an opera, in its fusing of music and theater."

To listen to Mr. Rescigno discuss his book, click here:

To learn more about the book, click here:

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Guitarist Sean Shibe Signs to PENTATONE
PENTATONE is delighted to announce that one of the most exciting guitarists of today, Sean Shibe, has signed an exclusive, multi-album agreement with the label. The collaboration will be earmarked by the range and diversity for which Shibe already is known, with current plans encompassing solo and orchestral, acoustic, and electric guitar repertoire. Shibe's first solo recording on PENTATONE will focus on Spanish impressionism and the French influences to be found in this music, presenting works by composers including Mompou, Poulenc, de Falla, and Ravel. Further details will be announced at a later date.

For details, visit

--Talita Sakuntala, PENTATONE Music

Bright Shiny Things Launches 6-part Live HD Streaming Concert Series
The series begins June 27th during PRIDE with "T Stands For…," an exploration of the joy, struggle and liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. Featuring Grammy-winning cellist Andrew Yee of the Attacca Quartet, Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, Metropolitan Opera pianist Bénédicte Jourdois, performance artist John Kelly, baritone Michael Kelly, and double bassist Louis Levitt. Part of all proceeds will benefit The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition. (

Full artist bios, updated concert descriptions, and video available at

--Paula Mlyn, A440arts

U.S., World Premiere Orchestral Performances of Dan Brown's Wild Symphony
Dan Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code, has a new credential on his already-singular resume: composer of the orchestral music from Wild Symphony, his new illustrated children's book to be released on September 1, 2020 by Rodale Kids, an imprint of Random House Children's Books.

With concerts slated in more than two dozen countries around the world – including a world premiere in Croatia and events in Germany, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and Argentina, among others – Brown selected The Music Hall in Portsmouth as the venue where he wanted to host the U.S. premiere of his new symphonic suite, it was announced today.

On November 15, 2020, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra will perform Brown's classical debut for the young at heart as a special benefit presented by the author himself. Proceeds from ticket sales go to The Music Hall and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, both 501(c)3 non-profit arts organizations from Brown's hometown.

"The Music Hall has been the site of similar premiere events for the Angels & Demons and Inferno movies," says the author, "and I thought it would be fun to premiere this new musical project in the U.S. as a benefit for my local community." The U.S. launch will be preceded by a world premiere concert featuring the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra on October 10, 2020 at Lisinski Hall in Zagreb, Croatia, where the recording of Wild Symphony occurred.

For complete information, visit

--Bob Lord, PARMA Recordings

Michael Tilson Thomas Named Officer in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
On Monday, June 22, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT)--Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra--was named an Officer in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters), the second of three grades recognized in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded to distinguished artists who have made significant contributions to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.

Previously a Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, this promotion to Officer recognizes MTT's continued contributions to global culture and the vast impact he has had during his 25 years as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony.

For more information, visit

--Shuman Associates

Orli Shaham MidWeek Mozart
This week pianist Orli Shaham brings you the Adagio from Sonata No.17, K. 570, with MidWeek Mozart. Available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, June 24.

"The second movement is a beautiful, very lyrical adagio," says Ms. Shaham. "After the opening, it goes into a C minor section, which you cannot mistake for anything but a reference to the C minor, K.491 Piano Concerto - which is one of the two that I recorded with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra."

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart gives you exclusive access to a different movement of a Mozart piano sonata, available for a whole week, free! Get your weekly dose of Mozart each Wednesday, and enjoy it until the following Wednesday when it will be replaced by the next installment, at

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

ABS "Fridays with Friends"
Mischa Bouvier came to American Bach Soloists through the inaugural Academy in 2010. He sang the role of Lucifer in Handel's La Resurezione. His beautiful singing was something that we couldn't live without, so he was engaged as a member of ABS the following season as soloist in the West Coast premiere of Antonio Lotti's Mass for Three Choirs in 2011. He has appeared in eight subsequent seasons in performances including the title role of Handel's Apollo and Dafne, Handel's Messiah and Acis and Galatea, and Bach's Saint Matthew Passion. Mischa is widely regarded as a singer of keen musicality and unique beauty of tone. Praised by Opera News for a "soothing, cavernous baritone that can soar to heights of lyric beauty," and by San Francisco Classical Voice for an "immensely sympathetic, soulful voice" and "rare vocal and interpretive gifts," Mischa continues to garner critical acclaim for a diverse performing career that includes concerts, recitals, staged works and recordings. The New York Times summed up a recent performance: "Mischa Bouvier was superb."

Mischa shares with us his recent experiences, interests, and a gift of his performance of music by Charles Ives. Listen and enjoy here:

Learn more at

--American Bach Soloists

ICE and The New School Present "2020 Ensemble Evolution"
"America's foremost new-music group" (Alex Ross), the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), partners with The New School's College of Performing Arts (CoPA) for the 2020 "Ensemble Evolution" program, taking place virtually from June 25 to July 2.

Created by ICEensemble founder Claire Chase and longtime ICEensemble artist-in-residence Steven Schick, Ensemble Evolution is a tuition-free two-week summer music program for early-career performers and performer-composers, providing the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from a faculty of established professionals including ICEensemble musicians and renowned guest artists through workshops, conversations, and world premiere performances.

Ensemble Evolution events open to the public include panels on topics such as Leadership, Advocacy, and Allyship in the Arts through a Racial Justice Lens; Branding and Digital Marketing for Musicians; and An Intro into Creative Placemaking; a talk with Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation; and two Quarantine Concerts featuring ICEensemble, Matana Roberts, Levy Lorenzo, David Byrd-Marrow and Ensemble Evolution participants. The final public performance of the program on Thursday, July 2 at 7:00pm features the world premiere of Nicole Mitchell's Inescapable Spiral, specifically re-designed for the digital world.

More Information:

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa