Classic HAUSER (CD review)

Music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and others. HAUSER, cello; London Symphony Orchestra. Sony 19075988532.

By John J. Puccio

He’s young; he’s handsome; he’s talented. He is (or was) one half of the crossover phenomenon called the 2CELLOS. Now he’s also a singles act, a gifted cellist that Sony appears to be marketing as another Mario Lanza. He is so big, in fact, that Stjepan Hauser has now outgrown his name and is just HAUSER. Yet so big that his name can only be accommodated by capital letters (like 2CELLOS), making him, I suppose, even bigger than Liberace or Cher. You can see where I’m going with this.

HAUSER’s latest release, “Classic HAUSER,” is more like a pop concert than an actual classical album. Yes, it says “Classic” in the title, but Sony is clearly going after the youth market here, no doubt mainly young women who may swoon over both the Romanticism of the music and the good looks of the artist. The disc comprises sixteen selections, the longest being around eight minutes and the majority being closer to the pop standard of four minutes or less. A booklet note tells us the final item, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, is 0:00 minutes. You can’t get much shorter than that. (Actually, it’s 7:57.)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t help thinking of the first “classical” album I ever bought: a boxed LP set of the 101 Strings playing parts of famous classical pieces. But they were complete parts, like entire movements of longer works. Here, HAUSER plays brief portions of popular classical music, most of them written for other instruments and transcribed for cello.

He plays the pieces beautifully, of course, and the London Symphony Orchestra backs him with their usual grace and accomplishment. But the music is still in bits and pieces, meant to satisfy fans of the soloist who are not necessarily fans of classical music. So, I guess what I’m saying is to be aware of what you’re getting. You may be satisfied for a moment or two, but you may also long for more.

HAUSER
Here’s a rundown on the album’s contents:
  1. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake
  2. Rachmaninoff - Second Piano Concerto
  3. Dalla - Caruso
  4. Bach - Air On a G String
  5. Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite
  6. Mozart - Concerto for Clarinet
  7. Chopin - Nocturne in C Sharp
  8. Mascagni - Intermezzo from Cavalierra Rusticana
  9. Yiruma - River Flows in You
10. Handel - Lascia Ch'io Pianga
11. Last - The Lonely Shepherd
12. Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 21
13. Borodin - Nocturne
14. Puccini - Nessun Dorma
15. Mozart - Lacrimosa
16. Barber - Adagio for Strings

HAUSER’s sound is lush and sonorous, depending on the selection. his tone golden, and his flexibility in handling all kinds of musical moments nigh perfect. I just wish he had more to work with than the golden oldies he presents here. While it’s all quite lovely, it’s all out of context, too, and all rather brief. What can we expect next? The Beatles Songbook, perhaps? And he would doubtless do it justice.

Producer Nick Patrick and engineers Neil Hutchinson and Simon Rhodes recorded the music at Henry Wood Hall, London in June 2019. The sound is befitting the nature of a pop album: It’s fairly close up, vivid in its detail, and somewhat flat in its perspective, with the soloist always well front and center. It’s also very loud, perhaps in anticipation of its being played in an automobile.

JJP

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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 29, 2020


ROCO Opens Their 16th Season

ROCO’s (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) 16th season, “Color and Light,” will kick off on September 26 with Starburst, a program of musical light and energy, in a fully virtual, free live-streamed performance from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, without an in-person audience. Tune in and interact with the orchestra on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or their website, at ROCO.org/live.

Conducted by ROCO’s Artistic Partner, Mei-Ann Chen, Starburst is built around a world premiere commission by composer and bandoneonist Richard Scofano, who will also be the featured soloist for the work. The symphonic poem, entitled La Tierra Sin Mal (translating to The Land Without Evil), is inspired by the mythology of the Guaraní people, and takes the form of a concerto for bandoneon (a Latin-American bellowed instrument) and orchestra. Starburst will also present works from Fauré, Kodaly, Beethoven, and Debussy, as well as more modern composers, including Jessie Montgomery’s piece Starburst.

Watch the announcement video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQBfQKIHsOE

ROCOrooters, ROCO’s unique music education offering from instructor Keisha Twitchell, will be going all digital this season, even pairing with the orchestra’s Unchambered events.  Mrs. Twitchell will offer downloadable materials ahead of time for families to prepare to watch the live stream of the full concert together, and then the following Saturday ROCO will present a free 30-minute morning ROCOrooters lesson via Zoom, in which she will connect the dots with children to encourage even deeper engagement in ROCO’s music. More information is available at https://roco.org/rocorooters/.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

SOLI's Summer Video Series"Moments of SOLIcitude" Continues
 Don't miss Episode 6 of SOLI's summer video series Moments of SOLIcitude on YouTube Premieres, featuring selections from composer Kinan Azmeh's The Fence, The Roof, and the Distant Sea, performed by SOLI clarinetist Stephanie Key and cellist David Mollenauer.

Recorded on August 16th at a cabin on the shores of Lake Tahoe, CA, the video will also feature a quick word from two of our dearest friends and supporters, Joe and Toni Murgo, and a very special announcement.

“A fence, a rooftop, and the distant sea were all present facing my desk while I finished the piece in Beirut in December 2016,” says the composer. “These elements were a reminder of how near my hometown of Damascus was, yet how far it seemed after being away for five years. The piece is about the random memories of individuals, more precisely about two characters searching for memories from home. The memories jump, sometimes abruptly from one to another until they realize that the most powerful memories were the simplest.” --Kinan Azmeh

The episode premiered on Wednesday, August, 26 @ 5:00 PM and is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeT7tWURvcs&feature=youtu.be

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Orli Shaham's “MidWeek Mozart”
Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the complete Sonata No.18, K. 576, available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, August 26.

"This was the last piano sonata that Mozart wrote," says Ms. Shaham about Sonata No.18. "It was written during the height of Mozart's creative powers, when he was churning out one opera after another. Mozart couldn't have known this was his last piano sonata but there’s no better one to end with."

Visit, watch, and listen here: https://orlishahammozart.com/

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward and William Bracewell in Romeo and Juliet
“Great Performances” continues to bring the best in classical and dance programming into homes with a new production of Romeo and Juliet, which kicks off the series’ fall season. A film by the BalletBoyz, the award-winning team of Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, “Great Performances: Romeo and Juliet” premieres Friday, September 11, 2020 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf, and the PBS Video app.

Starring the current generation of The Royal Ballet dancers with William Bracewell as Romeo, Francesca Hayward as Juliet ("Cats") and Matthew Ball as Tybalt, this film adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece takes legendary Royal Ballet choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 ballet out of the theater and into the streets of a cinematic Verona, offering a passionate reimagining of this timeless love story.

This romantic classic is set to Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s original 1938 score performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and is vividly recreated on atmospheric studio sets in Budapest, combining inventive cinematography and dynamic choreography.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

The SMCQ Proposes a Unifying Project for Music in Schools
The back to school season bodes to be cautious, with masks and physical distancing measures in place. So the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) is adding a breath of fresh air to make music vibrate in the schools.

Building on its past twenty years of experience with school networks, and its educational platform to discover Quebec composers, this year, the SMCQ is launching a project bringing together virtual choirs to provide a year's worth of rhythm. The project will focus on the four seasons, with the musical cycle Au regard des solstices plus new creations by François-Hugues Leclair.

“Following this past spring's successful Grands espaces Virtual Choir featuring composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, the SMCQ proposes singing and dancing, discovering local artists, reconnecting with nature through art, and participating in a major collective musical work … Whether at school or at home, students from across the country (and even around the world) will be able to add their voices and sing new musical creations,” notes Claire Cavanagh, SMCQ's Director of Communications and Education.

The Rhythm of the Seasons
Augmenting the four canons of spring, summer, fall, winter, already enthusiastically welcomed in 2016, we will be adding four new canons giving voice to animals native to Quebec. Students will be invited to learn one or two pieces each season and to register to be part of a large virtual choir.

Students may also partake in a prelude to dance featuring choreographies designed by Barbara Diabo, a specialist in traditional and contemporary Indigenous dance from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake. The videos, produced by a professional team with the contributions of the students will then be shared on the web and in a public space at the Quartier des spectacles.

For more about the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, visit http://smcq.qc.ca/

--France Gaignard, Publicist

The Crossing Premieres Animated Film
On Monday, August 31, 2020 at 12 p.m ET, Grammy-winning choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, premieres a new animated film by Brett Snodgrass featuring “One Day I Saw,” a movement of Michael Gordon’s hour-long piece on history, home, and homelessness, Anonymous Man.

The premiere will go live on The Crossing’s Facebook page, website, and YouTube Channel and will remain available to view afterwards. The film was conceived by Donald Nally and features original artwork and animation by longtime Crossing collaborator Brett Snodgrass. The Crossing released its recording of Anonymous Man on Friday, March 20, 2020 on Cantaloupe Music. Review copies and downloads available upon request.

Scored for 24 unaccompanied voices, Anonymous Man expands on Michael Gordon’s inventive approach to composition, layering minimalistic swirls of vocal sound on top of one another to create a hypnotic incantation. Gordon regards Anonymous Man as one of his most important and personal works, drawing inspiration for the piece from his neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Now a residential area in Tribeca, the block Gordon was at the time an industrial warehouse district when he moved into the former Romanoff Caviar factory in 1981.

For complete information, visit https://www.crossingchoir.org/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Saratoga Performing Arts Center presents Joshua Bell and Time For Three
Saratoga Performing Arts Center announces "SPAC @ Home: Concert Series," featuring performances by violinist Joshua Bell alongside pianist Peter Dugan (SEP 12) and genre crossing ensemble Time For Three (SEP 19). Shot on the grounds of SPAC and at Skidmore College's Arthur Zankel Music Center, each presentation will feature an exclusive program and will include greetings and commentary by the artists as well as interviews about the challenges and creative opportunities in the time of COVID-19.

The "SPAC @ Home: Concert Series" is the latest addition to SPAC REIMAGINED, following the recent Beethoven 2020 Festival that featured exclusive concerts, lectures and a new online platform throughout the month of August.

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

--Rebecca Davis PR

50th Anniversary Film Celebrating Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents the global premiere of the documentary film Transcending: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Celebrates 50 Years. The 53-minute film, introduced by stage and screen actor Annette Bening, premieres on September 10 at 7:00 pm EDT on www.chambermusicsociety.org/gala and on broadcast and digital platforms around the world.

“One of the reasons I love chamber music,” says Bening, is that it has the same power [as ensemble acting] to reach audiences in the most intimate way.” The film explores the remarkable organization that has been, since its founding 50 years ago, a pioneering leader in producing chamber music at the highest level, supporting and nurturing artists performing this repertoire, and presenting concerts to the broadest possible audience around the globe.

On September 8 and 9, in the days leading up to the film’s premiere, The Violin Channel will present a two-day festival, “Celebrating 50 Years of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.” The festival will feature eight full-length concerts, two master classes and one lecture from the CMS archive, with introductions from Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han and additional content posted throughout the Festival. To watch the Festival (Sep 8-9) and the premiere of the film (Sep 10), visit www.theviolinchannel.com.

--Kirshbaum Associates

Clyne: Dance (CD Review)

Also, Elgar: Cello Concerto. Inbal Segev, cello; Marin Alsop, London Philharmonic Orchestra. AVIE AV2419.

By Karl W. Nehring

A while back I came across the name of composer Anna Clyne. I can’t remember exactly where or when, but my guess it was some reference to her in either a music publication or, more likely, something I saw on Twitter. In any event, not long after that, I mentioned her name to Bill Heck during the course of a phone conversation. To my surprise and delight, Bill responded that he and his wife had attended a concert by the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio, where they had both been greatly impressed by a piece titled Within  Her Arms – a piece written by none other than Anna Clyne.

Intrigued, I checked Amazon for a recording, but alas, there was none to be found. I was soon able to audition it, however, thanks to YouTube, where I found a video of a live performance. Like Bill and Mary, I too was greatly impressed. I quickly sent the link to another music-loving friend, who was also impressed. How is this wonderful music not yet available on CD?!

Fast-forward several months and I see an ad in Gramophone for a CD featuring a work titled Dance by Ms. Clyne. My interest is aroused to the point that I immediately submit a request for a review copy. Fast-forward another couple of weeks and Dance shows up in  my mailbox. Fast-forward another hour or so (hey, it was dinnertime) and Dance is spinning in my CD player, where it has since remained on heavy rotation.   

Anna Clyne
London-born composer Anna Clyne (b. 1980), who now resides in upstate New York, composed Dance as the result of a commission from Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev, who premiered the work at the 2019 Cabrillo Festival. Segev has now recorded the piece with the LPO under the direction of conductor Marin Alsop, who had first introduced Segev to Clyne. Dance comprises five moments with rather unusual titles: I. when you’re broken again; II. if you’ve torn the bandage off; III. In the middle of the fighting; IV. in your blood; V. when you’re perfectly free. In the liner notes, Clyne, whose own instrument is also the cello, explains that “I knew that I wanted to write a multi-movement work in which each movement had its own personality, its own character. I’ve known this Rumi poem for a while and always thought it would be a good source of inspiration – it’s short, has repetition, a clear form of five lines and a strong physicality (for example, ‘broken open,’ ‘in your blood’). It also has a sense of urgency that I found compelling for this piece. It was a great way to structure the piece – to break it up into the five lines of the poem.” 

The first movement is slow, lyrical, and utterly beautiful. When I first listened to it, I was surprised that it did not seem at all dance-like. Only later, upon finally reading the liner notes, did I realize that Dance was never intended to be a suite of dances, as I had blithely assumed. This opening movement may not be a dance, but whatever it is, it is certainly gorgeous.

The second movement, which does sound a bit more dance-like, opens energetically and then soon features some fierce eruptions from the cello. There are some skittish melodies scurrying up and down in the strings, a yearning motif on the violin, and a stately, courtly dance figure from the cello. The overall mood is imaginative and playful, with an abrupt ending. It is this movement that exposes, alas, a sonic flaw with this recording. The cello is just pushed too far forward, to the point where it can sound gigantic, dominating the soundstage when Ms. Segev digs in hard.

The third movement adopts a slower pace and more somber tone. The melodies are  simpler, with the overall feeling being rhapsodic in nature. There is some pleasant interplay with the woodwinds before the movement comes to a peaceful conclusion.

Marin Alsop
The fourth movement opens with Segev’s cello sounding serious and reflective. As the music proceeds, her playing grows more frantic. Tympani stokes herald a shift to a slightly martial undertone. To my imagination  at least, the feeling evoked as this movement continues is suggestive of someone fighting against fate, trying to escape from some form of entrapment. For those listeners who might have reservations about music by contemporary composers, please allow me to point out that this composition is tonal, overflowing with recognizable melodies and themes.     

The fifth and final movement begins with low notes from the cello, perhaps expressing a sense of agitation. As the movement unfolds, you can sense a hint of Jewish melody (think Bloch, for example) from time to time as the playing seems to whipsaw between two modes, frantic and measured. My notes read, “Portrait of indecision?” The ending of the movement – and the piece as a whole – is calm and settled. All in all, Clyne, Segev, Alsop, and the LPO have given us 25 truly enjoyable minutes of music.

But wait, there’s more! If you call now, AVIE will throw in a performance of the venerable Cello Concerto by Sir Edward Elgar!

Seriously, though, although the focus of the release is the Clyne, this disc also includes a truly fine performance of the Elgar, which was composed 100 years prior to Dance. I would venture that many music lovers who follow this blog are familiar with the Elgar and may well have a favorite recording. Or two or three.

I must confess that although I have been a lover of classical music for 50 years now, and am now 71, it has only been within the past five years or so that I have finally begun to have much interest in the music of Elgar; indeed, only within the past two years or so have I been able to develop an actual love for some of it, the twin peaks of my Elgarian affection being his Violin Concerto (Hilary Hahn makes my heart flutter!) and Cello Concerto (Jacqueline du Pré makes me gasp at her passion and energy!). Although Segev does not play with quite the passion of du Pré, she does bring passion to her interpretation, clearly communicating a love for this deeply moving music. Segev plays the Elgar with lyrical precision.

Fortunately, the forwardness of her cello in the mix is not as obtrusive as it is in the Clyne. Perhaps the engineers backed off a little for this session, or perhaps Elgar’s score serves to make the orchestra more assertive in its role. The much older du Pré/Barbirolli recording is darker in tone, sounding at once a bit warmer and more natural; however, the modern Segev/Alsop recording sounds more focused and clear. Both recordings present the Elgar as a sublime combination of intellect and emotion, and both recordings include wondrous disc-mates (the AVIE with Clyne’s Dance, the EMI with Elgar’s Sea Pictures sung by the incomparable Janet Baker).

Despite my quibbles about the engineering, my enthusiasm for both the music and the performances leads me to give this new release from AVIE a highly enthusiastic recommendation. It also leads me to wish ever more fervently for more recordings of music by the most remarkable Anna Clyne. Bring it on!

KWN

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

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 (CD review)

Also, Grieg: Holberg Suite; Mozart: Divertimento in D major. Martha Argerich, piano; Seiji Ozawa, Mito Chamber Orchestra. Decca 485 0592.

By John J. Puccio

You’ve got a world-class pianist, Martha Argerich. You’ve got a world-class conductor, Seiji Ozawa. You’ve got world-class music, Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto. And you probably have a world-class ensemble, the Mito Chamber Orchestra, although I wasn’t familiar with them. Whatever, it adds up to a world-class performance.

Beethoven wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major between 1787 and 1789, and then revised it before its publication in 1801. Beethoven was the soloist at the concerto’s première in 1895, his debut performance, and he hoped both the concerto and the performance would help him make a name for himself. Beethoven would later say that he didn’t consider the First or Second Piano Concertos among his best work, and they do owe a lot to the earlier classical styles of Haydn and Mozart. Still, they have a buoyant charm that audiences find hard to resist, especially the Second Concerto’s playful finale.

I’m happy to say that throughout this album neither Ms. Argerich nor Maestro Ozawa seems to have lost any of their youthful spark. Even though tempos are unhurried, they are never sluggish. Far from it, at moderate speeds their playing is vibrant and joyful. The central Adagio is appropriately serene, contemplative, and hushed, with both the soloist and the orchestra playing most sensitively. In the lighthearted final movement, Ms. Argerich could be twenty again. She hasn’t lost a beat. None of this slowing down with maturity business for her. It’s a delightfully lively rendition of the music.

Martha Argerich
The second work on the program is the brief Allegro movement from Mozart’s Divertimento in D major (1772). Mozart wrote it for string quartet but later transcribed it for string orchestra, which we have here. A booklet note tells us that the recording was a surprise musical gift to Ms. Argerich “when she was bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan at a concert in Beppu in May 2017.” Ozawa affords it a lithe, comfortable, and affecting reading.

The program concludes with the Holberg Suite by Danish-Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg; it’s music he wrote in 1884 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the playwright Ludvig Holberg. Grieg’s official title for the piece is actually the rather cumbersome From Holberg’s Time: Suite in the Olden Style, which isn’t exactly catchy. It’s a series of movements that Grieg originally wrote for piano but later adapted for string orchestra, which Ozawa and company play. In the work’s five movements, an introduction and four dances, Grieg tried his best to represent the music of Holberg’s era some 150 years earlier. Even if the result is not exactly a Peer Gynt suite, it has its moments, reminding one of a kind of a nineteenth-century Romanticized take on early eighteenth-century music. Ozawa and his players approach it with dignity and refinement, giving the final movement a jolly good turn.

Producer Dominic Fyfe and engineer Jonathan Stokes recorded the music at Art Tower Mito, Mito City Ibaraki, Japan in May 2017 and May 2019. The sound in the Beethoven is classic Decca: clear and well defined, a touch metallic, dynamic, a little close, and somewhat flat. For a comparison, I put on Stephan Kovacivich’s 1974 recording for Philips and found it warmer, better imaged, and more dimensional. Nevertheless, anyone who has listened to and enjoyed Decca recordings over the years will find this one pretty much in the ballpark. The two orchestral pieces--Mozart and Grieg--sounded more natural to me, rounder and sweeter, with only a few instances of hardness or brightness.

JJP

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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 22, 2020

Michael Tilson Thomas To Be Featured by IDAGIO

Coming soon to IDAGIO’s recently launched Global Concert Hall is Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony (NWS), conducting the orchestra in an NWS-commissioned elaboration of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy by composer Steven Mackey.

Featuring viola soloist Tabea Zimmermann, this performance was filmed in October 2019 as part of the grand finale of MTT and NWS’s Viola Visions festival at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The IDAGIO webcast will include an introduction from MTT, Mr. Mackey, and Ms. Zimmermann, followed by the performance and a live Virtual Green Room audience Q&A with the artists after the concert. This virtual event is scheduled for Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET, after which time it will be available for on-demand viewing until Sunday, August 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Tickets priced €9.90 (approximately $12) are available via globalconcerthall.com.

--Shuman Associates

Google Play Music Is Going Away Soon
YouTube Music is replacing Google Play Music as your new destination for music listening and discovery. Between October and the end of this year, access to Google Play Music will be removed permanently. We know that you’ve spent time building your Google Play Music library, so we’ve made it easy to transfer your music library to YouTube Music with just one click, including playlists, uploads, and recommendations.

If you haven’t tried YouTube Music yet, you’ll notice that it looks a bit different from Google Play Music, but know that it was built by the same team with the same passion. It also offers more than 65 million official songs, albums, and playlists, as well as many features you love and expect from Google Play Music.

--Google Play

Nigel North Performs Francesco da Milano
With a planned re-opening in January 2021, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts are busy planning ahead, ensuring the safety of our audience members, performers, and front of house staff in the face of awesome challenges and dizzying changes to the classical music industry. We will need your help.

As a smaller presenter, we are ready to change our plans on a dime, poised to follow the guidelines of scientists, responsible figures in our government, and our respected public health officials.

Because a world without live performance is unthinkable, we are doing our research now in order to take every precaution for the day we can all enjoy concerts together again in a real venue.

Reconfiguring performance venues for optimal safety will require resources for which we never planned before. We are grateful for your support in these unfathomably challenging times, as we move forward into an uncertain but inevitably brighter future, where live concerts of historical performance continue to flourish.

In the meantime, enjoy these video highlights from Nigel North's concert, “A Decoration of Silence”:


--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

It's Your Choice
Yes, it is your choice, and it’s between ‘memorize and practice’, and knowing exactly what you are doing every moment you are playing. The study of music theory, however, is study about theory, not music… by definition.

“Theory, as it is called, has always been upheld as the promised gateway to this broad understanding, but there are thousands upon thousands of eager young musicians as well as disappointed older ones who will testify to the seemingly unbridgeable gap between their theoretical studies and the living experience of music itself.” … from Dr Leopold Mannes’ “Preface” to Dr. Felix Salzer’s book, Structural Hearing.

The problem has been defined but not the solution, since any ‘solution’ is generally a re-hash with the same errors and omissions of the same ‘theory.’ It’s a merry-go-round that leads nowhere.

If I may make a direct comparison between the spoken language and the language of music, we find certain relationships. Have you noticed that the verb gets the emphasis when speaking, even slight? Yes, other parts of speech may be emphasized, but it’s the verb that normally gets the emphasis. Try a few sentences and see if you agree. The dominant is the verb in music. Whenever there is a ‘V-I,’ ‘V’ will be given emphasis normally since the leading-tone is the tone of resolution. ‘I’ is not normally emphasized, since it is the ‘object,’ so to speak.

‘Study’ is what one does to ascertain what is there in a piece of music. So, in order to ‘study’ a piece of music where does one start? Well, I don’t think it’s with a theory manual, nor with its theorems of types of cadences, secondary dominants, figured bass, etc. Indeed, I don’t think any pianist resorts to that, but maintains the ‘memorize and practice’ routine, insisting the piece has been ‘studied.’


Please follow me and understand that this is not for just me, but for what I am doing, and if you agree with what I am doing, support this with your comments, enthusiasm, and funds.

--Ralph Hedges, Chopin Piano Academy

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of August 24–30)
Wednesday, August 26 at 2:00 p.m. CT
Tulsa Opera’s Staying Alive continues with mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier.

Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Friday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, August 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Shai Wosner joins Christine Goerke and Tessa Lark, among other artists, in virtual Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.

On-demand through end of August
James Conlon and LA Opera’s audio-streamed Ring cycle.

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

--Shuman Associates

SOLI’s “Moments of SOLIcitude”
We hope that you will tune in for the NEW Episode 6 of our summer video series, “Moments of SOLIcitude” on YouTube Premieres, featuring A Thousand Tongues by composer Missy Mazzolli, performed by SOLI cellist David Mollenauer and world-renowned mezzo-soprano and Assistant Professor of Music at Trinity University, Jacquelyn Matava.

Recorded on December 12, 2019, the performance of A Thousand Tongues is part of a longer concert the Ensemble presented at the McNay Art Museum's Music & Minimalism – Gallery Talk and Performance series. McNay Art Museum and SOLI collaborate regularly on creative projects highlighting and amplifying the connection of Music and Art.

The episode premiered on Wednesday, August, 19 @ 5:00 PM. Click the link to watch anytime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo-513x-vvk&feature=youtu.be

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2020-2021 Season Updates
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces a slate of virtual and in-person programming for the 2020-2021 season in response to these challenging times for the performing arts. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Music Director George Manahan, and President Edward Yim, ACO confirms its commitment this season to the creation, performance, preservation, and promotion of music by American composers with programming that sparks curiosity and reflects geographic, stylistic, racial, and gender diversity.

“At this time of great uncertainty but unlimited potential, ACO continues to champion the music of our time,” says Edward Yim. “This season features premiere performances and readings that offer our audience a chance to share in the excitement, reflection, and catharsis of this modern age of anxiety and – hopefully – positive transformation.”

For complete information, visit www.americancomposers.org

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

West Edge Opera Announces Aperture: A New Online Commissioning Residency
West Edge Opera announces the launch of Aperture, an ambitious online platform to create new opera and music theater in a world where artists are separated from their audiences. Following the postponement of their 2020 season, West Edge Opera took the opportunity to invent a program that brings the creative process of new opera directly to the people who are most invested in the art form. Aperture seeks to redefine the way operas are chosen for commission and will provide opportunities for both experienced composers/librettist teams as well as new talent from diverse backgrounds. Select teams will receive commissions of $60,000 and a live performance of the work when it is safe to gather again.

Subscribing members of Aperture will receive twice-weekly emails filled with video progress reports, analysis, and mini documentaries that discuss the work being made as well as candid glimpses into the artists’ lives. At certain subscription levels, there will be opportunities for interaction directly with the creative teams as well as a staff of eight curators who will provide perspective and context for the members as well as feedback and guidance for the artists. In addition, subscribing members will be able to provide their own feedback, opinions, and comments about the work unfolding in front of their eyes. Filtered by the curators, this feedback will be considered as the pieces develop and will ultimately impact which pieces receive further funding.

Aperture will be open for submissions in late August and selected artistic teams will start to be notified in late September. General Membership will be open to the public in late October and will range from $15-$90 per month with more access and interactivity offered at higher levels of membership.

For more information visit http://westedgeopera.org/aperture

--West End Opera

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart - All Hell Breaks Loose
Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the third movement of Sonata No.18, K. 576 - available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, August 19.

"The third movement starts out really simply, but when the theme repeats, all hell breaks loose with the left hand running away from the right hand in furious 16th note triplets," says Ms. Shaham about Sonata No.18. "Mozart couldn't have known this was his last piano sonata but there’s no better sonata to end with."

You’ll find it here: OrliShahamMozart.com

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

SummerMusic at Sheridan Music Studio
Join us for five nights of glorious music on the lovely shady lawn of Sheridan Music Studio, Highland Park at 1532 Sheridan Road. Advanced ticket purchases are necessary for attendance at the Live Outdoor Concerts. To purchase in-person tickets, which also include the live stream, visit www.sheridanmusicstudio.com/events-purchase-tickets.

OR visit IN.LIVE/upcoming streams to watch the professionally recorded concert livestreams if you cannot join us in person.

Social distancing will be observed, but you can also enjoy the online Livestream event from the comfort of your home.

--Susan Merdinger, Sheridan Music Studio

Young People’s Chorus of New York City on WQXR
Young People’s Chorus of New York City opened Wednesday night’s edition of WQXR’s “Young Artists Showcase” with an overview of the many musical sides of the renowned chorus.

Hosted by Robert Sherman since 1978, “Young Artists Showcase” has sought out and showcased the exceptional talents of hundreds of emerging young artists over the past four decades.

YPC's performance is now streaming on WQXR.org, and will be archived indefinitely on the WQXR website. Listen here: https://www.wqxr.org/story/young-peoples-chorus-new-york-city-and-performances-hilton-head-competition/

--Young People’s Chorus of NYC

Cantus Announces 20-21 Season
Though live in-person performances by Cantus have been suspended for the remainder of 2020, the men’s vocal ensemble today announces a series of new performances to be made available online and in-person for the 2020-21 Season. The ensemble’s popular COVID-19 Sessions recordings are also set for international release on Signum Classics starting this week.

Thanks to careful quarantine and creativity, Cantus has been able to continue making music during the pandemic and will present three new programs over the coming months to be made available online for audiences in the Twin Cities and around the world. The group’s small size has allowed its members to sing together under protocols developed with guidance from medical professionals. To safely create and capture these online concerts, the ensemble quarantined intensively for two weeks, underwent tests for COVID-19, and then rehearsed and recorded together in isolation in Decorah, Iowa at what the members of the ensemble dubbed “Camp Cantus.”

Listen here to “Making the Music”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERQ_U_ZXHm0&feature=youtu.be

--Rebecca Davis PR

Rouse: Symphony No. 5 (CD Review)

Also, Supplica; Concerto for Orchestra. Giancarlo Guerrero, Nashville Symphony. Naxos 8.559852.

By Karl W. Nehring

A composer who recently left us too soon, Christopher Rouse (1949-2019), had this to say about music. “Without music, my life would have no meaning. It has not only informed my life or enriched my life, it has GIVEN me life and a reason for living. I’ll never be able to explain why these vibrating frequencies have the power to transport us to levels of consciousness that defy words – I simply accept the fact that music has this miraculous power for me and for myriad other people I have known.”

Certainly, those interested enough in music to follow Classical Candor have an appreciation for Rouse’s paean to the power of music, whether that music take the form of classical, jazz, folk, soul, funk, bossa nova, showtunes, power pop, polka, rap, or whatever. We love music, and it loves us back. It can shape our lives in ways both obvious (e.g., choosing to become a professional musician) and subtle (e.g., making us smile in the midst of a stressful day).

As Thomas May points out in his liner notes to this recent Naxos release, Rouse offers an example of an obvious way: “The first piece of ‘classical music’ I remember hearing,” he (Rouse) wrote, “was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I was six years old and had been listening to a great deal of early, new-at-the-time rock ‘n’ roll; my mother said, ‘That’s fine, but you might like this as well.’ It was a recording of the Beethoven symphony, and I remember thinking that a whole new world was opening up to me, I decided that I wanted to be a composer. So when it came time for me to compose my own Fifth Symphony, my thoughts turned fondly to that time, and I resolved to tip my cap to Beethoven’s might symphony. However, I wouldn’t want to overstate the relationship. The opening of my symphony revisits the famous four-note rhythm of Beethoven’s, but the notes are quite different, and things take a different turn after a few bars.”

Giancarlo Guerrero
Rouse’s opening tip of the hat to Beethoven is played energetically by the Nashville forces under the direction of Maestro Guerrero. As the CD opens, that four-note theme jumps out from the speakers with manic intensity. As Rouse indicated, it is the same – but different. As the symphony proceeds, the orchestration is colorful and played with precision and gusto. Although the work is in one movement, there are shifts in mood that function much like the movements of a more traditional symphony. At around 8 minutes in, the bustling energy gives way to a quitter, slower sound. After 17 minutes, the overall mood shifts again, becoming more energetic, perhaps even a bit nervous-sounding. But there is another quiet interlude, at one point sounding almost forlorn. As the symphony builds to an exuberant finish, hints of the Beethoven can be heard again. All in all, this symphony is quite a romp. Yes, it is certainly more “modern” sounding than Beethoven, but it feels generally tonal and should appeal to all but the most conservative listeners.

The next piece on the album, Supplica (Italian for “entreaty” or “supplication”) has the feel of a Mahler/Bruckner slow movement. It is intense and focused, more inwardly focused, although there are moments that feel like someone calling out, as around the 8-minute mark with the pleading sound of a trumpet. It is an intense piece – not in the sense of being difficult to listen to, but rather in the sense of intense reflection and contemplation, with an element of yes, supplication, perhaps prayer. The final measures offer no real hint that any resolution has been reached, though, as the music ends quietly and ambiguously.

The final composition, Rouse’s Concerto for Orchestra, is the most challenging piece of the three on the CD. It is atonal (meaning that it has no definite key – not that it is dissonant or harsh-sounding) and bursting with energy. The sections of the orchestra get quite a workout, starting with bustling trumpets and bringing in unsettled-sounding trombones, strings, winds, and plenty of percussion along the way. The piece is complex, shifting in mood and color as it goes along, but always maintaining a high level of extroverted energy, which Guerrero and his orchestra are happy to supply, ably assisted by the engineers, who have captured the proceedings in splendid fashion.
There is a sense in which you can almost imagine these three compositions as forming one large symphony, with a fairly straightforward opening movement (Symphony No. 5)  an introspective middle movement (Supplica), and a brash, no-holds-barred finale (Concerto for Orchestra). Or maybe my imagination  is getting the better of me…

In closing, I will share another statement from the composer. It seems to summarize what the music on this release can do for those who listen attentively. “My hope has been to do for my listeners what Beethoven and Berlioz and Bruckner and Ibert and all of those others who worked – and still do – for me. I’ve wished to ‘pay it forward’ by inviting listeners to call on me to enter their hearts and their lives and allow me the honor of accompanying them on their road through life. If summoned I will try to be of use, to sing you a song, to paint you a picture, to tell you a story. Perhaps we can take a journey together. A caveat: I may sometimes take you to a place you’ll find it difficult to go, but my goal will always be at journey’s end to provide you with solace and strength.” 

KWN

To listen to an excerpt from this album, click below:
 

Mahler: Symphony No. 7 (SACD review)

Osmo Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra. BIS BIS-2386 SACD.

By John J. Puccio

The first time I heard the Mahler Seventh (on vinyl) must have been sometime in the early 1960’s. I can’t remember the conductor, and it didn’t impress me much. Then, much later, I heard Bernard Haitink’s first, analogue recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and I fell in love with it. I never found the recording on CD, and I believe it only appeared in a box set. Fortunately, Haitink recorded it several more times in digital with the Concertgebouw and Berlin orchestras, plus I had the pleasure of being in the audience to listen to him and his Concertgebouw Orchestra perform it at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and I loved it even more.

So, why am I rattling on about Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra when this is a review about Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra? Because they remind me a lot of Haitink and his old crew, and for me that is one of the greatest compliments I can give to Vanska. I enjoyed this recording.

The Seventh Symphony has always been one of Gustav Mahler’s more problematic and ambiguous works. It’s a transitional piece connecting the darker Sixth Symphony with the triumphant Eighth. Of course, musical scholars point out how Mahler connected all nine (or ten or eleven) of his symphonies, forming one grand musical statement. If there is a grand scheme in things Mahler, the Seventh has long been the neglected stepchild of the lot. While the other symphonies get most of the love, the Seventh often goes wanting for recordings and performances.

Mahler (1860-1911) wrote his Symphony No. 7 in E minor in 1904-05. Along with the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Seventh forms a middle trio of Mahler symphonies, all of them purely orchestral, with the Seventh being the oddest of the group. Even more so than most of Mahler’s works, its five movements are open to multiple interpretations, especially with the subtitle “Song of the Night.” I remember one critic once explaining that the symphony was a recounting by Mahler of a trip to the countryside, complete with his packing of suitcases, traveling through rural roads, along pastures, and on to his destination. Other critics see its five movements more generally as a journey from dusk until dawn or a nighttime walk into the morning, the whole thing a kind of eccentric, extended nocturne. If Eugene O’Neill wrote Long Day’s Journey into Night, you might consider Mahler’s Seventh a “Long Night’s Journey into Day.”

Osmo Vanska
Anyhow, the last time I reviewed Vanska doing Mahler, it was the First Symphony, where I thought Vanska was a little undernourished compared to the more pronounced realizations of conductors like Solti (HDTT or Decca), Mackerras (EMI), Horenstein (Unicorn), Kubelik (DG), Bernstein (DG and Sony), and Tennstedt (EMI). But here in the Seventh, it’s different. Vanska’s more gentle view of the subject is a welcome change from some of the overcharged, exaggerated, sometimes brutal accounts we often get. Vanska’s vision is one I can live with.

Mahler declared his Seventh Symphony his “best work” and its character “preponderantly cheerful,” probably because of the “tragic” nature of his preceding Sixth Symphony. Accordingly, Vanska approaches the Seventh with a lighter touch than, say, Solti or Abbado would.

The symphony has five movements: an opening and closing that act as sort of daylight bookends, and two Nachtmusiks on either side of a central scherzo. It’s really these “night music” sections that are at the core of the work. They are sweet, capricious, and eerie at the same time, as Vanska illustrates. Perhaps the first Nachtmusik is an early evening nocturne and the second an early morning nocturne. Mahler left no program for the music, so it’s up to the conductor and the listener to interpret things for themselves. Vanska employs a delicate hand with both Nachtmusiks. Then there’s that scherzo in the middle, which clearly relates to the surrounding Nachtmusik in that Mahler subtitles it “Shadowy.” If we see the music as a journey through the long hours of the night, surely the scherzo is around the witching time of midnight. Vanska takes the swirling waltz-like melodies at a graceful tempo, though, the whole thing floating above the fray.

The symphony ends on a jubilant, triumphant, Wagnerian note, which again perplexed some early critics who couldn’t see its connection to the musical moods that came before it. It does kind of pop up out of nowhere, yet Vanska’s conciliatory touch draws them pleasingly, if not entirely convincingly, together.

OK, so I liked Vanska’s recording. Does that mean I would recommend it ahead of Haitink’s? Well, think about it. Osmo Vanska is an excellent conductor, and the Minnesota Orchestra is one of the best in the country. Bernard Haitink is a great conductor, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the best in the world. However, Haitink’s Concertgebouw recording is hard to find anymore, what with Philips being long gone. And not only is Vanska’s recording easily available, it’s just short enough (without being rushed) to (barely) fit on a single disc. All things considered, Vanska’s Mahler Seventh is another top choice to consider.

Producer Robert Suff and engineer Thore Brinkmann recorded the symphony in Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota in November 2018. They made the recording in hybrid SACD for either multichannel surround or two-channel stereo from the SACD layer or two-channel stereo from the regular CD layer. I listened in SACD two-channel stereo. Here, you’ll find smooth, balanced, concert hall sound that complements the music nicely. While it’s a bit dark and detailing may not be as pinpoint accurate as some audiophiles might prefer, it is fairly realistic. And timpani are especially well served.

JJP

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

Classical Music News of the Week, August 15, 2020

Lisa Bielawa’s Broadcast from Home

On Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 2pm and Friday, August 21, 2020 at 2pm, Kaufman Music Center presents a free, two-part online listening event of the entire cycle of composer Lisa Bielawa’s Broadcast from Home, an inspired musical response to the shelter-in-place measure put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time, audiences will have the opportunity to hear the work in its entirety, as well as Bielawa live in conversation with contributors from around the globe who participated in the project. The conversations will be moderated by John Glover, Director of Artistic Planning at Kaufman Music Center, which has been the Lead Partner for Broadcast from Home.

Begun on April 9th, Broadcast from Home is a musical work from composer, vocalist and producer Lisa Bielawa that has created community during the isolation of the coronavirus crisis. Bielawa asked the public at large to submit testimonies about their own experience of this crisis. She then selected testimonies to set to music and invited the public, as well as some frequent collaborators, to perform the music from their homes and submit recordings. This process resulted in a new chapter each week, composed by Lisa and created in collaboration with musicians connected in their experience of this global pandemic, featuring testimonies and recorded vocal lines from over 300 people across five continents.


--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Andrew Yee Morning Meditation
Andrew Yee is an exceptional musician and colleague, and I am deeply grateful to them for playing this meditation, which I composed in the early days of the pandemic.

The first time I met Andrew, I was a conducting fellow at Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and we were listening to a rehearsal of the Attaca Quartet with the orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop. Their sound was powerful and immediate.

Later that week, we were walking together and I asked, "what concerto have you always wanted to play?" And that is how Andrew came to play Strauss's Don Quixote with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in a performance that has proven to be one of my deepest musical experiences thus far with that community. Our concert was only days after the Tree of Life massacre, and one of our members attended that synagogue. Andrew generously added a performance of Kol Nidre that night, and it was in reflecting on that performance and his profoundly committed Strauss that I asked them to play this meditation. Thank you, Andrew.

To hear more of Andrew and the Attaca Quartet, visit: Andrewyeecellist.com and

--James Blachly, Experiential Orchestra

SOLI's Summer Video Series"Moments of SOLIcitude" Continues
 Don't miss Episode 5 of SOLI Chamber Ensemble's new summer video series Moments of SOLIcitude on YouTube Premieres, featuring composer Chen Yi's Memory, performed by SOLI violinist Ertan Torgul.

Recorded on February 11, 2020, the performance of Dr, Chen Yi's Memory is a tribute to all the teachers the members of SOLI have lost over the years.

The recent loss of world renowned cellist Lynn Harrell and one of the best pianists of our time, Leon Fleisher has been a tough blow on the music world. So we wanted to honor them, and all the teachers the members of SOLI have lost over the years with this tribute.

Memory by Chen Yi was written in memory of her violin teacher so we thought this would be the perfect piece for our tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKg8t7KfGaw&feature=youtu.be

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

World Premiere of David Lang’s in nature
The world premiere performance of David Lang’s in nature, performed by Grammy-winning choir The Crossing and Montana-based choir Roots in the Sky on Saturday, August 1, 2020 is now available to stream in full. Watch the world premiere of David Lang’s in nature.

A co-presentation by Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC) and The Crossing, the live performance featured 20 singers of The Crossing, recorded one at a time at the Icebox Project Space at CraneArts in Philadelphia, combined in real time with the live performances of four socially-distanced singers of Roots in the Sky (formerly the Aoide Chamber Singers, conducted by Andrew Major) on the stage of WMPAC in Big Sky, Montana. The backdrop for the entire production, conceived and conducted by Donald Nally, is a giant projection of the Gallatin River, which flows just feet away from WMPAC.


--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of August 17–23)
Wednesday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m. CT
Tulsa Opera’s Staying Alive continues with bass Rhys Lloyd Talbot.

Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m. MT (one-time-only viewing)
Sun Valley Music Festival’s Summer Season Finale.

Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET
IDAGIO webcasts Michael Tilson Thomas conducting New World Symphony in Steven Mackey’s re-imagining of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, featuring violist Tabea Zimmermann.

Friday, August 21 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Davóne Tines featured in excerpts from The Black Clown as part of Harlem Week.

Friday, August 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Jonathan Biss in concert and conversation as part of Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s Virtual Beethoven Festival.

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

--Shuman Associates

Pianist Jonathan Biss Remembers His Mentor and Friend, Leon Fleisher, 1923-2020
All my memories of Leon Fleisher fall within the same category: indelible. Fleisher, who died on Aug. 2 at 92, made everything riveting. I would have paid good money to hear him recite the phone book: The outgoing message on his answering machine was delivered with such elegant authority, I remember his home phone number to this day, despite not having called it since he acquired a cell phone two decades ago.

But Fleisher was no actor; he was a musician, to his bones. When that indelible personality was placed in the service of music, the results were not just memorable, but awe-inspiring. His teaching metaphors (“angel babble” for the upper-register meanderings in late-period Beethoven; “sheathed claws” for the attack one needed for Mozart) were phantasmagorical yet uncannily precise — hallucinogenic darts. His playing unlocked truths about the greatest works — truths that remain entirely obscure on the page, or in the hands of lesser pianists; it is through him that the monumentality and consolation and often frightening power of Brahms’ D minor concerto and Schubert’s B flat sonata became real to me.


--The Jewish Exponent

YPC’s Francisco J. Núñez Interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition
YPC Founder and Artistic Director Francisco Núñez spoke with NPR Arts Reporter Anastasia Tsioulcas about the unique challenges facing singers today and how the Young People's Chorus of New York City is addressing them head-on.


--Young People’s Chorus of New York City

The Piano Professor Cancels All Charges
Since Congress has taken a vacation, the people of our Nation will not be receiving the $600 relief checks due them, not even the reduced sum of $400. In addition, the virus has gone amok, both due to an errant Congress.

Therefore, I am cancelling all charges on my posts. There will be no charges whatsoever on any of my posts. If you wish to make a ‘donation’ you may do so with whatever sum you may wish. I put much thought and effort in this work.

My posts may be found at thepianoprofessor.com, and especially the current ones, ‘Learning the Language of music with Bach’ and ‘rudiments’, two of the most direct, simple, yet complete replacements of the ‘theory’ manual.

I arrived at my 87th birthday on the 30th of last month. Over the past several decades I have worked to correct the many grievous errors and omissions in all theory texts. In addition, my work is an effort to replace the ‘memorize and practice’ method of learning with more relative areas of ‘function and identity’, ‘characteristic intervals’, et al. that may be used for the composition at hand to make music, rather than ‘theory’ that has no beneficial or practical value. This is my life’s work.

I only ask that you follow me and offer constructive comments so that, yes, I may learn.

--Ralph Hedges, The Piano Professor

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart
Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the second movement of Sonata No.18, K. 576 - available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, August 12.

"The theme in the second movement is incredibly beautiful and lyrical," says Ms. Shaham about Sonata No.18. "Mozart takes an idea and goes to a different note every time it recurs. It’s a new way of thinking about long term phrasing, and it perhaps foreshadows how Schubert would approach Lieder, with the last note of a phrase landing on a different place each time because of the meaning of the words."

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 OrliShahamMozart.com.

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Saratoga Shakespeare Present World Premiere
On August 22, Saratoga Shakespeare Company (SSC) will premiere the audio performance of Testament, written by Damian Lanigan and co-produced with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in association with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Commissioned by Saratoga Shakespeare Company to be premiered during SPAC’s Beethoven 2020 Festival, Testament is a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven in a moment of crisis – grappling with the loss of his hearing, and emerging from his suffering to write one of the greatest symphonies of all time, the “Eroica.”
Part of SPAC's Beethoven 2020 celebration, the production features recordings from The Philadelphia Orchestra, recreations of period instrumentation, and appearances by professional actors including several students and alumni from Skidmore College. In keeping with SSC’s commitment to presenting free and accessible professional productions, the performance will be available to stream online for free on both SSC and SPAC’s websites from August 22 at 8 p.m. until 11:59 p.m. on August 23.


And more information here: https://spac.org/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Tulsa Opera To Open Season With Live Baseball-Themed Rigoletto
In its first performance for a live, in-person audience since the coronavirus outbreak, Tulsa Opera will present the company’s 2020–21 season opener, Verdi’s Rigoletto, outdoors in a semi-staged, baseball-themed production directed by James Robinson at local baseball stadium ONEOK Field on Friday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Originally scheduled for this date at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Tulsa Opera’s season-opening Rigoletto has been reimagined for the ballpark in order to accommodate a larger audience—2,700 socially distanced at the park, compared to 2,365 non-distanced at Tulsa PAC—and in safer, open-air conditions with rigorous health protocols in place. The performance will be followed by a fireworks display. ONEOK Field is home to the Tulsa Drillers baseball team, the Double-A, minor-league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students, and $50 for a family of five. Sales will open on Monday, August 17 via TulsaOpera.com.

--Shuman Associates

9/11 on PBS: A Romeo and Juliet Ballet
Next month, Great Performances: Romeo and Juliet premieres Friday, September 11, 2020 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf, and the PBS Video app.

Starring the current generation of The Royal Ballet dancers with William Bracewell as Romeo and Francesca Hayward as Juliet ("Cats"), this film adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece takes legendary Royal Ballet choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 ballet out of the theater and into the streets of a cinematic Verona, offering a passionate reimagining of this timeless love story.

A film by the BalletBoyz, the award-winning team of Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, this romantic classic is set to Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s original score performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and is vividly recreated on atmospheric studio sets in Budapest, combining inventive cinematography and dynamic choreography.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

The Gilmore Announces 2020–21 Virtual Concert Season
Gilmore Director Pierre van der Westhuizen today announced plans for The Gilmore’s 2020–21 virtual concert season, webcast from September 20 to May 16.

The season includes three series of live-streamed concerts: Piano Masters, featuring established, world-class artists in recital; Jazz Club, a series of concerts led by top keyboard artists on the jazz scene; and Rising Stars, spotlighting some of today’s most outstanding young pianists. The latter two series are live-streamed from Kalamazoo’s Wellspring Theater.

E-tickets will be available from thegilmore.org on a pay-what-you-can basis. Free, pre-recorded webcasts are also scheduled as special events.

For more information, visit https://www.thegilmore.org/

--Shuman Associates

SummerMusic at Sheridan Music Studio
SummerMusic in Highland Park, Illinios is just one week away. We still have subscriptions and single-concert tickets available, but seating is limited, so please order your live concert tickets or subscriptions as soon as possible.

Please visit our website pages for more information about the artists and these special outdoor concerts:


Raindates are scheduled for these concertos. No refunds if you cannot attend becuase all live-concert tickets include access to the professional livestreams. If you know that you cannot make it to any of the concerts in person, please consider purchasing individual livestream tickets. There are no limits on how many Livestream tickets can be sold. Watch on your computer, tablet, smartphone or hook up to a TV.

Also, please note, that we are considering holding some of the scheduled DOWNTOWN Music with a View and Blue Skies concerts starting in September here in Highland Park- so those who live in the suburbs should definitely consider purchasing a subscription.

Thank you for your support and patronage! All of our ARTISTS are excited to perform for you!

--Susan Merdinger and Dr. Svetlana Belsky, Sheridan Music Studio

Miami Music Festival Virtual Concert Series
Our Virtual Concert Series will feature participants from our 2020 virtual festival who enthusiastically took the plunge this summer to produce collaborative music using a new digital medium. Our concert series will feature musicians from Hong Kong to Oregon in Solo, Chamber, Zarzuela, and Opera scenes.

These creative takes on classical favorites are sure to enlighten your afternoons. Follow and like our Facebook page to ensure you do not miss our debut this weekend.

Miami Classical Music Festival Presents Virtual Concert Series:
Sunday, August 16th at 2:00 PM (EST)
Sunday, August 22nd at 2:00 PM (EST)


--Miami Music Festival

On Noise, Coax, and Control…

By Bryan Geyer

In an earlier paper, I wrote about all of the various kinds of cordage that gets utilized when interconnecting the components that comprise home stereo systems. (See “On Equipment Interface Options”, at https://classicalcandor.blogspot.com/2019/10/on-equipment-interface-options.html.) I’m now going to discuss a recent development that involves only the most popular of these various interconnecting cords, the kind of shielded coaxial cable (optimally type RG59U, characteristic impedance 75Ω) that’s commonly mated to RCA-type plugs and used to interconnect unbalanced inputs and outputs.

The EMI (electromagnetic interference) environs in a private home are not like those at a rock concert venue. In most homes, noxious EMI and RFI noise is minimal. There’s no strobed lighting, no motorized generators, no high output DC-to-AC inverters, and no RF transmitters. (But check the premises for wall-warts. Some old switching supplies might impose an illegal [not code compliant] EMI threat when in use.) Further, the cable runs required in a home installation are fairly short, and without the need to accommodate frequent disconnects and reconnects (“hop ons” and “hop offs”). When this benign reality applies, the noise implicit with unbalanced interconnects will be just about the same as that apparent with balanced cables. In such case, the much lower cost, inherent simplicity, easier handling, and space-saving advantage (RCA jacks consume less than half the chassis space as that required for XLRs) of RCA-type terminations make unbalanced cables the logical preferred choice. I personally encourage the use of unbalanced cables, preferably using RG59U coax, for most home stereo installations. Consider balanced XLR cables when some pending change in the site environs threatens to significantly increase the prevailing noise.

A NOISE TIP: Turn all of your audio components on, and select an unused input (or select your CD player without loading a CD). Make certain that your power amplifier is active; turn it on manually if it’s asleep and normally activated only by sound. Turn the main volume control full up, and press your ear against the grill of either main speaker. Can you detect a faint buzz? If so, that background noise can often be eliminated by running an 18 gauge wire from a signal ground (use the outer shell of any RCA input jack that’s on the back panel of your active or passive preamp) directly to the AC line ground port of the alternate AC socket that’s on the same duplex outlet as the one used to connect your main AC line strip outlet. Check this… https://www.statictek.com/product/ground-plug-adapter/ …for a convenient way to make that simple connection by means of a banana plug adapter.

The best RG59U (75Ω) coaxial cable that you can buy is made by Belden; it’s their type 1505F, and it’s stocked by Blue Jeans Cable. I prefer this coax to Belden’s other premium coax cables that have a soft-foamed dielectric layer because 1505F is compatible with soldered-on RCA plugs. The soft-foamed coax equivalents provide slightly less shunt capacity, but you’re then confined to the exclusive use of crimp-on type RCA plugs, e.g., plugs from Canare and Taversoe. Crimp-type plugs are unusually long; they consume too much rear clearance. With Belden 1505F, you can order Rean’s soldered-on RCA plugs. I find the Rean (they’re a part of Neutrik) soldered-on plugs to be more rugged and less fussy—and they take less clearance than the longer crimp-style RCA plugs (see photo).

Belden 1505F cable exhibits a shunt capacity rating that’s still commendably low, at just 17pf/foot. Other unbalanced audio interconnect cable ranges from 12.2pf/ft. (for the softer air-foam coax) up to some 35+ pf/ft. With respect to shielding, Belden 1505F is almost as good as it gets. It has a densely woven double layer of copper braiding, one layer atop the other, with each layer providing a calculated 94% coverage. The PVC outer jacket Ø is 0.242 inch, slighter slimmer than the soft-foam coax cords at Ø ≈ 0.305 inch.

To order Belden 1505F coax with soldered Rean RCA plugs from Blue Jeans Cable, go to…https://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/audio/index.htm, and scroll down to the next-to-last option box, where the heading reads “Belden 1505F Stereo Audio Cables”. Fill in the precise length(s) that you want to order (expressed in feet); note that the price is per pair (currently $42.25 for a 3 foot long pair). Order whatever lengths and quantities that you want. Forget the Techflex. Put your order in the shopping cart and proceed with the ordering process. During checkout, on the last page that gives you your shipping options and final pricing, you will see a text box to permit leaving a note. Use that text box to instruct Blue Jeans that you want them to…
Use Rean solder-on RCA plugs with 1505F. Do NOT use Canare crimp-on plugs.
If you fail to enter this instruction in the text box you will receive Canare crimp-on RCA plugs on your cable.

Blue Jeans further advises that you should not use the PayPal “quick checkout” option, as that will sometimes bypass their text block page. There is no additional cost for this special processing. The extra expense incurred in their precision soldering task is offset by the lower parts cost of the Rean (instead of Canare) RCA-type plugs.

Be assured that Belden 1505F coax cables with Rean soldered-on RCA plugs are among the finest quality unbalanced interconnect cables that you can buy, at any price. Assuming a direct aural comparison under controlled double-blind test conditions, you will be absolutely unable to distinguish any difference between these cables and any more costly equivalent. This challenge includes direct comparison with such fatuous substitutes as this ultra high-end product: https://www.synergisticresearch.com/cables/atmosphere-x/atmosphere-x-ic/euphoria-level3/.
A DISCLAIMER: Given the potential tuning tweaks possible with this functionally equivalent cable, it could readily alter the accuracy (distort) the incoming source signal. In such case, an aural difference might then be apparent. The nature and extent of that distortion would be evident on instrumented measurement. (It’s likely to involve frequency response.) You might (???) prefer the distorted sound, but you’d be better served by selecting the cable that delivers the least change, hence best accuracy. A measurement would reveal the inaccuracies.

REGARDING CABLE SHUNT CAPACITY: The importance of minimizing the shunt capacity (hence the length) of unbalanced interconnecting cables will vary, dependent primarily on the value of the signal’s source impedance. The focus of concern is whether the net shunt capacity of the cable is enough to potentially degrade high frequency linearity; i.e., roll off the treble response.

In the event that your system involves a conventional solid-state setup, with various line-level sources feeding into an active solid-state preamp, and that preamp then connected to a stereo power amplifier (or to an external electronic crossover controller) with a high input impedance (i.e., Zin ≥ 30kΩ), you can dismiss concern about excessive cable length. In those cases, the output impedance of your source will always be quite low (it’s feeding the next stage from an emitter follower, and Zout is ≤ 100Ω), so you really won’t have to worry about the cables getting too long. If you’re still mired in the vacuum tube era, your source impedance from a cathode-follower stage will characteristically be some 6X to 10X worse (Zout ~ 450 to 700Ω) than from an emitter-follower, so yes, do be a bit more conscious of cable length concern. Assuming common 120pf-per-meter cabling and a vacuum tube cathode-follower stage with Zout = 600Ω, the cable length to the next high impedance load (i.e., the power amp) should not exceed ~ 15 meters. Of course, half of that length is enough for almost any sensible home installation.

However, the situation can change appreciably when you employ a “passive preamp”. (A passive source-selector box, where the output signal is taken directly from the wiper of the volume control attenuator.) In that case, the attenuator’s worst case (highest) Zout will be considerably > the Zout from an active emitter or cathode follower, and that increased Zout will materially impact permissible cable length. Examples: (a) If the attenuator was a log taper 50kΩ potentiometer (pot), it’s worst case Zout would be ~ 12.5kΩ, so you’re likely to initiate some treble roll-off (assuming 120pf/meter cable) if the length was > 1 meter max. (b) If using a 25kΩ pot, the limit would be 2 meters max. (c) If using a 10kΩ pot, the limit would be 4 meters max. In the event that you use coax that exhibits a shunt capacity > 120pf/meter (yes, it’s out there), your cable lengths should then be even shorter.

Do also bear in mind that these calculations assume that the ensuing stereo power amplifier (or external active crossover controller) presents a relatively high load impedance; something on the order of 30kΩ to 50kΩ or more. While this is generally the case, one prominent producer of hi-end stereo power amplifiers offers a model that exhibits a Zin of only 10kΩ (unbalanced), or 15kΩ (balanced); refer…https://www.anthemav.com/products-current/type=amplifier/model=mca-225/page=specs. That unusually low Zin would negatively impact these cable length calculations, and it would make this product a poor match for use with any passive preamp, although tolerable if the attenuator was 10kΩ. I am not aware of any other commercial audio power amplifier on the market that exhibits such extremely low input impedance as (some of) this company’s power amplifiers.

THE BUFFER OPTION: You can completely avoid all concern about the consequence of loading effects (even when it’s as low as 10kΩ) by inserting a unity gain buffer (UGB) stage. The UGB simulates an inviolate brick wall. It isolates the passive preamp’s volume control from all external loading other than that imposed by the UGB itself. A UGB is especially desirable in the event that you intend to use a premium volume control with precisely calibrated incremental (stepped) attenuation. The UGB should then be designed to present a fixed high impedance, something on the order of ~ 15X ≥ the worst case (highest) Zout of the attenuator; e.g., Zin ≥ 75kΩ in the case of a 20kΩ calibrated attenuator. (A 20kΩ pot’s worst case Zout = 5kΩ. The “worst case” always equates to the pot’s -6dB down point.) This would assure an absolute maximum loading error of -0.5dB at the -6dB position of the attenuator, with progressively less loading error at all other positions of that calibrated control. The UGB stage should further provide: Low Zout (~ 50Ω), minimum distortion, optimum linearity, and it should utilize high value input and output coupling capacitors (preferably of non-polar polypropylene) for good low frequency response.

Top quality UGBs are inherently simple in design. They’re often configured as discrete NPN/PNP complementary feedback pairs (CFPs)*, optimally with constant current biasing. CFP design is thoroughly addressed in Douglas Self’s book Small Signal Audio Design. (See new 4/22/2020 3rd edition, at…https://www.routledge.com/Small-Signal-Audio-Design/Self/p/book/9780367468958.) High performance UGBs of this sort will assure that the calibrated precision of the attenuator remains essentially as designed, free of the effects of any external loading that’s beyond the buffer. THD will be ≤ 0.001% for output swings ≤ 5Vrms, and noise will be inaudible when the UGB is constructed to observe star grounding, and fed from a separate linear regulated supply. I designed my own dual-channel UGBs to run off of a single-ended linear +40Vdc regulated power supply, using Acopian’s 40EB06 miniature module…https://www.acopian.com/store/productdetail.aspx?q=dNominal+Output+Voltage:+40;+Output+Current+Amps:+0.06;+++Regulation+Load+%2B%2F%2D:+0.02;+Line+%2B%2F%2D:0.02;++Ripple+mV+RMS:+1;+Case+Size:+EB-13,i674. My dual channel CFP UGBs draw ~ 36mA net; the Acopian 40EB06 is rated 60mA max.

Audio hobbyists have traditionally utilized a standard (active) preamplifier box when configuring an audio system. That habit stems from the days when vinyl was the principle hi-fi signal source. Today, anybody that’s still playing vinyl usually locates their low-level gain stage (with +40dB [MM] or +60dB [MC] of RIAA compensated boost) separately, nearer the phono cartridge, so all of the source signals now routed to a traditional preamplifier box are already at full “line level” amplitude; i.e., a level of some 2Vrms or more. In such event, there is then no need for any further amplification. The available line level signal is already sufficient to drive the stereo power amplifier to the full extent that your audio system can output.† Indeed, further line level gain is distinctly undesirable, as it would then force the volume control to be operated at unduly excessive loss.

A traditional active preamplifier box retains two lingering benefits: (1) It enriches the parties that make and market those relics, and (2) it normally provides a basic emitter follower output stage (a simplified UGB equivalent) to isolate the internal volume control potentiometer against the effects of external loading. You’d do well to…
            (a) ditch the preamp.
            (b) substitute a box with a superior (accurately calibrated) stepped volume control attenuator.
            (c) include a basic signal source selector switch inside your new box.
            (d) consider adding a capable UGB/CFP stage. (Much better performance than a simple emitter-follower.)
Steps (b) and (c) of this sequence can be accomplished as either a DIY effort (in which case you’d assemble your own calibrated attenuator, using multiple discrete ±0.1% tolerance metal film resistors), or by purchasing a commercial “passive preamp”, such as those offered by Goldpoint Level Controls (https://goldpt.com/index.html).

Stacking a UGB stage onto the output of a volume attenuator is mostly a matter of personal preference. The benefit hinges on (a) the value of the attenuator that you’ve chosen, (b) the physical distance to the next high impedance load (your stereo power amplifier or external active crossover controller), (c) the actual value of the Zin at that input, and (d) the shunt capacity rating of the connecting cable. The UGB simply assures that the elegant precision of the calibrated attenuator won’t be sullied by any of those external influences, regardless of how they might vary, now or in the future. As a result, the true advantage conferred by adding a UGB might not amount to anything more than perfectionist’s pride. Of course, the aural perception of such pride would admittedly be quite subdued, although it’s likely to be audible to anyone who’s ever added a DIY UGB to their system.

PERSONAL REPORT: I have been using a passive preamp ever since 1984, and I’m now building my third generation version. Both of my earlier passive preamps performed well—I just lust to update, and three times in 36 years seems reasonable. My latest DIY effort features a 20kΩ stepped attenuator that’s scaled at -2dB/step over an initial spread of 17 steps (-34db), tapering to a total of -62dB over 6 additional steps prior to reaching the final fully-off (grounded) position. I use discrete 1/4 Watt low noise metal film resistors with ±0.1% (repeat, ±0.1%) tolerance (sourced from Mouser), and mate them to a premium grade Goldpoint model V24C-2 (Elma type 04) double-deck rotary switch with 24 stepped positions.

I’m concurrently building my fourth DIY unity gain buffer. While my previous UGBs were entirely satisfactory (yes, they all sounded the same), my latest CFP (complementary feedback pair) circuit is of a more esoteric design. In addition, this new buffer will utilize polypropylene (rather than PET film) non-polarized coupling capacitors.

DIY audio engineering can be a rewarding endeavor. It’s often enlightening, sometimes humbling, and always instructive. The most gratifying DIY advantage is that your project can always be better than the best that you can buy. The bounds of commercial practicality don’t apply when romping in your own DIY playpen.

BG (August 8, 2020)

*An IC op amp, configured as a simple voltage follower, can be used as a buffer, but the related supply voltage limitation would then restrict the output swing to relatively modest peak amplitudes. A better UGB can be built by using discrete transistors, configured as a CFP, and operated from a higher voltage supply; e.g., ±20Vdc as a split supply, or +40Vdc as a single-ended supply. This will assure that peak signal swings are well within ultra-linear areas of the waveform. The output drive capability of the CFP will also be superior to that of any IC op amp. 

†This is most certainly the case when the power amplifier presents a voltage gain ≥ 26dB (≥ 20X). It’s also highly probable—if not absolutely certain—that power amplifiers with a voltage gain as low as ~ 23dB (14.1X) will also prove fully compatible. The voltage gain of a power amplifier is commonly stated in the product specifications. If not so stated, voltage gain can then be derived from the specification for input sensitivity.

ADDENDA #1: Do appreciate that the voltage gain parameter (cited above) is merely a measure of an amplifier’s sensitivity. It has no direct bearing on defining the power output capability or power output rating of an amplifier.

ADDENDA #2: The actual power output capability of the main power amplifier should be at least +2dB (1.6X) to +3dB (2X) > the rated power that the loudspeaker system can safely tolerate. This will assure that the loudspeakers are never exposed to a clipped input signal when they’re driven to levels that are within their maximum safe rated limits. If your main power amplifier has accurate “clipped output” warning lights that sometimes flicker, that amplifier has insufficient power output capability for its application; it should be replaced. Outside of physical abuse, nothing can be more potentially injurious to a loudspeaker system than consistently clipped drive signals, and nothing sounds worse than peak level clipping.

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 John 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

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