Classical Music News of the Week, January 30, 2021

Experiential Orchestra: New Beginnings

Experiential Orchestra continues with some mid-winter meditations. This is from Kalun Leung: the view from a window of a frozen world.

How do we un-freeze?
What brings us warmth?
What new beginnings do we feel as so much changes?

View and listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZb7BkQfAWc

--James Blachly, Music Director, Experiential Orchestra

Rochester Philharmonic Appoints Andreas Delfs as Music Director
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announces the appointment of Maestro Andreas Delfs as its thirteenth music director in the organization's 98-year history. Delfs follows in the footsteps of a long line of distinguished music directors including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, Christopher Seaman, and Ward Stare.

A native of Flensburg, Germany, and graduate of the Hamburg Conservatory and Juilliard School of Music, Andreas Delfs has established himself as a pre-eminent force in the classical music world and one of the finest conductors of his generation.  He has held chief artistic posts with orchestras in Europe and North America. At the age of 20, he became the youngest-ever Music Director of the Hamburg University Orchestra and Musical Assistant at the Hamburg State Opera. Throughout his 12 seasons as Musical Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Delfs drew larger audiences to Uihlein Hall, selling out a record 40 concerts there during the 2000-2001 Season. Delfs led the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as Music Director (2001-2004) and artistic consultant (2004-2006).

To learn more about Maestro Delfs, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiXLEfQSndk&feature=youtu.be

--Beverley Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

Harmonia Mundi Sadly Announces the Death of Eva Coutaz
Eva Coutaz (1943-2021) directed the production of the Harmonia Mundi label for close to thirty years. Born in Wuppertal in 1943, she began her career as an apprentice bookseller in her native Germany. After obtaining her professional degree, she went to Provence in France to confirm for herself her idyllic vision of the region. After briefly working as an au pair, she became a bookseller and worked for several years in a great university bookstore in the Midi.

She began her career with Harmonia Mundi in 1972 as a press officer and quickly became interested in organizing concerts and recordings, eventually taking over that position. Out of love for the music, she gained the skills that would permit her to excel in this work.

She produced more than 800 recordings with world famous musicians who all who cemented the reputation of harmonia mundi. From the start, it was easy for her to embrace the spirit of a company that placed quality over profit.

After the death of label founder Bernard Coutaz, in February 2010, she became Chairman and CEO of Harmonia Mundi until its acquisition by [PIAS] in 2015. After putting the new team in place, she retired by slow steps in 2016, making way for Christian Girardin, who is now in charge of production.

--Sarah Folger, [PIAS] America

Pachelbel for Three Cellos! Online Concert
Space Time Continuo presents Pachelbel’s Magnificat Fuges, original transcriptions for three cellos. Online: Friday, February 19, 6:00 PM: http://spacetimecontinuo.com/

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is one of the most famous and frequently heard works in the entire classical repertoire. However, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was very prolific, composing a large body of both sacred and secular works, and was enormously popular during his lifetime--as well as a major influence on J.S. Bach. After hearing Pachelbel’s Magnificat Fugues for organ--which number over 90 in all, each just one to two minutes long--cellist Amanda Keesmaat was inspired to arrange a number of the fugues for three cellos. Keesmaat, director of Space Time Continuo, invited fellow cellists Elinor Frey and Camille Paquette-Roy to join her in performing these premiere arrangements, along with Luc Beauséjour (organ) and Sylvain Bergeron (archlute) for additional music by Pachelbel, including transcriptions of his Violin Sonatas and, yes, the famous Canon.

--Shira Gilbert PR

Lara Downes Launches Rising Sun Music Celebrating Black Composers
Inspired by her own mixed-race heritage and career-long engagement with diverse musical traditions, pianist Lara Downes creates and curates a new digital recording venture, Rising Sun Music, that sheds a bright light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years. Featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Ms. Downes) whose work defines the creative energy of this generation and the next, the series presents a new EP of music--each exploring a different theme--to be released the first Friday of every month starting February 5.

Learn more at https://www.laradownes.com/

--Shuman PR

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of February 1–7)
Thursday, February 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. CET (available for 7 days)
Semyon Bychkov conducts Czech Philharmonic in Bryce Dessner's Concerto for Two Pianos, featuring soloists Katia and Marielle Labèque.
https://www.facebook.com/ceskafilharmonie/

Sunday, February 7 at 4:00 p.m. ET (available for 30 days)
The Gilmore presents Isaiah J. Thompson Quartet.
https://www.thegilmore.org/event/isaiah-j-thompson-quartet/

Sunday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET (available for 23 hours)
James Conlon conducts Puccini’s Tosca in The Met: Live in HD encore broadcast.
https://www.metopera.org/

--Shuman PR

Colburn School Launches "Next Up" Virtual Concert Series
The Colburn School, a renowned performing arts school based in Los Angeles, will showcase its accomplished alumni in “Next Up,” a new virtual concert series that features imaginative programs and unique collaborations created with the online experience in mind. All concerts will be premiered at 7pm; free registration is required at https://www.colburnschool.edu/alumni/next-up-series/.

Saturday, February 13, 2021
Bach’s Goldberg Variations for String Trio

Saturday, March 13, 2021
Eclectic Classical

Saturday, April 10, 2021
Retrouvé: Rediscovering the Past

Saturday, May 8, 2021
Styles and Textures for Solo Clarinet

Saturday, May 29, 2021
Modern and Popular Music Jukebox

For complete details, visit https://www.colburnschool.edu/alumni/next-up-series/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

The Gilmore Announces Festival Fellowship Residency Program
In furtherance of its mission to promote world-class piano performance and to advance the future of the art form, The Gilmore today announced a new career-advancement initiative, The Gilmore Festival Fellowship residency program, which will offer five-day residencies to classical pianists aged 18 or older during the biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, starting in 2022.

Essential, residency-related expenses for Fellows are funded entirely by The Gilmore. Applications opened today--Wednesday, January 27, 2021--and remain open until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, October 1, 2021. For further application details, including eligibility requirements, click here: https://www.thegilmore.org/education/gilmore-fellows/

--Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

Princeton University Concerts Announces Spring Update
On Sunday, March 28 at 3PM (EDT), Princeton University Concerts will present a free, streamed concert with the "Leading Ladies" of classical music who champion instruments often overlooked in the field: accordionist Ksenjia Sidorova, bagpiper Cristina Pato, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and saxophonist Jess Gillam.

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

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Violinist Yevgeny Kutik Announces “Finding Home: Music from the Suitcase in Concert”
On Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 7pm ET, Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his “dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique” (The New York Times), launches “Finding Home: Music from the Suitcase in Concert,” a five-episode docu-recital series filmed at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA, based on Kutik’s 2014 album Music from the Suitcase (Marquis Classics).

Each 30-40-minute episode features music performances, including works from the album, interwoven with Kutik’s personal narrative storytelling. Episodes will premiere weekly on Kutik’s Facebook and YouTube channels every Thursday at 7pm ET beginning on February 11 and running through March 11, 2021. Registrants will be emailed the links to watch by 5pm on Wednesdays. Kutik will be available for questions in the chat during the Thursday premieres, and each episode will be available for on-demand viewing until 12pm ET on the following Sunday.

Register to watch all episodes here: http://bit.ly/YevgenyKutikEvents

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

American Youth Symphony & A Place Called Home
The American Youth Symphony (AYS) and A Place Called Home (APCH) have joined forces once again to bring classical music to South Central Los Angeles families and the local community.

On Friday, March 5, 2021 at 6:15 p.m., as part of APCH’s Family Film Fridays, AYS will present an interactive pre-show concert event featuring performances by AYS and APCH musicians, a live raffle, and a conducting lesson led by Jessica Bejarano, founder and conductor of the San Francisco Philharmonic. Following the pre-show concert, guests will be treated to a screening of the animated musical film, Sing. All of the evening’s festivities will take place online and are free and accessible to APCH’s entire membership base, their extended families and invited friends.

Details here: https://www.aysymphony.org/apch-concert/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Celebrate Love, Life, and Friendship with “Valentines on Demand”
The Washington Chorus (TWC) is helping Cupid deliver messages of love this February. “Valentines on Demand” is a special, customized video that includes a personalized message and song performed by a member of the two-time Grammy award-winning Chorus or a collaborating artist, including soprano Aundi Marie Moore and baritone Damien Geter.

With a diverse catalogue of songs to choose from, including classical, contemporary, jazz and musical theater, you will find the perfect song for that special someone in your life. “Valentines on Demand” start at $21. For more information and to order this unique gift please visit the website: https://thewashingtonchorus.org/

--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet

George Manahan New Music Director Emeritus of American Composers Orchestra
American Composers Orchestra and George Manahan announce that after ten years as Music Director of ACO, Manahan will transition to Music Director Emeritus at the conclusion of his current contract, on July 1, 2021. Since becoming Music Director in 2010, Manahan has led the orchestra in numerous performances at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, and more, conducting 191 works by 162 composers and premiering 82 new pieces in concert. Manahan is the third music director of ACO since its inception in 1977, following founding conductor Dennis Russell Davis (1977-2002) and Steven Sloane (2002-2010).

ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel said, “George is a phenomenal musician whose professionalism, skills, and musical insight have earned him the love and respect of our orchestra, composers, soloists, and audiences. His leadership has always kept ACO in the most capable of hands. Personally, I am extraordinarily grateful and proud to have collaborated with this consummate artist and educator whose work spans the gamut of symphonic music, opera, and beyond. I look forward to continuing to work with George in his role as Music Director Emeritus.”

Full details here: https://americancomposers.org/2021/01/29/george-manahan-to-transition-to-music-director-emeritus-of-american-composers-orchestra/

--Christina Jensen, Jensen PR

Sony Music Masterworks Announces New Label XXIM Records
Sony Music Masterworks today announced the launch of XXIM RECORDS, an all-new imprint focused on the development of innovative, progressive instrumental music around the world.

Pronounced ‘Twenty-One M’, XXIM features a bespoke roster of a new generation of artists whose work explores and integrates neo-classical, post-rock, electronic, and ambient sounds among others.

The label is based in Berlin with additional A&R support in New York and arrives with an impressive, international line up of highly talented musicians. It includes compelling newcomers EYDÍS EVENSEN, an Icelandic pianist and composer, and UÈLE LAMORE, a Franco-American composer, conductor, producer and arranger, as well as the genre-bending Icelandic band HUGAR and the Berlin electro-acoustic duo STIMMING X LAMBERT.

For more information, visit https://www.sonymusicmasterworks.com/

--Larissa Slezak, Sony Music Masterworks

Call for Scores
PARMA’s latest Call for Scores is launching this week, with a fully-subsidized performance opportunity, and I was hoping to share the news with members of your organization.

This call is for works for solo violin, to be performed by Concertmaster of the Subotica Philharmonic, with special consideration given to pieces or composers with unrealized premieres or concerts within the last year. A selected work will be performed in virtual concert to be presented and promoted on the PARMA Live Stage.

The Call for Scores website URL is https://www.parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Classical Candor&utm_campaign=Solo+Violin+CFS+2021

--Jacob Smith, PARMA Records

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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

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