Classical Music News of the Week, February 20, 2021

Four Seasons of New York

Here it is, Doug Balliett's wonderful “Winter” from his double bass concerto Four Seasons of New York, commissioned by Experiential Orchestra (EXO) and performed by the superb Rob Nairn, recorded at Oktaven Studios.

The piece takes Brad Balliett's poetry as part of its inspiration; this poetry is shown and spoken by our Winter bard himself the beginning of the video. All of the many images are from friends and fans, and feature the city we love so much – in all of its glory and more.

Listen and watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy9E1q66FAA&feature=youtu.be

The amazing performers on this recording are Rob Nairn, double bass soloist; Francis Liu, violin; Elizabeth Derham, violin; Edwin Kaplan, viola; Serafim Smiguelsky, cello; Stuart Breczinski, oboe; David Byrd-Marrow, horn; Brad Balliett, bassoon; and James Blachly, conductor.

Recorded at Oktaven Studios, Ryan Streber, producer.

We hope this finds you warm and well.

For more about EXO, visit https://experientialorchestra.com/

--James Blachly, Experiential Orchestra

Jeunesses Musicales Canada Continues Its Digital Shift
Eager to continue its mission of bringing music to young audiences and to find new ways to reach them, JM Canada launched this fall their Digital Ballads, aimed at children and their teachers. A necessary transition and a great challenge, as the performing arts have been at a standstill for several months now.

Alongside passionate artists, the JM Canada team succeeded in this tour de force by adapting for the screen 4 concerts and 3 complementary workshops in record time. Fun, educational and entertaining, this 100% digital program has already attracted more than 17,500 students aged 4 to 12 in 12 of Canada's 13 provinces and territories, in addition to being offered to clients of Place des Arts in Montreal, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Palais Montcalm in Quebec City.

Carried away by this great success, JM Canada is experiencing a threefold achievement: providing teachers with content-rich tools to vary their teaching activities, exporting itself from coast to coast to coast in just a few months thanks to this digital offering, and, ultimately, providing work and support to several artists, artisans and musicians.

Through several themes, including percussion, opera or song writing, children explore many aspects of music alongside enthusiastic artists and our two musical mediators Aurélie Négrier and Gabriela Iznardo. JM Canada also offers the possibility of live virtual mediation sessions to complement the pre-recorded concerts and workshops.

The Digital Ballads 2020-2021 season offers a real alternative to the activities usually offered, and JM Canada brilliantly continues its mission by accompanying teachers in the musical pedagogical monitoring of their students.

For complete details, visit https://www.jmcanada.ca/en/promoters/digital-ballads/

--France Gaignard

Pianist Min Kwon Announces “America/Beautiful”
Korean-born American pianist Min Kwon announced today “America/Beautiful,” a new project in which more than 70 composers have written individual variations for solo piano on the theme of “America the Beautiful.” Each interpretation offers a different vision of America during this critical moment, as filtered through the lens of America’s leading compositional voices across a broad spectrum of age, race, gender, and personal experience.

The works will be premiered over the course of six days, beginning July 4, with a series of free streamed video performances by Kwon followed by Q&A sessions with the composers, culminating in two evenings of live performances by Kwon in the Catacombs of The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY on July 8 and 9.

For more information, visit https://www.america-beautiful.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music
Columbia University Press announces Music, Math and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music by David Sulzer.

Written for musicians & music lovers with any level of science and math proficiency, including none, this book demystifies how music works while testifying to its beauty and wonder. David Sulzer is Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Pharmacology at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (and composer Dave Soldier by night). Publication date: April 27, 2021.

David Sulzer's debut book, Music, Math, and Mind, offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow.

Dr. Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of music encompasses the physics of sound, the functions of the ear and deep-brain auditory pathways, and the physiology of emotion.

For more information, visit https://cup.columbia.edu/book/music-math-and-mind/9780231193795

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Joshua Bell on Vanguard Concerts
The Violin Channel’s Vanguard Concerts series’ initial episode, premiered February 11, received over 600K views in less than a week across Facebook, YouTube and Instagram in more than 50 countries. The kickoff showcase featured all artists on the series - Joshua Bell with pianist Alessio Bax; the Dover Quartet; Junction Trio, violinist Philippe Quint with pianist Jun Cho; violinists Nathan Meltzer and Kevin Zhu with pianist Rohan de Silva; violist Jordan Bak; violinist Charles Yang with pianist Peter Dugan; violinist Tessa Lark with pianist Amy Yang and guitarist Frank Vignola; cellist Sophia Bacelar with pianist Noreen Cassidy-Polera and dancer Jamaii Melvin.

On Thursday, February 18th at 5pm ET, longtime collaborators violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Alessio Bax presented a recital of Bach, Schubert, and Weiniawski, in an hour-long program featuring Creative Director David Katzive’s customized LED Wall imagery and an interview with the artists where they share their experiences during the COVID pandemic.

For complete information, visit https://theviolinchannel.com/vc-live-the-violin-channel-vanguard-concert-series/

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of February 22–28)
Thursday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. MT;
Jennifer Koh’s “Alone Together” in recital for Aspen Music Festival and School.
https://www.aspenmusicfestival.com/virtual-stage/
and https://www.facebook.com/aspenmusic/?ref=bookmarks

Sunday, February 28 at 3:00 p.m. PT:
Wu Man rings in Chinese New Year with New West Symphony.
https://newwestsymphony.org/2020-21-virtual-season/tour-of-china/

In Case You Missed It:
Minnesota Orchestra presents Musical Menagerie, a young people's concert in partnership with the Minnesota Zoo.
https://mnorch.vhx.tv/young-people-s-content/videos/musical-menagerie

--Shuman Associates

Orchestra of St. Luke’s Presents Two World Premieres by Anna Clyne
On Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 6:30pm ET, Orchestra of St. Luke’s presents “Sounds & Stories: Anna Clyne and Jyll Bradley,” a live streamed performance that features two world premieres by composer Anna Clyne – “Strange Loops” for Clarinet Quintet and “Woman Holding a Balance” for String Quartet with a film by artists Jyll Bradley and David Ward. The program, curated by Clyne and narrated by Bradley and Clyne, also includes selections from J.S. Bach’s Three Part Inventions and Art of the Fugue and Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint.

Clyne’s 17 minute “Strange Loops for Clarinet Quintet” is based on a concept developed by cognitive science scholar Douglas Hofstadter in his book I am a Strange Loop, where he explores his own sense of “I.” Hofstadter writes, “In the end, we are self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages that are little miracles of self-reference.” In “Strange Loops,” Clyne explores musical loops – motifs and gestures that repeat, morph, modulate, and recapitulate in various guises. At the heart of this piece is a sense of playfulness and yearning – inspired by the creative process in isolation.

The world premiere of artist Jyll Bradley’s seven-minute film, “Woman Holding a Balance,” features new music for string quartet composed by Clyne. The film centers upon a performance work artist David Ward made in response to Bradley’s sculpture Dutch/Light. Ward revisited his first love as a young art student – the paintings of Dutch artist Joannes Vermeer (1632-1675), who is well known for his use of light as a framing device for ideas around time, human interiority, and space. In the film, shot over one sun-filled day, Ward loops in and out of the sculpture performing gestures from the subjects of Vermeer's paintings. This film brings together three artists from different generations and times whose work shares the languages of light and space.

Program Information:
Sounds & Stories: Anna Clyne and Jyll Bradley (Livestream)
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 6:30pm ET
Tickets: Pay what you can from $1-$100 ($40 suggested price)
Link: https://oslmusic.org/event/sounds-stories-anna-clyne-and-jyll-bradley/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

American Lyric Theater Offers Free Virtual Opera Writers Symposium
American Lyric Theater (ALT) is inviting artists from all backgrounds to participate in its free, virtual Opera Writers Symposium as part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to mentoring the next generation of operatic writers. The eight-week series of mini-seminars and online workshops will run from February 27 – April 24, 2021 and will provide practical tools for both first-time and experienced artists with an interest in developing new works for the operatic stage. The courses will offer artists a glimpse into American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP) – the country’s only full-time mentorship program for emerging opera composers, librettists and dramaturgs – a two-year, tuition-free professional training program for writers interested in creating new operas that includes extensive mentorship and direct financial support.

The CLDP Opera Writers Symposium is free and open to artists from all genres of music and literature including poets, playwrights, novelists, composers, songwriters and rap artists who may be curious about writing for the operatic stage. Artists with no previous experience in the operatic art form are encouraged to attend.

Details here: https://www.altnyc.org/cldp-opera-writers-symposium

--Rebecca Davis PR

Update from Festival Mozaic
I know many of you look forward to the announcement of our summer season around this time of the year. We are excited to announce that Festival Mozaic will take place this year, and we’ll share the details with you in early April. This delay will allow us to see how public health policy progresses in the coming months and plan our events accordingly.

Our plan for the 2021 Summer Festival includes:
A shorter 8-day festival, July 24 – 31
A smaller number of your favorite musicians working together under strict health and safety protocols
Indoor and outdoor venues that will ensure your health and safety
Concerts performed live, twice per day, if permitted
Concerts attended by smaller, socially-distanced, masked audiences
Concerts will be live-streamed online, so you can enjoy them at home

This summer festival will be nimble, flexible, and even portable so that it will occur regardless of where we stand in terms of infection rates, immunization, and health and safety requirements. Our Music Director, Scott Yoo, our outstanding Board of Directors, our remarkable musicians, and our dedicated staff and volunteers all are committed to making wonderful music for you this summer.

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

--Lloyd Tanner, Executive Director

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in Recital
What: Spivey Hall Presents celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in a streaming recital of music by Beethoven, Grieg, and Dvorák captured at Norway’s Troldhaugen concert hall, the home of Nina and Edvard Grieg. The concert honors Spivey Hall’s 30th season and is presented in partnership with OurConcerts.live.

When: Sunday, February 21, 3pm ET, video-on-demand available February 22 through 24.

Price: Tickets for the initial stream are $15 plus $3.50 access fee and local sales tax when purchased from spiveyhall.org by February 17 at 5pm, and include video-on-demand. From February 18 to 24, tickets may be purchased solely from OurConcerts.live and are $20 plus $3.50 access fee.

Where: https://spiveyhall.org/events/event/leif-ove-andsnes-piano

--Allison Van Etten, Ravenscroft PR

Michael Tilson Thomas on Talking Beats
Michael Tilson Thomas is the latest guest on the podcast Talking Beats with Daniel Lelchuk, which has released an hour-long, wide-ranging discussion between MTT and cellist and host Daniel Lelchuk via TalkingBeats.com and major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

This conversation offers a wealth of insight into MTT’s musical thinking, his personality, and the many fascinating experiences that have shaped him. This discussion was recorded on December 3, 2020, and was released Tuesday, February 16, 2021, as the podcast’s 81st episode.

To learn more about Talking Beats with Daniel Lelchuk, visit https://www.talkingbeats.com/

--Shuman Associates

Bang on a Can Announces Upcoming Virtual Performances
Bang on a Can announces a dynamic slate of new virtual programming taking place from March through May 2021, all streaming at live.bangonacan.org. All shows are free to watch, but viewers are encouraged to consider purchasing a ticket to help support the performers and commissioned composers. March performances include:

First Fridays with Robert Black on March 5, 2021 at 12pm ET, a monthly performance series launched in October 2020, which continues with music for solo bass by James Tenney, Stuart Saunders, and Rifat Komachkov; the live-from-Berlin viewing of Berlin-based dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests’ performance to In C on March 6, 2021 at 2pm ET, based on Terry Riley’s ground-breaking score and featuring Bang on a Can’s critically acclaimed recording; Bang on a Can Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Michael Gordon and Bang on a Can All-Star pianist Vicky Chow host a watch party on March 7, 2021 3pm ET for the video premiere of Sonatra, a fiendishly and infamously difficult piano work by Gordon, with a Q&A moderated by pianist/music critic Ethan Iverson; and a special edition Bang on a Can Marathon Live Online as part of MaerzMusik, presented by the Berliner Festspiele and featuring live performances from both sides of the Atlantic, on March 21, 2021 from 3-7pm ET.

April and May performances include First Fridays with Robert Black on April 2 and May 7; another Bang on a Can Marathon live online, featuring all commissions and all world premieres on April 18; the next virtual OneBeat Marathon on May 2; and Steve Reich and Amy Sillman in a co-presentation with The Jewish Museum and BOMB Magazine on May 13.

Details here: https://live.bangonacan.org/

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

La Calisto: A Virtual Opera
The students who signed up to participate in the Department of Music’s Fall 2020 Opera Performance course expected to perform a staged version of La Calisto, Francesco Cavalli’s 17th-century opera, in Richardson Auditorium at the end of the term. The arrival of the pandemic quickly necessitated a change in plans as students returned home for a semester of virtual learning. The result: the creation of a virtual opera, recorded with phone cameras from students’ homes scattered across the world, in a production conducted by Performance Program Director Michael Pratt, directed by Christopher Mattaliano (Portland Opera, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera), edited by videographer Christopher McDonald, and with dramaturgy by Department Chair Wendy Heller.

La Calisto will premiere on Saturday, March 6, 2021 as a three-episode series on the Department of Music’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE03_6jE29C_5d61Lwm51WA

For a full announcement, please visit this page: https://music.princeton.edu/news/students-participate-creation-virtual-opera

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

News from PARMA Recordings
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Astor Piazzolla’s birth, PARMA has teamed up with Fundación Astor Piazzolla and the composer’s family, including his widow, Laura, and grandson, Daniel, to present the first annual Piazzolla Music Competition. Proceeds from this year’s contest will benefit music education charities.

Headed by Grammy-winning musician Gary Burton, the competition’s aim is to find and elevate top undiscovered talent through performances of Piazzolla’s work. The Grammy-packed jury is led by pianist and composer Pablo Ziegler and includes bandoneonist Héctor del Curto and bandoneonist/composer Daniel Binelli.

Where does PARMA fit into all of this? The grand prize winner of the competition will be awarded an album release on our Navona Records label and a subsequent concert tour in China facilitated by PARMA.

For details, visit https://www.parmarecordings.com/piazzolla-music-competition/

--Patrick Niland, PARMA Recordings

The Atterbury Sessions Continue
The Atterbury House Sessions free livestreams continue on February 20th and 27th with the Ulysses Quartet and Xavier Foley. All concerts are live at 5 PM from the gorgeous mahogany Atterbury Hall and available for a week.

Saturday Feb. 20: Ulysses Quartet
Saturday Feb. 27: Bassist Xavier Foley

Upcoming Performances (All Performances at 5:00 pm EST)
February 20 – Ulysses Quartet
February 27 – Xavier Foley, bass
March 13 – PUBLIQuartet
April 3 – The Westerlies
April 17 – Imani Winds
April 24 – Baroque Violinist Aisslinn Nosky and Friends
May 8 – Brentano Quartet
May 15 – Augustin Hadelich, violin
June 5 – Lara St. John, violin

Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ancalagon33?gl=SG&hl=en-GB

--Lara St. John

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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