Classical Music News of the Week, April 24, 2021

Baryshnikov Arts Center Premieres Final Installment of Digital Spring 2021 Season

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) presents the final installment of world premieres commissioned for the Digital Spring 2021 season. Through this initiative, BAC has continued supporting the development of new work by providing resources for artists to realize their creative visions specifically for online presentation. When released on Mondays at 5PM ET, the digital works will be free and available to watch on-demand at bacnyc.org for two weeks until Monday at 5PM ET. The artists will discuss their projects and creative processes in a series of live-streamed conversations held in conjunction with the premieres.

All three presentations rounding out the Digital Spring 2021 season were filmed at BAC’s Jerome Robbins Theater in December 2020 and early 2021 with strict adherence to COVID health and safety protocols. The first, premiering May 3-17, is choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland’s Kolonial, created in collaboration with installation artist Conrad Quesen and inspired by the colonial exposition parks of Europe, North America, and the Caribbean during the 1810s–1940s.

Next is a video docudrama from multimedia artists and musicians Tei Blow and Sean McElroy of Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, premiering May 17-31. The Sprezzaturameron follows two men who must confront the precarious nature of art-making in an apocalyptic near-future.

The final premiere June 7-21 is STELLAR by choreographer Kyle Marshall. This dance of speculative fiction began as virtual improvisation sessions with Marshall and two fellow movement artists, Bree Breeden and Ariana Speight.

Free and available on demand at https://bacnyc.org/

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Bach Soloists’ New Artist Profile: Elizabeth Blumenstock
In the most-recent episode of our Free Artist Profile Series, American Bach Soloist’s violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock talks about her first inspirations that led to a lifelong passion about music. She shares stories about her early mentors including the encouragement and guidance from her mother and her first exposure to early music performed on period instruments.

ABS Music Director says, "This is such a beautiful interview. Elizabeth is a treasure, and her eloquence and generosity in sharing insights into her truly amazing spirit is inspiring. You'll be touched by this wonderful film."

Click and enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYak63G5ERk

--American Bach Soloists

PBS - Lise Davidsen in Concert
Coming up, “Great Performances at the Met: Lise Davidsen in Concert” premieres beginning Friday, May 7 on PBS (check local listings). The New York metro area broadcast premieres Monday, May 17 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

The soprano performs arias and songs that brought her success around the world including selections from Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” and Scandinavian songs by Sibelius and Grieg, from Oslo’s Oscarshall Palace in Norway. The concert was recorded last August. James Bailleu accompanies her on piano and Christine Goerke hosts.

This season of Great Performances at the Met presents opera stars in concert performing favorite arias and songs in striking locations around the world.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

International Contemporary Ensemble Hosts Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum
The International Contemporary Ensemble, in partnership with Opera Omaha and FringeArts, presents the Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum online from May 26-28, 2021. The Forum is a free, three-day series of online events produced by colleagues and collaborators of the International Contemporary Ensemble in order to celebrate, share, and reflect on four operas that have had a major impact on the organization and collaborators. They include: George Lewis’ Afterword (2015), Tyshawn Sorey’s Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine Baker (2016), Pauline Oliveros and IONE’s The Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera (2017), and a new work-in-development, Awakening (to be premiered in 2022), by Courtney Bryan with Charlotte Brathwaite, Sharan Strange, Cauleen Smith, and Helga Davis.

In order to cultivate awareness among presenters, producers, ensembles, and audiences, the Ensemble will bring these works into conversation with one another and with leading scholars in the field. Renowned musicologist Dr. Naomi André is the lead scholar and conversation partner for this three-day series featuring presenters and panelists such as Julia Bullock, IONE, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, and many others.

More details about the schedule of events will be announced at the beginning of May at
https://www.iceorg.org/aof

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

New York City Ballet at Saratoga Performing Arts Center
In a joint decision by Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and New York City Ballet (NYCB), SPAC announces that due to the ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines mandated by the State of New York, NYCB will not return to its summer home in Saratoga Springs with the full company this July. Instead a small group of NYCB dancers and musicians will present NYCB On and Off Stage, an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the Company’s extraordinary repertory of ballets. This series of educational programs has never before been presented for Saratoga audiences. NYCB On and Off Stage is slated for six shows from July 14-17, 2021, and will feature two special presentations. All shows will be hosted by a NYCB Principal Dancer who will introduce the excerpts and provide insights on each ballet. 

SPAC and New York City Ballet have also confirmed that the traditional residency engagement with the full company will be presented in 2022 from July 12-16.

For more information, visit https://spac.org/calendar/calendar-of-events/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Season 3 of the Angel's Share
Death of Classical and The Green-Wood Cemetery announce season three of their acclaimed concert series The Angel’s Share. The series will offer seven in-person events in the Cemetery and Catacombs, and seven filmed programs broadcast on The WNET Group's ALL ARTS TV channel, and streaming on https://allarts.org/ and the ALL ARTS app.

The season opens June 3-5 with “Hymn to the City,” a sprawling, immersive event in partnership with the New York Philharmonic. Next up on June 25, violinist Gil Shaham is joined by five players from the Brooklyn-born orchestra The Knights. July 8 & 9, pianist Min Kwon will play two programs from her “America/Beautiful” project. August 4, 6, & 7, the PUBLIQuartet perform music from their album Freedom and Faith. September 15-17, pianist Simone Dinnerstein will give a one-of-a-kind performance of “An American Mosaic,” a new piece written for her by Richard Danielpour. Ulysses Quartet will perform “Death and Shadows” in the Catacombs on October 6-8, a program that pairs Schubert’s towering Death and the Maiden string quartet with Osvaldo Golijov’s otherworldly Tenebrae, The season closes October 21-23 with a large-scale, outdoor, candlelit performance of Fauré’s Requiem by Cantori New York.

To purchase tickets, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

New Century Announces Virtual Spring 2021 Season
New Century Chamber Orchestra announced programming for its Virtual Spring 2021 season. Performing together as an orchestra together with Daniel Hope for the first time in over a year, New Century will release the world premiere of Tan Dun’s Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra starting on Thursday, May 20 at 12:00 p.m., in a streaming concert film presented by Stanford Live. Guest pianist Alexey Botvinov returns for his second appearance with the orchestra in a program that also features Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 and Aaron Jay Kernis’s Elegy (for those we lost).

For details about the complete season, visit https://www.ncco.org/

--Brenden Guy Media

What's Streaming: Classical (April 26-May 2)
Thursday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
Pipa virtuoso Wu Man and shakuhachi master Kojiro Umezaki perform music from their album Flow in Silkroad Ensemble concert.
https://fac.umass.edu/UMCA/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=8AC6D871-1668-437D-A097-6AF77E87F4F3

Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET:
Pianist Shai Wosner performs Dvorák's Legends, Nos. 1-3 and Piano Quintet No. 2 with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
https://www.dso.org/events-and-tickets/events/2021-digital/wave2/dvorak-piano-quintet-no-2

Thursday, April 29 at 5:30 p.m. ET:
Bass-baritone Davóne Tines hosts a virtual gala event for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale.
https://event.auctria.com/dd848873-3541-4d9a-8376-c2ebfb781152/

Friday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. ET:
Pianist Lara Downes to host Q&A following a preview screening of the film Los Hermanos/The Brothers.
https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2021/04/30/Sneak-Preview-Los-HermanosThe-Brothers-0500PM

Friday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
World premiere of The Gilmore-commissioned piano concerto by Michael Brown to be performed by the composer with the Kalamazoo Symphony.
https://boxoffice.kalamazoosymphony.com/19571

Friday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET:
Minnesota Orchestra and guest conductor Fabien Gabel perform works by Eleanor Alberga, Stravinsky, and Mozart.
https://minnesotaorchestra.org/

Saturday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera presents Greenwood Overcomes, a concert commemorating the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
https://tulsaopera.com/

Saturday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET:
Wu Man performs Tan Dun's Concerto for String Orchestra and Pipa with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.
https://annapolissymphony.org/events/debussy-la-mer/

Saturday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET:
Pianist Shai Wosner to perform Beethoven's Triple Concerto with The Orchestra Now and Leon Botstein.
https://tickets.fishercenter.bard.edu/2432/2438

Sunday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m. ET:
The Gilmore Virtual Rising Stars Series presents the Glenn Zaleski Trio.
https://www.thegilmore.org/event/glenn-zaleski-trio/

--Shuman Associates

"Unmasking the Arts" with Helga Davis: Conversation Series
Princeton University Concerts is excited to announce a new, online, free conversation series hosted by multidisciplinary artist and WNYC host Helga Davis: "Unmasking the Arts: Looking to the Future." Premiering next Tuesday, April 27 at 7PM with Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, this weekly series aims to reflect on how a time of pandemic has changed, or shed light on, the way that we think about the arts.

Conversations touch on a wide range of subjects, including the intersection of the arts and questions of social justice and climate change, how politics play into evolving cultural values, shaping the future of the performing arts, and more. In addition to Anthony McGill, participants include musicians Rhiannon Giddens, Wu Han, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja; critics/writers Jason Farago, Anne Midgette, and Maya Chung, and director Yuval Sharon.

For full information, visit https://princetonuniversityconcerts.princeton.edu/

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Peoples’ Symphony Concerts
As we come down to the last few concerts of our virtual 120th Anniversary season, we are grateful to all of you who have shared this season with us and the wonderfully generous artists who have helped us celebrate this milestone. Many thanks to all who have sent badly-needed contributions and special hugs to those who have substantially increased their contributions in this time of need.  Even though only half of last year's subscribers renewed their subscriptions,  we wanted to show our appreciation and support to our essential workers and students and, in keeping with our mission, we have offered them the chance to hear our concerts without charge. 

While we all can't wait for the time that we can be together again in-person, many of you have expressed your appreciation for the chance to see the artists up close, to get to know them a bit as people and to also have their perspectives on the music that they played for us. As with our life's journey, this difficult year has been a time for learning, about so many things - about ourselves, about nature, about who and what really is important to us and about how music is vital to whom we are and to our spiritual and emotional well being.

On Sunday, April 25 at 2 PM (and for the subsequent six days), we have the opportunity to be uplifted by pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, an artist whose recent Carnegie Hall recital was described by the New York Times as, not only "thrilling" for it's virtuosity but also filled with playing of "warmth and affection."  In his previous PSC performances, Marc-Andre has always brought us new works to treasure as well as fascinating takes on pillars of the piano repertoire.  He will do that again for us on Sunday with works by CPE Bach, Faure and Debussy - our final piano recital of the season and one that you won't want to miss.

Full information here: https://www.pscny.org/

--Frank Salomon, Peoples’ Symphony Concerts

Babylon Becomes the Most Highly Decorated Early Music Film of All Time
Since its December 2020 première, Babylon has garnered over 40 awards and counting from film festivals across the globe in multiple categories, surpassing the most decorated early music film of the past few decades, Tous les matins du monde.

Babylon considers the text of Psalm 137 (“By the Waters of Babylon”) as it has resonated through the music of two ghettoized peoples – Italian Jews of Mantua during the period of the Counter-Reformation, and African Americans before, during, and after the Harlem Renaissance.

Narrated by the titanic voice of actor Ezra Knight, the musical performances of works by Italian-Jewish composer Salamone Rossi (1570 – 1630) and contemporary American Brandon Waddles (1988 –) are by the groundbreaking Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble. Other musical selections are historical recordings by such luminaries as Ma Rainey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, and others, as well as two noted figures in contemporary West African music, Kevin Nathaniel Hylton and Yacouba Sissoko. The film's director and script writer, soprano Jessica Gould performs with Toronto-based lutenist Lucas Harris.

Click here to view the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m6ZBLplTVQ

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Tesla Quartet Continues A Bartók Journey
The Tesla Quartet continues A Bartók Journey, an exploration of the complete string quartets of Béla Bartók, in late May and June 2021. Each week will focus on one string quartet and features live expert discussions with authors, members of eminent string quartets, and composers; live virtual open rehearsals; enriching social media content; and live stream performances. Guest speakers and experts for weeks 4-6 include Nicholas Kitchen, first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet; Károly Schranz, founding second violinist of the Takács Quartet; and composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Audience members will immerse themselves in the unique characteristics of each work and trace the development of Bartók’s style throughout his career through six weeks of live events hosted on the Tesla Quartet’s YouTube Channel, plus additional content on the quartet’s social media platforms.

Details here: https://www.teslaquartet.com/bartok-journey

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa