Classical Music News of the Week, November 19, 2022

Bernstein Announcement

Leonard Bernstein’s Music for String Quartet is set to receive its premiere studio recording and release, with a newly discovered second movement, as yet unheard publicly, to be included on the program.

The piece, composed by Bernstein in 1936 at age 18 while a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, will be performed by Lucia Lin, Natalie Rose Kress, Danny Kim, and Ronald Feldman, produced by PARMA Recordings, and released on the Grammy-winning Navona Records label.

“It’s a rare event indeed to present a premiere of any type by a great master of Bernstein’s stature, much less to have something completely unheard as part of it,” says Bob Lord, CEO of PARMA. “We’re honored to be the stewards of this historic project.”

For details, visit https://www.parmarecordings.com/bernsteins-lost-string-quartet-to-receive-premiere-studio-recording-and-release/

--Bob Lord, PARMA Recordings

Musical Concepts Announces the Return of Orpheus
The return of the Orpheus label on Musical Concepts is a story of the revival of America's largest and yet least-known classical music record label. The Orpheus label was long a part of the Musical Heritage Society, a record club and record label started in New York City in the early 1960s by Dr. Michael Naida.

Naida, who made recordings for Westminster in the 1950s, had a vision of a "society" where members would receive recordings in the mail, and be kept aware of developments and new recordings via "The MHS Review,” which became one of the earliest "record clubs."

Dr. Naida sold MHS - the club and the record label - in the late 1970s. The new owners, the Nissim family, with a strong background in direct mail marketing, grew MHS to over 500,000 members in the late 1980s and 1990s. The MHS record club was sold in 2011, but the record label remained in the hands of the owners. Only a few hundred jazz and classical recordings on the MusicMasters label remained available in digital form, for downloading and streaming. Very few of the early MHS catalog appeared in digital form, or on CDs or LPs.

In 2021, Musical Heritage Society completed the first true detailed research into the MHS catalog of recordings since the label and record club was purchased. They discovered that Musical Heritage Society owned over 2,000 recordings, either purchased by the Society or made by the Society's engineers and producers since the mid 1960s - far exceeding their estimates.

Musical Heritage Society approached Musical Concepts with the idea of reviving the Orpheus label - where historic and well-regarded MHS recordings could be restored and available to classical music lovers, with vastly improved sound (even from the LP era) and restored liner notes.

Long-lost recordings from Ruth Slencnzyska, Huguette Dreyfus, the Austrian Tonkunstler Orchestra are scheduled for release, as well as many performances of New York City's early music groups. including the New York Consort of Viols. Also scheduled for release on Orpheus are a series of recordings created by early music pioneer Denis Stevens. An indefatigable force for the neglected music of the Renaissance and English baroque - particularly of Claudio Monteverdi and Henry Purcell - Stevens was responsible for the discovery of many Monteverdi and Purcell works, and their initial performances.

--Sean Dacy, Rosebrook Media

Jonathan Antoine Joins Los Angeles Master Chorale's “Festival of Carols”
The Los Angeles Master Chorale’s beloved holiday favorite “Festival of Carols” returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall with UK powerhouse tenor Jonathan Antoine, who earned international acclaim after his appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” and became the world's most viewed television audition of any performer in history. Antoine will join the Master Chorale in a performance of  traditional Christmas carols and festive folksongs from around the world. Children six years and above are welcomed to this family-friendly concert.

Jonathan Antoine became a global sensation at the age of 17, following an astounding audition on “Britain’s Got Talent.” He later released two best-selling albums with his singing partner, Charlotte Jaconelli, before going on to further success as a solo artist and becoming the youngest tenor to achieve a #1 classical album.

Festival of Carols kicks off the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2022 holiday programs, which continue on December 11 with “Lo, How a Rose,” which pays tribute to the classic Renaissance Christmas carol by Michael Praetorius that celebrates the wonder of the season.

For details, visit https://www.lamasterchorale.org/holidays

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Princeton University Concerts Debut: tenThing Brass Ensemble
The all-female, ten-member tenThing Brass Ensemble formed as a fun collaboration between friends, spearheaded by celebrated trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth—the first ever classical artist to win Newcomer of the Year at the Norwegian Grammy® Awards. The group makes their Princeton University Concerts (“PUC”) debut Tuesday, December 13, 2022 at 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM in a special, hour-long holiday program that explores the musical traditions of the winter season—from the fjords of Norway, 18th-century Germany, warm Italian Christmas and evergreen England, to the sounds of Ukrainian folk music, Czech fairy tales, and some contemporary American favorites in fantastic new arrangements.

Tickets ($40 General/$10 Students) are limited; patrons are encouraged to buy them soon at puc.princeton.edu or by calling 609-258-9220. The 6:00PM performance is sold out; tickets remain for the 9:00PM performance.

For details, visit https://concerts.princeton.edu/events/tenthing/

--Alexis Branagan, Princeton University Concerts

SF Girls Chorus Returns to Davies Symphony Hall
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) returns to Davies Symphony Hall for the first time in three years for its annual December appearance on Monday, December 12, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.

Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe will lead a program that includes a world premiere SFGC commissioned work by Susie Ibarra, Dreaming Horizons, that also features the composer as percussionist alongside Andy Meyerson and Eric Whitmer; excerpts from Ron Kean’s choral drama, The Journey of Harriet Tubman, featuring soprano Christabel Nunoo; a selection of spirituals that includes arrangements by composers Florence Price and Undine Smith Moore and features pianist Othello Jefferson; Fire from The Elements by Canadian composer Katerina Gimon; and traditional holiday favorites.

Single tickets range in price from $30 to $65 and are available for purchase by phone at (415) 392-4400 and online through http://www.cityboxoffice.com.

--Brenden Guy, Public Relations

Children of the Gospel and USAFB - Free Concert Dec 10th
Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir (COTG) joins the United States Air Force Band in “Season of Hope,” a free concert celebrating the holiday season on Dec. 10 at 3PM and 7PM and Dec. 11 at 3PM at DAR Constitution Hall (1776 D St NW, Washington, DC 20006). Tickets are free and available at https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2022-23-season/season-of-hope-3/

The concert will feature the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants performing timeless renditions of holiday favorites, joined by COTG. Selections include “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Soulful Messiah.” To conclude the program, children of all ages are invited to join Mr. And Mrs. Claus on stage for a holiday sing-along.

For more information, visit http://www.music.af.mil/usafband

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

The Curtis Institute of Music Launches Record Label
The Curtis Institute of Music announces the launch of Curtis Studio, a label dedicated to the discovery of new and traditional works performed by inspiring artists of our time. Curtis Studio kicks off with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Finnish Maestro Osmo Vänskä, performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

For more information, visit https://www.curtis.edu/news/the-curtis-institute-of-music-launches-record-label-curtis-studio/

--Anna Heflin, 8VA Music Consultancy

The Gates of Justice, Brubeck’s Epic Cantata Gets Rare 3-day Spotlight
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in partnership with the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and the Milken Archive of Jewish Music announces a new series of concerts and dialogue: “Music and Justice.”

At its heart is a rare performance of the landmark 1969 cantata The Gates of Justice by Dave Brubeck. Based on Hebrew liturgy, African American spirituals, & Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, the work is scored for jazz trio, brass ensemble, chorus, tenor, baritone. (The tenor role is written in the Cantorial style of the Jewish temple; the baritone in the Spiritual style of the African-American church.)

A fighter for civil rights, Brubeck—who was neither Jewish nor Black—wrote
Gates of Justice in an effort to unify Blacks & Jews after the assassination of MLK Jr.

February 26:  Performance at UCLA Royce Hall (to be livestreamed as well)
February 27:  Day-long conference with musicians & prominent scholars
February 28:  Performance in a local Black church

For more information, visit https://schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/music-and-justice/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Events to Brighten Up Your Winter
Arena Stage: “Ride The Cyclone”
Date: January 13 ­– February 19, 2023
Location: Kreeger Theater
Tickets and info: https://www.arenastage.org/tickets/2022-23-season/ride-the-cyclone/

Leif Ove Andsnes
Date: Tuesday, January 24, 7:30PM
Location: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Washington, DC
Tickets and info: https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2022-23-season/leif-ove-andsnes/

The Washington Chorus and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Verdi: Requiem
Date: Thursday, January 29 - Saturday, January 21
Location: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall: January 19 & 20 | Music Center at Strathmore: January 21
Tickets and info: https://my.bsomusic.org/overview/17604

Oel Thompson’s Seven Words of the Unarmed and “Glory”
The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Tito Muñoz, conductor
Exigence Vocal Ensemble, Eugene Rogers, Music Director
Members of The Washington Chorus, Eugene Rogers, Artistic Director
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 8PM
Location: Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Tickets and info: https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2022-23-season/sphinx-symphony-orchestra/

--Lauren Fischer, Bucklesweet

NatPhil Presents Messiah in December
National Philharmonic (NatPhil) presents three performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, aimed at bringing renewed social relevance, commentary, and philanthropy to an annual holiday tradition. Conducted by Stan Engebretson, the program features a stellar cast of African American singers alongside the National Philharmonic Chorale.

In the spirit of the season, 50 percent of the proceeds from this year’s performances at Strathmore will go toward the 2nd Century Project to raise funds for the restoration of the historic Scotland African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church.

NatPhil’s Messiah takes place on Saturday, December 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 18 at 3:00 p.m. at Strathmore and on Friday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Capital One Hall. Tickets are currently on sale at https://nationalphilharmonic.org/event/messiah-strathmore2/

--Camille Cintrón Devlin

Wine & Cheese & Tchaikovsky & Dvorak
“Crossing Paralletls: Tchaikovsky & Dvorak
Wednesday, December 7, 7.30PM
Bohemian National Hall
321 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

Philippe Quint, violin; Jiin Yang, violin; Maurycy Banaszek, viola; Paul Laraia, viola; Zlatomir Fung, cello; Adrian Daurov, cello; illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson.

Dvorák - String Sextet in A major, Op. 48,
Tchaikovsky - String Sextet in D minor "Souvenir de Florence", Op. 70

For more information, visit https://www.aspectmusic.net/crossing-parallels

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, WildKat PR

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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.

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.

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to both its equipment and recordings 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 simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me — point out recordings that they 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 Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, 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.
The reader will find Classical Candor's Mission Statement, Staff Profiles, and contact information (classicalcandor@gmail.com) toward the bottom of each page.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Writer

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. 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 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. Most recently I’ve moved to my “ultimate system” consisting of a BlueSound Node streamer, an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a CD transport, Legacy Wavelet DAC/preamp/crossover, Tandberg 2016A and Legacy PowerBloc2 amps, and Legacy Signature SE speakers (biamped), all connected with decently made, no-frills cables. With the arrival of CD and higher resolution streaming, that is now the source for most of my listening.

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