Entrez, le Diable! The Virtuoso Cello at the Concert Spirituel (CD review)

Entrez, le Diable! The Virtuoso Cello at the Concert Spirituel (CD review)
Music of Lanzetti, Berteau, Martin, and Barriere. Juliana Soltis, baroque cello; and others. Acis APL72276.

Because Entrez, le Diable! appears to be cellist Juliana Soltis's debut album, many listeners may not be familiar with her work. From her Web site we read: "Raised among the rich musical traditions of Appalachia, cellist Juliana Soltis performs across the globe as both soloist and chamber musician. She has appeared as soloist with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra and the Harvard Baroque Orchestra--with the latter ensemble receiving the Erwin A. Bodky Award for Early Music--and her European debut in Venice, Italy was met with critical acclaim. An active recitalist with performances in Boston, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., in the 2015-2016 season Ms. Soltis was a featured performer on the Gotham Early Music Society's Midtown Concerts series in Manhattan, and toured Japan performing the Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach.

"As a chamber musician, Juliana has performed at the historic Brick Church in New York and the Early Music America Young Performers Festival at the Boston Early Music Festival, and has concertized with the members of the Venice Baroque Orchestra. With her ensemble Die Liebhaberin ('The Enthusiasts'), she has appeared on the Millennium Stage Concert Series at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, receiving praise for her 'thought-provoking' and 'beautifully articulated' interpretation. Ms. Soltis has participated in masterclasses with Jaap ter Linden, Bart Kuijken, Giuseppe Barutti, and Yo-Yo Ma, and holds degrees from the New England Conservatory, Ball State University, the Longy School of Music, and Oberlin Conservatory. A dedicated and passionate performer-scholar, she has pursued studies in modern cello with Yeesun Kim and Richard Aaron, and historical cellos and viola da gamba with Phoebe Carrai and Catharina Meints Caldwell.

"Currently residing in Seattle, WA, Juliana can be heard performing with some of the Pacific Northwest's premiere Early Music ensembles, including Pacific MusicWorks and Early Music Vancouver, as well as on the Gallery Concerts Series and the Seattle Early Music Guild's Northwest Showcase.

"She is privileged to play on an antique instrument, dated Salzburg 1677 by Andreas Ferdinand Mayr and restored by Warren Ellison of Jericho, VT and Curtis Bryant of Watertown, MA."

On the current disc, Ms. Soltis pursues a selection of seventeenth and eighteenth-century music on the aforementioned baroque cello. Accompanying Ms. Soltis are Adaiha MacAdam-Somer, viola da gamba; Lucas Harris, theorbo; and Justin Murphy-Mancini, harpsichord.

The program offers sonatas by Salvatore Lanzetti (1710-1780), Martin Berteau (1691-1771), Francois Martin (1727-1757), Jean-Baptiste Barriere (1707-1747). If these are not exactly household names, understand they were among the first composers to write for the cello, taking the stage for a series of concerts known as the "Concert Spirituel."

Juliana Soltis
The album makes for fascinating listening, as long as you are willing to adjust your expectations somewhat. This is not Romantic cello music by any means, nor does the baroque instrument produce the smoother, richer, or more mellifluent tones of a modern one. Still, there is much here to enjoy. For instance, there is an especially scintillating opening movement and then a lovely Adagio in Lanzetti's opening sonata, which Ms. Soltis handles with loving care (as she does throughout all the pieces on the program). Its closing Allegro, too, is charming in its expectedly livelier, more-spirited style. The Berteau work appears more serious than the others, almost grave in the first two movements before a third movement Allegro of greater animation, receding into a final section that returns us to the leisurely tempos with which the piece began.

Ms. Soltis tells us in a booklet note that Martin intended the first movement of his sonata played with the use of the performer's chin on the fingerboard rather than the fingers to sustain a pedal tone. This resulted for her, Ms. Soltis says, "in an elaborate arrangement of Band-Aids attached to the underside of my jaw." Regardless of the discomfort, the result for the listener is a most-rewarding and highly expressive interpretation.

And so it goes through the disc's final two sonatas by Barriere, highlights for me being the delightfully enchanting Aria amoroso section of his Sonata in D Major and the opening Largo of his Sonata in B Minor. Why in the world don't we hear these things more often?

Ms. Soltis's playing is evocative, technically skilled, joyous when necessary, and often downright beautiful. The album offers a privileged glimpse into a musical world of long ago that many of us may not have heard before: in this case, to the beginnings of the cello, an instrument for many years not thought fit for a proper solo position.

Producer Geoffrey Silver and engineers Kevin Bourassa and Christian Amonson of Arts Laureate recorded the music at the Dorothy Young Centre for the Arts, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey in January 2016. There is excellent clarity about the instruments. The baroque cello, as I've noted, doesn't have as rich a sound as a modern one, but it does produce a fine, resonant sound. The other instruments display clean, vibrant tones. It's a most-realistic presentation.

To learn more about Juliana Soltis, visit http://www.julianasoltis.com/


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 23, 2017

92nd Street Y Opening Night and "Russian October" Concerts

92Y's 17-18 season opens on October 5 with internationally renowned cellist Mischa Maisky joining the "amazing precision" (Huffington Post) of the notably conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which returns to 92Y for the first time in 15 years, to celebrate the cellist's 70th birthday season. Together, they open 92Y's illustrious concert season.

Opening night:
Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 8PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Mischa Maisky, cello

Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Special Event: Paco Peña, flamenco guitar

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Chamber Ensembles
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Borodin Quartet

Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 3 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Masters of the Keyboard
Nikolai Lugansky, piano

For complete information, visit www.92Y.org

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

American Classical Orchestra Presents First NY Period Performance of Mozart's Mass in C Minor
The American Classical Orchestra, "the nation's premier orchestra dedicated to period instrument performance (Vulture)," presents its first performance of Mozart's choral masterpiece, Mass in C Minor (Robert Levin edition), on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, joined by sopranos Hélène Brunet and Clara Rottsolk, tenor Brian Giebler, bass Stephen Eddy, and the ACO Chorus, led by Music Director and ACO founder Thomas Crawford. The program also includes Cherubini's rarely performed Démophoon Overture, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8.

Considered his finest choral work, Mozart's Mass in C Minor was left unfinished like his Requiem. American pianist-scholar Robert Levin, who also completed an edition of Mozart's Requiem that Gramophone Magazine describes as "arguably the most convincing realisation," was commissioned by Carnegie Hall to complete the Mass, which premiered there in 2006, followed by a worldwide tour. This is the first New York performance using period instruments, such as Mozart heard in his time.

New this season are concert previews with the full orchestra, led by Maestro Crawford, beginning a half hour prior to each concert. Audience members are invited to listen to musical excerpts from the concert and hear insights about the program. Concert previews are free to all ticket-holders.

Additional concerts in the ACO's 2017-18 season include a performance of CPE Bach's Magnificat and the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah on December 4 with the ACO Chorus and soloists at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church; five Baroque concertos with violinist Stephanie Chase at Alice Tully Hall on February 8; and a program of works by Brahms, Schubert, and Ries with contralto Avery Amereau and the ACO Men's Chorus on March 24.

For more information, visit www.aconyc.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Slavyanka Chorus Announces 2017 Festival of Russian Choral Music
Slavyanka Russian Chorus and Artistic Director Irina Shachneva today announced the second Festival of Russian Choral Music with performances on October 15, 20 and 22 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Shining a light on the lesser-known choral masterworks of Russian music's "Silver Age" (late 19th and early 20th centuries), the festival will include three West Coast Premieres of works by Sergei Taneyev -- his monumental choral cantata Ioann Damaskin (John Damascus), Op. 1, and choral composition Sunrise performed by the Festival Chorus and Orchestra with Irina Schachneva conducting, and the aria from his last cantata At the Reading of the Psalm featuring the Festival Orchestra and guest conductor Eric Kujawsky, Founder & Music Director of Redwood Symphony.

Internationally acclaimed Russian countertenor Andrej Nemzer teams up with Elena Stepanova-Gurevich (soprano) and Donna Stoering (piano) for a showcase of works for voice and piano by Tchaikovsky, Taneyev and Rachmaninoff. Nine choral groups from the Bay Area and beyond will present a vast selection of Russian folk songs, and sacred music. These groups include the Festival Chorus of nearly 100 voices; Slavyanka Chorus; women's folk ensembles PAVA, KITKA, Kostroma and ISKRA; and three SF Bay Area Russian church choirs -- the choir of Church of All Russian Saints (Burlingame), Holy Virgin Cathedral Pontifical Choir (San Francisco), and the choir of St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church (Santa Cruz).

General admission is priced at $25 with discounted $20 tickets available for students with a valid ID. Free admission for children under the age of 12. Tickets are available for purchase through the Slavyanka Chorus website: http://www.slavyankachorus.org

--Brenden Guy, Media Relations

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents a Pair of October 2017 Performances
Concerts at Saint Thomas will open its 2017-18 season with a pair of October performances at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC. The opening concert, Saturday, October 21 at 1:15pm, will feature award-winning carrillonneur Julie Zhu playing a carillon prelude on the twenty-six church bells that ring out over Fifth Avenue, followed immediately by Organist and Director of Music Daniel Hyde playing a program of North German and Dutch music by the precursors to J.S. Bach: Sweelinck, Scheidt, Buxtehude, Böhm, and Bruhns. The concert is part of the sixth bi-annual New York Early Music Celebration.

On Thursday, October 26 at 7:30pm, Daniel Hyde conducts The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and soloists Krista Bennion Feeney, Sara Cutler, Clara Rottsolk, and Adrian Timpau in Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, John Rutter's Visions, Ralph Vaughan Williams's Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, and Vaughan Williams's great plea for peace, Dona Nobis Pacem.

For tickets and information, visit www.SaintThomasChurch.org/music/concerts

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Pianist Luca Buratto: Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Italian pianist Luca Buratto, the Honens International Piano Competition's 2015 Prize Laureate, will make his New York debut at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. His program features works by Adès, Janácek, Ligeti, Prokofiev and Schumann. The concert is presented by the Honens International Piano Competition.

Luca Buratto stated, "My program for Carnegie Hall juxtaposes five very different types of works—all great, each having its own perspective and expressiveness: the struggles depicted in the sonatas by Janácek and Prokofiev; music of phantoms, angels and hidden voices in the works by Adès and Ligeti; and the distinctive voice of Schumann in his Humoreske. The music of Schumann has, in fact, become almost an obsession with me. Schumann was a tender poet and a stormy romanticist; his work—passionate, intense, lyrical and revolutionary—heralded a new conception of what music could be. Performing and recording his music is always challenging and inspiring, intensely gratifying—a compelling journey into the mind and the art of my most beloved composer. I will be happy and grateful to share the works of all these composers in Zankel Hall."

For more information, visit carnegiehall.org

--Raphael Zinman, Nancy Shear Arts Services

Free K-8 Music Programs from Music Institute of Chicago
The Music Institute of Chicago will offer one free music performance or activity to every K–8 school in proximity to its campuses, located in Evanston, Downers Grove, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, and Winnetka, IL, as well as on Chicago's Near North Side during the 2017–18 school year. Schools in these and adjacent communities can request or collaborate on performances, listen-and-learn classes, musical instrument petting zoos, band and orchestra section rehearsals, master classes, and other music education activities.

In addition, students, teachers, and parents from these schools will receive free tickets to concerts on the Music Institute's Faculty and Guest Artist Series, which take place at the historic Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston. A family-friendly concert opens the series on Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m. A reception follows the performance, when all audience members are welcome to enjoy frozen treats generously provided by Andy's Frozen Custard.

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

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Telemann 360° in Philadelphia
The Telemann 360° festival takes place 11 - 14 October. It is the largest event in the U.S. devoted to the composer in the 250th anniversary year of his death.

The musical highlights are on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13th and 14th, with Tempesta performing programs that encompass chamber and orchestral works that span Telemann's entire career. There will also be a live talk show on Wednesday, October 11, hosted by Fred Child of Performance Today and Live from Lincoln Center, a concurrent Telemann conference hosted by Temple University, and a variety of concurrent activities, exhibits and tours.

For complete information, visit http://www.musiccointernational.com/artist.php?view=news&nid=8879

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

Buy One, Get One Free Ticket for The Judas Passion
There's no better time to get tickets to see the U.S. Premiere of Sally Beamish's provocative new work The Judas Passion. Experience modern composition on period instruments and feel the power of critically-acclaimed tenor Brenden Gunnell as Judas. Reconsider the old narrative about Judas Iscariot as the anti-hero. And see Nicholas McGegan and America's leading period instrument orchestra and choir, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, in a whole new light. Buy tickets now and save 50%.

Buy one ticket and receive another ticket free!
Order online and use promocode: PBO2017
Telemann: Tafelmusik, Suite No. 1 in E minor
Beamish: The Judas Passion

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Mary Bevan, soprano
Brenden Gunnell, tenor
Roderick WIlliams, baritone
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director

Friday October 6 @ 8:00 PM
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Saturday October 7 @ 8:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday October 8@ 4:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/1617-season/operatic-heroes/ or https://www.cityboxoffice.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=2350

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents Rolston String Quartet on October 13
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) presents the Rolston String Quartet—winner of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition and current Quartet-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music—on Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The quartet performs Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 18, No. 3, Debussy's String Quartet No. 10, and Schumann's String Quartet Op. 41, No. 3.

Additional concerts in Five Boroughs Music Festival's 2017-18 season include a performance of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II on Thursday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. at National Sawdust, completing the Songbook's borough-wide tour; the Lorelei Ensemble on Friday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Manhattan; a collaboration with International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and UpBeat NYC on Saturday, March 17 at 8:00 p.m. at Pregones Theater in the Bronx; and concerts by TENET on Friday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. at King Manor Museum in Jamaica, Queens, and on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Riverdale in the Bronx.

For more information, visit www.5bmf.org or email info@5bmf.org.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Augustin Hadelich Returns to San Francisco Symphony
Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich returns to the San Francisco Symphony on October 6, 7 and 8, 2017, performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski at Davies Symphony Hall.

Augustin made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2013, performing Beethoven's Violin Concerto under the orchestra's Conductor Laureate, Herbert Blomstedt. For his return he reunites with Urbanski following a 2016 collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in which Augustin gave a "stylish, riveting performance" of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 "Turkish", according to the Los Angeles Times, continuing, "Hadelich's lean, burnished tone was supremely graceful and communicative."

For more information, visit www.augustin-hadelich.com or http://sfsymphony.org

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

American Opera Projects' Season Opening Benefit
Even the Score: Women Composers @ AOP
Tuesday, Oct 3 | 6:30 PM
Upper West Side home, NYC

Join composers Laura Kaminsky (As One), Missy Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves), Nkeiru Okoye (Harriet Tubman), and Sheila Silver (A Thousand Splendid Suns) for a lively discussion of their work, careers, and the state of contemporary opera, moderated by conductor Steven Osgood (Artistic Director, Chautauqua Opera, AOP's Composers & the Voice) in support of AOP's 2017-18 season.

Evening includes live music, wine and hearty hors d'oeuvres.
Tickets: $300, seating is limited.

For further information and tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/aop-season-opening-benefit-tickets-37742190909?utm_source=Copy+of+10-3-17+invitation&utm_campaign=Even+the+Score+reblast&utm_medium=email

--American Opera Projects

Tchaikovsky: The Sleeping Beauty (CD review)

Mikhail Pletnev, Russian National Orchestra. DG 289 457-2 (2-disc set).

Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet has always lurked in the shadow of his other two great ballets, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. I daresay, with the exception of the big first-act waltz, most people would be hard pressed to identify much of it without prompting. But in the past couple of decades, the work has received several good recordings (including a budget-priced one from Naxos) to accompany such old favorites as those from Previn (EMI), Dorati (Philips), and Rozhdestvensky (BBC). Since Mikhail Pletnev and his Russian National Orchestra provided us with such a splendid Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony a few years before this 2000 release, I had high expectations for his Sleeping Beauty. I wasn't terribly disappointed.

The performance sounds as polished as one could hope for: refined, subtle, and especially expansive in the slower movements. It is a serious interpretation, generally taking the slow parts cautiously and slow paced and the faster sections a tad faster than most other conductors. Compared to my reference, Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, Pletnev seems almost grave at times, yet he also takes some tempos at a clip that would challenge the most nimble of dancers. Previn, on the other hand, has the lighter, more lyrical, more dance-like touch.

Mikhail Pletnev
There is no denying that Pletnev's baronial approach is enjoyable, but it may be a little too urbane for music of such obvious sensual and emotional appeal. No reservations about the playing, however. The Russian National Orchestra perform the work with elegance and refinement in abundance.

DG's digital sound, recorded in 1997, is somewhat heavier and smoother than EMI's 1974 analogue sound for Previn, and the DG sonics are not quite as detailed through the midrange. Nor is there as much depth to DG's orchestral field or as much ambiance as from the older EMI. Indeed, the DG sounds a little flat and dry by comparison. However, I did like DG's slightly more resonant string tone than EMI's. The sound of neither recording is exactly state-of-the-art, but neither recording offers any real displeasure.

Of minor note: The Pletnev recording offers a total of sixty-three tracking points, the Previn seventy-seven. Both are plenty. Overall, I'd say the Previn rendering is a more balletic approach; the Pletnev is more of a concert performance. Although they're both satisfying, if I had to pick just one, it would still be the Previn.


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

John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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

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

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.

Contact Information

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

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa