Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 (CD review)

Also, Piano Sonata No. 1. Norman Krieger, piano; Philip Ryan Mann, London Symphony Orchestra. Decca DD41142 / 481 4871.

German composer Johannes Brahms (1833–97) wrote two piano concertos, the first one (1858) all rugged and craggy, and the second one over twenty years later (1881) more lyrical and poetic. As American pianist (and professor of music) Norman Krieger had already recorded an excellent version of the First Concerto, it came as no surprise that he would record the Second. And with the help of Maestro Philip Ryan Mann (Music Director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra) leading the London Symphony, Krieger does a splendid job with it.

Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83 became an immediate success from the very beginning, with the composer himself as the soloist, and he went on to perform the work all over Europe. Brahms wrote the piece in four movements rather than the traditional three, so it's a little longer than most concertos (I've read that Brahms included the extra movement, a scherzo, because he thought the opening movement sounded too plain and simple.) Still, he filled the work with so many memorable melodies and Krieger plays the whole thing so lovingly, the time flies by.

Krieger's playing is characterized not only by its technical virtuosity but by its clarity of expression. He exposes every note to the listener with extreme care, the pianism precisely executed. Yet he manages to maintain the poetry and lyricism of Brahms in the process. Certainly, Brahms didn't make it easy on the performer, though, and the concerto contains numerous difficult passages, which Krieger flies through with ease. His tone is big and robust, filled with energy and emotion, yet compassionate and yielding at the same time, qualities demanded of the Brahms.

Norman Krieger
After the relative calm of the first movement, Krieger plays the second-movement with the drama and passion it needs, yet without bombast, pretentiousness, or padding. Again, for Krieger, clarity dominates, although it is of the fervent kind. In the third movement, Krieger is careful not to upstage the lovely cello duet, and it comes off with a charming grace. Then, while the finale may not exhibit as much sheer joy and abandon as some other interpretations, it is exuberant and filled with an effortless good cheer.

Would I recommend Krieger's recording over some of my personal favorites from Stephen Kovacevich (Newton Classics), Emil Giles (DG), Maurizio Pollini (DG), or Sviatoslav Richter SO (RCA)? Probably not. As good as Krieger's version is, listeners may find it a tad too matter-of-fact compared to the others. Nonetheless, Krieger demonstrates much of the same combination of gusto and lyricism as the pianists mentioned and can walk in their company.

Accompanying the concerto, Krieger includes the Brahms Piano Sonata No. 1 in C, Op. 1 (1853), his first published work. Actually, he wrote his Second Sonata before it but wanted this one to be his first published because he liked it more. The opening Allegro is a kind of homage to Beethoven; the second movement is a theme and variations inspired by a song, which he would later rewrite for female chorus; the third movement is a scherzo; and the finale is a rondo, the theme recurring with noticeable changes. Krieger's reading is as skilled and heartfelt as any I've heard, so no complaints here.

Producer Richard Fine and engineer Wolf-Dieter Karwatky recorded the concerto at Abbey Road, Studio 1, London in September 2014 and the sonata at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin in August 2015. The London Symphony recording at Abbey Road: Who'da thunk? It must be like a second home for them.

Anyway, it's a fine-sounding recording. The sonics are round, warm, and natural, detailed but not at the expense of being hard or bright. The piano is a bit too close for my taste, but it's not right on top of the listener. The hall acoustics are moderately reflective, making the sound more realistic than analytical. Dynamics are acceptably wide and strong, but not grossly so; and the frequency response seems at least adequately extended. It makes for a pleasurable, easy-listening experience.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, March 17, 2018

Subscription Tix Available Now! 48th Anniversary Season: "Music Without Borders"

Festival Mosaic
"Music Without Borders"
July 17-29, 2018, San Luis Obispo Country, CA
48th Anniversary Season | Scott Yoo, Music Director

Music is the universal language. It can break down the barriers that exist between cultures, people, and even time periods. Composers throughout the ages have operated independently of borders - beginning with the composers of the baroque and classical period performing on tours of the royal courts of Europe. The composers and musicians featured in this summer's festival tackle questions of national identity, inclusion, and equity. How does music transcend borders like genre, national identity, gender, and technological divides? Join us this summer to explore these timely questions in fun, festive and intimate performances in beautiful venues on the Central California Coast.

For full information, visit

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Salon/Sanctuary Presents France à Cordes
It is telling that à cordes, which refers to a strung instrument, so closely resembles accord, which means agreement, harmony, concordance, and peace.

France à Cordes explores 500 years of political echoes in French music. From the biting social satire of the medieval Roman de Fauvel to the bourgeois triumph of the Guitare Napolonienne, from the Athenian nostalgia of La Rhétorique des Dieux to the absolutist splendor of Mazzarin's Italian imports, France has long provided fertile ground for musical statecraft.

Five concerts and four venues bring together an international roster of artists and scholars, joined by a city-wide consortium of partnering institutions, including La Maison Française of NYU, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, the Church of St. Jean Baptiste, NYC, L'Église Française du Saint Esprit, NYC, and Princeton University Press.

April 8, 12, 17, 26, 28
Ticket prices: $20/$35/$50/$100

For complete information and tickets, call 1 888 718 4253 or visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Emerson String Quartet Revisits Bolcom's Piano Quintet No. 1
Emerson String Quartet, returns to Stony Brook University's Staller Center for the Arts, New York, on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 8:00 PM with a program that spans three centuries, featuring  masterworks by Purcell , Beethoven, and Bolcom.

Fun fact: In 2001, violinist Isaac Stern, along with members of the Emerson Quartet (Philip Setzer, violin, Lawrence Dutton, viola, David Finckel, cello) and pianist Jonathan Biss, premiered Bolcom's Piano Quintet No. 1 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of his 80th birthday celebration.  For this upcoming concert, the Emerson Quartet will be joined by pianist Christina Dahl (Associate Professor for Piano, Chamber music and Piano Pedagogy at Stony Brook University) to revisit this brilliant work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Recital Hall, Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook, NY

Emerson String Quartet
Christina Dahl, piano

Purcell: Chacony
Purcell: Two Fantasias
Bolcom: Piano Quintet No. 1
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Op. 132

For complete information, visit

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Beethoven Unleashed, April 25-29
Philhrmonia Baroque Orchestra closes the season in a blaze of Beethovenian glory.

What better way to cap off the 2017/18 season than with two Beethoven works that the master himself performed during his famous Akademie benefit concert of 1808. Featuring a star-studded cast and our illustrious Chorale, Nic and the Orchestra will perform Beethoven's Mass in C major Op. 86 and his Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" alongside Cherubini's Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn.

Often overshadowed by the later Missa Solemnis, Beethoven's more pensive Mass in C major is a masterpiece that maintains an immediate emotional appeal throughout. Cherubini shares that sense of sincerity in his poignant tribute to Haydn. And Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" was originally the grand finale of the epic Akademie concert that also premiered his 5th and 6th Symphonies and his Piano Concerto No. 4.

For complete information, visit

--Marketing, Philharmonia Baroque

Sir Andras Schiff Begins North American Tour
The forthcoming highly anticipated North American Tour of Sir Andras Schiff offers rich and imaginative programs centered around specific works by Johannes Brahms. The relational aspects of Brahms' writing to the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann inform the basis of this thoughtful two-program series. Reviewing the programs in London, The Independent enthused that this was "Programming at its most creative."

Spring 2018 North American concert dates:
Mar. 29  -   Princeton, Princeton University
Mar. 31  -   Philadelphia, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center   
Apr. 3    -   New York, Carnegie Hall                       
Apr. 5    -   New York, Carnegie Hall                       
Apr. 8    -   Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall               
Apr. 10  -   Vancouver, Vancouver Playhouse         
Apr. 12  -   Santa Barbara, Lobero Theatre                                 
Apr. 15  -   San Francisco, Davies Symphony Hall                   
Apr. 17  -   San Francisco, Davies Symphony Hall

For more information, visit

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Nimrod Borenstein: new choral music with Ex Cathedra Return to Carnegie Hall
Hot on the heels of his successful album with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra for Chandos, London-based composer Nimrod Borenstein has a busy March and April, with world premieres in the UK and US; including a long-awaited return to choral music and then in June, a return for his music to Carnegie Hall in a unique international link-up.

First up is a choral premiere, and then there was light, written to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Codsall Arts Festival, to be performed by Ex Cathedra. The premiere, on Thursday 22nd March, takes place at St Nicholas Church, Codsall, and marks a special moment for Borenstein. "I composed a lot of choral music in my early years as a composer," he says, "but I have always wanted to come back to it. This return has felt very natural to me. And to work with such a great choir as Ex Cathedra and for such a special occasion as the marvellous Codsall Festival's remarkable anniversary feels very special." So much has Borenstein enjoyed the experience, indeed, that he feels more choral music will follow, and soon.

April is a US-focussed month, with another world premiere, Borenstein's Tango Etude Op. 66, No. 3, given by its dedicatee, pianist Tania Stevreva, at the National Opera Centre in New York. That's followed later in the month by four performances of one of the works on the Chandos disc, "If You Will It, It Is No Dream," given by the South Florida Symphony Orchestra (15th-19th April) — to tour Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key West. This will be the first North America outing for a work that was recently performed to great success at the Enescu Festival (Romania).

And 1st June will bring two connected world premieres, for a link-up between Greece and New York City. The first-ever collaboration between the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Carnegie Hall and El Sistema Greece will feature new works by Borenstein around the ideas of lullabies; Lullaby opus 81a for solo piano, and Lullaby opus 81b for string quartet. There will be simultaneous events in Athens and New York, and Borenstein's two premieres will be played at the former and beamed in live to Carnegie Hall.

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Orion's 25th Season Concludes with Quintessential Quintets in May
To conclude its 25th anniversary season, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, welcomes back guest violist Stephen Boe and guest violinist Mathias Tacke for "Quintessential Quintets." Performances take place May 13 at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church; May 23 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and May 27 at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Quintessential Quintets" takes place Sunday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva-Chapelstreet Church, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Preview Bre'r Rabbit, the New Opera by Nkeiru Okoye and Carman Moore
Composer Nkeiro Okoye (Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom) will present scenes from her new opera at the Dance Theatre of Harlem Sunday Matinee Celebrating Women's Herstory Month. Okoye uses her trademark opera/jazz/ gospel/folk stylings to reclaim the African-American Bre'r Rabbit tales for the modern age. Presented by AOP and Virginia Arts Festival John Duffy Institute for Opera.

Sunday March 18th | 3:00 PM
Dance Theatre of Harlem
466 West 152nd Street (Between Amsterdam and Convent Ave)
New York, NY

General Admission: $15
Seniors, Children, Students w/ ID: $10

For complete information, visit

--AOP News

Thomas Cooley: "A World-Class Evangelist"
Bach St. Matthew Passion: "A stroke of luck…named Thomas Cooley who took on the part of the Evangelist. And he demonstrated with a remarkably versatile and clear tone, what musical story telling in an emphatic sense can mean." --Süddeutsche Zeitung (Münich)

Bach St. John Passion: "As the Evangelist he took every risk to increase the drama of the narrative."
--Berliner Morgenpost

Next appearance as the Evangelist:
St. John Passion - Music of the Baroque Chorus and Orchestra, Jane Glover, conductor
March 25, 26: North Shore Center for the Performing Arts,9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL

For more information, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners, Inc.

ABS Performs Venetian Masterpieces of Monteverdi & Gabrieli
American Bach Soloists' (ABS) 29th subscription season continues with four performances of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine and Giovanni Gabrieli's In ecclesiis and Magnificat à 14. Under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas, the magnificent ABS orchestra and an ensemble of ten superb vocal soloists combine to present this splendid music from the Venetian school.

Friday April 6 2018 at 8:00 pm
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
3 Bay View Avenue, Belvedere, CA 94920

Saturday April 7 2018 at 8:00 pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

Sunday April 8 2018 at 4:00 pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church
1111 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Monday April 9 2018 at 7:00 pm
Davis Community Church
412 C Street, Davis, CA 95616

Phone: 800-595-4TIX (-4849)
$10 student tickets for ages 25 and under with valid student ID, at the door or reserve at 415-621-7900

For more information, visit

--Jonathon Hampton, American Bach Soloists

The Crypt Sessions Presents Countertenor John Holiday
The Crypt Sessions continues on April 26 with countertenor John Holiday.

Holiday will perform an intimate set of art songs, arias, spirituals, and standards, taking a break from touring with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (including a performance of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, April 29 at Lincoln Center).

All concerts take place in the Crypt Chapel under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem. Each new performance - announced directly following the preceding concert - includes a pre-concert food and wine tasting paired to the music, prepared by Ward 8 Events.

Due to rapid sell-outs and long waiting lists, each new concert will be announced immediately after the one preceding it, first to the mailing list, then via The Crypt Sessions website ( and Facebook page (

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Summer Fun for Children and Adults at Music Institute
This summer, the Music Institute of Chicago offers a wide range of private lessons, classes, camps, workshops, festivals, and more for aspiring musicians of all ages and levels of experience. Children and adults have the opportunity to work with award-winning faculty and ensembles in residence at Music Institute campuses in downtown Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, and Lake Forest. The six-week session for group classes runs June 12–July 30 with other activities running throughout the summer months. Of special note are "first experience" camps and classes for children ages 3 to 11, as follows:

Summer Music for Life Camp
SmashUp! Camp
Brass for Beginners Summer Camp

Musikgarten: The Cycles of Seasons and Music Makers I – At Home and in the World
Suzuki Samplers (ages 4–6)
Group Classes (ages 7–11): Violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, recorder, Brass for Beginners, voice
Music Mind Games (ages 5–11)

For a complete schedule and more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

New Century Announces Daniel Hope as Music Director
New Century Chamber Orchestra announced today the appointment of British violinist Daniel Hope as Music Director beginning in the 2018-2019 season.

Previously appointed as Artistic Partner, a three-year position created to provide artistic continuity throughout the search process for a permanent Music Director, Hope will now lead the ensemble on a five-year contract as Music Director through the 2022-2023 seasons.

--Brenden Guy PR

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (CD review)

David Zinman, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. Arte Nova Classics 74321-65410-2 (box set).

Because the nine symphonies of Beethoven form the core of any classical library, all interpretations of them are welcome. When they are as good as these and at such low cost, the prospect is nigh-well irresistible.

Conductor David Zinman leads the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in performances that adhere as closely as possible to Beethoven's designs. The orchestra is much the size of Beethoven's, Maestro Zinman tries to adhere to Beethoven's metronome marks, and the scores are among the most authentic and up-to-date, the Barenreiter editions. The only difference is that the orchestra plays on modern instruments. So the idea is obtain the best of the old and new worlds: Historically informed performances and modern sound. Nikolaus Harnoncourt attempted a similar approach with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, but Zinman, I think, is even more successful, and the results come at a price almost anyone can afford. Arte Nova present the discs in a boxed set, or singly if one chooses to experiment. What's more, the works are sensibly paired two symphonies to a disc consecutively, with Nos. 1 & 2 occupying the first disc, Nos. 3 & 4 the second disc, etc., and No. 9 on a disc to itself. Thus, only five discs are needed to accommodate the complete cycle.

Zinman starts things rolling with a lively rendering of the Symphony No. 1. The tempos are much quicker than even Norrington in his period instruments' version. There is good attack, particularly in the first movement, which is taken at almost breakneck speed. Then things settle down, the second movement Andante having a wonderful lilt. Paired on the same disc is the Symphony No. 2, which again has quick tempos, although they don't seem as noticeable. The reading is invigorating and enlivening, yet the articulation is always precise. I question if the joy of this interpretation has as much to do with the conductor's following the new performing edition as it does simply with Zinman's own personal vision. Whatever, it works wonderfully. The sound in both pieces has good bloom; the timpani, apparently struck with hard mallets, are solidly pronounced and most realistic; and the relatively small ensemble, under fifty players, is clearly delineated. My only quibble is that the overall sonic picture is somewhat dark, with not a lot of high-end sparkle. But one hardly notices such trifles when caught up in music making of this caliber.

Symphony No. 3, the "Eroica," is one of the highlights of the set. It is the first of the "major" symphonies, a departure from Beethoven's earlier environment of Haydn and Mozart and a step into big-time orchestral surroundings. In its day the size and shape of the "Eroica" were unlike anything audiences had heard before. One is again aware of the brisk tempos, but this time they are not nearly so breathtaking, though still exhilarating. Accordingly, the piece does not have the expansive grandeur of Sir John Barbirolli's approach or the nobility of Otto Klemperer's or Karl Bohm's, but it does demonstrate a passionate forward momentum that rightly conjures up heroic images of the Napoleonic era. The second movement funeral march is quicker than we are accustomed to, certainly not a slow dirge as is usually the case, but undoubtedly what Beethoven had in mind. And I especially liked the finale, which gallops along in fine style. The sound here is very much together, of a whole, and somewhat cleaner than in Nos. 1 or 2. On the same disc is the Fourth Symphony. Generally speaking, it sounds a little too rushed for my taste, particularly the first movement, which misses some of the composer's lighter touches. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly poetic and cheerful in Zinman's hands. Utilizing an orchestral force about a third smaller than the works on either side of it, it makes a delightful contrast to its more serious neighbors.

David Zinman
Traditionally, the middle symphonies, Nos. 5-7, have been among the most popular. Yet it is with Zinman's performances of these works that I have the most trouble. The third disc includes the coupling of Nos. 5 and 6, possibly the two most famous symphonies ever written. Beethoven composed the pieces almost simultaneously and premiered them during the same concert in 1808.  What would you have given to be at that historic event? Anyway, unlike his Fourth, Zinman's Fifth is not particularly rushed and is characteristically vibrant. All the same, it doesn't crackle with pent-up energy as Carlos Kleiber's reading does nor hurl forth headlong with relentless momentum as does Fritz Reiner's. And there is not the same triumphal burst at the end that we find with either of the other conductors I mentioned. Furthermore, Zinman's avoidance of anything but the most subtle rubato--he directs only very small contrasts in tempo--is here much in evidence, and before long an air of sameness sets in. For all that, it is a reasonably exciting performance, and those timpani are fun, banging away all along. The sound is curiously less dynamic and a bit more spotlighted than in the big Third Symphony. A year's difference in their recording dates may be responsible.

The first movement of Zinman's "Pastoral" Symphony moves along in bouncy style, giving way to a much gentler "Scene at the Brook" than I expected. The counterpoint in the second movement's closing moments is exceptionally affecting. But the merrymaking that follows is more perfunctory than merry, the storm less menacing than it should be, and the final thanksgiving less than revelatory.  Scored for the same orchestral forces as the Fifth Symphony and recorded on back-to-back days, the Sixth also sounds a little darker than the others in the set. However, there is a greater sense of space and depth to the presentation, especially during the storm. For all this, neither Zinman's Fifth nor Sixth would be close to any of my first choice recommendations in these works--Kleiber, Bohm, Reiner,  Klemperer, or Bruno Walter.

Disc four brings us Nos. 7 and 8. After hearing Zinman sometimes follow Beethoven's tempo marks overzealously in the first six symphonies, I was quite prepared for a hasty rush through the Seventh.  Not so. In fact, Zinman's pace, while appropriately quick, is relaxed and buoyant, the joyous dance melodies compromised only slightly by the heaviness of the sound and the hardness of the drums. Then, with an orchestra slightly pared down from the sixty-odd players in the previous three symphonies to a little over fifty in the Eighth, the sound takes on a greater clarity and lightness of spirit, enlivening this work even more. It is one of Zinman's most delightful interpretations, with special attention given to the second movement's little tiptoes tune. Only in the final Allegro does the music seem at all hasty, yet not enough to dampen the work's overall high spirits.

As befits the crown jewel in Beethoven's cycle, the Ninth Symphony is Zinman's own crowning glory. It appears smaller in scale than those from other conductors, to be sure, but one of the most exceptional Ninths on record. As always following Beethoven's metronome, Zinman transforms the Ninth into a new piece of music. Yet the whole structure is rock solid; and as it feels all of a whole, one is never aware that it shouldn't have always been this way. A comparable recording is one by Sir Charles Mackerras and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic on EMI, which also tries to follow Beethoven's tempo markings and is played on modern instruments. But Zinman's reading is even more lithe and fleet footed, with the advantage, too, of cleaner sound. The second movement Scherzo is specifically fiery. Then, when the finale's "Ode to Joy" bursts onto the scene it is exultant, indeed, even if the staccato pacing of the final minutes takes one slightly aback. Surely, this performance is the way Beethoven would have wanted his legacy to be remembered. Even the sonics are more taut and clear in this last recording.

In summary, one should not miss Nos. 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9 in particular. Nevertheless, at the price we find these discs, the whole box set is a must. This is not to say, however, that there aren't other, good low-cost alternatives available. Overall, I still favor Karl Bohm's more old-fashioned, conventional approach with the Vienna Philharmonic, recorded in the Seventies and issued by DG in three double packages. Bohm's set contains the most treasurable of all "Pastorales," plus highly recommendable versions of Nos. 3, 5, 7, and 9. What's more, they are among the best-recorded Beethoven symphonies at any price. And we can't forget the Philips discs with Eugen Jochum and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, recorded in the late Sixties, very imaginative, reasonably well recorded, and offered at budget price. But neither Bohm nor Jochum boasts the authenticity of Zinman's readings, for which similar sets--Harnoncourt on modern instruments, Norrington and Gardiner on period instruments--will set you back more money.

Needless to say, I am speaking to those of you who already have individual favorites in your collection and are now looking for supplemental material in any case. As for Zinman, the argument seems clear.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this set, 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

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