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/

JJP

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
Program:
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.

JJP

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


R. Strauss: Elektra & Der Rosenkavalier Suites (SACD review)

Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Reference Recordings Fresh! FR-722SACD.

Over the past few years I've had the pleasure of listening to several recordings by Maestro Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony. While the performances have had strong competition in the catalogue, Honeck's interpretations have held their own; and while I have not always enjoyed the live sound from Pittsburgh as much as others have, it has always sounded better to me than most live recordings. With this Richard Strauss album, however, the performances seem stronger and the sound a bit more rounded and lifelike, making it clearly the best thing I've yet to hear from Honeck and company. It's worth a listen.

First up on the program is a symphonic suite from the opera Elektra by German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949). Strauss collaborated with Austrian librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal to adapt the work from a 1902 drama and to premiere it in 1909. Here, we get the world premiere of a suite from the work, the suite conceptualized by Mr. Honeck and realized by Tomas Ille.

The opera came at a time when the classical world was just beginning to embrace the atonality and dissonance so favored by modernist composers. As such, although Elektra may have found its roots in ancient Greek mythology, the music is decidedly modern and expressionist. In fact, the suite makes a striking contrast with the piece that follows it on the disc, a suite from Der Rosenkavalier, which more closely adheres to the Romantic traditions of the previous century.

Manfred Honeck
So, how does Honeck handle the score for Elektra, which he had a hand in writing? I have to admit here that Elektra is not among my favorite operas, and I had never heard just the orchestral music before. The suite under Maestro Honeck gives me a new appreciation for the piece. Although as a whole the piece sounds a tad disjointed, usual for a suite I suppose, there is a wonderful sense of ebb-and-flow to the score; and although Strauss was certainly experimenting with modern musical idioms, at least under Honeck it appears to take root in elements of the previous century as well. So the work swells with tensions without overflowing in discordances. In fact, Honeck is able to hold it all together for a little over half an hour in an amiable fashion. Conflicts and resolutions come and go, yet the score seems fairly cohesive, the conductor able to patch over any potential disconnects with admirable alacrity.

The second item on the program is a suite (arranged by conductor Artur Rodzinski in 1945) from Strauss's romantic opera Der Rosenkavalier, a piece that premiered in 1911. With its wealth of lush melodies and lavish waltzes, the music couldn't be more different from that of Elektra. Here, Honeck is as exuberant with the score as he was eloquent in Elektra. The music is justifiably popular, and Honeck presents it well; i.e., with unashamed enthusiasm for its late-flowering Romanticism. Moreover, the orchestra responds splendidly to both suites: disciplined, refined, keen, and glowing.

Producer Dirk Sobotka and engineer Mark Donahue of Soundmirror, Boston recorded the music live at the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA in May 2016. They made it for hybrid SACD playback, so one can listen to multichannel or two-channel stereo on an SACD player or two-channel stereo on a regular CD player. I listened in two-channel SACD.

There is an enormous dynamic range involved, which we might expect from this source and from the very slightly close-up live recording involved. Overall room ambience seems just a tad diminished, too, but the proximity of the microphones to the instruments definitely helps with clarity. Most important, things are not overly close, the sound is not at all bright or edgy, and there is a cozy warmth that accompanies it. One hardly notices the audience, and the engineers have thankfully removed any applause. The sonics are still not quite as realistic to my ears as most of Reference Recordings' studio projects, but they will undoubtedly satisfy and thrill most listeners.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, September 16, 2017

Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series

Festival Mozaic continues to bring exceptional classical music performances to the San Luis Obispo area year-round with the WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series. Enjoy chamber music performed by world-class Festival Mozaic musicians in the fall and winter. These full-weekend chamber music experiences allow you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of classical music in beautiful San Luis Obispo, California.

Join us for the 2017-2018 WinterMezzo Series, two weekends of music that will suprise, delight, and inform you.

WinterMezzo I: October 20 - 22, 2017:
"Mozart, Chopin & Prokofiev"
The weekend explores three centuries of chamber music's artistic progress. Mozart's sonatas were performed in royal court chambers throughout Europe. Chopin's challenging Ballades beguiled attendees in 19th century Parisian salons. And Prokofiev's passionate Violin Sonata No. 1, written during World War II, was so beloved by the composer that it was performed at his funeral.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 23 in D major, K. 306 performed by Scott Yoo, violin, and Anna Polonsky, piano

Frédéric Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, op. 23 and Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, op. 47 performed by Anna Polonsky, piano

Sergei Prokofiev: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in F Minor, op. 80 performed by Scott Yoo, violin, and Anna Polonsky, piano

WinterMezzo II: February 23 - 25, 2018:
"Musique Française"
French composers in the 20th century reinvented melody through impressionism and neo-classicism. The melodic works of Gabriel Fauré, Jean Cras and Albert Roussel were written when jazz sounds from the United States had crossed the pond. Rounding out this imaginative and evocative program is a jazz riff on the baroque style by living composer Noam Elkies.

Noam Elkies: E Sonata for flute and keyboard in E minor, op. 40
Albert Roussel: Serenade, op. 30
Jean Émile Paul Cras: Suite en Duo
Gabriel Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45

Musicians: Alice K. Dade, flute, John Novacek, piano, Jessica Chang, viola, Meredith Clark, harp, Scott Yoo, violin and Jonah Kim, cello.

For complete information, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

LA Master Chorale: "Día de los Muertos" Concert October 29
September 11, 2017 – Choral music that explores the dual themes of "death" and "celebration" comprise a spirited program for the Los Angeles Master Chorale's first-ever "Día de los Muertos" concert on Sunday, October 29 at 7 PM in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Tickets start at $29 and are available online from lamasterchorale.org, by calling the Box Office at 213-972-7282, or in person from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, Monday – Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM.

The concert adds a new musical celebration to Los Angeles' calendar of events centered around the Mexican Day of the Dead festivities that will take place October 31 through November 2.

Tickets are available now, starting from $29 by phone at 213-972-7282 or online at lamasterchorale.org.

Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM.

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

Violinist Jude Ziliak Named ABS 2018 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient
The American Bach Soloists are pleased to announce the 2018 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient, Jude Ziliak, violinist.

The Jeffrey Thomas Award is granted annually at the Artistic Director's discretion to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of early music who show extraordinary promise and accomplishment. Inaugurated in 2013, the Jeffrey Thomas Award was created by the American Bach Soloists in celebration of their first 25 years of presenting performances in Northern California, across the United States, and around the world, and ABS Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas's tenure of inspired leadership.

Jude Ziliak--the recipient of the 2018 award—is a violinist who specializes in historical performance practices. His dedication to the Baroque violin family extends from performing on the lira da braccio to premiering new pieces for period instruments.

For more information, visit americanbach.org

--American Bach Soloists

McGegan Brings Mozart Back to the Bowl
On air: October 1 at 7pm on KUSC SoCal.
The program was originally performed Thursday, September 14 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic,
Kristóf Baráti, violin.

Overture to Idomeneo
Violin Concerto No. 5
Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter"

--Schwalbe and Partners

YPC's Fall Season Kicks Off with Two Premieres
Having just completed a momentous summer, the Young People's Chorus of New York City is already preparing for an exciting fall lineup that includes debuts in Lincoln Center's White Light Festival and the Metropolitan Museum's MetLiveArts.

YPC and Meredith Monk in U.S. Premiere of "Dancing Voices" at Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, October 20-21.

YPC--in collaboration with iconoclastic composer/performer Meredith Monk and members of her Vocal Ensemble--join forces for three performances of the U.S. premiere of Dancing Voices, an exciting multi-dimensional and intergenerational evening of music, theater, and movement.

Join us for this unmatched performance of vocal theater and body singing, to experience performance art with a fresh perspective—to hear with eyes wide open and see with adventuresome ears. For the first time ever, the YPC commission "Three Heavens and Hells," will be performed in its entirety.

Three performances at Lincoln Center's Gerald W. Lynch Theater October 20 and 21.

YPC in NYC Premiere of Ben Moore's Odyssey: A Youth Opera in the Met Museum's MetLiveArts series, November 3-4.

Members of the Young People's Chorus of New York City are featured in leading roles and the chorus in three performances of the New York premiere of Ben Moore's Glimmerglass Opera production of Odyssey, a hero's journey for all ages. Kelley Rourke's libretto brings to life an action-packed retelling of the epic journey of Odysseus as he faces down bloodthirsty monsters and other unimaginable obstacles as he sails home from war.

Three performances in Met Museum's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Bring the children to this extraordinary experience. With just one full-price ticket, three children ages 7 to 16 will each be admitted for $1.

For complete information, visit https://ypc.org/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Orpheus Opens Season with Andre Watts Tour and Vijay Iyer Premieres
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra opens its 2017-2018 season on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 8:00 p.m, presenting a performance in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. The orchestra is joined by virtuoso pianist André Watts for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271 "Jeunehomme." The program also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, and the New York premiere of Vijay Iyer's Asunder.

Iyer explains that "Asunder seeks to elicit unlikely or even impossible unities in the traditional orchestra formation. This objective is approached by reassembling instruments into unusual groupings while specifying a literal 'balance of power' among groups, and ceding a certain amount of control of the flow of events to the players."

This program is also presented on Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska; Saturday, October 14 at 8:00 p.m. at the Norton Center for the Arts' Newlin Hall in Danville, Kentucky; Sunday, October 15 at 4:00 p.m. at the Loeb Playhouse in West Lafayette, Indiana presented by Purdue Convocations; Sunday, October 22 at 3:00 p.m. at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; and Friday, October 27 at 8:00 p.m. at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, with Janice Carissa as piano soloist.

Subscriptions for Carnegie Hall concerts can be purchased by visiting orpheusnyc.org or calling 212-896-1704. Single tickets for the October 26 performance, priced from $12.50 to $115, are available for purchase at the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th and 7th, can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or by visiting the Carnegie Hall Web site at carnegiehall.org.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts Announces 2017/2018
After its highly successful inaugural season in North America, the acclaimed ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts is expanding its programming to seven fascinating concerts this season.

Featuring a prestigious roster of rising and established solo artists and chamber ensembles, and notable scholars of music and history leading "Illustrated Talks" to enrich the concert-going experience, the 2017/2018 season presents concerts stemming from a variety of themed series and standalone performances of important chamber music works. These series, many of which make their debut to the Foundation's New York audience, include "Composers on Composers," "Words of Music," "Hidden Gems," and "Painting Music." ASPECT Foundation, praised by Epoch Times as "a very welcome addition to the chamber music landscape of New York," enthusiastically returns to its locale at Columbia University's elegant Italian Academy, continuing its tradition of collective artistic enlightenment in an intimate space.

For complete information, visit http://www.aspectfoundation.net/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Lawrence Brownlee Announces His 2017-18 Season
Lawrence Brownlee is proud to announce his 2017-18 season, continuing his presence in the major opera houses of the U.S. and Europe, and featuring the premiere of a new song cycle, entitled "Cycles of my Being," centered around the black male experience in America today. The piece has been commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, and Brownlee will tour it to major venues around the U.S., including the world premiere in Philadelphia on February 21, followed by performances in San Francisco, Utah, Portland, Boston, Princeton, Illinois, New York' Carnegie Hall (April 24), Virginia and Michigan.

2017-18 continues the extraordinary momentum of last season, in which Brownlee received the "Male Singer of the Year" award from both the International Opera Awards and Bachtrack, joined Opera Philadelphia as their Artistic Advisor, and released a recital album, "Allegro Io Son," which received a Critic's Choice from Opera News, among numerous other accolades.

For more information, visit http://www.lawrencebrownlee.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

ROCO Honors Houston's Response to Harvey
Helping Houston heal from Harvey, ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) will premiere two new fanfares commissioned in response to the city's resilience.

For the first fanfare, ROCO commissioned Emmy Award-winning composer Anthony DiLorenzo to write a fanfare to honor the strength, caring, and courage our community showed the world during rescue and now in recovery. In keeping with ROCO's passion for collaboration, more than 20 other performing arts groups will also perform this piece throughout the 2017-18 season as a thread of music tying our city together. DiLorenzo's piece is entitled Anthem of Hope: Houston Strong, and will receive its world premiere performance at ROCO's season opening concerts September 22nd at Miller Outdoor Theatre and September 23rd at The Church of St. John the Divine.

The second new fanfare for chorus, composed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, is entitled The Big Heart, and explores Houston's response to Harvey in the context of the city's selfless sheltering of the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The piece features a lyric by renowned librettist Mark Campbell, and will be premiered during ROCO's second In Concert performance on November 11.

For more information, visit https://rocohouston.org

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Mahler: Symphony No. 1, "Titan" (CD review)

Yoel Levi, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Telarc DSD CD-80545.

"Wouldn't you just die without Mahler?"  --Educating Rita

I love Mahler, but I'm going to be a little sacrilegious here and say I'm not convinced there is as much to him as people generally ascribe. He has been the darling of the stereo age with his up-and-down surges of passion and eccentricity, but I think maybe the initial reviews of his Symphony No. 1 were close to the point when they called it "...an accumulation of of extravagances." That doesn't make the music any the less enjoyable, however, because what we all need from time to time is a little extravagance.

Anyway, Yoel Levi's 1999 recording of the Mahler First sounds typical of much of the conductor's work: smooth, polished, refined, nonchalant, and a little detached. It's also not a little sluggish, marmoreal, perhaps even lethargic. And by including the Blumine Andante as a second of five movements he doesn't help matters. Mahler dropped the Andante shortly after the symphony's premiere, reinstated it briefly, and then dropped it again in his final revision. It is certainly a sweet piece of music, but it doesn't really fit in with the other slow movement, the next-to-last one with its quirky parody of "Frere Jacques" in the funeral march; nor does it fit in with the turbulent opening of the finale. If, as Bruno Walter said, the First Symphony is a "triumphant victory over life," then why include such repose so early on?

Yoel Levi
Anyway, Levi's interpretation is fine, if a little underwhelming, especially in the Scherzo, which is really too tame for my taste. Certainly the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra play with grace and refinement, though, and they provide a proper oomph when needed.

I can't say that Telarc's year 2000 sound helped much any, either. They used DSD, Direct Stream Digital, which they called at the time of this recording a "new and improved method of converting music into the digital domain, sampling a 1-bit word at 2.8224 MHz per second. This results in a frequency response from 0 Hz to beyond 100K Hz, and a dynamic range greater than 120 db. Much of the added resolution afforded by the DSD process is retained in standard CD production by using Super Bit Mapping Direct, a dedicated DSD conversion processor." OK, most of us know that by now.

DSD does often provide good sound, but I didn't hear a lot of improvement in this recording over what Telarc had been doing earlier. I only noticed that Telarc engineers started miking their projects a little closer by 2000, providing a bit more detail at the expense of overall, realistic imaging. The bass drum is without a doubt a contributing factor to the impact the music makes, and Telarc as usual captured it strongly, forcefully, dynamically, but without excessive exaggeration. The rest of the sound is similar to Levi's interpretation: smooth, polished, refined, nonchalant, and a little detached. I am still of a mind to prefer Horenstein on Unicorn, Solti on Decca, or Bernstein on DG or Sony for overall performance or Tennstedt and the London Philharmonic on EMI for sonics.

JJP

To listen to brief excerpts from all five movements, click below:


Tribute: Dover Quartet Plays Mozart (CD review)

Quartets K.589, K.590; Quintet K. 406. Dover Quartet. Cedille CDR 90000 167.

The Dover Quartet is a group of young people who formed their string quartet several years ago at the Curtis Institute of Music and then rose to prominence by sweeping the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, taking not only the top prize but the three next awards as well. Since Banff, the quartet has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, garnering praise wherever they go. The quartet members are Joel Link, violin; Bryan Lee, violin; Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; and Camden Shaw, cello.

"Tribute: Dover Quartet Plays Mozart" is their debut album, and it couldn't have worked out better for them. They made the album in tribute to their mentors and inspiration, the Guarneri Quartet (1964-2009), who fifty years earlier recorded the same two Mozart quartets included on this disc. In addition, the Dovers have added Mozart's K. 406 Quintet, with none other than a member of the (now disbanded) Guarneri Quartet, Michael Tree, on viola. It's a happy conflux of music and players.

The program begins with the String Quartet No. 22 in B-flat major, K. 589 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). He wrote it in 1790, the second of three string quartets commissioned by and dedicated to the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II. They were also the final quartets Mozart wrote before this death, and the music firm Artaria published them posthumously in 1791.

The "Prussian Quartets" are largely sweet and melodious, which is how the Dover Quartet plays them. One hears in their approach the influence of their advisers, the Guarneri Quartet, whose own style critics often characterized as rich, warm, refined, and smooth yet uniquely individual, spirited, impassioned, and always executed with flawless technique. I would use these same words to describe the Dover Quartet's playing, and, if anything, even more so. The playing is remarkably precise yet vibrantly alive. The one recording of No. 22 I had on hand for comparison was with the Alban Berg Quartet on Teldec, another fine record. To take nothing away from the Alban Berg Quartet, the Dovers seem a degree more lively and the sound a tad more lifelike to me.

The Dover Quartet
Next, we get the String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590. While it is every bit as graceful a work as No. 22, it appears a bit more extrovert and virtuosic, too. There are moments of quiet introspection, moments of seemingly wild joy and abandon, and moments of surpassing tranquility. Needless to say, the Dover Quartet capture every minute of it with a passionate clarity.

The last selection is Mozart's String Quintet No. 2 in C minor, K. 406, written in 1787. Mozart transcribed it from his earlier Serenade No. 12 for Wind Octet, K. 388, scoring it for a quartet and an extra viola, here played, as I've said, by the Guarneri's Michael Tree. It would have been just as easy to include the third of the Prussian quartets, but I'm glad they decided to do the quintet with Mr. Tree instead. With every instrument distinctly individual yet blending perfectly as a whole, the playing of the piece makes a touchingly delightful final tribute to the Guarneris and Mozart.

Cedille Records package the disc in a fold-over Digipak case, and they enclose in it a particularly enlightening booklet of notes by Dover member Camden Shaw and others.

Producer and engineer Judith Sherman and editor Bill Maylone made the 24-bit digital recording at the Miriam & Robert Gould Rehearsal Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA in December 2015. As we might have expected from a record company that has been producing so many excellent recordings over the years, this one sounds terrific. The sonics are well defined, the instruments well integrated, the distancing a tad close but response never bright or edgy. First-rate transparency, superb balance, the whole is as natural and realistic as one could want. Another superb recording from Cedille.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, September 9, 201

Not Just the Messiah

Nicholas McGegan, the "Master Interpreter of Oratorio"

Handel: Joshua 
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
"Under McGegan's inspired direction, the performance emerged as one of the period instrument ensemble's finest offerings in recent memory…McGegan conducted with consummate flair and unflagging rhythmic verve, and the orchestra responded with a forceful, fully committed performance." --The Mercury News

Handel: Athalia
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
"Led a vivid, emotionally cogent performance, pacing the music smartly but patiently and drawing unusually fine playing from the orchestra." --San Francisco Chronicle

Handel: Israel in Egypt
Royal Northern Sinfonia
"Extracted every ounce of drama from the score, while maintaining a driving momentum to the narrative." --The Northern Echo

Upcoming Oratorio Performances:
Beamish: The Judas Passion
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
October 4, 6, 7, 8  (U.S. Premiere)

Haydn: The Creation
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
November 3, 4

Handel: Joseph and his Brethren
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
December 14, 15, 16, 17

For more information, visit http://nicholasmcgegan.com/

--Schwalbe and Partners

Salisbury Symphony Announces Arts Partnership with East Spencer
The Salisbury Symphony (Salisbury, NC) is delighted to announce that it will be the Town of East Spencer's first Arts Partner.  The partnership will focus on music engagement with the East Spencer community beginning with a 12-week pilot program of learning how to play the violin. This program will be made available to the entire East Spencer community, from ages eight and above, and will take place at 1909 East, East Spencer's newly acquired facility (the former Salisbury Education Administrative building), once a week starting week commencing September 25th. Dr. Lynn Bowes, the Symphony's Education Director, will oversee the program.

Music education is a key component of the Salisbury Symphony's mission and as such the organization will be expanding their music education program to reach out to communities and individuals who might not otherwise be exposed to orchestral music. Music programs like this provide a supportive environment that promote acceptance and creativity, and involvement in music education programs provide positive personal, social, and motivational effects in anyone's life.

For more information or to sign-up for the program, email education@salisburysymphony.org or visit the Web site at https://www.salisburysymphony.org/

--James D. Harvey, Executive Director

Announcing the Winner of the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music
The Azrieli Foundation is proud to announce that composer Kelly-Marie Murphy is the winner of the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music. This is the second time that the Foundation has awarded the $50,000 CAD prize – the largest of its kind in Canada – which is granted to a Canadian composer based on a proposal for a new work which expresses an aspect of the Jewish experience with the utmost creativity, artistry and musical excellence.

Established by the Azrieli Foundation in 2015, the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) also include a $50,000 international prize, granted to the composer of the best new major work of Jewish Music written in the last ten years. For 2018, the Azrieli Music Prizes highlight new works for chamber orchestra, and will culminate with the Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert with the McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and Guest Conductor Yoav Talmi on October 15, 2018 at Maison symphonique de Montreal.

The 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music call for submissions remains open until November 5, 2017. Submissions are being accepted, without entry fee, from composers of all nationalities, faiths, backgrounds, affiliations and experience levels. For submission details, please visit www.azrielifoundation.org/music.

--Shira Gilbert PR

"Women in Conversation" at the Green Music Center
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

3:30 – 6:30 p.m. "The Experience" (More than an Expo!)
Mingle, nosh and drink. Engage with numerous women-related businesses and services.

6:30 – 9 p.m. "Women in Conversation"
Three dynamic and inspirational speakers:
Judy Sakaki
President Sonoma State University
Judy K. Sakaki became Sonoma State's seventh president in 2016 and was named 2017 "President of the Year."

Geena Davis
Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood's most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks.

Shiza Shahid
Women's Rights Advocate
Shiza is focused on supporting startups, innovators and entrepreneurs, who are creating positive global impact.

For ticket information, visit https://tickets.sonoma.edu/gmc/Online/default.asp

--Green Music Center

American Bach Soloists Annual Gala Auction, Concert, & Dinner
Saturday September 23 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Many of us have stories about Venice. Have you visited and experienced its varied history, especially, perhaps viscerally, recalling her music and food??

For the American Bach Soloists 2017 gala, "Sparkle 2017: Celebrating Venice," we're focusing on Venice and the music of Vivaldi as we gather to celebrate a magical evening to raise money for the American Bach Soloists Academy.

On Saturday September 23, 2017, join the musicians, board of directors, and staff in an enchanted evening as we celebrate Venice. The evening begins with a concert by American Bach Soloists titled "Viva Vivaldi's Venice" led by Artistic/Music Director Jeffrey Thomas in works featuring violinists Jude Ziliak, Carla Moore, and Cynthia Black, alongside Sandra Miller (flute), Gretchen Claassen (violoncello), Steven Lehning (contrabass), and Corey Jamason (harpsichord).

For more information on the event and/or auction items and to purchase your tickets, please visit americanbach.org/gala.

--American Bach Soloists

Film Movement Presents "The Paris Opera"
This fall, Film Movement takes viewers behind the scenes of a drama-filled season at on e of the world's greatest cultural institutions with "The Paris Opera."

Opening in New York on October 18 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Quad Cinema, Jean-Stéphane Bron's feature-length film will also play 20+ additional U.S. markets, including Los Angeles (10/20), Boston (10/27), Washington D.C. (10/27), San Francisco, (10/27) and Philadelphia (11/17).

In turns ironic, light-hearted and cruel, encompassing both music and ballet, "The Paris Opera" puts the spotlight on great artistic passions and tells the story of life backstage at this iconic and indispensable performing arts institution.

"The Paris Opera" (2016)
 Directed by Jean-Stéphane Bron
Featuring Benjamin Millepied, Stéphane Lissner, Philippe Jordan, Bryn Terfel, Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti, and Gerald Finley
Run time 110 minutes

For complete information, visit http://www.filmmovement.com/theatrical/index.asp?MerchandiseID=567

--Melanne Mueller, Music Company International

Premieres of Two Gordon Getty Operas and Broadcast of Peter Rosen Documentary
The New York premieres and world premiere production of Gordon Getty's "Scare Pair,"a double-bill by the San Francisco-based composer, pairs his two one act-operas --Usher House and The Canterville Ghost-- together for the first time on October 19 and 21 (7:30pm) at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (located at East 68th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, NYC).Both works, with the libretto and music by Mr. Getty, will be sung in English and have a running time of 60 minutes each.

Usher House, derived from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," has Poe taking the stage himself as the narrator and main character. The Canterville Ghost is based on Oscar Wilde's witty tale from 1887. It provides a comic twist to the evening.

In addition, on October 21, "Gordon Getty: There Will Be Music" will air on WNET at 1 p.m. The new one-hour documentary, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Peter Rosen, follows the now-83-year-old composer in various locations around the world.

"Scare Pair" takes place on Thursday, October 19 and Saturday, October 21 at 7:30pm at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (located on East 68th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues). Tickets are priced at $35, $25. Senior/Student Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in person with valid ID. For ticket information contact http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/kayeplayhouse or by phone at 212 772 4448.

For information on the documentary, visit https://vimeo.com/147538562 for the trailer or https://vimeo.com/204192893 for the full PBS version.

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Alehouse Sessions Bring Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene to the U.S.
Baroque violinist Bjarte Eike and his ensemble Barokksolistene will bring their latest "irresistible" (Times) project - The Alehouse Sessions - to the United States from October 5-12.

The Alehouse Sessions is an ever-evolving look into the music of the English 17th Century tavern that has been something of an insider's tip until now. But with growing critical and audience recognition, including raves of "fizzing with energy" (BBC Radio 3) and "fabulously unrestrained" (Guardian), the Norwegian Eike and his Barokksolistene have taken the stage by storm in Europe and with a live recording released in June on the new indie label Rubicon.

For more information, visit http://barokksolistene.epidemin.se/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Award Winning Backtrack Vocals Touring U.S. and Canada
Congratulations to the Backtrack Vocals, winners of multiple national a cappella awards and accolades. This international touring group has been selected as a finalist for the International A Cappella Open Competition to be held at Carnegie Hall, September 23, 2017.

Their arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" received a Special Award for Outstanding Arrangement.

For more information, visit https://varsityvocals.com/event/theopen/

--Jean Schreiber, Classics Alive

Longleash Trio in Concert at Le Poisson Rouge
On Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 5:00pm, Longleash (Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; and Renate Rohlfing, piano) perform a concert celebrating the September 22 release of their debut album, Passage, on New Focus Recordings.

The evening will feature selections from the album, including Francesco Filidei's "Corde Vuote," Clara Iannotta's "Il colore dell'ombra" (Movt. 1), and Christopher Trapani's "Passing Through, Staying Put," as well as solos and duos by Suzanne Farrin and Anthony Cheung. Longleash will be joined by guest pianist/composer Nils Vigeland.

For complete information, visit http://longleashtrio.com/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

This Fall: Your "First Chance" to See These New Operas
For almost 30 years American Opera Projects has been the home of contemporary opera development providing valuable resources to emerging and established artists.

AOP's "First Chance" program allows you to preview the latest operas, meet the creators, and go behind the scenes of the fascinating process of building new opera. AOP audiences were the first to hear the enormously successful As One (commissioned and premiered by AOP in 2014, now with over twenty new productions) and this past spring's world premieres The Summer King, Independence Eve, and Three Way.

Join us this Fall for AOP "First Chance" featuring five wildly different new operas:

Six. Twenty. Outrageous
Three Gertrude Stein Plays in Search of an Opera
Monday, September 18 | 6:00 PM
Brooklyn, NY

The Echo Drift
Thursday, October 5 | 7:00 PM
Scandinavia House, NYC

Gulliver's Travels
Friday, October 6 | 8:00 PM
Brooklyn, NY

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Saturday, November 18 | 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM
Hudson Area Library, Hudson, NY

Wolf-in-Skins
November 29 & 30 | 7:30 PM
The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA

For complete information, visit www.aopopera.org

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

Caruso 2000 (CD review)

The Digital Recordings. Enrico Caruso; Gottfried Rabi, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. RCA 74321-69766-2.

No matter whether you think Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) was the greatest tenor of all time, you have to admit the idea for this album is a kick: Caruso singing with a modern symphony orchestra in full-blown stereo. What the marvels of modern digital technology can't accomplish.

RCA did these renovations in the year 2000; thus, the title of the album. They have cleaned the century-old Caruso recordings (made between 1906-1920), edited out extraneous clicks, ticks, and pops, and deleted the original, meager instrumental accompaniments altogether. Then conductor Gottfried Rabi and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra played along with the voice. The results can occasionally sound quite convincing and highly rewarding, enabling us for the first time to hear Caruso as he might actually have sounded live all those many years ago. The results can also be highly frustrating sometimes, sounding exactly like what they are, a modern orchestra playing behind old phonograph records. So, maybe the whole thing's merely a novelty; depends on your point of view.

Enrico Caruso
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the disc, even if it might drive purists mad. On most of the tracks, and in spite of anything the RCA engineers could do, Caruso's voice appears to be in an entirely different acoustic space from the orchestra. Nothing can disguise the dead, hollow, megaphone sound of the old recordings. But if one listens with a willing suspension of disbelief, the music comes off better than one might expect.

RCA included seventeen selections on the disc, among the best sounding of which are Meyerbeers's "O paradiso!" and Leoncavallo's "Vesti la giubba." As a final track, RCA provide the original version of the latter recording for comparison purposes. Yes, there is a huge difference, albeit an unfair one. RCA, after all, cleaned up the remastering (and added modern accompaniment), making the new version sound quite a bit better than the hundred-year-old one, with its thin sound and plethora of associated noises. I think we get the point.

If you are a Caruso collector, the disc is probably already in your collection. If you have avoided buying any Caruso recordings because you knew you would not be able to cope with the ancient sonics, this is your chance to hear something perhaps more pleasing to the ear. Of course, if you are happy with the old Caruso recordings just as they are, you might not appreciate these newfangled concoctions. The disparity in aural surroundings between voice and orchestra may be more distracting to you than the old originals.

In any case, there's a lot here to think about and, with an open ear, maybe a little something to enjoy.

JJP

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


J.S. Bach: Religious and Secular Works (SACD review)

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian National Orchestra. Pentatone PTC 5186 593.

According to Wikipedia, "Hilarion Alfeyev (born Grigoriy Valerievich Alfeyev 24 July 1966) is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present he is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk ('metropolitan' is the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertaining to the diocesan bishop of a metropolis), the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow. He is also a noted theologian, church historian and composer, and has published books on dogmatic theology, patristics, and church history as well as numerous compositions for choir and orchestra." Oh, and on the present recording, he's a conductor.

As a conductor Alfeyev is rather conservative, to say the least. As he describes it, "As a conductor, I feel deeply indebted to such interpreters of Bach's works as Karl Richter and Herbert von Karajan. I am not at all fascinated by the modern fashion to play Bach in the so-called 'authentic' style, whatever it may mean, when the orchestra is tuned one tone lower (which is unbearable for people with perfect pitch), the tempos are too fast, and the entire manner of performance is artificially oriented towards what is believed to be peculiar for Bach's epoch."

Some listeners may find Alfeyev's approach to music making refreshing for its traditionalist leanings while others may find it old-fashioned and staid. Certainly, amid today's historically informed performances and period-instrument bands, Alfeyev's interpretations are definitely different. Whether they appeal to you would be a matter of personal leanings, so perhaps the prospective buyer of Alfeyev's album might want to preview listening to it and doing as much research on it as possible.

Anyway, Alfeyev also believes that Bach is among the greatest of composers, saying he is "fascinated by the grandeur and truly symphonic scale of many of Bach's works." On the present album, he includes four Bach compositions, two of which he arranged himself for symphonic treatment.

The first selection is "Ich ruf' zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ" ("I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ"), a three-part chorale that Alfeyev arranged for orchestra. It sets the tone for the rest of the program, being tranquil and relaxed.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev
Next comes "Ich habe genug" ("I have enough" or "I am content"), one of almost 200 church cantatas Bach wrote. It is in five sections alternating arias and recitatives. Here, baritone singer Stephan Genz provides the vocals. Again, Alfeyev takes his leisurely, measured approach to the score. You'll find little to excite one here, but, rather, you'll find sweet, comforting textures. I'm not sure it's fair, however, to compare Alfeyev's performances with Karajan's because though Karajan would often slow down and glamorize the music he was performing, he always made it a fascinating experience. Alfeyev often sounds simply slow, without any accompanying revelations about the music. It's all very pretty but somewhat superficial and not particularly gripping or illuminating.

After that is the centerpiece of the album, the Orchestra Suite No. 2 in B minor, which is in seven movements and was a part of Bach's first attempt at writing for an orchestra. The second suite is filled with any number of felicitous, flowing melodies, so this choice seems entirely appropriate to Alfeyev's frame of mind concerning the "deeply mystical," spiritual qualities of Bach's compositions. Yet I can't say he presents it in any more an engaging manner than what we already have from dozens of other conductors, including some of my favorites in the work like Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields or Jordi Savall and Les Concerts des Nations. Whatever, under Alfeyev's direction the music is graceful, fluid, and flowing. It may not be entirely distinguished, but it is undoubtedly easy on the ear.

The program concludes with Alfeyev's orchestral arrangement of the Passacaglia and Fugue, BWV 582, an organ work Bach wrote early in his career. In this piece Alfeyev attempts to make an orchestra sound like an organ, something Stokowski was good at doing but as often found himself criticized for doing. Alfeyev says he was trying "to show the immense inner and spiritual power of Bach's music." Flutist Alya Vodovozova helps carry the number. This was my favorite piece on the program because Alfeyev seems more than successful at doing exactly what he set out to do: making an orchestra sound like an organ, yet with the added breadth and splendor the added instruments bring with them.

As always, Pentatone put the disc in a standard SACD keep case, further enclosed in a light-cardboard slipcover.

Producers Job Maarse and Erdo Groot and engineer Jean-Marie Geijsen made the album for hybrid SACD, recording it in Moscow, Russia in December 2015. As usual with these things, one may listen to the disc in two-channel stereo or multichannel from an SACD player or two-channel stereo from a regular CD player. I listened to the two-channel SACD layer.

Solo instruments tend to sound a tad forward or highlighted, but the orchestral accompaniment is very natural and extremely smooth. While there isn't a lot of stage width, there is a modicum of depth, which is always welcome. There isn't much dynamic range involved, either, but, then, there isn't much need for any. Otherwise, we get a slightly warm, slightly rounded sonic picture.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, September 2, 2017

Announcing The Chelsea Symphony 2017/18 Season

The Chelsea Symphony, featured in the hit Amazon show Mozart in the Jungle, announces its 2017/18 season, entitled Sea Change. Offering seven concerts series from September 2017 through June 2018, each performance features orchestral works with a focus on nature and environmental stewardship.

The Chelsea Symphony is a dynamic, self-governing ensemble with a major cultural presence in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. We present music of the highest caliber while upending the traditional hierarchy of the classical orchestra: our musicians rotate as featured soloists, conductors, and composers. Through this collaborative model, we provide professional development opportunities for our members while performing inspiring concerts of music both old and new.

Every concert by The Chelsea Symphony features soloists, composers, and conductors taken from the ensemble. This is a collective of New York City professional freelancers coming together to create meaningful, self-governed concerts—a unique model in the classical world.

Highlights of the 2017/18 Season include:
Claude Debussy's La Mer
Five World Premieres by emerging New York City composers
John Luther Adams's Become Ocean at the American Museum of Natural History on Earth Day (April 22, 2018)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 ("Pastoral")
Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 82

Reserved seating tickets for each concert can be purchased individually for $25, or are available at a discount by buying a season subscription. Pay-what-you-wish general admission tickets available at the door.

For more information, visit http://chelseasymphony.org/

--Elizabeth Holub, Marketing and PR

ICE Announces Fall Concerts in NY Area
The pioneering International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) announces its fall 2017 season in the New York area, all following the theme of celebrating composer relationships, both past and future. Established leaders in New York's avant-garde music scene, ICE's fall brings them to Brooklyn's innovative National Sawdust and Roulette Intermedium; Manhattan's Miller Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Abrons Arts Center, and New York Public Library; the lauded Peak Performances series at Montclair University in New Jersey; and at Phoenicia, New York's Mount Tremper Arts.

"As we celebrate the fifth season of OpenICE, ICE's initiative to bring free concerts to new audiences around the world, the ensemble is also exploring new collaborations with composers first encountered in the ICElab and OpenICE commissioning programs," says Artistic Director Ross Karre. "With regional and world premieres from over a dozen composers, more opportunities to participate in behind-the-scenes workshops, and partnerships with radical presenters around the world, ICE is excited to bring new sounds and creative expressions to our ever-expanding community."

For a complete list of events, venues, and prices, visit https://iceorg.org/events

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Chicago's Fifth House Ensemble Signs with New Management
Praised by the New York Times for its "conviction, authority, and finesse," Chicago chamber music group Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) has signed to Los Angeles-based Cadenza Artists. 5HE joins an eclectic roster reflective of its musical versatility, including deftly talented pianists Vanessa Perez and Steven Lin, world music sensation Troker, progressive guitarist Kaki King, Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann, and DJ Kid Koala's acclaimed hybrid performance project, "Nufonia Must Fall."

Cadenza Artists was founded by CEO & General Manager Julia Torgovitskaya Rapoport and President Jennifer Rosenfeld. 5HE will be managed by Cadenza's National Director of Booking and Tour Development, Ben Cohen. More information about the ensemble is available at www.fifth-house.com.

--Mike Filla, BuckleSweet Media

PBO SESSIONS Explores Female Composers
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and Classical KDFC are pleased to announce the next installment in the PBO SESSIONS series: "New Music for Old Instruments - Female Composers and the Women Who Bring their Music to Life." The evening will be led by KQED's Rachael Myrow and hosted by KDFC's Dianne Nicolini.

This marks the fourth year of the popular PBO SESSIONS alternative concert series. As one of the first major Bay Area ensembles to offer an alternative to standard classical concerts, SESSIONS has built a following among classical music aficionados as well as those seeking to learn about music in its historical context. Every program is unique-as conductors and artists take audiences on a guided and deconstructed tour of music, social and political history, and art. The 90-minute program includes multimedia presentations and intimate dialogue from the stage in addition to performances of incredible orchestral and vocal music. PBO SESSIONS is for anyone on the musical spectrum looking for an informative and lively experience with an opportunity to engage with extraordinary artists up close and personal.

Tuesday, October 10 @ 8 p.m.
Nourse Theatre
275 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

General Admission - $25
Tickets available through City Box Office
www.cityboxoffice.com
(415) 392-4400

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Daniel Hope Joins New Century in First Appearances as Artistic Partner
New Century Chamber Orchestra welcomes British violinist Daniel Hope in his first season as the ensemble's new Artistic Partner, September 21-24. Following his highly acclaimed debut as Guest Concertmaster in February 2016, Hope returns to the Bay Area to lead the orchestra for three seasons providing artistic continuity and leadership throughout the organization's search process for a permanent Music Director.

The 2017-2018 season opens with a varied program of works for string orchestra featuring Hope as soloist for the World Premiere of Alan Fletcher's Violin Concerto, a co-commission with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra with whom Hope also serves as Music Director. The program also includes Wojciech Kilar's Orawa, Tchaikovsky's Serenade, and Mendelssohn's Octet.

Subscriptions to the New Century Chamber Orchestra are on sale now. Three and four-concert subscriptions range from $78 to $220 and can be purchased by calling New Century directly at (415) 357-1111, ext. 303, or online at www.ncco.org.

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $61 and are available through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $10 single tickets are available for students with a valid ID.

Open Rehearsal tickets are $15 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400.

For further information on New Century, please visit www.ncco.org.

--Brenden Guy, New Century Chamber Orchestra

Fort Worth Opera Announces the 2018 Hattie Mae Leslie Apprentice Artists
As Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) embarks upon its 72nd season, the company is proud to announce that it is collaborating with the TCU Opera Studio for its esteemed Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Program. This year's talented artists are soprano Bronwyn White, mezzo-soprano Bridget Cappel, tenor Joshua Friend, and bass-baritone Sam Parkinson. In addition to pianist and vocal coach Stephen Carey, the Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Program welcomes Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, as the company's new Coordinator of Educational Outreach, and David Gately, Director of TCU Opera, to lead the company's discovery and training program.

The Fort Worth Opera Studio was established in 2002 to provide a strong foundation for young singers to pursue their career as professional opera singers. Beginning in the fall of 2015, a generous multi-year grant was established by the Hattie Mae Lesley Foundation, in honor of foundation President Joseph A. Lesley's grandmother. Thanks to this gift, the Opera Studio was renamed the Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Program, and each year, four highly talented young opera singers are selected through a nationwide audition process to work for this prestigious program. These singers have completed Masters level training and have participated in additional training programs for young artists. Contracted for one or two seasons, they come to Fort Worth Opera to work for a professional opera company.

While in Fort Worth, artists receive voice lessons; training in acting, languages, and diction; and participate in masterclasses with established artists. The Lesley Apprentices also travel across the great state of Texas performing in elementary, middle, and high schools. As FWOpera's resident artists, they appear at various patron, social, and community events, as well as take on roles within our mainstage Festival productions.

For more information, visit http://www.fwopera.org/

--Ryan Lathan, FWOpera

The Wallis Launches New Season of Music
World-renowned pianist, writer and lecturer Jonathan Biss is known for tackling demanding repertoire such as Beethoven's fiery Tempest and Schumann's unparalleled Fantasie in C Major, arguably the composer's greatest work for solo piano. On Sunday, October 8, Biss will make his debut at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) in Beverly Hills performing both of these significant works, as well as Mozart's Sonata in A minor and Leon Kirchner's Interlude II, which was written specifically for Biss by the composer. Mr. Biss is a Steinway Artist, and this concert is made possible by generous support from Susan and Peter Strauss.

This marks the first of fifteen Music @ the Wallis concerts to be performed this season. Biss will be followed by the return of Harlem Quartet on October 15 and Kyle Riabko on November 10 and 11. Music @ the Wallis will continue later this season with pianist Jeremy Denk; the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet with pianist Stephen Hough; the Zurich Chamber Orchestra with violinist Daniel Hope; the adventurous LA-based ensemble wild Up; Grammy Award-winner Arturo Sandoval's curated jazz weekend; Matthew Aucoin's Crossing in Concert, a co-production with LA Opera Off Grand; violinist Sarah Chang with pianist Julio Elizalde; Ory Shihor, who will perform Schubert's last three piano sonatas; Broadway's Seth Rudetsky, who will perform with special guests in February and March; the return of Tony, Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz; and Nathan and Julie Gunn celebrating the American Songbook and Leonard Bernstein at 100.

The Wallis also offers three different options to subscribe to the 2017/18 season: the Premium Subscription Series; the Design-Your-Own option; and the new 3-show Flex Pass for $99, created for busy young professionals—39 and younger—giving the most flexibility to join The Wallis family of subscribers. Learn more at TheWallis.org/Subscribe.

For more information, visit TheWallis.org.

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Rachmaninoff: Vocalise (CD review)

Various vocalists, conductors, and orchestras. RCA 09026-63669-2.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (or Rachmaninov) wrote fourteen songs in 1912, published as his Op. 34. The concluding song has no words; titled simply "Vocalise" it has come down to us as probably the best known piece in the set. While it has no really catchy melody, it possesses a hauntingly beautiful charm that has been interpreted and transcribed many times over for solo voice, solo instruments of every kind, chorus, and full orchestra.

So, some years ago RCA went through their archives pulling as many different versions as they could find and collected them on this disc. The result is not so much an album one might enjoy straight through as it is a disc from which to play favored choices. If your player has a memory chip for favorites, this is a CD to program permanently.

The selections range in recording date from 1929 through 1995, with no particular order except possibly the reissue producer's personal preference.

The disc begins with Anna Moffo's vocal rendition with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski (1964). It is perhaps the highlight of the collection and deserves its number-one billing.

Anna Moffo
Among the purely orchestral versions, Rachmaninoff's own with the Philadelphia Orchestra carries the stamp of authority in spite of its early, 1929 sonics. Morton Gould's rendering with his own orchestra (1960) is the most dreamily romantic of the lot. Then we find Yuri Termirkanov's interpretation with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic (1991) the best recorded.

Among solo instrumentalists, James Galway's flute transcription with Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic carries the day (1976). It is seductively airy and lilting. The Norman Luboff Choir do a big-scale production number (1961) of the piece. Next, Wolfram Huschke and Dieter Huschke perform an intimate cello and piano duet arrangement (1995), and Vladimir Spivakov and Sergei Bezrodny do a violin and piano arrangement (1991) that make nice contrasts.

Among the oddities are a lovely account of the score by countertenor Brian Asawa and a bizarre one by Isao Tomita and the Plasma Symphony Orchestra (1964) that sounds exactly as you would imagine. Evgeny Kissin plays a piano arrangement (1993), and Vitya Vronsky and Victor Babin do a piano duet (1940).

The collection ends appropriately with a final solo voice, Ruth Ann Swenson, accompanied by Warren Jones on piano (1994).

Among purely orchestral versions I still prefer Previn (EMI) or Stokowski (EMI), but this unique array of realizations from RCA gives us some idea just how good Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise" actually is. If you can't find something to like here, you're maybe not a real music lover.

JJP

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