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:

Dvorak: Cello Concerto (XRCD review)

Also, Silent Woods. Jacqueline du Pre, cello; Daniel Barenboim, Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ARC ARCXRCD806.

When Jacqueline du Pre (1945-1987) made this recording in 1970 with her husband Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she was already one of the most-famous and most-accomplished cellists in the world. However, although Ms. du Pre's Dvorak performance is good, it probably isn't one of her signature recordings. Still, if you like the sound, which admittedly takes a little getting used to, the new remastering does more with it than ever before.

British cellist Jacqueline du Pre (1945-1987) began studying the cello at age five, winning the first of many awards at age eleven, followed by television and concert appearances. (Her formal debut was at Wigmore Hall, London in March 1961, when she was sixteen.) Then came the recording career, and the rest, as they say, is history. She met and married pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim in the mid Sixties, and they appeared destined for mutual stardom, an ideal musical couple. The present recording is one of the fruits of that partnership. Unfortunately, her last public appearance would be in 1973 due to multiple sclerosis, her promising career ending shortly thereafter.

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) wrote his Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 rather late in life (1895), the work since becoming one of the most-popular cello concertos of all time. It's popularity has been so enduring that practically every major cellist in the world has recorded it, with the likes of Mstislav Rostropovich (DG), Yo-Yo Ma (Sony), Pierre Fournier (DG), Leonard Rose (Sony), Gregor Piatigorsky (RCA), Lynn Harrell (RCA), Pablo Casals (EMI and Dutton Labs), Paul Tortelier (EMI/Warner), Rafael Wallfisch (Chandos), Truls Mork (EMI/Warner), Maurice Gendron (Philips or HDTT), and Janos Starker (Mercury) heading up a lengthy list. Ms. du Pre's version, then, finds itself in heady company.

Because the concerto contains an abundance of attractive melodies, it gives the soloist and orchestra ample opportunity for displaying bravura, nuance, sensitivity, and a little sentimentality, all of which Ms. du Pre handles well, with her characteristic flair. Barenboim and the orchestra contribute to their parts with an equal zeal and enthusiasm.

The concerto begins with a long, imposing orchestral introduction before the cello enters, an intro that alludes to both of the work's two upcoming themes. Ms. du Pre plays it with the kind of spontaneous-appearing gusto we expect, yet it is not so brawny an interpretation as those of Gendron or Starker. It's a gentler kind of spirit that nonetheless captures the grand, robust vigor of Dvorak.

Jacqueline du Pre
After the strong start comes a slow, second-movement Adagio, which Dvorak wrote while his much-beloved sister-in-law lay dying, and he used one of her favorite pieces of music as a central theme. In it, he creates a lovely, explosively gentle, faintly melancholic mood, which should glide sweetly along like a slow-moving stream, wistfully, with a touch of sadness. Here, Ms. du Pre stands out from the crowd with a most-sensitive, sincere, evocative rendering.

In the Finale, we find more heroics and more pensiveness from both the soloist and the orchestra than we heard previously from them. Dvorak apparently wanted the soloist and orchestra to work on equal terms, and certainly du Pre, Barenboim, and the orchestra each contribute their fair share to the whole, producing a fittingly zesty yet reflective conclusion to the proceedings.

Accompanying the concerto is Dvorak's Silent Woods (1883), originally written for piano and later transcribed for cello and piano and then cello and orchestra. It's a beautifully sweet, lyrical piece, which I enjoyed immensely. Perhaps this is because the music so aptly suits the instrument, or perhaps it's because Ms. du Pre so appropriately expresses the meditative mood of the piece.

Producer Peter Andry and engineer Carson Taylor made the recording for EMI at the Medinah Temple, Chicago, Illinois in November 1970. Tohru Kotetsu remastered the recording for ARC at the JVC mastering Center, Japan, using the latest XRCD24/K2 processing for maximum fidelity CD playback.

A hallmark of the recording is its clarity. The orchestral sound is well detailed, but at the expense of some upper midrange hardness and brightness and some small lack of upper-bass warmth. (To be fair, this is a sound from the Chicago Symphony I've heard in other recordings, so it may be a condition of the orchestra and hall and not the recording.) Nevertheless, the new remastering sounds good and better than I have heard it. Then after that long introduction I mentioned earlier, the cello enters, and it's practically on top of us. The instrument sounds good, mind you--warm, mellow, and rich--just unnecessarily close and nothing like what one might hear in any real concert. What's more, the cello's entrance points up the wide dynamic range of the recording because it's quite a bit louder than the preceding orchestral preface.

Frankly, because I have never thought of the sound of this recording as audiophile material, I have to wonder why ARC/JVC chose to remaster it so meticulously. That said, for listeners who already enjoy the performance and want to hear it reproduced from the best possible source, the disc may be worth its asking price.

You can find ARC products at some of the best prices at Elusive Disc:


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

Classical Music News of the Week, March 10, 2018

2018 SF Bach Festival & 2018 Gala

Beginning with the 2018 Festival &
Academy, the American Bach Soloists 30th Season will commemorate the core of ABS's rich history through performances of works that represent the finest of the Baroque era. Grand special events including "Sparkle" — the 2018 Gala Auction, Concert, and Dinner — make the upcoming 30th Season a joyful celebration of the organization's past, present, and future.

The Glorious Court of Dresden
August 3-12, 2018
San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival

For the 2018 ABS Festival & Academy, artistic director Jeffrey Thomas has chosen the music of Germany with a particular emphasis on The Glorious Court of Dresden, known for the extraordinary quality of music that was composed for the Electors and Kings of Saxony who upheld the highest artistic and cultural standards for their subjects. Its splendid Baroque and Rococo architecture brought the city its nickname as the "Jewel Box," and a distinguished roster of performers and composers made it one of Europe's most important musical capitals. A full array of free events—including public master classes, lectures, concerts, and colloquia—complement the performances by American Bach Soloists in two exceptionally fine venues.

The Glorious Court of Dresden
Friday August 3, 2018. 8:00 p.m. St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA

For complete information on all ABS events, visit

--American Bach Soloists

92Y April 2018 Concerts
Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 7:30 pm
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

Friday, April 13, 2018, 9:00 pm
92Y – Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Schubert: Epic and Intimate (Part 1)
Shai Wosner, piano

Sunday, April 29, 2018, 3:00 pm
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Steven Isserlis, cello
Richard Egarr, harpsichord (92Y debut)

Tickets and information are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Other Minds Announces Festival 23 Lineup
Other Minds today announced the lineup for its Festival 23 "Sound Poetry: The Wages of Syntax" April 9 through 14 in San Francisco, CA. Curated by Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian, the festival brings sound poet pioneers from across the United States and Europe for an exploration of text-sound compositions that utilize speech and verbalization as a medium.

Highlighted works include World Premieres by Italian master sound poet Enzo Minarelli, leading American experimental writer Clark Coolidge in collaboration with Rome-based composer Alvin Curran, prominent American essayist Lawrence Weschler, Scandinavian jazz artists Sten Sandell and Tone Åse, and Bay Area composer Amy X Neuburg; the U.S. premiere of the three-movement reconstructed concert version of Gesprochene Musik by Austrian émigré composer Ernst Toch; and rare performances of Virgil Thomson-Gertrude Stein's Capital Capitals, Bernard Heidsieck's La Poinçonneuse, Åke Hodell's politically scathing Mr. Smith in Rhodesia, and Kurt Schwitters' controversial Ursonate.

Single tickets are priced at $30 with discounted $15 tickets available to students. Tickets can be purchased online through or by calling the ODC Theatre Box Office at 415.863.9834.

For complete information, visit

--Brenden Guy Public Relations

Countertenor John Holiday to Tour with the LA Phil
Countertenor John Holiday makes his debut with the LA Phil and conductor Gustavo Dudamel in Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, in celebration of the composer's centennial. The LA Phil will perform four concerts at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, April 19-22, and will continue on to performances in New York City at Lincoln Center (April 29), the Barbican Centre in London (May 4), and the Paris Philharmonie (May 6).

A winner of the prestigious Marian Anderson Award in 2017, John has quickly established himself as a singer to watch, having just premiered the role of John Blue in Daniel Roumain's We Shall Not Be Moved with Opera Philadelphia last fall. A regular performer of the Chichester Psalms and classical repertoire ranging from contemporary to baroque, John also excels in jazz and gospel music, and recently performed a mixed program for his Kennedy Center debut.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Tod Machover Composes and Curates a Symphony of "Philadelphia Voices"
Philadelphia Voices, the sixth and largest-scale installment of Tod Machover's acclaimed City Symphony projects, premieres in April 2018 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by its music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with a troupe of voices representing multiple Philadelphia-area choruses.

Machover, a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of Musical America's 2016 Composer of the Year award, has long been regarded as one of the most notable trailblazers of 20th and 21st century composition, and one the world's leading authorities on the vast and evolving relationships between music, technology, and human expression. Through specially-designed mobile technologies developed by Machover and his Opera of the Future group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Machover has given residents of Philadelphia the opportunity to contribute their own samplings of cityscapes, vocalizations, and texts, reviewed and compiled by Machover and his team, uniting the richly diverse communities of Philadelphia through sound. The result is a celebration of the birthplace of American democracy written for, and with, the Philadelphians who know it best.

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

J.S. Bach and Meg Bragle: "An Inspired Choice"
B Minor Mass:
"The Agnus Dei melted my heart." --The Independent

"Ms. Bragle's supple account of the Agnus Dei stood out as a clear highlight." --The New York Times

Next Bach appearances:
St. Matthew Passion
Mercury Houston
March 10

St. John Passion
Music of the Baroque
March 25, 26

"Schleicht, spielende Wellen", BWV 206
Tempesta di Mare
May 19, 20

St. Matthew Passion
Carmel Bach Festival
July 14 - 28

For more about Meg Bragle, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners

Daniel Barenboim and Deutsche Grammophon Announce New Contract
Daniel Barenboim, one of the world's greatest classical artists and a staunch champion of music's civilizing power, has signed a new and exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The partnership was announced on March 8, 2018, just days after the first anniversary of the Pierre Boulez Saal, Maestro Barenboim's pioneering project devoted to the promotion of cultural exchange and dialogue.

The Berlin connection will be significant throughout his new and future recordings for the yellow label – Barenboim will work with the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Staatsoper unter den Linden, the Boulez Ensemble and members of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. Many of his recordings will be made in the flexible space of the Boulez Saal, home to the Barenboim-Said Akademie, a centre for the cultivation of communication, listening and understanding.

--Julia Casey, DG

Max Richter's SLEEP at SXSW March 12
Composer Max Richter will give the North American debut concert of SLEEP, made possible by premiere sponsor Beautyrest and secondary sponsor Philips on March 12 at SXSW in Austin, TX. Beautyrest mattresses will replace traditional concert seating so attendees can immerse themselves into the eight-hour overnight SLEEP experience. Doors open at 11pm on March 12 at Bass Hall and the concert ends at 8:30AM on March 13. Admission is open to SXSW Platinum and Music badges only.

--Julia Casey, DG

Strathmore 18-19 Season Preview
Strathmore audiences get their first glimpse of what's to come in the 2018-2019 Season with the announcement of 11 performances in the Music Center and historic Mansion at Strathmore, on sale to the general public today, Friday, March 9, 2018.

Strathmore continues its exploration of diverse perspectives and the potential of global music to spark conversations, mutual respect, and greater understanding, beginning with Balkan composer Goran Bregovic's new work for solo violin, Three Letters from Sarajevo. Other international performances include "Queen of Ranchera Music" Aida Cuevas in tribute to her mentor, mariachi legend Juan Gabriel, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba with Esperanza Spalding, and powerhouse flamenco dancer Farruquito. Dynamic duos coming to the Music Center stage include playwright and activist Eve Ensler in conversation with bestselling author Anne Lamott, and masterful musicians Chick Corea & Béla Fleck. Pioneering jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and circus arts troupe The New Chinese Acrobats add to the growing diversity of programming in the Music Center.

In the historic Mansion at Strathmore, Brazilian vocalist-composer-guitarist Vinicius Cantuária pays homage to bossa nova icon Antonio Carlos Jobim, dynamic harpist Lavinia Meijer performs the music of Phillip Glass, and violinist Tessa Lark explores of the musical form of the Fantasy from the Baroque period through the present.

These performances join just-announced summer concerts with jazz icon Herbie Hancock and sublime vocalist Kristin Chenoweth.

For complete information, call (301) 581-5100 or visit

--Mike Fila, Bucklewweet Media

Stravinsky: L'Histoire du Soldat, complete (CD review)

Madeleine Milhaud, narrator; Jean Pierre Aumont, the soldier; Martial Singher, the Devil;  Leopold Stokowski, Instrumental Ensemble. Vanguard Classics OVC 8004.

I'm sure it's only my imagination that the Vanguard label issued this recording about thirty times since its initial release in 1967: In English, in French, in a suite, in various remastered editions, etc. However, this 1999 edition is probably the definitive one. It is complete in two parts, about fifty-five minutes long; conducted by Leopold Stokowski and a select few instrumentalists; narrated by Madeleine Milhaud, wife of the composer, Darius Milhaud, and a distinguished actress in her own right; and performed by French opera star Martial Singher and stage and film actor Jean Pierre Aumont.

Although Igor Stravinsky's 1918 L'Histoire du Soldat ("The Soldier's Tale") is no doubt more popular today in its purely instrumental suite, the complete work ("to be read, played, and danced") with its substantial narration is worth a listen. It is more than a drama with music. This story of the soldier and the devil has a charming simplicity of tone and manner, combining lyrical and occasional raucous elements in pointed contrast. Overall, the mood is acerbic, to be sure, but there is much grace underlying the expressionistic exterior, too, which Stokowski and his players capture nicely.

Leopold Stokowski
The 1967 Vanguard recording has the distinction of having been the first American recording made with the Dolby Noise Reduction System. As such, there was no great need to impose further noise reduction or other modifications on the present remastering. Instead, it is a 24-bit, SBM, high-definition transfer made from the original 30 I.P.S. tapes and utilizing the same type of Ampex 300 series vacuum tube recorder used when Vanguard first produced it.

The results are impressively transparent yet warm and sweet in a purely realistic way. Detail is excellent. Voices are natural and well placed within the context of the music. Bass has a splendid bloom. Dynamics are wide, transients are quick, and impact is strong. Imaging and depth of field are not particularly pronounced but perceptively accurate. And backgrounds are dead quiet.

In terms of both performance and sound, it is an excellent recording by the standards of any day.


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

Lara Downes & Friends: For Lenny (CD review)

Lara Downes, piano; Kevin "I.O." Olusola; Javier Morales-Martinez; Rhiannon Giddens; Thomas Hampson. Naxos Sony 84284011251.

The last time I reviewed an album from American pianist Lara Downes, it was America Again, her tribute to some of the American music and musicians that inspired her. Now, with For Lenny she pays tribute to another person who inspired her, Leonard Bernstein. She's accompanied along the way in several of the selections by fellow musicians Kevin "I.O." Olusola; Javier Morales-Martinez; Rhiannon Giddens; and Thomas Hampson. The musical tracks, either composed by or written about and for Mr. Bernstein, make for a fascinating, entertaining, and enlightening look at one of America's foremost musical talents.

Most folks today probably know American conductor, composer, author, lecturer, and pianist Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) from his many recordings as conductor of the New York Philharmonic and from his music for West Side Story. But after his tenure with the NY Phil ended, he went on to conduct and make many more records with the Vienna Philharmonic, among other ensembles; and many people recognize him for his work on Candide, Peter Pan, Wonderful Town, On the Town, and On the Waterfront, plus symphonies, a mass, and other works. Or TV viewers might still recognize him for his long television series of musical lectures. Whatever, his legacy is broad enough to live on for a very long time.

Ms. Downes gives us a pleasant overview of Bernstein's contributions to our cultural heritage, and she and her colleagues do so using various unique styles and approaches, so the album isn't just another collection of greatest hits. There are twenty-eight tracks in all, covering a wide range of the composer's music. Here's a run-down on the contents:

  1. Something's Coming
  2. Anniversary for Lenny (John Corgliano)
  3. Anniversaire for Lenny (Stephen Schwartz)
  4. Romance for Lenny (Eleonor Sanderesky)
  5. Iconoclasm/for Lenny (Michael Abels)
  6. Fancy Free: Big Stuff
  7. Anniversary for Johnny Mehegan
  8. Anniversary for Aaron Copland
  9. Anniversary for Stephen Sondheim
10. I Remember (Stephen Sondheim)
11. Cool
12. The Story of My Life
13. Greeting
14. Innocent Psalm for the Bernstein Baby (Marc Blitzstein)
15. Anniversary for My Daughter, Nina
16. Anniversary for Felicia, on Our 28th
17. So Pretty
18. Anniversary in Memoriam (Daron Hagen)
19. Anniversary for Lukas Foss
20. For Lenny: Variation on New York, New York (Lucas Foss)
21. What Shall We Remember? (Ricky Ian Gordon)
22. A Simple Song
23. Exuberance for Lenny (Shulamit Ran)
24. Anniversary for Craig Urquhart
25. Remembering Lenny (Craig Urquhart)
26. Goodbye Chorale for Lenny (Theo Bleckmann)
27. Youth, Day, Old Age & Night (Ned Rorem)
28. Some Other Time

Lara Downes
I have to admit after listening straight through all twenty-eight selections that I preferred the ones written by Bernstein himself more than I liked the ones written about or for him. Nevertheless, all the songs are classy, thanks not only to their being timeless classics but because Ms. Downes makes them sound new again. Her sensitive, nuanced playing brings out the best in everything, and even the familiar material from West Side Story seems fresh and innovative. Of course, it may help if you enjoy modern jazz and blues because these are prevalent styles among many of the performances.

As Ms. Downes proved on previous albums of American music, she has a manner all her own while at the same time conveying a sincere interpretation of a composer's intent. Same here, with Bernstein sounding like Bernstein, all the while sounding like Downes. It's a unique sleight of hand and an appealing one. She makes the music the composer's and her own at the same time. Good examples are "The Story of My Life" and "Some Other Time" (perhaps not coincidentally both arranged by Jed Distler), delicate, haunting pieces made all the more compelling by Ms. Downes's sweet, gentle, elegant, passionate pianism. Her poignant artistry is first-rate, and she makes an exemplary communicator of all things Bernstein and all things American.

Producer Adam Abeshouse recorded "Something's Coming" and "Cool" at the Colburn School, Los Angeles, CA; "A Simple Song" at Question de Son Studio, Paris; and most other tracks at Pelham, NY; and Ian Schreier recorded "So Pretty" at Manifold Recording, Pittsboro, NC. They made all the recordings between May and October 2017.

Depending on the venue, the sound is big and open and sometimes overly reverberant. The dynamics are wide, and impact is strong. Ultimate transparency seems a bit sacrificed on some tracks, though, for the sake of ambient bloom, while on other selections, mainly the ones recorded in NY, things appear clearer, better focused, and better detailed.


To listen to an excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, March 3, 2018

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain to Tour the U.S. in April 2018

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will tour the U.S. in April 2018, bringing their "Heresy II Heritage" Tour to Boston, Atlanta, Madison, and 9 other cities across the Midwest and the Eastern seaboard. The program pokes fun at the stiff upper lip of the ensemble's British roots, and will include music from their recent studio album, "By Request: Songs from the Setlist" – a selection of fan favorites that ranges from "The Beverly Hillbillies" theme to ACDC's "Highway to Hell."

The all-singing, all-strumming Ukes of GB have played everywhere from pubs and village halls to iconic venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. They've performed at Windsor Castle for the Queen's private birthday party (with Prince Harry himself playing one of their ukes), and have been featured on international TV from Asia, Europe, North America, to even the Artic. From Saint-Saëns to Lady Gaga, the group delivers a virtuosic collision of classical, post-punk, and toe tapping oldies with their completely original arrangements.

For complete tour information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

YPC to celebrate 30th Anniversary at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, March 5
"Dear friends, thirty years ago, I founded the Young People's Chorus of New York City with a vision of bringing harmony to the children of New York City. Through the power of music I hoped to provide young people of any background and from every corner of the city with the means to fulfill their potential.  Today, three decades and thousands of children later, YPC has become a model that other organizations nationwide are looking to replicate.

As we look to the future, we dream about transforming the lives of even more children. To do so, YPC depends upon the generous support of all who believe in the YPC mission, which empowers young people to create a better tomorrow for themselves and the community.

Thank you for helping us celebrate this momentous milestone and the next 30 years to come.

Francisco J. Núñez, Artistic Director and Founder"

For complete information, visit

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Bang on a Can All-Stars Play at Big Ears 2018 in Knoxville, TN: March 23-25
At Big Ears 2018, the Bang on a Can All-Stars along with Bang on a Can co-founders and artistic directors – composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe – will present three concerts: Field Recordings (March 23 at 12pm, Bijou Theatre), the group's current multi-media project now featuring more than 30 commissioned works using archival audio, found sound and video; Anthracite Fields (March 24 at 3:30pm, The Mill & Mine), Julia Wolfe's Pulitzer-Prize winning work capturing the lives of the Pennsylvania coal miners; and Bang on a Can – 30 Years (March 25 at 7pm, Tennessee Theatre), a concert featuring core compositions from the three founders, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe.

During the last quarter-century, no American ensemble has been more important to the health of new music than the prolific and vital New York-based collective Bang on a Can. A touring ensemble, a record label, a clearinghouse for commissions, a nonprofit with widespread charitable aims, a concert producer, a top-rate collection of performers: After thirty years, there's little Bang on a Can has not become.

For complete information, visit or

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and CaringKind Bring Music to People with Dementia
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with CaringKind to bring extraordinary musical experiences to people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia and their caregivers in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The pilot program, called "With Music in Mind," marks the first time CaringKind's connect2culture® program – an initiative that helps cultural organizations develop programs for New York's Alzheimer's community – is bringing performing arts programming into the Bronx and Brooklyn. Formerly known as the Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter, CaringKind has been New York City's leading expert on Alzheimer's and dementia caregiving for more than 30 years.

"With Music in Mind," funded by a generous $30,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, comprises two important components:  training and performance.  Experts from CaringKind will provide in-depth "Understanding Dementia" training designed specifically for Orpheus staff and musicians. Staff and musicians will be sensitized to the special needs of this community and provided with the tools needed to orient people with dementia and their caregivers to the musical experience.

The initiative will culminate in May 2018 with two special 90-minute performance events – one at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale on May 8th, and another at the Brooklyn Museum (a connect2culture partner) on May 15th.  "With Music in Mind" audiences will consist entirely of people with Alzheimer's or dementia and their caregivers.  Each program will offer an intimate concert performed by Orpheus, followed by a conversation between the musicians and the audience, and concluding with a social tea.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

PBO SESSIONS March 7: Buy One Ticket Get One Free
"Corelli the Godfather: The Corleone of the Concerto"
Wednesday, March 7 | 8 pm
ODC Theater, San Francisco, CA

Join renowned Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music and harpsichordist Richard Egarr as well as members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for PBO SESSIONS "Corelli the Godfather: The Corleone of the Concerto" for an evening of concerto intrigue! The 90-minute deep-dive will shed light on what became the most important instrumental compositional technique still in use today. Arcangelo Corelli was prolific, wealthy, and powerful, and his legacy--- the concerto---lives on.

This exciting program includes works by Corelli and Handel and a few musical surprises, accompanied by riotous repartee with Richard. Afterwards, join us for complimentary wine and a chance to meet the musicians.

Tickets regularly priced at $25. But here's an offer you can't refuse: Buy one ticket, get one free.
Order Online  Use Discount Code: CORELLI.

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Schwalbe and Partners Welcomes Soprano Kathryn Mueller
Bach: Missa Brevis in G Major; Hercules Cantata 236
"Her crystalline soaring soprano is perfect for this music...Mueller may have been born to sing the role of Vice [in Cantata 236], delivering a tantalizingly sensual performance." --Stark Insider

Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
"Kathryn Mueller brought to the performance a beautiful voice of shining clarity, particularly in her high range. It seemed as if she belonged there, effortless, completely controlled and beautiful; and she had an appealing stage presence of personal warmth and musicianship." --Winston-Salem Journal

Handel: Messiah
"The remarkable Kathryn Mueller goes from strength to strength. She displayed wonderful agility and freedom in the upper register...The soprano's interpolated high notes and cadenza near the end of the aria were totally idiomatic....Mueller's graceful shaping of the melody and soft rendering of the final verse deeply moving." --South Florida Classical Review

Watch Kathryn Mueller sing Rheinhold Glière's Concerto for Coloratura and Orchestra:

--Schwalbe and Partners

ASPECT Foundation Presents Fretwork Ensemble in Bach's The Art of Fugue
The ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts presents J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at The Italian Academy, NYC, part of the foundation's second New York City season of illuminating performances featuring many of the most prominent performers and musical scholars of today.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 7:30pm
The Italian Academy | 1161 Amsterdam Avenue | NYC
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

"Late Night with Leonard Bernstein": A Copland House Production Narrated by Jamie Bernstein
"Late Night with Leonard Bernstein," the brilliant tour-de-force is a shimmering and personal look at Bernstein after hours, hosted by his daughter, Jamie Bernstein.

The Copland House ensemble brings Bernstein's music to sparkling life with energy and a new perspective in perfect timing with his upcoming 100th birthday. The program is a recital of Bernstein's most intimate (and favorite) music, including works by Copland, Confrey, Coward, Schubert, and Chopin, along with personal stories, and even audio and film clips of the Maestro himself. With soprano Amy Burton, and pianists Michael Boriskin and John Musto, this glittering gem of a show has received rave reviews.

Upcoming performances:
Friday, March 23, 7:30pm Lane Series at University of Vermont. Burlington, VT
Thursday, April 19, 8:00pm Brandeis University Slosber Music Center Waltham, MA
Saturday, April 21, 8:00pm National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, May 3, 8:00pm, The Gilmore Festival, Kalamazoo, MI
Sunday May 6, 3:00pm Tri-C Classical Piano Series, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Sunday May 20, 4:00pm Phillips collection, Washington DC
Friday, July 27 8:00pm Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL
Wednesday, August 8, 8:00pm La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla, CA

For more information, visit

--Tammy Moore, Dworkin & Company

March F.A.Y.M Newsletter
Changing lives through music is what the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians is all about. For almost 9 years now, our Violins for Kids program has made it possible for children from the inner city to start learning how to play a violin at an early age. I recently had the privilege of listening to one of our students play a song as part of the application process to earn a Golden Violin. This young lady started playing a violin with us when she entered kindergarten; she is now in 8th grade. I speak with her and her mother often and it is very clear to me that music has made a very positive impact in her life. At the start of this year, she auditioned to join our newly created Mariachi Estrellas de FAYM program and made it. At our last recital, she not only played with the mariachi, but for one song she stood in front of the group with a microphone and sang a beautiful song accompanied by the mariachi.

The self-confidence and courage it must have taken to stand in front of a large audience made up mostly of parents and friends of FAYM is amazing! Most of the adults in the room, myself included, would not have the self-confidence to do this ourselves.

This is another example of how our students are given the knowledge and desire to succeed in whatever they want to accomplish. This child is not unique in our program. Over the years I have spoken to and interviewed many of our students. All of them have that 'spark' to do what it takes to reach their goals.

As a professional educator (now retired) I have been around our youth for many years helping to prepare them to be responsible adults. I feel that FAYM is making a big difference in their lives by building up their self-confidence and courage, and is showing them that their hard work pays off by giving them the skills and ability to make beautiful music.

FAYM cannot do this alone. We believe that "it takes a village to raise a child." Please help us and be part of that village that is changing the lives of our kids. Please consider making a donation to help us continue our work. "One man can't do everything, but every man can do something." No donation is too small! The Foundation to Assist Young Musicians is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) (3) charitable nonprofit corporation. Your gift is tax deductible as allowed by law.

Spring Recital
Saturday, March 10, 3 - 5:30pm
East LV Community Center
Las Vegas, NV

Year End Recital
Saturday, May 12, 3 - 5:30pm
East LV Community Center
Las Vegas, NV

---Arturo Ochoa, FAYM

O Magnum Mysterium (CD review)

Robert Shaw, Robert Shaw Festival Singers and the Robert Chamber Singers. Telarc CD-80531.

Around the time of this 2000 release, Telarc began repackaging quite a lot of their older material and reissuing it under a new name. In the case of O Magnum Mysterium, recorded by the late Robert Shaw (1916-1999) and his singers between 1989 and 1997, the first four items had never been released before. My only regret about this otherwise splendidly sung collection of items for a cappella voice is that it lasts a scant fifty-six minutes. I recall years ago Telarc promising never to produce a disc that didn't have at least an hour of music on it. Oh, well, what we do have is plenty good enough.

The dozen pieces on the program represent the spiritual side of a number of composers from various eras and various parts of the world. It begins with a few selections by Renaissance composers, Thomas Tallis's (1505-1585) "If You Love Me" and "A New Commandment" and Tomas Luis de Victoria's (1549-1611) "O Vos omnes" and the first of three settings for the title number "O Magnum Mysterium."

Robert Shaw
These and most of the rest of the works on the album are sung by Robert Shaw's Festival Singers, the group he organized after his stint as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony ended and he could go back to what he appeared to love best, choral music. The Festival Singers are, of course, the reincarnation of his old Robert Shaw Chorale of the Fifties and Sixties. They do several twentieth-century pieces, Morten Lauridsen's setting of "O Magnum Mysterium," as well as Francis Poulenc's version, and Henryk Gorecki's "Totus Tuus." In between are excerpts from Rachmaninoff's "Vespers" and Schubert's "Der Entfernten," which, for male chorus, is especially exquisite. A smaller group, the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, do three American hymns: "Wondrous Love," "Amazing Grace," and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Moanin' Dove."

As always and as expected, the singing is immaculate, every syllable clearly articulated and cleanly rendered. Best of all, Telarc's sound is lucid without being bright or hard, rich without being soft or fuzzy, spacious without being overly reverberant or cavernous. This is a most enjoyable recording with much to recommend it, not least of all Shaw's eloquent direction of unaccompanied voices on a sometimes large scale.


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

2018 New Year's Concert (CD review)

Riccardo Muti, Vienna Philharmonic. Sony Classical 88985477002 (2-disc set).

Usually, I dislike albums recorded live. Too much noise, too much applause and shuffling of feet and rustling of programs, too much coughing and wheezing, too much breathing, and often too closely recorded. But with these yearly New Year's Concerts from the Vienna Philharmonic, the whole business of its being live is, in fact, the point. This year, we have Riccardo Muti back to conduct.

As I'm sure you are aware, the Vienna Philharmonic began its custom of offering a New Year's Concert in 1941, and it hasn't changed much since. EMI, RCA, DG, Decca, and now Sony are among the companies that have recorded the VPO's concerts over the stereo years, and in keeping with the orchestra's tradition of having no permanent conductor, they invite a different maestro to perform the New Year's duties each year. These conductors in recent times have included some of the biggest names in the business, including Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Willi Boskovsky, Claudio Abbado, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Georges Pretre, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Franz Welser-Most, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, and Gustavo Dudamel. Riccardo Muti had already conducted several New Year's Concerts (1993, 1997, 2000, 2004), so he was no stranger to the 2018 affair.

Maybe Riccardo Muti doesn't quite reach the same incandescence as a Boskovsky or Karajan in his Strauss material. However, he's been doing it long enough that he knows what it's all about. Muti fills 2018's program with mainly numbers from the Strausses (Josef, Johann I, and Johann II), with only a couple of things outside the family from Franz von Suppe ("Boccaccio Overture") and Alfons Czibulka ("Stephanie Gavotte"), both numbers new to the concert series. Otherwise, the selections comprise the familiar ("Myrtle Blossoms Waltz," "Tales from the Vienna Woods," "Roses from the South," etc.) and the maybe not as familiar ("Viennese Frescoes," "Maria Waltz," "Letter to the Editor Polka," etc.). And, needless to say, the program concludes with "The Blue Danube Waltz" and the "Radetzky March," the latter complete with requisite audience participation. Here's the complete lineup of tunes:

Disc 1:
  1. The Gypsy Baron March
  2. Viennese Frescoes Waltz
  3. Bridal Parade Polka
  4. Light of Heart Polka
  5. Maria Waltz
  6. Wilhelm Tell Galopp
  7. Boccaccio Overture
  8. Myrtle Blossoms Waltz
  9. Stephanie-Gavotte

Disc 2:
  1. Magic Bullets Polka
  2. Tales from the Vienna Woods
  3. Festival March
  4. Town and Country Polka
  5. A Masked Ball Quadrille
  6. Roses from the South Waltz
  7. Letter to the Editor Polka
  8. Thunder and Lightning Polka
  9. New Year's Address
10. The Blue Danube Waltz
11. Radetzky March

Riccardo Muti
Of course, there were high points for me: "Viennese Frescoes" sounds lovely after an extended introduction; the "Bridal Parade" Polka is bouncy without being brash or showy; Muti shows his flair for Viennese rhythms in the "Maria Waltz"; the "Myrtle Blossoms Waltz" is sweet and light; an always welcome "Tales from the Vienna Woods," is done up most delicately; and then there's a fragrant "Roses from the South Waltz"; a particularly well-nuanced "Blue Danube Waltz"; and a rousing close with the required "Radetzky March."

The only minor shortcoming I could find was the lack of track timings for any of the selections. It's nice to know how long things are, you know? That and the fact that I wish there were fewer polkas and marches and more waltzes are merely personal biases of mine.

Recording Producer Friedemann Engelbrecht and Balance Engineers Tobias Lehmann and Rene Moller recorded the music live for Teldex Studio Berlin at the Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins on January 1, 2018. The same team has been doing the recording of New Year's concerts for the past half dozen or more years, so we know pretty much what to expect.

Although they recorded the music live, the sound isn't so close-up as to be disturbing, nor is it too very bright or forward. As before, it conveys a pleasant, ambient glow. It also displays a fairly strong dynamic range and impact, noticeable right from the outset. The sound is not the ultimate in audiophile realism, of course, and there's not a lot of depth or air to it, but it is smooth and comfortable. Expect as always, however, a good deal of applause after each number. That, people tell me, is part of the fun.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Classical Music News of the Week, February 24, 2018

Two Encore Performances of Groundbreaking Production of Lagrime di San Pietro

An additional encore performance of the Los Angeles Master Chorale's critically-acclaimed production of Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro ("Tears of St. Peter") directed by Peter Sellars will be presented in Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, March 17 at 8 PM. A performance on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 7 PM as part of the Master Chorale's Gala 2018 was previously announced. Single tickets to both performances are available online from, by calling the Box Office at 213-972-7282, or in person from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, Monday – Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.

The performances will be conducted by Grant Gershon, the Kiki and David Gindler Artistic Director, and feature 21 Master Chorale singers who perform the 75-minute, dramatically-staged work from memory. The Sunday night performance will be part of a gala evening honoring Los Angeles arts philanthropists Kiki and David Gindler for their leadership, and honoring Sellars for artistic vision.

Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro ("Tears of St. Peter")
Grant Gershon, conductor
Peter Sellars, director

Saturday, March 17, 8 PM
ListenUp! pre-concert talk at 7 PM

Sunday, March 18, 7 PM – Gala performance
For information about Gala events & tickets visit

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA

Tickets to all concerts are available now, starting from $20. Information and tickets are available by calling 213-972-4355 or at

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

Pinchas Zukerman Performs, Teaches, Receives Award
n May, the Music Institute of Chicago welcomes acclaimed violinist, violist, conductor, and educator Pinchas Zukerman to perform, conduct a master class, and receive the Music Institute's Dushkin Award at its 2018 Anniversary Gala.

Concluding the Music Institute's 2017–18 Faculty & Guest Artist Series, the Zukerman Trio—violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth, and pianist Angela Cheng—performs a concert May 20 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The program features Beethoven's Piano Trio in B-flat, WoO 39 "Allegretto"; Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor; and Dvorák's Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 90 "Dumky." Officially launching in 2013, the Trio has performed in Japan, China, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Hungary, South Africa, Istanbul, and Russia, and throughout the United States.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen to be featured in New Year's Eve Concert
A special event titled "A Baroque New Year's Eve at the Opera" will be presented by American Bach Soloists (ABS) in San Francisco's beautiful Herbst Theatre — a cornerstone and jewel among the city's most prestigious venues — and will feature one of the opera world's exciting new vocal talents, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. The 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Young Artists Award Winner, former Merola Opera Program participant, 2018 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, and ABS Academy alumnus has been capturing the hearts of opera lovers around the world.

One Performance Only:
Monday December 31 2018 4:00 p.m. • Herbst Theater, San Francisco, CA
Tickets on sale in March 2018

For complete information, visit

--Jonathon Hampton, American Bach Soloists

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili Performs with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presents The Courage to Create on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7pm in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, featuring internationally-acclaimed Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili in her Orpheus debut. Batiashvili is highlighted in Prokofiev's elegant Second Violin Concerto, a work steeped in the crosscurrents between Russia and the West. The evening also includes the Entr'acte No. 1 to Schubert's Rosamunde, Prokofiev's Schubert Waltzes Suite arranged by Paul Chihara, and Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B Minor "Unfinished."

The program will first be performed on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 8pm at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College in Purchase, NY.

Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7pm
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Lisa Batiashvili, violin

Single tickets for the March 24 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

For more information about Orpheus, call 212.896.1700 or visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Violinist Tessa Lark Awarded Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship
The Borletti-Buitoni Trust announced today that violinist Tessa Lark is a recipient of the coveted Borletti-Buitoni 2018 Fellowship. Ms. Lark adds this recognition to her growing stack of impressive awards, which include an Avery Fisher Career Grant and medals at the Naumburg International Violin Competition and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

The BBT Fellowship puts Ms. Lark in the elite company of prior BBT recipients including Jonathan Biss, Martin Fröst, Sol Gabetta and Augustin Hadelich. Of the £20,000 award, Ms. Lark says, "I am so excited to receive this prestigious Fellowship and to be included among the list of incredible musicians who are part of the BBT family. The BBTrust is unique and extraordinary in its encouragement of creative individuality of its artists."

Tessa Lark is the only American among the 15 exceptional young musicians from around the world who join BBT's roster of Award and Fellowship winners in 2018. Awards of £30,000 and Fellowships of £20,000 are provided for the advancement of their musical careers across a broad range of projects and requirements. The BBT team offers generous support, networking opportunities, and counsel to help the artists realize their long-held ambitions.

--Classical Music Communications

Teatro Nuovo Announces Its Inaugural Bel Canto Festival
Teatro Nuovo, the new organization led by Will Crutchfield, is proud to announce its inaugural Bel Canto Festival, "The Dawn of Romantic Opera," at Purchase College, July 28-August 5 2018, in collaboration with The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY.

The Festival will present semi-staged productions of Rossini's Tancredi, Mayr's Medea in Corinto, two operas premiered in 1813; one by a mature master and the other by a budding genius, both pointing the way for opera's Romantic century. The Festival will also include a second version of the Rossini score, Tancredi rifatto, incorporating extensive music that the composer wrote for later revivals. Teatro Nuovo will also introduce a radical new adventure with early 19th-century performing style and period orchestral instruments.

Further information about Teatro Nuovo, the training program, and the organization's personnel and other plans can be found at

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Musica Viva NY Presents "Infinite Hope"
Musica Viva NY presents "Infinite Hope," commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s untimely death and celebrating his life and legacy.

Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 5:00 p.m., All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street), New York, NY 10075.

The concert features the Musica Viva NY Choir—led by Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and accompanied by the award-winning Aeolus Quartet and pianist Trent Johnson—in Alice Parker's A Sermon From the Mountain: Martin Luther King, which pays tribute to Dr. King, and is inspired by the Biblical verses frequently quoted by him and the spirituals which use these texts. Baritone James Dargan is spotlighted in Alice Parker's work, which includes narration by David Rockefeller, Jr. Additional featured soloists include soprano Devony Smith, alto Barbara Fusco, and tenor Shawn Bartels.

The program also features beloved spirituals including "Precious Lord," "Take My Hand," "Elijah Rock," and "There is a Balm in Gilead," arranged by Moses Hogan, William L. Dawson, and Arnold Sevier. The Aeolus Quartet performs Dvorák's String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, "American," which is interspersed with the spirituals.

Tickets, priced at $40, are available by visiting or can be purchased at the door.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Young People's Chorus of NYC Celebrates 30th Anniversary
The Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez celebrate the chorus' 30th anniversary in its 2018 Annual Benefit Concert, to be held at Jazz at NYC's Lincoln Center on Monday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m.

This year's musical guests are Tony Award-winning, Broadway songwriting duo Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose works for the stage include Anastasia and Once On This Island; singer and actress Jenn Colella, currently starring in Broadway's Come From Away; singer/actor Jordan Donica, whose roles include Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the national tour of Hamilton; and classical baritone Lester Lynch, who has performed at Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, and with the San Francisco Opera, among other companies.

To purchase concert-only sponsorship tickets or to attend the entire benefit evening, visit or email

--Shuman Associates

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Announces 2018-19 Season
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale announces its 2018/19 season--"Transcendence." In its 38th year, PBO will continue to take its signature brand of historically-informed performance to the next level with its subscription season, alternative concert series PBO SESSIONS, Juilliard partnership and its national tour schedule.

Philharmonia's 2018/19 season promises an eclectic array of music and experiences, including sacred vocal works by Bach, Mozart, and Pärt, virtuosic concerti by Vivaldi and Clement, and Handel at his dramatic heights.

Single tickets for the 2018/19 Season will go on sale with City Box Office on August 1, 2018. Subscription details can be found online at

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents Conductor Stephen Darlington and The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Concerts at Saint Thomas presents acclaimed conductor Stephen Darlington and The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, for an evening of British choral masterpieces at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, on April 6.

The choir will perform works by Handel, Purcell, Byrd (including his haunting Mass for Four Voices), and more as a part of Stephen Darlington's farewell tour after more than 40 years of association with Christ Church.

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (CD review)

Also, Berg: 7 Early Songs. Barbara Bonney, soprano; Riccardo Chailly, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Decca 289 466 720-2.

Do I need to remind you that the Fourth Symphony remains one of Mahler's most popular pieces, maybe the most popular? The first clue is that a new performance of it seems to appear almost every month. This one from Decca, produced in September 1999, is notable in two regards: It is exceptionally well recorded, and the Berg songs make a welcome coupling.

The booklet note justifies Riccardo Chailly's reading by saying it stays closer to Mahler's final intentions than other recordings. That may be, but the realization doesn't always satisfy. Chailly makes the first movement, which should be a sweet introduction to life's journey to the Hereafter, sound ominous and menacing, perhaps in anticipation of a scarier-than-usual "Friend Death" that appears later. Unfortunately, it robs the opening piece of much of its innocence. However, the Scherzo, which should definitely be creepy, "shiveringly spooky" in Mahler's own words, under Chailly sounds rather homespun.

Riccardo Chailly
Chailly keeps the long, slow third movement well in check, gliding gracefully, if somewhat statically, into the Finale. Barbara Bonney does the concluding "Wunderhorn" song in appropriately childlike fashion, but here, too, one misses the lofty magic expected. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra play as gloriously as ever, though, which should also count for something.

It's hard to do any real damage to a piece of music as lovely as this, but for me there are more evocative accounts under George Szell (HDTT or Sony), Bernard Haitink (Philips), Colin Davis (RCA), Otto Klemperer (EMI), Franz Welser-Most (EMI), Lorin Maazel (Sony), Claudio Abbado (DG), and others.

Nothing wrong with the sound Decca obtained for Chailly, however. The overall tone is well balanced, and there is a superbly realistic orchestral depth. Some highlighting of solo instruments mars the otherwise impeccable imaging. One can find almost no glossiness or hardness anywhere, which is a real plus. Among available discs, Chailly's is among the best sounding. It's just the interpretation you'll have to get used to.


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

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