In a concert Saturday night at Jordan Hall sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts, pianist Ya-Fei Chuang created, as the French would say, Chopin’s 24 Preludes Op. 28, the Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor and Ravel’s La Valse, beautifully emphasizing the dialog between darkness and light. [continued]
For the H+H Bicentennial approaching Eastertide, the 200-year-old organization offered an enrapturing Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Symphony Hall last night, with a second performance coming Sunday at 3:00. [continued]
In collaboration with New Vintage Baroque, the Boston Opera Collective opened Rinaldo, in the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology on Thursday evening. Performances will continue throughout the weekend with two alternating casts. [continued]
Andris Nelsons led the BSO masterfully Thursday in a demanding program consisting of the first performance of Gandolfi’s Ascending Light, a distinguished addition to the rarefied genre of the organ concerto, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. [continued]
Boston Conservatory’s production of Stravinsky’s last operatic exercise in neoclassicism worth taking in if you have a chance. The Rake’s Progress plays at the BoCo Theater through Sunday. [continued]
Phoenix, the stylish new young chamber orchestra, ignited at Club Oberon on Tuesday. A good portion of the evening was devoted to mingling, getting drinks, and hanging out; the musical content was presented in five sets. [continued]
The venerated Russell Sherman played Beethoven to a Jordan Hall filled with his devotees last night. The mystical pianist eschewed his well-known penchant for lingering or hesitating mid-phrase for a sometimes surprising directness. [continued]
Lowell House Opera’s Queen of Spades made much of Tchaikovsky’s superb music on Wednesday night. The staging decisions dealing with the composer’s rambling narrative, though, did not turn it into a coherent story. Playing through April 4th. [continued]
The Boston debut of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider came Friday as one of five “Stave Sessions” which have extended the regular fare of Celebrity Series programs. From what I saw and heard, the concept should be adjudged a huge success. [continued]
Back Bay Chorale’s well-balanced and thoughtful performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Sanders Theater on Saturday was a gift; even with sizable forces it elucidated the work’s intricacies. [continued]
The Ellipsis Trio’s broad repertoire includes an ongoing focus on Americana. On a program at Killian Hall Saturday that also offered a premier by Igor Iwanek, the threesome’s spoken and written apologias belied their technical prowess and sympathetic emotional engagement with Arthur Foote and Ives. [continued]
Saturday’s “Ockeghem @600” outing at First Church, Cambridge was devoted to composers, dubbed by NES professor Sean Gallagher, the Ockeghem Five. Blue Heron’s nine singers performed with exemplary polish. [continued]
Emmanuel Music’s wide mood swings in Bach’s St. John Passion took a toll on storytelling Saturday night, but the highly extroverted performance was certainly rewarded with an ovation. [continued]
Symphony Nova engaged in 90 uninterrupted minutes of “Soulful Searching” in a darkened Gordon Chapel Friday. Their goal is nothing less than to “reinvigorate the classical music scene through a transformative process.” [continued]
BSO played Mozart’s last three symphonies Thursday under Dohnányi with impeccable taste—perfect for everyone who likes such a thing. [continued]
The virtuosic, genre-bending vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth played gleaming, glass-encased cafetorium in the fourth concert in the Celebrity Series of Boston’s essential new festival, Stave Sessions. [continued]
Saturday night’s performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor by Musica Sacra at First Congregational Church in Cambridge set a very high standard. They did this monumental work justice, and then some. [continued]
On the Sunday that broke Boston’s snowfall record, Schumann and Kurtag flared about Jordan Hall at the hands of Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players and guest artist Emanuel Ax: maximum poise arrived in the midst of inexorable despair. [continued]
The Aizuri Quartet uplifted us with Haydn, Janáček and Schubert at Calderwood Hall as a feature of Curtis on Tour; cellist Peter Wiley joined for an incandescent C Major Quintet of Schubert. [continued]
The large and enthusiastic crowd that greeted Daniil Trifonov’s arrival on Jordan Hall’s stage Friday night heard an object lesson in piano virtuosity, but some of us were left wanting more poetuosity. [continued]
With Leoš Janáček’s Kátya Kabanová at the Shubert on Friday, Boston Lyric Opera provided a feast for the eyes, a parade of sharply drawn characters, and an acoustically dry but vigorous realization of a fascinating score. Continues through March 22nd. [continued]more reviews →
It’s in the air of Boston these days: the arts are finally achieving the prominence they deserve in civic life. This is particularly well exemplified by the appointment of Julie Burros to a cabinet level position in the Mayor’s office and a strong commitment to the arts by Mayor Walsh. But it turns out that recognition of the value of the arts to the community has long been in the minds of proper Bostonians. On Tuesday we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Handel & Haydn Society on the exact date. On March 24, 1815, 6 worthy Bostonian gentlemen met at the home of composer, educator, publisher and oboist Gottlieb Graupner to form what has become the oldest continuously operating arts organization in the country [unless one accepts the precedence of the 229-year-old Stoughton Chorale Society]. At the time of its founding, H+H was essentially a contemporary music ensemble of chorus and orchestra; Haydn was only 11 years dead, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was 9 years off. Over the course of time, this organization has presented the US premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879). Additionally, they have performed at the state memorial services for Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1826), Abraham Lincoln (1865), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945). They have been on the cutting edge of the musical life of this country, and instead of resting on their lacy haunches, they remain one of the most vital and progressive of the many arts organizations in Boston. Their community outreach and education program is very strong, and their financial picture very solid, as evidenced by the remarks at the event. They have reached $10 million of a $12 million capital campaign to ensure continuing vibrancy. [continued…]
On Symphony Hall’s first opening night, October 15th, 1900, the brand new Hutchings organ gave stately support to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Since then the hall’s instrument has been used for many first performances, and apropos of firsts, the BSO’s Robert Kirzinger and Brian Bell told BMInt that the concept of formal commissions from the BSO began 84 years ago with the ensemble’s 50th anniversary. Nevertheless, both before that time and afterwards, BSO music Director Serge Koussevitzky willed numerous composers (sometimes without remuneration) to write works for the orchestra. One of the first such was Copland’s Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; the first performance of the work was in New York, but Nadia Boulanger famously played the subsequent performances with the BSO in 1925. Another example of a commission that included an incidental BSO premiere with organ, was Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge’s for Harvard’s Germanic Museum (now the Busch-Reisinger) of Walther Piston’s Prelude and Allegro for organ and strings. Its broadcast premiere took place with E. Power Biggs on the CBS radio network with strings from the BSO. The Symphony Hall live premiere took place shortly thereafter in October, 1943. [continued…]
The existence of pipe organs in concert halls has a history roughly parallel to that of full orchestras themselves in concert halls. Noisy England led the way, with the famous 1834 organ in Birmingham Town Hall, built by William Hill. In this organ was introduced the Tuba Mirabilis, a solo trumpet stop louder and darker than its smaller brethren, which blended into the ensemble. This large organ, with its imposing façade and grand sound, established a trend that would persist for a century particularly throughout the English-speaking world. Boston was hardly immune, and in 1857 commissioned a large concert organ from E.F. Walcker in Germany for its Music Hall. The instrument finally arrived in 1863 (after running an ineffective Confederate blockade of the Boston Harbor), and was installed within an American-designed and -built case of preposterous opulence, the whole endeavor splashed across the press nationwide. [See interesting writeup here] [continued…]
Rather like a ship in a bottle, Handel’s elaborate 1711 opera Rinaldo will gleam within a miniature architectural tribute to Symphony Hall thanks to the singer-run Boston Opera Collaborative. Beginning March 26th, the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology’s 160 seats will resound with sorcery, warriors, sirens and furies
Respectfully shorn of excrescences and longueurs, the production will convey Handel’s pleasures in “a fully staged, costumed and choreographed production, though there is no scenery in the traditional sense. We are using a forest of coat-racks in various ways. The costumes are gorgeous—rich in color and imagination—a suggestion of antiquity melded with Alexander McQueen-type high fashion,” according to co-artistic directors Patricia-Maria Weinmann and Greg Smucker.
“We’ve taken the most compelling parts of the narrative to distill the three-hour story into a compact 90 minutes. Some arias have been cut but all the characters have at least two arias (Rinaldo and Arminda more). There are also two duets in this opera, which is a bit unusual for Handel. [continued…]
The birth of an ensemble is hardly rare in this cultural mecca, but it’s not every week, or every year even, that we get to be present for the birth of a new orchestra. Apparently, we’re all invited to get to know the 30 musicians of Phoenix Orchestra in a social setting of 120 seats—mostly at tables with tinkling glasses—“and experience the launch of a new kind of concert! There’ll be fantastic music, great drinks, and lots of chances to meet the players behind the stands.” Conductor/President Matthew Szymanski has fashioned an ensemble of post-conservatory freelancers (10 of whom come from the late lamented Discovery Ensemble) who will debut with serious repertoire and low-set hurdles at Club Oberon on March 24th. Our questions for Matt elicited some flavor of this new endeavor.
LE: Phoenix proposes to “attract an audience by offering something new and exciting and embrace its members by providing an open, welcoming atmosphere as well as exceptional music.” We need specifics.
MS: We try not to boil ourselves down to a list, but since you asked…. It’s hard to overstate how important the attitude and personality of every musician involved are to making this work. Every person in the orchestra was handpicked as both a person and a musical talent. [continued…]
This March has truly been a Bach spectacular in Boston. Starting with Boston Baroque’s St. John Passion in late February and Musica Sacra’s B Minor Mass last weekend, the exposure will continue with all-day birthday celebrations on March 21st at First Lutheran Church, with St. John again at Emmanuel Music, and the Handel & Haydn Society’s St. Matthew Passion on the 27th; the spectacle concludes at King’s Chapel with a rarely performed Bach work readers probably have not heard before.
Though musical settings of the Passion story were quite common in the Baroque era, only Bach’s two towering masterpieces are often performed today. Where Bach only occasionally interjected contemporary words into the gospel text for arias and choruses, other composers such as Handel and Telemann used the famous text of Hamburg poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes who wrote a libretto where the entire story was told in his own words. [continued…]
The joy of hearing a full day of the dazzling music of Johann Sebastian Bach awaits all at “Boston Bach Birthday 330” on Saturday, March 21st. Held at the First Lutheran Church of Boston, this birthday observance opens at 9:00 with a children’s event followed by ten concerts of the master’s works before concluding at 6:30. The performers include internationally renowned artists and four students from distinguished schools of music. The day of tribute to Bach continues at Emmanuel Church with Emmanuel Music’s 8:00 pm performance of the St. John Passion.
In homage to the universality of Bach’s music, admission to BBB330 is free, and all are invited to attend. The schedule, complete with repertoire, is found [here]. Contributions are greatly appreciated to help defray expenses and may be made either at the door or online. Reservations for noontime sustenance in the form of a German lunch, prime balcony seating, and contributions may be made [here].
Boston Bach Birthday began in 2009 (BBB324) as a collaboration of the American Guild of Organists, Boston Chapter, and the First Lutheran Church. Two organists, Joyce Painter Rice and Bálint Karosi, who is Music Director at First Lutheran, have been the primary planners. Now in its seventh consecutive year, the collaboration has continued and the celebration has expanded. In 2013, all the concerts were webcast live on WCRB online; Emmanuel Music and other musical groups have become helping partners. [continued…]
A recent review of the BSO featuring Charles Dutoit and Julia Fischer [here] engendered a number of pointed reader comments about empty seats and BSO policies. Suspecting that the comments might be not fully informed, BMInt staff directed them to the attention of BSO management and received policy explanations from Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Kim Noltemy.
“We do our best to make sure every young person who wants to attend a BSO concert can do so through one of the orchestra’s generous discounted-ticket programs, put in place for students from high school age through young professionals up to age 40, and our records indicate that these programs are being used in a very healthy and robust way. During the current 2014-15 season, the BSO has sold between 200 and 500 discounted tickets for every concert except seven. [continued…]more news & features →