October 19, 2014

in: Reviews

A Nameless Mass As Sweet As Any

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The vocal ensemble Blue Heron opened its 16th-annual subscription series with a performance Saturday of an anonymous “Mass for St. Augustine of Canterbury” at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational. Those who heard it must rejoice for its survival and for its superb restoration by Sandon and performance by Blue Heron.     [continued]

October 19, 2014

in: Reviews

Laboratory of Unexpected Music

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Symphony Nova’s “Dawn to Dusk,” on Friday at Old South’s Gordon Chapel under Lawrence Isaacson  featured paper maple leaves placed on the seats and small pumpkins adorning the aisles.  The performances impressed and even delighted throughout, but I was especially grateful to hear once more four strong and gratifying works that have all been concealed for too long.     [continued]

October 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Emmanuel Music Crosses the Charles

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Emmanuel Music’s “Crossroads” at Friday night at the Longy School on Friday under Ryan Turner allowed wide-ranging repertoire from Mendelssohn to Stravinsky to a new work by John Harbison, not only to achieve a cogent unity but also to reveal some fascinating interconnections.     [continued]

October 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Fischer and Buchbinder Exhibit Fine Chemistry

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Thierry Fischer made his widely anticipated debut with the BSO at Symphony Hall Thursday, directing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4.     [continued]

October 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Feast of Fraught from Padmore and Biss

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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall was the destination for a capacity crowd on Sunday as British tenor Mark Padmore was joined by Boston pianist Jonathan Biss in an ambitious program exploring art song extremes of agony and ecstasy.     [continued]

October 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Elusive Electronica Cloud Opens BMOP Season

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Gil Rose led his redoubtable Boston Modern Orchestra Project into its 19th season with an ambitious program of pieces incorporating electronics. Surround Sound’s composers have university connections, Ronald Bruce Smith and Anthony Paul De Ritis at Northeastern University, and David Felder at Buffalo U. and wide experience composing with electronica. Deployed around Jordan Hall were at least 20 speaker arrays, including 12 onstage and 4 placed on 2 tiers in the balcony.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Strings Big and Little, Two by Two

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Celebrity Series of Boston’s unforgettable evening at Sanders Theater last night featured two often-overlooked instruments, double bass and mandolin, played for a devoted audience by two funloving virtuosi, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Younger Pianist Poles Toward Old School

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Roberto Poli, the Venetian-American Chopin specialist arrived as if by gondola for an all-Chopin NEC Prep faculty recital at Jordan Hall last night, performing in an improvisatory reverie as if composing on the spot.    [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Good Company at the Goethe-Institut

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Wistaria, the Chamber Music Society of Western Massachusetts, gave a neatly varied concert “The Company of Virgil” on Sunday afternoon at the Goethe-Institut Boston as a commemoration of the 25th-anniversary of the death (at age 92) of Virgil Thomson, whose music was featured along with Scott Wheeler’s, who also spoke about Thomson.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Songs of Love and War

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The Festival Chamber Ensemble of singers and players was directed by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs gave an extraordinary program of late madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) for the opening of Boston Early Music Festival new season on Saturday at Jordan Hall.     [continued]

October 12, 2014

in: Reviews

Safely Traditional? Sometimes!

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Boston Lyric Opera opened its 2014-15 season with a tried and true crowd-pleaser, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. Given BLO’s significant risk-taking this season—two of the four operas are little known—one might have expected a safely traditional staging of one of Verdi’s most popular works. This was not always the case, though the musical performances from cast, chorus, and orchestra, however, were quite fine while the acting was effective.     [continued]

October 12, 2014

in: Reviews

radius ensemble Encircles Mixed Rep

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The 16th season of radius ensemble opened Saturday at Longy with “Exhale,” in which an off-kilter boogie-woogie, moved on to a “feeling of summer,” shifted to darkness, took a break, and came back playing an hour’s worth of Schubert. Programmatically it was yet another ensemble radius coup, performance-wise somewhat of a disenchantment.     [continued]

October 12, 2014

in: Reviews

Pro Arte’s Grounded Perspective

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Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra’s concert last night at First Church Cambridge focused in on elements of special relevance to American identity and experience. Respighi was denounced as a bombastic pastichist, Mozart was honored as the songster of human fragility, and Beethoven was embraced as the voice of the Brave.     [continued]

October 11, 2014

in: Reviews

H&H Begins 200th Season

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Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society opened its bicentennial season on Friday night at Symphony Hall with a program of crowd-pleasers by Handel, Bach, and Vivaldi, evidently meant to showcase its chorus and string players.     [continued]

October 10, 2014

in: Reviews

Zacharias, Schubert, Mozart: A Trifecta

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Christian Zacharias conducted the BSO in Schubert’s Incidental Music from Rosamunde (D. 797) and the Symphony in B Minor, “Unfinished” (D. 759); he doubled as soloist, conducting from the keyboard, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453. It was a thoughtful tour de force.     [continued]

October 8, 2014

in: Reviews

Aging Master Attends Old School II

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The locally eminent mid-70s Gabriel Chodos gave an old-school recital at Jordan Hall to a rapt house Sunday night with golden tone, evenness of voicing, burnished subtleties of phrasing and breathing. At time it became a holy experience.     [continued]

October 7, 2014

in: Reviews

Old Friends Return to First Monday

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Yesterday’s installment commenced First Monday’s 30th-anniversary season at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. A justifiably proud Laurence Lesser chose pieces that “made him happy.”     [continued]

October 7, 2014

in: Reviews

Grit and Gracefulness from Muir

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On Monday night’s concert by Boston University’s quartet-in-residence, the Muir Quartet, the audience was treated to works by Wolf, Janacek and Dvorak. The Muir did not disappoint.     [continued]

October 7, 2014

in: Reviews

Greek Myths & Opera at the MFA

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On Sunday afternoon, singers from Boston Lyric Opera joined curator Christine Kondoleon in the Remis Auditorium at MFA, Boston for an hour-long promotional of both the museum’s new Greek antiquities galleries and the talents of Boston Lyric Opera.     [continued]

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October 16, 2014

in: News & Features

Busy Pittman Presides Thrice

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pittmanOn October 25th, the New England Philharmonic, under the direction of Richard Pittman, will commence its 38th season and continue the tradition of presenting Boston and world premieres from contemporary composers alongside orchestral masterworks. The 8:00 concert at theTsai Performance Center features György Ligeti’s Ramifications, Bernard Hoffer’s Ligeti Split (world premiere), Igor Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra with Randall Hodgkinson, piano, David Rakowski’s Dance Episodes Symphony No. 5 (world premiere, NEP commission) and concludes with Maurice Ravel’s La Valse. But this isn’t all Pittman will be conducting this weekend. He will also be presiding over two concerts of the Concord Orchestra on Friday and Saturday at 51 Walden featuring the rarely-performed Bruckner Second Symphony, and Randall Hodgkinson will be playing Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488. BMInt had a recent conversation with Pittman.

Mark DeVoto: I’m particularly interested in the new works which you’re going to perform next week. Would you like to tell us about those?

Richard Pittman: You probably know that David Rakowski is the composer in residence with the New England Philharmonic. He’s been with us for several years, and we do a new work by him every year. Normally I leave it entirely up to him about what he wants to write, unless I have some special programming idea that could be helpful. For last year’s season I was expecting a piece about ten or twelve minutes long, but he told me, “It turned into a symphonyI had such fun that I just kept on writing.” [continued...]

October 14, 2014

in: News & Features

Thierry Fischer To Debut with BSO

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thierryIn a program originally planned for Rafael Frühbeck, Swiss conductor  Thierry Fischer makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in a program that pairs Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable. Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, a noted interpreter of the Austro-German canon, is the featured soloist in the Brahms concerto. Performances take place at Symphony Hall on October 16, 17, 18, and 21 at 8:00 p.m. BMInt had an interesting email interview with Mr. Fischer this weekend.

You recently extended your contract as music director of the Utah Symphony. In earlier eras, from Abravanel through our own Joseph Silverstein, that orchestra featured unusual repertoire and an ambitious recording program. What’s your vision? [continued...]

October 10, 2014

in: News & Features

Harvard Marks Gluck’s Tercentennial

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Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

The Harvard University Choir, alongside the period instrument orchestra Grand Harmonie, will present a concert performance of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, in celebration of the composer’s three-hundredth anniversary year. Julia Mintzer, a company member of the Semperoper in Dresden, and a graduate of Juilliard and the Boston University Opera Institute, will sing the role of Orfeo, with Boston favorites Amanda Forsythe and Margot Rood performing Euridice and Amore respectively. The performance on Sunday October 19th at 4pm in the Memorial Church, conducted by Edward Elwyn Jones, is free and open to the public.

Orfeo ed Euridice was premiered at Vienna’s Burgtheater on October 5, 1762, in celebration of the name day of the Habsburg Emperor Francis I. It was to be an auspicious day for opera: for Gluck’s revolutionary masterpiece at once looks back to the very beginnings of the artform, sets a new trajectory for Enlightenment opera, and casts enormous influence on dramatic composition from Mozart through Wagner, Debussy, and beyond. [continued...]

October 6, 2014

in: News & Features

Virgil Thomson and Company

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Not Virgil Thomson

Not Virgil Thomson

Wistaria Chamber Music Society is celebrating the 25th-anniversary of the death of the American composer, critic, and wit Virgil Thomson with a tour of playful, experimental, and meditative chamber works by Thomson and three of his friends and students. The program will be given on SaturdayOct. 11, 2014, at the Unitarian Society in Northampton, MA, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, and will feature Randall Hodgkinson, pianist, and Astrid Schween, cellist and long-time Wistaria member. They join pianists Monica Jakuc Leverett and Edward Rosser, soprano Junko Watanabe, tenor Peter W. Shea, the four-hand piano duo Gary Steigerwalt and Dana Muller, pianist Edward Rosser, and harpist Franziska Huhn.

The eclectic, searching program affords an unusual look at Virgil Thomson and his influence on friends and followers Lou Harrison, John Cage, and the well-known and busy Boston composer Scott Wheeler. More details on the event follow after an interesting interview with Wheeler. [continued...]

October 3, 2014

in: News & Features

NEC President Leaving After Eight Years

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necawwNew England Conservatory President Tony Woodcock announced Thursday his intent to step down from his position effective June 30, 2015. Although unexpected, Woodcock’s revelation at the trustees meeting on Thursday did not come out of the blue. Intense discussions about Woodcock’s “leadership effectiveness” had been ongoing between the president and the trustees for the last six months, according to sources.

Past NEC President Daniel Steiner famously said, “The only thing standing between NEC and greatness is money.” When he took over as president, in 2001, his first action was to persuade the board to allow him to “invade” NEC’s meager endowment so that he could immediately hire the best string faculty in the country and significantly increase the amount of money available for student financial aid. This required a leap of faith by the board that the endowment could be replenished, and more, by means of a capital campaign that raised more than $110 million between 2001 and 2008. The obvious success, both of Steiner’s vision and of the capital campaign itself, are here for all to see and hear. Steiner transformed NEC from a respected regional music school into one of the nation’s leading conservatories. [continued...]

October 1, 2014

in: News & Features

From the Top Records Live at Jordan Hall

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Christopher O'Riley

Christopher O’Riley

Meet “young musicians who will knock your socks off” (NBC’s Today) when From the Top, the preeminent showcase for young musicians heard weekly on WCRB 99.5, tapes its NPR radio show at Jordan Hall on Sunday, October 5th. This session of the popular program hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley will mark the beginning of its 15th season. For tickets and information, click here or call 617-437-0707 x 128. From the Top may be heard locally on WCRB on Sundays at 7 pm; this episode will air nationally the week of November 17th.

Featured on the show will be 12-year-old violinist Maria Lakisova from Vernon Hills Illinois, a student at Midwest Young Artists, and 17-year-old pianist Yun-Chih Hsu from New York, a student at the Juilliard Pre-College Division. Also featured will be the Snitzer String Quartet from the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, comprising violinist Carolyn Semes, violinist Beatrice Hsieh, violist Joseph Burke, and cellist Zachary Mowitz.

BMInt recent had a pleasant conversation with host O’Riley: [continued...]

September 27, 2014

in: News & Features

Epochal Evening at Symphony

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A delighted Andris Nelsons (Stu Rosner)

A delighted Andris Nelsons (Stu Rosner)

A distinct buzz was emanating from Symphony Hall Thursday when this writer joined counterparts from two other electronic journals in a one-hour interview with new Music Director Andris Nelsons and Managing Director Mark Volpe. PBS was there doing special lighting and setting up camera positions for what isn’t even going to be opening night, although it may be the beginning of an epoch. Time will tell. As readers must already know, the excitement is about a first among firsts. Andris Nelsons, who has already had made noted BSO first appearances as guest conductor, as Tanglewood conductor, as Music Director Designate at Tanglewood and as Music Director Designate at Symphony Hall, is now (in a one-night-only special event with two stellar singers) making his regular season debut as music director in a season in which he will conduct 10 sets of concerts.

Much has been said of the Maestro’s youth, and indeed at 35 he is the second-youngest conductor to begin his tenure as BSO music director. The full-bearded George Henschel began as the orchestra’s first leader at age 31, while Seiji Ozawa, even with beads and turtleneck, began as a comparatively ancient 37-year-old. Nelsons’s enthusiasm is indeed youthful and exuberant—he seems astonished at his good fortune—and both press and management hope that this will translate into younger audiences.

Tonight’s operatic gala with lustrous soprano Kristine Opolais (the wife of Andris Nelsons) and the heroic tenor Jonas Kaufman promises to be a memorable chapter in the BSO’s storied history. A rather lengthy interview begins below the break. [continued...]

September 24, 2014

in: News & Features

Music World Loses Christopher Hogwood

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hogwood-purkrissFollowing an illness lasting several months, Christopher Hogwood died peacefully on Wednesday today, a fortnight after his 73rd birthday. He was at home in Cambridge, UK, with family. The BBC tells us in a fine tribute [here] that Hogwood worked with many leading orchestras around the world and was considered one of the most influential exponents of the early-music movement. He famously founded the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) in 1973, directing it across six continents for some 30 years. The AAM also made more than 200 CDs, including the first-ever complete cycle of Mozart symphonies on period instruments.

“We are simply heartbroken by this news,” said Handel and Haydn Society Executive Director and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. “Chris left a permanent footprint on this organization. We were very much anticipating his return in March to lead the Mendelssohn Elijah during the H+H Bicentennial. It’s a milestone that I know meant a great deal to him.”

“Chris Hogwood was a wonderful colleague, and many of us will miss his earthly presence,” Hogwood’s former concertmaster Dan Stepner told BMInt.

According to H + H publicist Matthew Erikson, “The Handel and Haydn Society’s conductor laureate, Christopher Hogwood, the ensemble’s artistic director from 1986 to 2001, profoundly changed the direction and vision of this venerable institution, and added tremendously to its renown and international profile.” [continued...]

September 24, 2014

in: News & Features

National Prize Recognizes Local Composer

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laneIt’s welcome news when young Bostonian musicians receive national recognition, and especially pleasing to this writer when such musical citizens also have connections with the Intelligencer. While he has been a doctoral student, a freshly minted PhD., sitting on the advisory board of Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, on Juventas New Music Ensemble’s board of directors, and a member of Composers in Red Sneakers, Peter Van Zandt Lane also had the dedication to write 51 reviews for this journal. We salute him on winning second prize for his ballet HackPolitik [reviewed here] from the American Prize Competition.

The American Prize competition, 2014, recognized HackPolitik, a ballet in two acts for chamber ensemble and electronics in the professional theater works division from applications reviewed this summer from all across the United States. The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts. Moreon the story is here.

Peter, whose website is here, provided an autobiographical sketch: [continued...]

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