On Good Friday in Jordan Hall, the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber and Vocal Ensembles under Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs presented the little-known Passion According to St. Matthew by Johann Sebastiani in a stellar performance by stylistically expert singers and players. [continued]
Boston University School of Music Opera Institute and School of Theater offered audiences four performances of an un-cut, fully staged production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In addition to being well-performed and engagingly staged, the performance I heard Friday night at the BU Theater was mostly free of interpretive tics and ideologies, allowing the story to be told on its own, troubling terms. [continued]
A well-played and beautifully sung Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II opened Saturday night at the Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theater and continues Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. [continued]
The Henry Purcell Society of Boston made a smashbang debut with the Cyprian Consort, mixing semi-familiar and less-heard songs by the 17th-century English composer at All Saints Parish in Brookline. [continued]
Though Lorin Maazel’s appearance might have been missed by many, Charles Dutoit stepped in on short notice, keeping to the scheduled program that included two symphonies: Mozart’s Prague and Mahler’s Fifth. [continued]
Celebrity Series of Boston, in its Debut Series at Longy, presented tenor Nicholas Phan and pianist Myra Huang in a recital of Schubert and Britten last night that was an absolute treat. [continued]
Every year the Foundation for Modern Opera presents at Jordan Hall something called The Shakespeare Concerts, appearing to have two goals: the presentation of music based on the works of Shakespeare, and the promotion of music by Joseph Summer. [continued]
The last of the eight seminars on Hearing Modernity on April 14th at Holden Chapel Harvard University, “Reflections of the Voice,” touched upon mental commotion and helpless laughter. [continued]
Discovery Ensemble filled Jordan Hall for a lengthy concert Sunday featuring violinist Xiang Yu and works that showcased both front and back halves of the chamber orchestra. The varied program was full of gems performed to the high standard we expect from Discovery and Courtney Lewis. [continued]
The centerpiece of the Boston Chamber Music Society’s grab-bag at Sanders Hall on Sunday night was a premiere Portraits of El Greco (Book I) by George Tsontakis. Surrounding it were a relatively light-hearted Beethoven, and sizable hunk of Glazunov. [continued]
Early 20th-century critic Philip Hale would surely have been horrified to see a capacity crowd fill Symphony Hall for a glorious all-Brahms program as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston’s 75th anniversary celebration of “The Art of the Piano” with Marc-André Hamelin and Emanuel Ax. [continued]
Musicians from Marlboro are known for their artistic geniality among much else, and their offerings at the Gardner Museum yesterday seemed both chosen and played for those strengths. Scarcely a dark cloud passed in the course of the afternoon, nor was there any discord in compositions or execution. [continued]
The Chiara Quartet concluded both their cycle of the Bartok quartets and their six-year long residency at Harvard as the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence on Friday at Paine Hall with some improvisatory playing—mostly from memory. [continued]
The rising Jupiter Quartet hit the midpoint of its Beethoven cycle a week ago (Friday April 4; Opus 59 No. 1 and Opus 130) in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, followed a few days later by a private concert of the established Leipzig Quartet also featuring Opus 130. [continued]
Celebrity Series raised the bar for Bartók by presenting the Takács Quartet in Béla’s even-numbered string quartets last night at Jordan Hall. Describing what these four artists accomplished makes for quite a task. [continued]
Conductor François-Xavier Roth made his BSO and American debut last night a curious program of Bach, Stravinsky and Beethoven that was two-thirds exhilarating and one third frustrating. [continued]
April’s First Monday concert at the New England Conservatory offered a rich assortment of players and pieces at Jordan Hall including harpist Jessica Zhou in Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman in the Brahms Clarinet Quintet. [continued]
Along with Mendelssohn’s early Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, violinist/leader Aislinn Nosky peered into Mendelssohn’s extensive personal library, highlighting works by Vivaldi, Handel, J.S. and C.P.E. in H&H performances Friday and Saturday. [continued]
Emmanuel Music’s performance of Handel’s oratorio Susanna on Saturday at Emmanuel Church brought the story vividly, emotionally and convincingly to life with a stellar cast of singers and instrumentalists led by music director Ryan Turner. [continued]more reviews →
On April 25th and 26th, Boston Baroque will present Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Homecoming of Ulysses) by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) in a semi-staged performance at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. This production of Ulisse will complete Boston Baroque’s cycle of the surviving Monteverdi operas, a Boston first. We talked to Boston Baroque founder and music director Martin Pearlman, stage director Mark Streshinsky, and members of the cast about the production and its challenges. Pearlman has generously sent us his program notes for the performance, and we have cited from them freely.
Virginia Newes: Can you tell us a little about what attracted you to Monteverdi in general and to Il ritorno d’Ulisse in particular? [continued...]
There will be dueling directors at the Boston Camerata’s final season offering at Old West Church on April 25th. Anne Azéma and Joel Cohen, who have frequently shared the podium on the road, will be débuting their style of collaboration for Boston audiences in a program of rare and unusual musical repertoire from the pen of a Vermont renegade and rugged individualist. We had a few questions for Azéma and Cohen as they prepared for the performance.
BMint: We see that in your upcoming concert, “Lovely Vine: Jeremiah Ingalls and the American Folk Hymn,” there is a song called “The Devil’s Nine Questions.” So we’d like to play devil’s advocate for a moment and ask at least one of those questions: Why is an early-music ensemble disinterring a songbook published as late as 1805? And an American songbook, at that? [continued...]
New England Conservatory’s yearlong festival Music: Truth to Power continues April 23, when the NEC Philharmonia and Hugh Wolff, the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, return to Symphony Hall for the first time since 2010. Both Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Shostakovich’s infrequently heard Symphony No. 11 (The Year 1905), which commemorated the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, clearly fit the season’s theme. Less about lofty messages but with special significance for Symphony Hall is the Violin Concerto No. 1 of Sergei Prokofiev, composed in 1917 and given its American premiere in 1925 by the Boston Symphony. Concertmaster Richard Burgin was soloist with Serge Koussevitzky conducting. The new violinist will be Xiang Yu (Angelo), candidate for the NEC Artist Diploma, who has been frequently praised in these pages: “By the sheer quality and force of his sound and ideas Angelo emerged as an artist with a distinct voice and an extraordinary ability to engage.”
Presented in association with the Celebrity Series of Boston, the performance takes place at 8 pm and is being offered as a special bonus to Celebrity Series subscribers. The public is invited to attend as well. Tickets are $20/$15, $10 for students and seniors; WGBH members 2 for 1. [continued...]
Our latest article on radio in Boston mainly serves to introduce the new WCRB station manager and his aural vision, as it were, for attracting listeners, though our interview touches as well on marketing and licensing for WCRB and WGBH. The news in short is that WCRB has become a pleasant companion through a combination of the agreeable, automated playlists of Tony Rudel and the “live and local” announcers who invite us to enjoy Tony’s choices. Tony told us that oenophiles may not be pleased, but Camry drivers will be comfortable.
Currently in the news is a challenge to WGBH’s license renewal. Though it is very unlikely to prevail, inasmuch as the FCC is loath to delve into content, it does raise the question of whether the station is providing “unique content to an underserved public,” as their license originally stipulated. Jack Bernstein’s Committee for Community Access is determined to restore jazz and folk music that were cut when WGBH went to a mostly talk format in 2009.
From a marketing perspective, though, WGBH’s new approach is a success, having tripled its audience share since 2009 (though most of the gain is since September 2012). WCRB, by contrast, had lost two-thirds of its share since 2009, and that’s why Rudel the spin doctor has been called in. BMInt’s interview follows. [continued...]
Despite what Beethoven expressed about the vulgarity of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, he kept sketches of the music in his notebooks. And whether it is Mozart or the Don who seduces us, we are always taken to more dangerous places by good performances. We prefer to be left in such places, and like productions which omit the anticlimactic, didactic, moralizing final ensemble. To see the rake punished and be left with that image is unsurpassed as theater. It’s a good idea to get an aisle seat so you can dash for the exit as the flames of conflagration smolder.
The BU Opera Institute will give the dissolute rake another moment to prance upon the boards. Having seen many of BU’s opera productions over the years, and having found them of consistently rewarding quality, we are happy to point readers to their upcoming production.
The School of Music Opera Institute and the School of Theatre at Boston University College of Fine Arts present Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s tale of seduction and abandonment — April 17-20, 2014. Their press release follows. [continued...]
On Monday night, the Boston University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus under Ann Howard Jones with tenor Christopher Hutchinson, performed Hector Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Mortes, Op. 5, at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Scored for a very large orchestra with offstage brass sections and choral groups placed throughout the venue,“This is truly a 3-D experience,” explained Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts. “The orchestra and choral sections are to the front, to the sides, to the back, creating an enveloping sound. Not only is it an incredible experience for BU student musicians, it’s a visual and listening opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.”
For those who missed it, including this would-be reviewer who sang the work under Seiji Ozawa and Leopold Stokowski and very much had wanted to attend, one can hear a streaming version here. And as complement to that stream, BMInt is pleased to publish some excellent photos by Michael J. Lutch. [continued...]
Since “Mandolinist Avi Avital was electrifying to watch and hear… takes the listener to the brink of wildest expectation and then leaps over those boundaries,” according to BMInt reviewer Rebecca Marchand [here], we are happy to direct readers to his first subsequent Boston appearance. At the Regatta Bar in Cambridge on Tuesday, April 8th night at 7:30, Avital will be appearing with accordionist Uri Sharlin and percussionist Shane Shanahan in a crossover concert with a Balkan and Israeli theme, including some composers you might have heard of, Ernst Bloch and Hector Villa Lobos, as well as less familiar ones from other genres.
The Deutsche Grammophon artist who made his Carnegie Hall debut two months ago spoke with BMInt:
There was a time 100 years ago when the mandolin was a very popular instrument on the stage and in the pit. The YouTube clip of the Italian virtuoso Bernardo Pace’s Vitaphone short, “The Wizard of the Mandolin” has always been one of the most amazing examples of popularization of classical music that I could cite. What was going on then (in addition to great comedy), and why have we had to wait until now to have another mandolin virtuoso that the spotlight loves? [continued...]
Meng-Chieh Liu trained at Curtis with Jorge Bolet, Eleanor Sokoloff, and Claude Frank. His masterly abilities as performer and teacher in both the solo and the chamber repertoires have since won him a loyal following and several enthusiastic reviews in these and other pages. After a first hearing, BMInt’s David Moran concluded: “to the short list of topmost interpreters [of Schubert]—meaning mature, profound, direct, not only technically immaculate—we now must add Meng-Chieh Liu. It felt like, I don’t know, discovering Murray Perahia decades ago.” BMInt’s Jim McDonald: “… one pianist I would want to hear playing in my home.” From San Francisco Heuwell Tircuit reported that the “playing was so flawless it is a tad embarrassing to report on it.” [continued...]
One of the this season’s eagerly awaited Boston debut recitals comes on March 29th when the Jerusalem String Quartet makes its appearance at Jordan Hall for the Celebrity Series of Boston. The foursome is one of our personal favorites and apparently of Strad, which deems it “one of the young, yet great quartets of our time.” The program looks to be an effective showcase for the ensemble’s total engagement: Haydn: Quartet in B-flat Major, Opus 76, no. 4 “Sunrise”; Shostakovich: Quartet No. 12 in D-flat Major; Brahms: Quartet in A minor, Opus 51, no. 2. A PDF of the program notes can be downloaded here.
BMInt’s recent email exchange with the quartet’s violist Ori Kam follows: [continued...]more news & features →