July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Mercury Orchestra Plays Like a Pro

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Channing Yu brought his assembled orchestra, chorus and soloists together at Sanders Theater for an ambitious Saturday evening, tackling the sometimes inscrutable Mahler Second Symphony.     [continued]

July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Gratitude for BSO, Nelsons, Bell

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At Tanglewood, on a see-almost-forever clear Sunday, with the incoming music director on the podium to provide hope, it felt like a day to be grateful for the fact that Boston has a world-class orchestra; grateful that we have signs of encouraging new leadership; and grateful for the luxury of seeing soloists like Joshua Bell in midsummer.     [continued]

July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

FCM Shows Stronger Profile

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Sunday morning’s concert at Ozawa Hall paradoxically gave the FCM a much stronger profile by blowing away any sense of stylistic or formal coherence whatsoever.   [continued]

July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Two Sisters + One = Fine String Trio

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Although the sisters of Duo Parnas and violist Tim Kantor had never performed together in public, they joined for a splendidly cohesive performance at Maverick Concerts on Sunday. In balance, ensemble, and interpretive unanimity, they sounded like an established group in works of Beethoven, Andrew Norman, and Dohnányi.     [continued]

July 20, 2014

in: Reviews

BSO Glorious in Decorative Rep

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Andris Nelsons and the BSO were in glorious form in the colorful aspects of Friday night’s Tanglewood program. Håkan Hardenberger was generous and exciting as trumpeter in  Rolf Martinsson’s Trumpet Concerto, and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien was a laudable closer.     [continued]

July 20, 2014

in: Reviews

More Languages To Parse at FCM

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The third concert of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music program was again heavy on the works of TCM alumni and other Americans, without having yet provided any detectable artistic unity. With eight more pieces from the last 10 years to come at the FCM, eight more languages to parse, perhaps I will discern a thread.     [continued]

July 19, 2014

in: Reviews

FCM and BSO: Beautiful Brevity

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The Festival of Contemporary Music last Friday at Tanglewood offered up 15 brief, brand-new pieces by the Composition Fellows, and at the Shed the BSO gave enjoyable performances of repertory that is as standard as it gets, plus some folk songs expertly gussied up by Aaron Copland and delivered with poise, aplomb and even humor by Thomas Hampson. It made for a relaxing day.    [continued]

July 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Contemporary Music Festival Commences

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Directors John Harbison and Michael Gandolfi have assembled a program that has a strong sense of nostalgia and homecoming. Thursday night’s opening concert was right in line with that overall balance: four of the six pieces came from Tanglewood Music Center alumni.     [continued]

July 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Imani Showcases Own Compositions

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The final concert of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival featured Imani Winds, last Sunday at the picturesque Shalin Liu Performance Center. The ensemble is strikingly virtuosic, immaculately tight, stylistically agile, and they know how to engage the audience with sincere, succinct and thoughtful comments about the music they perform.     [continued]

July 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Hampson Vocally Salutes Richard Strauss

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To mark Richard Strauss’s (1864-1949) sesquicentennial, American baritone Thomas Hampson offered a finely crafted program of repertoire for which he is well-known entitled “Strauss and His World ” on Wednesday night in Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall. With pianist Wolfram Rieger partnering, the concert was sublime.     [continued]

July 16, 2014

in: Reviews

TMCO Fluent, BSO Elegant for Nelsons

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On a gala Saturday night, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra performed Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier music with panache and remarkable flexibility before the BSO gave us powerful, detailed and colorful Bolero and Rachmaninoff.     [continued]

July 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Fairies Flit in New Hampshire Hills

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The 49-year-old Monadnock Music has commenced its summer festival in very fine fettle. From the downbeaton Saturday it was clear once again that Gil Rose knows how to assemble an ensemble. The sound of the 34 young, accomplished players in the hospitable Peterborough Town House was articulate, lithe, secure, balanced, and exciting, with a cooperative sense of listening inward.     [continued]

July 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Ensō Revives Schulhoff, Weather Attacks Schmidt

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Sunday afternoon, at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, the Ensō Quartet brought vividly to life the Five Pieces for String Quartet by Erwin Schulhoff, and With pianist Frederic Chiu, the Enso also performed the slithery Quintet for Strings and Piano Left Hand by Franz Schmidt, while a torrential downpour tried to drown them out.     [continued]

July 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Men in Black II

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In black suits and narrow ties that had a bit of 1950s think tank about them, the Calder Quartet appeared Saturday night in Rockport with adventurous repertoire—Thomas Adès, Leoš Janáček and Bedřich Smetana—clinched with interpretive clarity and voice.     [continued]

July 13, 2014

in: Reviews

The String Quartet in Emergence

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Emergence Quartet under the auspices of the Society for Historically Informed Performance (SOHIP) gave a performing history of the string quartet at Emmanuel Church’s Lindsay Chapel last Thursday.     [continued]

July 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Dazzling Dvořák from Nelsons and BSO

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The BSO’s resplendent all-Dvořák program Friday kicked off the Tanglewood season. The Violin Concerto lit up the night sky in Anne-Sophie Mutter’s glittering interpretation and Symphony No. 8, was compelling and masterful.     [continued]

July 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Chanticleer Shows Class and Substance

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The12-man vocal ensemble Chanticleer gave two performances at the Shalin Liu Performance Center on an idyllic Friday, performing compellingly in a dazzling and eclectic array of styles, yet the combination of direct sincerity and superb singing was also deeply moving.    [continued]

July 11, 2014

in: Reviews

Emersonian Explorations of Shostakovich’s Late Styles

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Over the span of some three hours last night, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall housed a truly memorable extended presentation of Dmitri Shostakovich’s last five string quartets (numbers 11 through 15, composed between 1966 and 1974). Far from being weighty on an audience, the Emerson Quartet’s immersion was profoundly moving, and those in attendance will remember it for years.     [continued]

July 11, 2014

in: Reviews

Rich Sound from the Calder Quartet

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Exploring states of interiority on a generous scale from Mozart and Brahms and in condensed miniatures from Webern and Don Davis, the Calder Quartet gave us a program of depth and subtlety  Thursday evening in Rockport.     [continued]

more reviews →

July 22, 2014

in: News & Features

More Britten for Boston

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brittenwFor Boston Opera Collaborative’s next production, the award-winning team of conductor Andrew Altenbach and director Katherine Carter bring Benjamin Britten’s delightful British comedy Albert Heering to the stage of the Strand Theater. Performances from Thursday to Sunday offer FREE ADMISSION through a generous grant from The Free for All Concert Fund, Inc. The third BOC production in the historic Strand, located Uphams Corner, Dorchester, this is also BOC’s third collaboration with The Free for All Concert Fund, Inc., which has helped BOC bring performances throughout the Boston community.

The scene: The zany residents of Loxford, England are preparing for their local May Day festivities. The problem: The town lacks any young ladies sufficiently chaste to be named the May Queen. The solution: The May Day committee identifies the local greengrocer, young Albert Herring, for the dubious honor of May King. Follow Albert Herring as he discovers that sometimes it’s OK to break the rules. [continued...]

July 17, 2014

in: News & Features

Smetana’s Bartered Bride Comes to Tsai

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Bedrich-SmetanaSince 2006 Boston Midsummer Opera has offered operatic confections during a season when opera manes are in need of a sugar fix. This season’s outing, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, will run on July 23, 25 & 27 at Tsai Performance Center at Boston University with a witty staging by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman and a sparkling new translation by J. D. McClatchy. Susan Davenny Wyner will lead the BMO orchestra.

Set in a Bohemian village, the opera’s plot about comical tribulations of young lovers constitutes a fine scaffold for delightful music.

Susan Davenny Wyner answered some questions for BMInt:

BMInt: The settings for your summer opera productions are always witty and sparkling. I gather that Bartered Bride will be in correct period and place. Please tell us more about the look of this one.

SDW.: The set design is beautiful and playful, with references to the changeable sky and rural landscape of the Bohemian countryside. Costumes are colorful and incorporate elements of traditional Czech garb [continued...]

July 14, 2014

in: News & Features

BLO By the River Again

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Christopher Wilkins (file photo)

Christopher Wilkins (file photo)

Note: The concert is available in a live recorded stream here.

The Boston Pops Fourth of July Concert may herald the arrival of summer, but the subsequent seven free Boston Landmarks Orchestra concerts at the Hatch Shell sustain it. BLO inaugurates its series this coming Wednesday at 7PM and continues through the last Wednesday before Labor Day. The programming is eclectic, with a mixture of standard classics and the new and unusual. The thousands who gather by the river on opening night will hear At the River (premiere) by Larry Bell, On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein, and Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.

According to BLO Music Director Christopher Wilkins, all of this information and more is available through BLO’s new iPhone and Android apps. Program notes for every concert, artist bios and photos, and information about the concert experience, including push notices about weather. Upon occasion there will be videos of the musicians as they perform, and of the ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters, as well real time program notes for selected works.

BMInt: You’ve said in the past that BLO focuses more on classical music than on pops. I recently heard an all-Mendelssohn concert which I deemed pops. What’s your definition? [continued...]

July 12, 2014

in: News & Features

Encountering Christian Lane

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ago-sealwThe American Guild of Organists’ Pipe Organ Encounter (POE) during the week of July 13th is a summer program hosted by its Southeastern Chapter. Eighteen high school students from throughout the eastern seaboard will play on, and listen to, some of the Boston’s marvelous instruments.  Of particular interest to local organ aficionados will be a recital by Christian Lane, winner of the Canadian International Organ Competition [BMInt notice here], recipient of frequent notice on these pages, and outgoing associate organist and choirmaster at Memorial Church, Harvard. Lane has been a very positive force in our organ community as an organizer of successful events as well as an esteemed performer [review here], and BMInt scribe [here]. While his next professional steps are yet unknown, he plans to maintain the teaching studio he’s built up over these past years at Harvard, whose students recently returned from a study trip to Europe [see here]. A last good chance to hear him play in these environs comes at 7:30 on July 14th, when Chris will perform a recital on the two organs of Memorial Church, the new C. B. Fisk and the 1929 Skinner.  His free program includes works by Bach, Buxtehude, Cooman, Reger, and others. A brief interview follows.

BMInt: Can you tell us how the two instruments are doing in terms of use and appreciation? Ever have people wanting to practice on both at the same time? How much teaching goes on there? [continued...]

July 8, 2014

in: News & Features

Beloved Festival Resumes in New Hampshire

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Jaffrey Centre Meeting House

Jaffrey Centre Meeting House

Monadnock Music’s 49th season gets underway Saturday night in the Peterborough Town House with an all-Mendelssohn concert featuring the Monadnock Chamber Orchestra under Gil Rose with rising star Tessa Lark as the concerto soloist. The full calendar of the six week festival is here. Further down in this article Gil Rose will tell us about the season which includes 12 free village concerts with some New England composers as well as the predictable mainstream ones. There is nothing more emblematic of the Monadnock Music Concerts than the free concerts in quiet, acoustically satisfying country churches. The three subsequent ticketed concerts in the Peterborough Town House will offer a piano recital by Geoffrey Burleson (Bach to Zappa), a concert for orchestra and four vocalists of music by Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss, and finally a concert of John Adams and Samuel Barber played by Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Part of the news from Monadnock Music this summer is a change of the administrative guard. Gone are executive director Will Chapman and publicist Gregg Sorenson. Of the administrative team of four from last season, only one man was left standing last fall. That would be Christopher Sink, who became managing director almost by default. [continued...]

July 4, 2014

in: News & Features

BMInt Thanks Its Readers and Writers

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A very relaxed publisher not too many moons ago.

A very relaxed publisher
not too many moons ago.

On a rainy Independence Day, finding myself in a reflective mood, I looked back at the first published article on these pages. In August 2008 the Intelligencer was born with a placeholder page linking to the “History of Music in Boston” written by John Sullivan Dwight, the founder of the Journal of Music (1862-1881) which was one of the inspirations for the founding of this one. Enjoy the 50 pages [here] and keep track of what has changed and what has stayed the same. Happy reading.

I can also recommend to readers our reprint of the final issue of Dwight’s Journal of Music [here].

On this festive day, as we approach our sixth anniversary, I thank readers (averaging over 3,000 per day) for their comments and encouragement, our 140 writers for producing nearly 3,000 reviews and articles, and our editorial staff for its watchfulness.

And I conclude with BMInt’s official watchword, If you hear something, write something.

June 25, 2014

in: News & Features

Janet Packer Dies at 64

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New England’s musical community, especially composers, violinists, and lovers of new music, has lost a valued friend. Janet Packer, outstanding violinist and promoter of new music for the instrument, died on  June 20th, from complications of treatment for cancer, age 64. A 1970 graduate of Wellesley College, she won awards for her playing. After earning a master’s degree in history from Brandeis, Packer spent some years as a freelance violinist in the Boston area, performing with the Pops, Banchetto Musicale, and Dinosaur Annex, of which she was a founding member. She then decided to concentrate on a career as a soloist with particular interest in promoting new works. She established the Pro Violino Foundation and began to commission works, which she premiered, from such composers as Gardner Read, Juan Orrego-Salas, William Thomas McKinley, and Edwin London. She recorded McKinley’s Violin Concerto No. 1 for MMC Records and a Serenata for violin and small orchestra by Vittorio Rieti for CRI; she also made inaugural recordings of older music, for example works for violin and piano by Charles-Marie Widor (Centaur Records), which was widely admired. Among her recent commissions were a sonata for unaccompanied violin by Andrew Imbrie and, in 2011, Imaginary Variations for violin and piano by Krzysztof Meyer, which she performed more than 20 times. And this writer won’t forget her vivid playing of Debussy’s Fêtes in an arrangement for violin and piano which I had made at her suggestion. [continued...]

June 19, 2014

in: News & Features

Bats and Vampires: Summertime in Boston

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bat-costumeThis year, high summer in Boston looks to be equal parts spooky and fun, featuring Viennese bats and Victorian vampires. The fun part comes from the North End Music and Performing Arts Center who, on June 27th-28th, will be presenting their third annual summer Opera Project at Faneuil Hall, featuring a production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, fully staged and sung in English. The spooky part comes from Opera Hub, who will be producing a new adaptation of Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr (1828) running June 19th– June 27th at the Plaza Theater in the Boston Center for the Arts.

The NEMPAC Opera Project was founded in the spring of 2012 by two NEMPAC instructors, staff members, and trained Opera Singers, Sherri Snow and Rebecca Rapoport-Cole. In their inaugural year they presented Bizet’s Carmen and last year Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti. Recently I had the opportunity to ask them about the production. Apparently, NEMPAC takes its comedy seriously, as Director Adrienne Boris puts it: [continued...]

June 18, 2014

in: News & Features

Vespers for St. John the Baptist

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The Green Giant

The Green Giant

On Sunday the Green Mountain Project brings Bostonians a new program from New York. Put together by Scott Metcalfe, Vespers for the Feast of St. John the Baptist plays at St. Paul’s Parish, Cambridge at 7:30. The stunning cast of early music specialists under the musical direction of Metcalfe and artistic direction of Jolle Greenleaf will honor the fifth annual celebration of the Green Mountain Project’s Vespers tradition. According to Metcalfe, “What you will hear is a concert that takes its shape from a Vespers service, featuring music of great variety, expressive intensity, and compositional virtuosity—music both delectable and rare—performed by nine singers, two cornets, two violins, four trombones, bass violin, two theorboes and an organ. We hope you will be ravished and stupefied.” Ticketing information is here.

Scott Metcalf offers BMInt readers a special version of his program notes: [continued...]

more news & features →