June 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Monumental Artifact Meets Twisty Serenade

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Rockport Music’s ad hoc piano quartet supplied Dohnányian dash and Brahmsian paprika on Sunday at Shalin Liu.    [continued]

June 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Ebullience from Rockport Duo

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Rockport’s Shalin Liu concert hall was packed for the violin and piano recital of Frank Huang and Gilles Vonsattel in sonatas by Beethoven and Prokofiev.     [continued]

June 27, 2016

in: Reviews

George Li Brings Sumptuous Bravura

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Poised, confident, and apparently tireless (every repeat observed), pianist George Li gave a sumptuous performance of a demanding program Thursday at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport.     [continued]

June 23, 2016

in: Reviews

NEC Five Explicate Joachim

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Jaime Kourkos, mezzo-soprano; Carol Ou, violoncello; Victor Rosenbaum, piano; and Mana Tokuno, piano centered on Joachim and his circle Friday at First Church in Boston.     [continued]

June 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Daddy’s on First

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The Chameleon Arts Ensemble offered the Shalin Liu audience a Father’s day tribute to one of the fathers of the Western canon: J.S. Bach.     [continued]

June 21, 2016

in: Reviews

From Chirpy Rice Planting to Full-Throttle Rach 2

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The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra played Carnegie for the first time Saturday evening, making a fine impression on the mostly Filipino crowd.     [continued]

June 20, 2016

in: Reviews

Not Enough There There

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Pianist Lise de la Salle delivered little interpretative depth in Rockport on Saturday.     [continued]

June 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Bass Me Mucho and Don’t Forget the Violin

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Strings sounded  sweet and low and high as Barker and Kutik excited Shalin Liu Performance Center à la Russe Friday night.     [continued]

June 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Firebird Fledges and Goblin Carries Water

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Mixed but brave sights and sounds arose as the Cambridge Symphony and NorthEast ArtSpace played and danced through two tricky pieces Saturday night at Kresge.   [continued]

June 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Breaking and Honoring Seria Conventions

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Boston Opera Collaborative’s Idomeneo on Saturday at Pickman Hall showcased the vocal prowess of BOC’s gifted young artists while ultimately failing to satisfy dramatically. More performances on June 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th.     [continued]

June 13, 2016

in: Reviews

Ben Capps Sets Ben Britten Aglow

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At Rockport Saturday night, the freshly minted cellist, with elegant pianist Vassily Primakov, led a journey through realms of warmth, fantasy, sparkle, and spookiness.     [continued]

June 12, 2016

in: Reviews

Ellipsis Trio Searches, Satisfies

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The threesome brought a Beethoven cello sonata, an Arthur Foote trio, and a premiere from the late William Thomas McKinley to  at Killian Hall on Saturday night .     [continued]

June 11, 2016

in: Reviews

Exploration, Pungency, Intensity Characterize Concert

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During Thursday’s performance in Rockport, Borromeo String Quartet together with pianist Donald Berman shared their exploratory takes on Bach and Beethoven and an Elena Ruehr premiere.     [continued]

June 11, 2016

in: Reviews

Opera 51’s Gounod in Glad Rags

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Many small opera company’s outings are things of shreds and patches—not so Opera 51, whose Roméo and Juliette at 51 Walden Performance Center in Concord trod and sang in glad rags. Gounod’s “other” opera reprises tonight and tomorrow.     [continued]

June 11, 2016

in: Reviews

A Roman Odyssey Avoids Shoals

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Odyssey Opera’s mini-festival of opera seria on Roman historical themes brought us an imaginatively conceived Mozart’s Lucio Silla on Wednesday.  Repeats on Sunday at 3:00.   [continued]

June 9, 2016

in: Reviews

Forster Rides the Dragon

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Stuart Forster gave a colorful and varied evening last night on the Great Organ of the Methuen Memorial Music Hall as part of the hall’s ongoing Wednesday night concert series.     [continued]

June 8, 2016

in: Reviews

Brains Muscle Brawn

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Trio Solisti explored two classics and delivered a local premiere Sunday night at Rockport, showing unusual care coupled with unusual dynamism.     [continued]

June 5, 2016

in: Reviews

Zoning-In for Nexus

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Nexus’s genial composer / conductor warned Shalin Liu Center’s classically steeped audience with a wink: “You can take a nap or experience auditory hallucinations.” Saturday night’s audience remained steadfast.     [continued]

June 5, 2016

in: Reviews

Bizet with BVDs Headed to Hub

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The intrepid publisher ventured out to the outré Left Coast to partake of a Carmen updated à la mode, returning with a preview of its local arrival this fall.     [continued]

June 5, 2016

in: Reviews

Rockport, Pressler, Parker Superb

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The superb Parker String Quartet joined by the still-fabulous 92-year-old pianist Menahem Pressler made for an extraordinary opening night at the 35th Rockport Chamber Music Festival.     [continued]

June 4, 2016

in: Reviews

“Pre-Reform” Gluck: A Gratifying Surprise

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At the BU Theater last Friday evening, Gluck and Odyssey Opera wrought and brought Roman conflict into modern Enlightenment. Repeats Sunday at 3:00.     [continued]

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June 27, 2016

in: News & Features

Fab Foursome +1 To Highlight Second Tanglewood Week

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ReneeFleming180Chamber music aficionados look beyond Tanglewood opening night with Joshua Bell on July 8th to the Emerson String Quartet’s 40th-anniversary gala four and five days later. The ensemble’s concert at Seiji Ozawa Hall on Tuesday July 12th features the complete Haydn Op. 76 quartets. On Wednesday July 13th legendary soprano Renée Fleming joins for very different works, by Berg, Brahms, and Wellesz.

The Emerson stands out in the history of string quartets with an unsurpassed list of achievements over three decades: more than 30 recordings, nine Grammys including two for Best Classical Album, three Gramophone Awards, and collaborations with many of the great artists of the time. The arrival of new cellist Paul Watkins, in 2013, has had a profound effect on the Emerson Quartet. A distinguished soloist and conductor as well, Watkins joined the ensemble in its 37th season and infused the Quartet with a warmer, richer tone and joy in the collaboration.

BMInt emailed questions to violinist Eugene Drucker. [continued…]

June 22, 2016

in: News & Features

Joachim’s 185th Celebrated at Goethe-Institut

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joachim-2Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) is one of the iconic figures in the history of violin playing. A much admired friend and younger colleague of such great musical figures as Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, he enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Johannes Brahms, who often sought Joachim’s advice.

Joachim, moreover, was not only an artist beloved by musicians and audiences alike for his performances of solo repertoire, chamber music, and concertos. Through his teaching, editions and compositions, he also became an essential embodiment and custodian of the “German spirit” in music, the almost religious devotion to “classical” values and fealty to the written text, this even though he was born not in Germany or Austria but in Hungary to Jewish parents.

A full assessment of Joachim has been long overdue, and a conference for this purpose was held at the Goethe-Institut June 16-18. Titled “Joseph Joachim at 185” and co-directed by Robert Whitehouse Eshbach and Valerie Woodring Goertzen, the three days were filled with 21 scholarly papers and two lecture recitals that examined just about every aspect of Joachim’s life and career as a violinist, teacher, composer, and mentor. [continued…]

June 17, 2016

in: News & Features

Firebird Rising at Kresge

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Stravinsky 1910

Stravinsky 1910

Complete performances of Igor Stravinsky’s 1910 Ballets Russes commission Zhar-ptitsa/L’oiseau de feu/The Firebird aren’t an everyday occurrence in Boston, and still less so as an actual ballet. Esa-Pekka Salonen guest-conducted the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2012; the most recent major local dance performances have been Christopher Wheeldon’s Boston Ballet commission in 1999 and the Mariinsky Ballet’s presentation of the Mikhail Fokine original during its 2003 visit to the Wang Theater. This Saturday, June 18th, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, under music director Cynthia Woods, will play the full score on a program that will also include Antonín Dvořák’s 1896 tone poem Vodník, or The Water Goblin. And this Firebird will be danced—at least some of it, since former Boston Ballet corps member Gianni Di Marco is choreographing “excerpts” and dancing himself as Kashchei the Deathless. The orchestra will be on stage at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, and the costumed dancers, from Festival Ballet Providence, will perform along a strip at the front of the stage. The performance is a collaboration between CSO and a new organization, NorthEast ArtSpace.

JG: So, what is NorthEast ArtSpace?

CW: NEAS was founded by Ruth and William Whitney. In addition to heading this organization, Ruth is also our Firebird, while her husband, William, is a longstanding member of CSO. So the collaboration had a very organic beginning. Here is their mission statement: [continued…]

June 16, 2016

in: News & Features

What’s Old Is New Again

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janus1bAll week long at First Lutheran Church in Boston, a group of early musicians has been wrestling with a number of techniques that don’t necessarily come to mind when you think old style: artificial harmonics, overpressure, sul ponticello, putting paperclips on violin strings, you name it. The sounds that emerge are ghostly, gritty, and completely fresh—neither old nor new—and thus, completely new. It’s a sonic snapshot of what Antico Moderno loves to do.

This week, the group has been conducting its second annual composers’ workshop, the results of which will be presented in a concert on Friday at 7:00 at FLC. The workshop has been organized around a theme—contemporary cantatas on secular texts—and has attracted three internationally based composers: Jose Manuel Serrano from Argentina, Gianluca Verlingieri from Italy, and Marina Ungurenau from France/Romania, a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris. Along with detailed work on each of the cantatas, there are daily roundtable discussions and explorations of various early string, vocal, and keyboard techniques and tuning systems, plus the infinitely fertile questions of style, authenticity and rhetoric that are never far from an early musician’s mind.  [continued…]

June 13, 2016

in: News & Features

Home Team Hits the Road

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Members-of-the-Boston-Philharmonic-Youth-Orchestra-at-Carnegie-Hall.-Credit-Steven-J.-Eliopoulos-GravityBoston.com-(2)This past week the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall. Tonight we leave for a 12-day tour of Spain. After a busy year of concerts, teaching and travel, do I really want to leave the sanctuary of my home and garden for an exhausting trip to a hot country with 112 youngsters?

Well, yes.

First a brief explanation of why we ended up with two tours, one to New York and the other to Spain. Already by January a three-week tour to six cities in Brazil for this June was largely in place—one of the concert venues reported that they had already sold 1000 seats for the concert! Suddenly, in March, we were forced to cancel, because of the Zika virus.

How could we find a suitable replacement for that tour, so the season could end in a manner appropriate for the extraordinary orchestra gathered this year? The answer came when I called Carnegie Hall and asked if they had any available dates in June. There were two—Monday June 6th and Tuesday June 7th. This presented us with an extraordinary opportunity to take to New York the highly successful programs the BPYO had performed in Symphony Hall in November and February. Both concerts had sold out and had been received with acclaim by critics and audiences alike. The online ArtsFuse named the November concert as the Best Orchestral Concert in Boston in 2015 and the February concert of the Eroica and Rite of Spring inspired the publisher to enthuse: It is my pleasure to report that the BPYO outing at Sanders on Sunday afternoon satisfied me more fully than any other orchestral concert I have heard all season.” Performing these programs in Carnegie Hall would make a perfect cap on a glorious season and would cost no more than the $400k budgeted for the trip to Brazil. I asked the Carnegie Hall booking office to pencil us in for both nights.  [continued…]

June 8, 2016

in: News & Features

Collect the Full Set

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rossini3wAnd it’s once more into the breach for several of Boston’s essential small opera companies. The parade which started with Commonwealth Lyric Theater’s Boris Godunov [reviewed here], continues with Odyssey Opera Lucio Silla of Mozart [here], Boston Opera Collaborative’s Idomeneo opening June 11th [here], Opera 51’s Roméo et Juliette of Gounod opening June 10th [here], Othello in the Seraglio at Rockport Music on Sunday [here], Nahant Music Festival’s double bill on June 10th [here], OperaHub’s  EL GATO CON BOTAS by Xavier Montsalvatge for a long run beginning in mid-June;  NEMPAC’s La Cenerentola later in June [here] before Boston Midsummer Opera’s twofer [here] is the last to pass by in July.

Amazingly, there will be five opera productions running this weekend.

Here is the incredible chronology:

June 8, Odyssey Opera presents Mozart: Lucio Silla at Boston University Theater

June 10, Odyssey Opera presents Mozart: Lucio Silla at Boston University Theater

June 10, Nahant Music Festival presents Bernstein Trouble in Tahiti and PDQ Bach’s The Stoned Guest in St. Thomas Church, Nahant

June 10, Opera 51 presents Roméo et Juliette of Gounod at Walden Performing Arts Center in Concord [continued…]

June 5, 2016

in: News & Features

Love and Lamentation on Period Instruments

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Dan Stepner (file photo)

Dan Stepner (file photo)

From artistic director Daniel Stepner comes the welcome news that “Period instrument virtuosos and vocalists—all veterans in baroque performance practice—are tuning up [kind of early—tell us if they need help] for the Aston Magna Music Festival’s 44th season. Four programs are inked for four locations, totaling 12 concerts between June 16th and July 9th. Performing at venues in the Berkshires, Hudson Valley and Waltham, Aston Magna is the longest-running summer festival of early music in the nation. Ticketing information is here.

On June 16-18, Aston Magna explores the emotive sound of the lirone, in “Love and Lamentation: 17th-century Italian Monody.” The weekend features a first-time Aston Magna appearance by Erin Headley, internationally renowned lirone musician and scholar. As guest conductor, Headley leads the Aston Magna ensemble and vocalists Kristen Watson and Nell Snaidas, sopranos, in the music of Monteverdi, Marazzoli, Rossi and Marini. Baroque Ensemble: Catherine Liddell, theorbo; Laura Jeppesen, violin/viola da gamba; Daniel Stepner, Baroque violin and Michael Sponseller, harpsichord, and Headley on lirone and viola da gamba. The program includes the prologue from L’Orfeo and “Lament of Arianna” by Claudio Monteverdi; Marco Marazzoli’s Elena Invecchiata Vanitas Cantata on the aging Helen of Troy by; Lament of Zaida, and Scenes from Orfeo by Luigi Rossi. [continued…]

June 2, 2016

in: News & Features

Rockport Begins Festival Season

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David Deveau (Paul Cary Goldberg photo)

David Deveau (Paul Cary Goldberg photo)

The 35th edition of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival begins Friday night as the “Miraculous Menahem” (Pressler, 92) along with the brilliant young Parker Quartet essay Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 along with string quartets by Haydn and Bartok. We asked Artistic Director David Deveau to comment about this year’s Festival which runs at the beautiful seaside Shalin Liu Center through July 22nd. Tickets are available for virtually all programs. See www.rockportmusic for details and to order tickets.

DD: One of my particular pleasures in programming each festival season is providing musical surprises for our audience. There are many this summer. For example, the venerable percussion ensemble Nexus (June 4) will make its RCMF debut with a characteristically original, varied program of works of Steve Reich and George H. Green, among others. The Shalin Liu Performance Center’s superb acoustic is hospitable to a variety of instrumental and vocal timbres, and it will be fun to experience Nexus’s unique blend of percussion instruments in our hall. [continued…]

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