December 5, 2016

in: Reviews

MIT G&S Players Properly Piratical

by

Pilot or pirate, what’s in a name? Find out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at MIT’s Stratton Center.     [continued]

December 4, 2016

in: Reviews

Winsor’s Imaginative Trajectory

by

In Winsor Chamber Music’s concert last night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline, musicians new and less new essayed fine old Bach and rewarding new music.     [continued]

December 3, 2016

in: Reviews

Prismatic Collideoscope at Institute

by

The MIT Wind Ensemble’s “2nd Annual Prism Concert Spectacular” at  Kresge on Friday didn’t quite come up to its billing.    [continued]

December 2, 2016

in: Reviews

Matthew Aucoin Inaugurates Natick Hall

by

The Center for the Arts in Natick debuted its 120-seat upstairs chamber music hall Thursday with a lecture-recital by the busy composer-conductor.     [continued]

December 1, 2016

in: Reviews

New Music’s New Pundits

by

The Jack Quartet made the BU Concert Hall vibrate, judder, and throb; they certainly have something to say about new music.     [continued]

November 27, 2016

in: Reviews

‘Versailles: Portrait of a Royal Domain’

by

The Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera series gave us a tongue-in-cheek taste of courtly entertainments on Saturday in Jordan Hall. Repeats November 28th and 29th at the Morgan Library in New York.    [continued]

November 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Messiah Came After Thanksgiving

by

The holiday season officially began Friday with Handel + Haydn’s Messiah at Symphony Hall.   [continued]

November 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Wilde’s Luxuriant Novel Makes Effective Opera

by

Boston Modern Orchestra Project in conjunction with Odyssey Opera semi-staged Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray at Jordan Hall on Friday the 18th with excellent results.     [continued]

November 24, 2016

in: Reviews

Budu’s Prizewinning Voodoo

by

Christian Budu’s artist diploma recital at Jordan Hall Tuesday night proved once more that New England Conservatory recognizes and develops consummate artistry.     [continued]

November 23, 2016

in: Reviews

BCS Properly Piloted

by

Sunday afternoon saw the return of harpist Ann Hobson Pilot to Jordan Hall surrounded and supported by the Boston Civic Symphony under guest conductor Steven Lipsitt.     [continued]

November 23, 2016

in: Reviews

The Master at His Symphony Hall Piano

by

With Menahem Pressler playing Mozart’s final piano concerto, last night’s BSO subscription concert entered the near mythical. (repeats Friday and Saturday)     [continued]

November 23, 2016

in: Reviews

King Arthur: Chaconnes and Chivalry

by

A notable contingent assembled at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston on November 19th to mount the rarely staged King Arthur by Henry Purcell and John Dryden included the Henry Purcell Society of Boston last Friday.     [continued]

November 22, 2016

in: Reviews

Early Taste of Christmas Releases Adrenaline

by

The Spectrum Singers gave a pre-Thanksgiving yuletide program on Saturday at First Congregational Church, Cambridge based on works of Gabrieli and later composers he influenced.     [continued]

November 22, 2016

in: Reviews

BUSO Fills Symphony Hall with Fine Sounds

by

Symphony Hall showed Boston University Symphony Orchestra’s new director Ken Masur’s mettle and his orchestra’s from the very start yesterday.     [continued]

November 22, 2016

in: Reviews

Applying Reason to Handel’s Humors

by

The combined forces of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra and Harvard University Choir under Nicholas McGegan played Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato in Sanders on Friday.     [continued]

November 22, 2016

in: Reviews

Faust and Melnikov Create a Soundworld

by

Violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov concluded a decisive, fresh and demanding Beethoven Violin Sonata Cycle at the Gardner on Sunday.    [continued]  

November 22, 2016

in: Reviews

High Gloss from the Parker Quartet

by

Listening to the Blodgett Artists in Residence on Sunday afternoon at Paine Hall was like visiting an auto showroom.     [continued]

November 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Koopman Leads a Crisp B-Minor Mass

by

Boston Early Music Festival brought the engaging Bach scholar and conductor Ton Koopman to St. Paul’s Church Cambridge Friday for a HIP Mass in B Minor.     [continued]

November 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Glimpsing the Mantuan Ghetto

by

Listeners in Paine Hall Thursday evening were transported to the multi-hued vocal world of the Italian Baroque, Salamone Rossi-style.     [continued]

November 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Intimate Stories with Emerson Quartet

by

Tales of birth, death, oppression and academic politics lay behind the three works performed by the Emerson String Quartet at Sunday’s Celebrity Series Boston concert in a sold-out Jordan Hall.     [continued]

November 20, 2016

in: Reviews

Backward Looks, Compelling Play: Bailey and Zander

by

The Boston Philharmonic came to Jordan Hall  Saturday with French and English with music dating back a century or so along with cellist Zuill Bailey’s take on Dutilleux.     [continued]

more reviews →

December 3, 2016

in: News & Features

Stravinsky Streams

by

Stravinsky 1910

Stravinsky 1910

How often does one get a chance to hear a major new work by Stravinsky? I am at least elementarily familiar with every known work of his; I was present in 1959 for the world premiere of the Double Canon in memoriam Raoul Dufy; ten years later I heard the first performances of the incomplete abandoned scorings of what eventually became Les noces (Russian title, Svádebka, or, sometimes in English, The Wedding); like everybody else, I watched the 1962 premiere on CBS television of The Flood, with its silly choreography by Balanchine and offensive Breck shampoo commercials. But on Friday afternoon, on Medici.tv, on my own 23-inch computer screen, I watched and listened to Stravinsky’s Pogrebal’naya pesnya,op. 5.  (The composer referred to it in his writings by a French title, Chant funèbre, but the English Funeral Song is likely to become standard.) This was streamed live from the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, with the Maryinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. It was billed as a world premiere, but it wasn’t. In this the same hall, the Funeral Song had been performed just once before, on January 17, 1909, in memory of Stravinsky’s teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, as part of Byelayev’s Russian Symphony Concerts, conducted by Felix Blumenfeld.

The Funeral Song has a curious history. The manuscript score was lost after the premiere, the victim of two German invasions of Ustilug in Volhynia (Ukraine) where Stravinsky had a summer home until 1914, and of official Soviet disregard after 1945. He wrote in his Chroniques de ma vie (Autobiography, 1936): [continued…]

December 1, 2016

in: News & Features

Valedictory Schubert From Indispensable Pianist

by

deveauDavid Deveau devotes his upcoming Kresge recital to the final two Schubert piano sonatas: the A Major (D.959) and in B-flat Major (D.960). Presented by Music and Theater Arts at MIT, the concert on Sunday at 4:00 is free and open to the public. Recently busy as a soloist abroad in such places as Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao, Taiwan, and Japan, only from time to time has he emerged from his teaching responsibilities, impresario chores, committed practicing, foreign touring, and chamber music partnering to offer memorable solo outings in Boston.

Deveau’s probing artistry has given us deep pleasures, furthermore, he is a great Schubertian, whose take on the Sonata in B-flat Major on an 1870 Chickering concert grand persists in my pantheon of great performances 30 years later.

FLE: You’ve never been a showoff pianist. Do I have the sense that over the years you have been narrowing your vision?

DD:. Like many musicians, as I “mature” I take a greater interest in music that is “better than it can be played’, as Artur Schnabel once said. (Also as Schnabel said, I’m now at a point in life where both halves of my programs can be boring.) When we are young, much of our effort is directed at perfecting our craft, our technique, and our capacity to wow the audience. At this stage, I am endlessly fascinated by the design, phrasing and long arc of the music I study. Schubert, the progenitor of music of so-called heavenly length, offers endless opportunities to the interpreter to shape the narrative, not only within movements, but over the span of pieces that are over 45 minutes in duration.

Have you been giving these works a rest until now? [continued…]

November 30, 2016

in: News & Features

Russell Oberlin: 1928 – 2016

by

russell-oberlinThe stuff of legend since his retirement from the concert stage in 1965, the distinguished countertenor died in New York City on November 26, 2016 at the age of 88. Russell Oberlin’s legacy will long endure in the recordings he made and musicians he mentored and inspired. One such shares his personal tribute.

His beautiful, otherworldly, almost inhuman voice then epitomized the early music movement. In the 50s, when I was a junior or senior at Brown, the chamber music series at the School of Design Auditorium had brought in Noah Greenberg’s New York Pro Musica for a double bill: Flemish Renaissance music on the first half, Spanish Renaissance on the second. Although I had sung Renaissance partsongs in high school choir, and played a few lute transcriptions on my classical guitar, this concert delivered my very first hearing of an entire program of early music. By the end, I knew that performing this stuff was what I wanted to do. A vocation was born.

And that sense of being called had quite a bit to do with Oberlin’s voice that evening. Was it a man’s sound, or a woman’s? It was supported all the way up, without a break, and without resorting to falsetto. Magical, compelling. It was full, with continuous vibrato, dead accurate as to pitch and rhythm. There was something sexless or androgynous in the timbre, verging on metallic, as though an angel were singing from on high, in some celestial tongue unknown to man. Oberlin’s voice did not make you feel warm and cuddly; rather, it gave you some sort of cosmic, strangely delightful chill. [continued…]

November 28, 2016

in: News & Features

Celebrated Soprano and Brilliant Harpist To Collaborate

by

damrauColoratura soprano assoluta Diana Damrau is inked to play an emotional and intimate Celebrity Series recital of works by by Debussy, Smetana, Richard Strauss, Reynaldo Hahn, Chausson, Fauré, Duparc and Eva Dall’Acqua with sui generis harpist Xavier de Maistre on December 4th in Jordan Hall at 3. The complete program is here.

JC: An emerging singer, I have been humbled by your musicality, artistry, and generosity of spirit for years, and am so honored to have an opportunity to ask you some questions for our readers and for many young singers who will be in attendance on December 4th in Boston.

How did you come to decide the repertoire that you will perform, and what is your emotional connection to the French musical languages of Hahn, Debussy, Fauré, Duparc?

It is my love! Upon arriving to school, I developed an immediate and intense connection to the French language and poetry. So much so that during my studies I could not keep my hands off all things “mélodie.” Discovering that Xavier de Maistre has some of the same musical preferences, we had an extensive—almost excessive—session to find repertoire we could perform together. These are our favorites!

How does singing this specific repertoire with a harp differ from performing with a piano? [continued…]

November 25, 2016

in: News & Features

Benefit Transcends Expectations

by

joel_cohen 2 from primary a capella siteWhen an ad-hoc consortium of Boston-area musicians teamed up for a November 12th concert to benefit victims of Syria’s brutal civil war [see BMInt’s feature here], they were hoping to do at least as well as the similar event held last year. Rather, the emotion-laden reprise raised four times as much.

On Thanksgiving Day, Joel Cohen of Camerata Mediterranea, the concert’s organizing institution, announced that the Brookline performance, given before a capacity audience at the United Parish Church, had netted $12,562 for Doctors Without Borders relief effort in Syria. “That’s an astonishingly good result,” commented Cohen. “We were happy to be all together and to make some good music for a warmly receptive audience, on the heels of a stressful election season. But it’s also heartening to be able to send such a good-sized contribution overseas.”

The “Song for Syria” concert heavily slanted toward early-music/vocal music genres, with contributions from well-known groups: Blue Heron, the Boston Camerata, Lorelei Ensemble, and also a specially formed wind band calling itself Consort for Hope. The latter part of the program had a decidedly Middle Eastern tinge, as the DooZhen choir and its leader-soloist Nizar Fares performed two songs in Arabic evoking the recent civil war in Lebanon. An especially convivial moment was the collective performance of a lively Sephardic-Jewish wedding song, including dancing and ululations, by an impromptu coalition of American, French, Colombian, and Lebanese women. “Those are the kinds of moments I dream about,” remarked Cohen. [continued…]

November 17, 2016

in: News & Features

Tanglewood 2017 Already?

by

Lion's-Gate--(Stu-Rosner)The programs scheduled for this coming summer at Tanglewood are variously exciting, quirky, and delightful, depending on your taste and when you’re going to be there. There’s a rich assortment of operatic, orchestral, chamber, solo, dramatic, choreographic, and even literary events well distributed over a two-month summer season from summer solstice almost to Labor Day, including some special honors. So much is going on that I can’t cover it all, but I will at least mention the orchestral highlights and some others.

“Opening Night at Tanglewood” takes place on July 7th with Andris Nelsons conducting the BSO in Mahler’s Second Symphony. Two days later, Nelsons will direct more Mahler, the Fourth, with his wife, Kristine Opolais, singing the child’s vision of Heaven that forms the fourth movement. As if this weren’t enough of the grandiose, on July 15th, Nelsons will direct Wagner’s Das Rheingold, complete. I’d like to be there just to see how they will manage the anvils of Nibelheim.

Warm-up events begin on June 18th with the Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Keith Lockhart, director, in “Jaws in Concert,” honoring John Williams, conductor laureate. More of Williams’s film music will be featured in Tanglewood on Parade on August 1st, on August 19th with “John Williams’ Film Night” in which both the composer and Andris Nelsons will conduct, and on August 25th with “E.T. with Orchestra.” Any of us would happily enjoy these cinematic favorites, but I’d be especially curious about the world premiere on July 16th, the BSO with Nelsons conducting, of Williams’s Markings for solo violin, strings, and harp, with Anne-Sophie Mutter. I don’t know if this new work has any connection with Dag Hammarskjöld’s similarly named book of reflections, but I have always been interested in Williams’s well-wrought and attractive concert music. [continued…]

November 15, 2016

in: News & Features

Jules Eskin, 1931-2016

by

jules-eskin“Possessed of a certain glamor”, reported Michael Steinberg in the Globe in 1964 of the BSO’s new 32-year-old principal cellist Jules Eskin, who died today in Brookline, of cancer at 85. Of his debut, some months later, in the Brahms Double Concerto with concertmaster Joseph Silverstein: “Eskin’s tone [is] warm…. His style is chamber-musical, rather quietly inflected…. He resisted all temptation to force or to inflate his playing, and it was in its quiet way playing of impressively sensitive responsiveness and intelligence”.

Eskin played for five different BSO music directors, including Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, and current music director Andris Nelsons, and performed as soloist on numerous occasions. He occupied the Philip R. Allen Chair, endowed in perpetuity. In addition to the Brahms, Eskin was featured with the orchestra in Strauss’s Don Quixote, Bloch’s Schelomo, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, Schuman’s Song of Orpheus, and concertos of Barber, Dvořák, Haydn, Saint-Saëns, and Schumann. He participated in the orchestra’s many tours, including the historic one in 1979 to China under Ozawa. Major repertoire in which Eskin served as principal under the direction of Nelsons included Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and Shostakovich’s Symphonies 5 and 10, the latter of which won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance last February. [continued…]

November 12, 2016

in: News & Features

Greek for the Strong of Heart

by

turnageBoston Lyric Opera brings a new British verismo opera to Boston’s Paramount Center at Emerson on ‘Wednesday through Sunday. “Turnage’s opera Greek, and the play it’s based on, Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus Rex  [multiple-choice test for classicists HERE], tamper a bit with the story,” according to director Sam Helfrich. “I like messing with the classic model, finding a new window into the house,” he says. 

Set against the background of British politics in the 1980s, this contemporary work showcases the music of Mark-Anthony Turnage and the 1980 play by actor and playwright Steven Berkoff (1937-). In film, Berkoff has brought to life many memorable villans, such as Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop and General Orlov in Octopussy. True to the disturbing plot points of Oedipus Rex, and infused with the politics and language of Berkoff’s play, Helfrich says Greek is not for the faint of heart.  “It’s raw and slightly ugly,” Helfrich says.  “But it’s what I want opera to be: a theatrical experience.”  (NOTE: In addition to explicit language and themes, Greek includes violence and sexual content. It is not recommended for immature audiences.) [continued…]

more news & features →