September 26, 2016

in: Reviews

BAE Introduces Important New Weir Work

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BAE’s considerable ensemble experience resulted in a concert on Sunday St. Paul’s Church in Brookline overflowing with poetry.     [continued]

September 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Guerilla’s Modern “Morality Play” Triumphs

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The chamber opera Loose, Wet, Perforated, “A morality play in four ordeals,” with libretto and music by Nicholas Vines, came to the Zack Box Theater over the weekend in Guerilla Opera Company’s wild and woolly production.     [continued]

September 25, 2016

in: Reviews

BLO, Bieito Take Boston by the Horns

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Calixto Bieito’s production of Carmen for Boston Lyric Opera’s Friday at the Boston Opera House proved challenging, flawed but coherent, dramatically effective and often exciting. Repeats September 25th, 30th and October 2nd.      [continued]

September 24, 2016

in: Reviews

Bringers of Jollity and Transparency

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Theatrical Sebastian mingled with Heinrich’s deeper realms last night in Symphony Hall, as the compleat pros at Handel and Haydn opened their season. Repeats Sunday at 3:00   [continued]

September 20, 2016

in: Reviews

A Musical Universe in a Single Violin

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Miriam Fried’s three hours of playing at Jordan Hall Sunday revealed sublime mastery of six of the most difficult works in the solo violin repertoire.    [continued]

September 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Trio Invigorates Natick

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The Neave Trio offered a totally fresh concert of little-known Arthur Foote, Leonard Bernstein, and Erich Korngold at the Center for Arts in Natick Sunday.     [continued]

September 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Dinosaur Delivered on New Music Expectations

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“Quiver, Pound, Recharge!” opened the Annex’s 42nd season on Sunday at The Rockwell in Davis Square.     [continued]

September 18, 2016

in: Reviews

Pacifica Savors Gestation

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In its third and final Gardner concert devoted to pairing Mozart and Britten, Pacifica String Quartet this Sunday exploited the subtle connection between the dramas of giving birth, and dying.     [continued]

September 18, 2016

in: Reviews

Gil Rose Powers Dvořák’s Grand Opera

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Dvořák’s Dimitrij rewarded out attention with a rich orchestral score, a fine libretto, and extraordinary singing at Jordan Hall Friday through the efforts of Odyssey Opera under Gil Rose.     [continued]

September 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Huntington Gives Sondheim Color and Light

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Huntington Theater Company’s must-see Sunday in the Park with George runs through October 16th .     [continued]

September 14, 2016

in: Reviews

A Far Cry Ascending

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Sunday at the Gardner A Far Cry offered penetrating viewpoints on Haydn, Reich, Vaughan Williams, and Kip Jones.     [continued]

September 13, 2016

in: Reviews

Third Outing Augurs Well for BB&B

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The Bach, Beethoven and Brahms Society of Boston began its 2016-17 season and its third performance ever on Sunday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall under Steven Lipsitt. Violinist In Mo Yang soloed impressively.     [continued]

September 12, 2016

in: Reviews

Trilogy Thrills, Madame White Snake Still Shines

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The “Ouroboros Trilogy” of librettist Cerise Jacobs, comprising Scott Wheeler’s Naga, Madame White Snake by Zhou Long, and Paola Prestini’s Gilgamesh, proved binge-worthy at the Cutler Majestic Saturday.     [continued]

September 12, 2016

in: Reviews

Maverick Farewell

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The Pacifica Quartet returned to Maverick Concerts yesterday with some powerful playing in a wonderful conclusion to the festival’s season.     [continued]

September 6, 2016

in: Reviews

Duo in Unbalancing Act at Maverick

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Pianists Andrew Russo and Frederic Chiu duetted and soloed for a generally satisfying concert at Maverick last Saturday.     [continued]

September 2, 2016

in: Reviews

OLO Ends for 2016

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College of Wooster OH (August 5th)— Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun and Jerome Kern’s Have a Heart along with the symposium “Taking Light Opera Seriously” concluded the annual festivities for Ohio Light Opera.     [continued]

August 30, 2016

in: Reviews

Pittsfield Butterfly Warrants Attention

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Berkshire Opera Festival offered a damned good Puccini production in a beautifully restored 750-seat theater in Pittsfield on Saturday.      [continued]

August 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Follow This Butterfly

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Berkshire Opera Festival brought an estimable Butterfly to the Colonial Theater, Pittsfield: continuing on August 30th and September 2nd.    [continued]

August 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Pianist Goes Berserk, Blasts Violin

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An often inaudible violinist Lara St. John and dominating pianist Matt Herskowitz promoted their new CD “Shiksa,” at Maverick Concerts on Saturday.     [continued]

August 27, 2016

in: Reviews

Friday Night Special

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On a rare classical Friday night at the Maverick, the St. Lawrence Quartet lived in with us as old friends.     [continued]

August 25, 2016

in: Reviews

Electric Eclecticism in Maine

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The Portland Chamber Music Festival wrapped up for this year on Saturday with its usual pleasantly eclectic blend of old and new.     [continued]

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September 18, 2016

in: News & Features

Mercedes Car-Men Rumble

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What would Georges think?

What would Georges think?

Boston Lyric Opera’s season of peripateticism begins, surprisingly, with its first-ever visit to—also the first opera production in decades in—Boston’s so-called Opera House. There BLO mounts a production freighted with the hopes and dreams of the company to be both relevant and lively. Calixto Bieito’s stripped-down, actor-driven version of Carmen recently marched and swaggered into San Francisco, where it garnered reviews ecstatic [LA Times here] and disappointed alike [BMInt’s is here], running from “tawdry and tactless” to “ A Carmen for Our Times.” Joan Anton Rechi, who is directing revivals of the production, said we can expect even more stage energy and energized singing than we might have heard in the Bay City.

Set in the arid earthiness of 1970s post-Franco Spanish North Africa, this revisionist and decidedly non-folkloric (though perhaps inadvertently kitchy and quaint in its own ritualized violence and simulated sex conventions) co-production with the San Francisco Opera runs September 23rd through October 2nd at the Boston Opera House.

Jennifer Johnson Cano returns to Boston in the title role, alongside a Don José played by Roger Honeywell. Michael Mayes and Chelsea Basler also revisit BLO, and conductor David Angus leads. Before BMInt’s extensive interviews with Angus and Rechi, we had some questions for BLO artistic director Esther Nelson.

FLE: Bieito’s productions are infamous for their shock value and often accused of privileging theatrical gimmickry over dramatic coherence and depth. As a company that has chosen to open its season with a Bieito production, how would BLO answer that? David Angus, for one, finds this Carmen compelling. [continued…]

September 12, 2016

in: News & Features

Dimitrij: Grandest of Grand A.D.

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Антонин Дворжак

“If the New World Symphony were not so overwhelmingly famous, audiences might very well realize that Dvořák was a committed composer of opera.” Thus did Gil Rose rue local wisdom. Virtually everyone knows and loves the New World Symphony, to say nothing of the “American” string quartet and more than a handful of other orchestral and chamber works. Yet Dvořák himself delighted in the stage. Just two months before his death, he stated in an interview that his “main inclination was towards dramatic composition.”

This must surprise most music lovers outside of the Czech Republic, where his operas are far better known. And it is worth recalling that between 1870 and 1903, shortly before his death, Dvořák wrote no fewer than 10 operas, of varying styles and characters; not counting revisions and remountings, that averages an opera every three years of his maturity.

He was certainly to some degree following in the footsteps of Smetana, who had by 1870 (the date of Dvořák’s first attempted opera) already produced three grand operas on subjects drawn from Czech history as well as his most popular, the charming village comedy The Bartered Bride. Although Smetana was to write four more operas especially in the comic vein, and although he and Dvořák were therefore in a sense rivals for the audience’s attention, the two composers’ operas were actually rather different in character. Smetana carefully and consciously created a nationalistic opera, emphasizing at every point the very “Czechness” of the work. [continued…]

September 10, 2016

in: News & Features

Miriam’s Deep Fried Bach

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Miriam Fried (file photo)

Miriam Fried (file photo)

Boston is hardly short on famous musical pedagogues, but NEC’s Israeli violinist Miriam Fried is among the top while still active as performer. If you have three-quarters of an hour, hear her wonderfully old-fashioned way with the Brahms Violin Concerto (Longwood SO, Ronald Feldman; from three years ago HERE), and then prepare for her Bach upcoming. On Sunday September 18th at Jordan Hall at 4:30pm and 7:30pm, in a Music for Food benefit, Fried is going to be playing Bach’s six Violin Sonatas and Partitas, in celebration of her 70th birthday last week.

One of her colleagues fondly characterizes her as no-nonsense, her teaching informed by uncompromising values, and her playing as strong, tight, emotionally on the edge. The Bach therefore promises to be rather more than your basic NEC faculty recital. The Romania-born musician spent much of the past year reading and thinking about the pieces, and has produced a series of lectures and masterclasses (available online, with credentials, at www.iclassical-academy.com). She’s never done all six in one day before. Hearing these works together in such proximity permits grasping of the relationships, and the differences, among them.

Why are you celebrating your birthday with Bach? [continued…]

September 7, 2016

in: News & Features

Turn, Turn, Turn to A Far Cry

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Karl Doty A Far Cry  bassist

Karl Doty A Far Cry bassist

While camping in the White Mountains a year ago, bassist Karl Doty and violinist Liesl Schoenberger Doty ran into David Upham, conductor of the UNH Symphony Orchestra. David introduced them to Norman Dello Joio’s Meditations on Ecclesiastes. Thus began the genesis of this weekend’s season opener for A Far Cry, the Jamaica Plain-based 18-member self-organized string orchestra. Performances come this Saturday, September 10th at 4 pm at St. John’s Church in JP and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Sunday at 1:30.

The Crier’s process of curating has gradually evolved, so that by their fourth season (this being the 10th), any Crier could propose a program for the ensemble to consider. On the walls of Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill ME last weekend, the ensemble mapped out its whole 2017 season.

From the seed of the familiar Ecclesiastes text, “To everything there is a season” which Dello Joio translated into 10 musical statements, one for each verse, Karl and Liesl came up with “Point of View”, pulling together works that each offer a different way of encountering experience. [continued…]

September 2, 2016

in: News & Features

Turning on a Dime: BPYO Goes to Spain and Carnegie

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Spain-Zander-1

BPYO players jump for joy in Madrid (Phillip Wikina)

BMInt is pleased to hear once again from Benjamin Zander about the latest tour of his estimable youth orchestra, of whose last Sanders Theater concert our reviewer concluded: “It is my pleasure to report that the BPYO outing satisfied me more fully than any other orchestral concert I have heard all season.”

The Zika outbreak having caused the cancellation of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s tour to Brazil, the leadership determined, with much bravery, that BPYO should go to Spain and Carnegie Hall instead [See Ben Zander’s June 13th BMInt summary article here].

The BPO has taken its Youth Orchestra on tour four times—every year since the orchestra was founded. We have embarked on these challenges that many an organization would think impossible because of our commitment to the growth and development—humanly as well as musically—of our performers: an outlook we call Possibility. We have discovered that when these young people, age 12 to 21, are given the responsibility of being ambassadors for the attitude we espouse—in terms of music-making, friendship, and respect for each other and the larger world—they leap ahead exponentially in their expertise and in their spirit. [continued…]

August 28, 2016

in: News & Features

Ouroboros: 3! Operas

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Cerise Jacobs

Cerise Jacobs

In 2005 Cerise Lim Jacobs set out to mark her husband’s birthday with a commissioned song-cycle. She finished with libretti to a trilogy of operas. The first to be performed was Madame White Snake, premièred in 2010 by Opera Boston, reviewed here), and winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Charles Jacobs lived long enough to see the première but not the Pulitzer. Boston will now see the première of the Ouroboros cycle September 10th – 17th in the Cutler Majestic Theater, thanks to Beth Morrison Projects and Arts Emerson. In advance of this event, principals in the production spoke and performed at The Boston Athenæum on August 18th and composer Scott Wheeler (by email to BMInt earlier) kindly answered our questions.

Madame White Snake begins with a Chinese folktale dating from the Tang and Five Dynasties period (7th – 10th centuries CE) and the earliest written version extant dates to the Ming Dynasty (14th – 17th centuries CE). It is now considered one of that nation’s four great folktales, and has grown and shifted over time. There are Taoist and Buddhist elements in this story of good and evil, a quest for immortality, an intergenerational quest to reunite a family, and stories of striving in the face of adversity and opposition; sometimes it is a tale of horror and sometimes a romance. There are television series, films, plays, picture books, modern dance interpretations, Chinese operas, and Western opera. Swatch even based a 2012 watch design on this legend, celebrating the Year of the Snake. It is a widely known cornerstone of Eastern folktales. [continued…]

August 25, 2016

in: News & Features

Restoring a Classic Broadway Score

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Hans Spielek

Hans Spialek

Performing classic Broadway musicals with a full orchestra returns them to their original symphonic splendor. Because of the decreasing size of pits and budgets, many first-rate theater companies now use scaled-down instrumental forces when producing musicals. Clever reductions exist, but something is lost. The harp part is covered by the pianist, four sax lines are boiled down to one, and the string section is decimated. In the worst scenario, everyone is replaced by a synthesizer. What is lost is not just color and richness but also counterpoint—the back and forth among instruments that is a hallmark of masterful orchestral writing.

When Boston Landmarks Orchestra and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) decided to revive Rodgers & Hart’s The Boys from Syracuse, this summer, we looked forward to what we had done in 2013 with Kiss Me, Kate: playing the full charts. The performance comes next Wednesday at 7pm at DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell. [continued…]

August 17, 2016

in: News & Features

A Grand Weekend for Singing

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rossini3wOn Friday night, renowned conductor Charles Dutoit will lead two works by Mozart as well as the Rossini Stabat mater, featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and four soloists making their BSO (and Tanglewood) debuts.

In a surprise substitution, award-winning tenor Pavol Breslick will replace Matthew Polenzani, in what is sure to be an explosive local debut (featuring a rare high D-flat in one of Rossini’s most beautiful tenor arias). After winning First Prize at the 2000 Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in the Czech Republic and studying with Mirella Freni, Breslick was named “Most Promising Singer of the Year” in the critics’ survey of Opernwelt magazine, while appearing regularly with the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden. He is recognized as one of the great new European Nemorinos and Lenskis (the latter notably for the Vienna State Opera and Covent Garden’s recent productions of Eugene Onegin), and has been a member of the Zurich Opera House since 2012, singing Števa, Don Ottavio, Faust, Roberto Devereux, Nadir, and Peter Quint. He describes his 2014 debut at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg as a “highlight of his career,” and has recently released a recording of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin [here] . [continued…]

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