November 27, 2014

in: Reviews

A Fiddler’s Baton Heralds Thanksgiving

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With broken love, bears, and drumsticks, Leonidas Kavakos, the violinist, and now increasingly the conductor, heralded the holiday season for the BSO this Tuesday by exposing the lovelorn soul of the young Bartok, asking Papa Haydn to bring on the bears, and then calling on Mussorgsky for tone painting.     [continued]

November 27, 2014

in: Reviews

Soloists, Choruses and Orchestra Compelling in Britten

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Monday evening’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem by the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Symphony Hall follows on the centennial of the composer’s birth last year and centennial of the outbreak of World War I this past summer.     [continued]

November 26, 2014

in: Reviews

Expansive Purcell at All Saints’ Parish

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Under Suzanne McAllister and Emily Howe in All Saints’ Parish in Brookline on Sunday, the Henry Purcell Society offered thoughtful and amazing performances of Purcell’s larger works for choir.     [continued]

November 25, 2014

in: Reviews

Bloodless Baroque Musical Duels

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At First Church, Cambridge, four slender but decorative harpsichords lined the curved apse for Cambridge Concentus’s  Sunday afternoon traversal of Bach’s six concerti for two, three and four harpsichords; four local luminaries were soloists and the strings were one-to-a part.     [continued]

November 24, 2014

in: Reviews

BSO and the Three Sergeis

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Andris Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and four illustrious soloists (including three singers making their BSO debuts) magnificently carried off a program of majestic proportions. There was a world premiere and three Sergeis—Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Koussevitzky.     [continued]

November 24, 2014

in: Reviews

Complex Portraiture, Fragmented Yet With Teeth

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From Classical Greece to Ukraine to Broadway, Roomful of Teeth mixed another powerful motley of mood, affect, experience, and premieres for Friday’s performance at Kresge; Roomful of Teeth reimagined madness.     [continued]

November 24, 2014

in: Reviews

Odyssey Opera Extends Winning Streak

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The Argento double-bill of Miss Havisham’s Wedding Day and A Water Bird Talk produced by Gil Rose’s Odyssey Opera this past weekend at Suffolk University’s Modern Theater was enticing. Rose’s direction the composer’s evocative and colorful orchestration was superb, as was the band’s playing.     [continued]

November 23, 2014

in: Reviews

Praise the Singers and Pass on the Premise

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First Church Congregational in the People’s Republic of Cambridge was the site last night of Spectrum Singers multicultural program “Joyously Affirmed.” Despite my skepticism on the programming premise, the chorus did rise to the pre-holidays occasion by offering a generous, ambitious and well executed spectrum of music in Hebrew, Yiddish, three forms of early English, Latin, and Nigerian.     [continued]

November 23, 2014

in: Reviews

Radius Radiates New and Old

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Color galore began early in radius Ensemble’s concert last night at Longy School, and developed into a still deeper sumptuousness—a French enchantment. Brief comments warmly, often humorously preceding each piece from the various members suggest a fireside kind of evening.    [continued]

November 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Contemplating 1964

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Terry Riley’s hypnotic In C from 1964 inspired a focus on that year for A Far Cry’s program with Urbanity Dance at Jordan Hall on Friday. Barshai’s arrangement of Shostakovich’s 10th String Quartet and the little-known Symphony No. 7 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg framed the first-named work.     [continued]

November 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Daniel Impressed in Trinity’s Den

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Trinity Church, Copley Square was the site for Boston Camerata’s latest speculative realization. The Play of Daniel came with immersive and subtle staging and had at its heart a remarkable performance from Jordan Wetherston Pitts. Repeats Sunday.   [continued]

November 21, 2014

in: Reviews

No One Wanted to Escape from BoCo’s Palace

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Bostonians bored with past-peak foliage can opt for a steamy seraglio this weekend as operagoers did last night for Boston Conservatory’s production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers). The hooting and hollering crowd of under-thirties that dominated the full house made the case for the relevance of lively comic opera for their cohort. Continues through Sunday. [continued]

November 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Sibelius and Brahms: A Discovery

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Boston Philharmonic Orchestra treated us to three works by Sibelius followed by a “tiny, tiny” piano concerto from Brahms on Thursday evening at Sanders Theater. Benjamin Zander described and revealed hidden jewels as only a rebellious scholar could.     [continued]

November 20, 2014

in: Reviews

Quartet From South of the Border Delights

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Celebrity Series of Boston presented the Boston debut of the Símon Bolívar String Quartet in Longy’s Pickman Hall last night. The enthusiastically anticipated and intriguing program sold out early enough that an extra show became necessary.     [continued]

November 20, 2014

in: Reviews

Aesthetic Reclamation of Tristan Tales from BLO

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Boston Lyric Opera’s presentation of Frank Martin’s opera Le Vin Herbé (The Love Potion) at Temple Ohabei Shalom last night is an authentic event. This visually mesmerizing and beautifully performed realization provide chance to experience Martin’s distinctive complete with a new English translation. The Love Potion will be performed again Thursday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., as well as at an already sold-out Sunday matinee.     [continued]

November 19, 2014

in: Reviews

String Master’s Series Showcases Andrew Mark

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Comprising Martinu, Beethoven, Harbison and Strauss, cellist Andrew Mark’s recital with pianist Max Levinson at Seully Hall Sunday was a marvel of virtuosic understatement and elegant restraint.     [continued]

November 19, 2014

in: Reviews

A Far Cryʼs Immersive “Obsession”

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In the intimate confines of Calderwood Hall, A Far Cryʼs collaborated with Soprano Amanda Forsytheʼs in musical and aural delights. On Sunday, the Criers partied like it was 1694.     [continued]

November 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Mendelssohn and Wolf Seeking Connections

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Emmanuel Music continued its examination of the chamber music of Felix Mendelssohn and all 53 Mörike-Lieder of Hugo Wolf on Sunday in the Parish Hall with mostly accomplished performances of the well-known and lesser-known.    [continued]

November 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Grunstein’s Goldbergs on Piano

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What made Sarah Grunstein’s  Goldberg Variations of Bach so compelling on Friday in Williams Hall of the NEC was its presentation by a pianist who is not only (very) fluent on her chosen instrument, but also conversant with (and sympathetic to) the instruments of Bach’s own time and their particular syntax.     [continued]

November 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Choral Responses to War at a Great Basilica

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Seraphim Singers under by Music Director Jennifer Lester examined choral music’s response to war and violence during the last century at Mission Church on Sunday. The many parts came together with emotional and artistic satisfaction.     [continued]

November 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Russian Connections and Magic Tricks

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The subtle interconnectedness of the BSO’s Thursday night program gave the concert an added resonance that still lingers four days later as I write this review without having taken notes. Two Russian works, written just 25 years apart, framed the evening: Tchaikovsky’s enigmatic Hamlet Overture-Fantasy and Stravinsky’s landmark Rite of Spring. Brett Dean’s Dramatis Personae, Music for Trumpet and Orchestra with Håkan Hardenberger occupied the center.     [continued]

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November 23, 2014

in: News & Features

Valhalla at NEC

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nec-sealSlated to break ground next summer, the first new construction on the New England Conservatory campus since 1959, the Student Life and Performance Center will transform NEC with a new residence hall of 252 beds, dining commons, reunited score and listening libraries, black box theatre/Opera Studio, large and small ensemble rooms with recording facilities, and multiple areas for socializing and meeting. That can only happen, though, with a bit of a push from enthusiastic new contributors who are encouraged to sign up for a gala “Valhalla at NEC” on December 10th featuring a concert version of Wagner’s Die Walküre Act III.

The exciting news is that NEC’s own dramatic soprano Jane Eaglen will be paired with the fine heroic baritone, Greer Grimselsy, and the NEC Philharmonic will be playing under Robert Spano. The festivities begin at 6:00 for high-level contributors and at 7:00 for mere mortals. For more on the production with links to ticket sales, cast and bios, click here.

For this article, Jane Eaglen spoke generously about her musical life. She also recorded a speedy synopsis of Die Walküre Act III. The slightly sped-up recording comes after the break

LE: President Tony Woodcock is so proud of having you on the faculty. What is it about Boston and NEC that attracted you?

JE: I do love teaching and I made a conscious decision that I had traveled for 25 years and just kind of wanted to be in one place a bit more, and get a dog and get to a place where my husband and I could just have a little bit of a calmer life in a way. And so I really did enjoy the teaching but I think really it’s just that there’s great talent here. Some really wonderful voices come through and that’s exciting as a teacher to have that raw talent to work with and hope that you can really develop that is exciting. [continued…]

November 21, 2014

in: News & Features

Purcellian Pleasures and Pains

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Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell

Boston may be quaint in having performing societies devoted to individual composers and periods. At 200 years old, the Handel and Haydn Society, of course, has the pride of first place. The Henry Purcell Society of Boston joined this tableau d’honneur just one year ago in an inaugural concert last April called “Welcome to All the Pleasures” [reviewed here]. HPS hopes to follow that success with another at 3pm on Sunday the 23rd of November, in All Saints Parish Church of Brookline. The founders, soprano Jessica Cooper and lawyer Bill Chapman, spoke with BMInt about the Society:

BMInt: So, why have you founded a Henry Purcell Society of Boston?

JC: There is such tremendous musical and emotional power contained in Purcell’s music, and such a vast range of genres – from the bawdiest catches to sacred odes, from solo songs to opera—not all of which get performed that much, and, when they are, often get treated as companion pieces to the main part of a concert. We would like to bring Purcell’s music to the front of the stage as the main attraction!

It was the emotional power of Purcell’s music that grabbed me. You know, in the same way that as a young man if I listened to a certain Beatles song, for example, I’d get a very strong emotional response—that’s what happened when I discovered Purcell, it’s exactly the same thing. Once I figured out how his music resonated with me, I became obsessed, started putting my hands on every book and recording I could find. As far as I was concerned, Purcell just needed to be up there with those other titans of the musical world.

FLE: I share your feeling about Purcell’s power, and in fact, his music will figure prominently in my eventual memorial service, but I must ask a journalist’s question. How did you two come to the idea of a society? [continued…]

November 17, 2014

in: News & Features

Tristan and Isolt in a Synagogue?

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Ryan Turner (file photo)

Ryan Turner (file photo)

Boston Lyric Opera’s Opera Annex will present the Boston premiere of a fully staged version of composer Frank Martin’s retelling of the legendary story of Tristan and Isolt, Le vin herbé (The Love Potion) in a new English translation. In keeping with the Annex’s habit of presenting in unusual venues, the immersive, intimate staging comes to Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline November 19 – 23.

The work sets the medieval tale of the fateful love potion that binds the knight Tristan to Isolt, the princess torn between duty and love. Praised for her luminous voice, Boston favorite soprano Chelsea Basler returns in the unforgettable role in a new production directed by David Schweizer (The Emperor of Atlantis).

BMInt had an email conversation with Ryan Turner, Artistic Director of Emmanuel Music, and tenor and conductor about town about his debut conducting with BLO.

Le vin herbé (The Love Potion) is not exactly an opera or an oratorio—what is it? And how do you pronounce the name of the composer, Frank Martin?

​A secular oratorio, and Frahnnck Mahrtænn

Based on a 1990 retelling of the 12th-century tales, Le roman de Tristan et Iseut, by Joseph Bédier, it has nothing to do with Wagner, though both were treating earlier sources. Is there some appropriateness to depicting medieval myths in a warmer version of Schoenberg’s language rather than in Wagner’s more sumptuous style? And of course Martin required 12 singers, 7 string instruments, and a piano rather than massive orchestral forces. [continued…]

November 13, 2014

in: News & Features

MTT & SFS To Visit Symphony Hall Third Time

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Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas

Coming to town next week are the San Francisco Symphony with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and violinist Gil Shaham, appearing in the Celebrity Series as part of a tour also including New York, Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, Ann Arbor, and Princeton. The concerts showcase repertoire by Mahler, Ravel, Liszt, and Prokofiev along with Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, a work co-commissioned by the SFS; Adams performs on the tour. Thomas led the work’s premiere in 2012. For his 20th year with the band, Thomas has programmed other works by American composers nearly every single concert week of the upcoming season.

Since MTT assumed his post as the 11th SFS music director, in September 1995, their musical partnership has been hailed as one of the more inspiring and successful in the country. In addition, the Orchestra has been recognized internationally as a leader in both music education and recording. MTT is now the longest-tenured music director for a major American orchestra and the longest-serving music director in SFS history.

On November 16th at 5pm, Symphony Hall will resound with Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Adams’s Drift and Providence, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2. BMInt spoke with Oliver Theil, SFS communications director, and afterward with Samuel Adams.

BMInt: The orchestra is bringing Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, a BSO signature piece, to Symphony Hall. That’s brave! How difficult will it be for the orchestra to adapt to Symphony Hall, which has a livelier and louder acoustic than Davies Hall? [continued…]

November 10, 2014

in: News & Features

The Play of Daniel Revisited

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azemawwA medieval chancel drama in Boston’s august and voluminous Trinity Church? Such we will be getting when Boston Camerata together with Trinity’s children’s choir produce some compelling music and theater for the anonymous Play of Daniel from medieval Beauvais. French-born singer, medievalist, and director Anne Azéma will be both singing and stage-directing on November 21st and 23rd in the Copley Square sanctuary. As usual, she had lots to say.

BMInt: 60th anniversary, hunh? You don’t look that old, Anne.

Anne Azéma: Thanks for the compliment! But of course, Camerata began long before I was involved, and even before my predecessor, Joel Cohen took over from Narcissa Williamson. She started it at the MFA in 1954. [continued…]

November 4, 2014

in: News & Features

Cloth Hall Players No Strangers to Symphony Hall

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Riccardo Chailly

Riccardo Chailly

When conductor Kurt Masur brought the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to Boston from East Germany in 1974, it was a really big deal. Travel was difficult from the East, and no one had yet heard of glasnost or perestroika. We looked forward to hearing a very old and famous orchestra which had been insulated from performance trends in the West. Fifteen years later, the Berlin Wall fell. And now, 25 years after that historic moment, the GO is back in Boston to bring its special sound, style, and history once again. The Boston Celebrity Series concert will offer Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides (Overture), Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony. The orchestra’s leader, Riccardo Chailly will conduct and Nikolaj Znaider will be the violin soloist.

BMInt interviewed Andreas Schulz, the orchestra’s intendant. [continued…]

October 28, 2014

in: News & Features

A Fine Tribute to Don

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teetersDonald Teeters’s sudden death, last August, continues to reverberate. This Sunday afternoon Boston Cecilia, All Saints Brookline chorus and an orchestra led by Nicholas White with concertmaster Dan Stepner will be offering a performance of the Mozart Requiem in tribute to the former music director of the church and the chorus. (See also the BMInt encomium here, with numerous comments and reminiscences.) BMInt spoke recently with Joshua Collier, a soloist for Cecilia when Teeters was music director and a ringer in the chorus for the last concert. He is one of the organizers of this event, the orchestral contractor, and the tenor soloist.

LE: Did this piece have any special connection with Don?

JC: Absolutely—this piece is (I still have a difficult time using the past tense when referring to him) terrifically important to Don. We had many post-rehearsal conversations about the nature of the musical settings of the requiem texts. [continued…]

October 26, 2014

in: News & Features

Now Come the Windsbach Singers

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choirboyExcepting the frequent annual visits of the Vienna Boy Choir, it is rare for Bostonians to be able to welcome a real Deutscher Knabenchor to our midst. On Tuesday at 12:15, King’s Chapel will be hosting the Windsbacher Knabechor (Windsbach Boys Choir) in an all-German program featuring works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Schütz, and German folk songs, with a repeat performance at the Groton School at 7:00 pm. A YouTube link to Bruckner’s “Os justi,” which the boys will be offering at King’s Chapel, is here. The choir’s tour, including debuts in San Francisco and Los Angles as well as here, with return engagements in Philadelphia and D.C., is part of a German effort to commemorate the 25th-anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, a monumental event, which eventually led to German reunification

In building and maintaining a boys’ choir, there is never any time to lose, since there is only a five-year period in which these boys’ voices are mature enough to sing challenging repertoire, before their voices change, now at younger ages than even 50 years ago. As we know from hearing the art form at St. Paul’s Parish, Cambridge (with the only Roman Catholic boy-choir school in the US) and All Saints, Ashmont, there is a long tradition of boy choirs all over the world. The Windsbach Boys Choir is one of the youngest, by English and European standards, at only 68-years old, yet it not only keeps the boy choir tradition alive, but also does so with demandingly high standards. [continued…]

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