July 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Conjuring Russia and Spain with Mena

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At Tanglewood Saturday night, Juanjo Mena, Garrick Ohlsson and the BSO were in top form in Tchaikovsky and de Falla.     [continued]

July 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Walnut Hills Festival Opens Grandly

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Nicholas Kitchen and pianist Pi-Hsien Chen gave a remarkable concert to a full-house of mostly students for the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts yesterday.     [continued]

July 26, 2016

in: Reviews

Historic Women’s Opera Scenes Debut

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“Soir des Femmes; A Night of Operas by Female Composers” brought four opera scenes to Harvard on Sunday.     [continued]

July 25, 2016

in: Reviews

To Clang or Not To Clang?

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Aside from piano clanging in the first half, Latitude 41 brought gratifying playing to Maverick Sunday.     [continued]

July 25, 2016

in: Reviews

Oddly Virtuosic Sufficient for Some at FCM

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The concluding Sunday morning concert at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM) might be called “…and on the other hand…”.    [continued]

July 24, 2016

in: Reviews

Batiashvili & BSO Take Flight

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Ripe with an intimate humidity and a potent cocktail of bug spray, pinots, and cheese, the Koussevitzky Shed welcomed Sir Andrew Davis,  violinist Lisa Batiashvili, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.     [continued]

July 24, 2016

in: Reviews

Over the Moon with Clear-Singing Roosters

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Due to its immense popularity, the choral ensemble Chanticleer, a seemingly tireless troupe of 12 male singers, gave two shows of “Over the Moon” Friday in Rockport.     [continued]

July 23, 2016

in: Reviews

1030 Words on Six Unfamiliar FCM Pieces

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On Saturday, day three at the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, 23 players, almost all young TMC Fellows, performed six essentially unfamiliar chamber works with uniformly excellent coherence and ensemble, turning the focus on the works themselves.     [continued]

July 23, 2016

in: Reviews

Pictures and Music at BLmO Exhibition

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Polished musicianship, brilliant programming, plus extras like video images and, oh, perfect weather characterized the Boston Landmarks Orchestra Wednesday at the Hatch Shell.     [continued]

July 23, 2016

in: Reviews

FCM Opens Mixed Bag of Modernity

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From chromatic wisps and skilled appropriating to old Eire and the cosmos, the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music showcased four varied quartets Friday.     [continued]

July 23, 2016

in: Reviews

FCM Commemorates Steven Stucky

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The opening of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM) yesterday at Ozawa hall took on melancholy qualities from our hearing the late Festival Directory Steven Stucky commemorated in performance of a solo cello work Dialoghi.     [continued]

July 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Midsummer Digs and Operas Charm

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For its “Love Italian Style,” Boston Midsummer Opera effectively staged and gloriously sang two obscure charmers by Italian composers at the Mosesian Theater in Watertown. Additional performances come on Friday and Sunday.     [continued]

July 20, 2016

in: Reviews

Gimeno Debuts as Wang Performs 2 Concertos

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Gustavo Gimeno made his Boston Symphony conducting debut at Tanglewood on Sunday afternoon as the dynamic pianist Yuja Wang joined for two favorite concertos that made a particularly good fit.     [continued]

July 20, 2016

in: Reviews

“Sing Her Name” Commemorates Sandra Bland

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Last Wednesday, The Dream Unfinished Orchestra gave a musical tribute to black women harmed by racial injustice, female activists and organizers of the historic Civil Rights and #BlackLivesMatter movements on the one-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland.     [continued]

July 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Unanswerable Questions at Tanglewood

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Works by Ives, Strauss and Tchaikovsky all played with notions of death and eternity, as Ken-David Masur led the BSO at the Koussevitzy Music Shed Saturday.     [continued]

July 18, 2016

in: Reviews

High-Spirited Mercury Orchestra in Russian Program

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Approbation lasting some four minutes flooded Mercury Orchestra and Chorale after Prokofiev’s Cantata from Alexander Nevsky. Nearly the same befell the orchestra and its conductor Channing Yu following Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony.    [continued]

July 18, 2016

in: Reviews

When She Was Good…

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The Horszowski Trio made its Maverick Concerts debut on Sunday, July 17. It is an ensemble of many strengths, but also a couple of weaknesses which prevented these ears from enjoying its work unreservedly.     [continued]

July 16, 2016

in: Reviews

Knights of Old and New Slay at Tanglewood

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The Brooklyn-based Knights, an “orchestra collective, brought imaginative programming musicality and range of style and material to Tanglewood on Thursday.      [continued]

July 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Orpheus’s Descendants Revive Boismortier

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Les Enfants d’Orphée’s celebration of Bastille Day yesterday at Somerville’s Green Room brought us a composer revolutionary in his independence.     [continued]

July 14, 2016

in: Reviews

Emerson + Fleming Evoke Late Vienna

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Renee Fleming assisted the Emerson Quartet in overcoming the box office poison of a program heavy with the works of two students of Schoenberg, filling Ozawa Hall last night for a joyous celebration of the quartet’s 40th anniversary.     [continued]

July 14, 2016

in: Reviews

Trio Expertise Makes Newport News

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The Elms ballroom resounded handsomely with works from the late Enlightenment to just before the Great War at the hands of the estimable Vienna Piano Trio on Tuesday.     [continued]

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July 26, 2016

in: News & Features

Verdi’s Anvil, Wagner’s Valkyries and Everyman’s Chorus

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BrunhildeFamed Wagnerian soprano Jane Eaglen’s hojotohos at the Hatch Shell Wednesday, as Boston Landmarks Orchestra highlights Wagner’s Ring, including The Ride of the Valkyries and the dramatic final scene of the cycle. The stirring Anvil Chorus precedes the New England premiere of Verdi’s Libera me, which five years later would become the dramatic conclusion of the Requiem.

One City Choir, Back Bay Chorale (Scott Allen Jarrett, music director), North End Music and Performing Arts Center Children’s Choir join the orchestra in a free extravaganza which begins at 7:00.

Music director Christopher Wilkins is pleased to share his thoughts on the program.

For six years the One City Choir has embodied the Landmarks Orchestra’s desire to bring people from every Boston neighborhood together in joyful and meaningful collaboration. This year a record number of choristers have signed up—so many that we have to place them both behind and in front of the stage. (Just the kind of complication we love.) [continued…]

July 24, 2016

in: News & Features

BU Institute Now 50-Year Institution

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Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)

Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)

As you make your way out of Lenox on your way to Tanglewood, you may easily overlook a small sign on the side of the road, marking a driveway. If you pay attention, you’ll often notice young people in groups, many with instrument cases, walking to and from the concert grounds. This sign marks the location of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, where young people talented high-school students attend one of the country’s premiere training programs for musicians. The low-profile sign belies the importance and long history of the Institute (BUTI for short), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer on August 6th with a day of events, culminating in an Anniversary Concert and “BUTI@50 Soiree” at the Lenox campus.

The redoubtable Erich Leinsdorf, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director in 1966, asked the Boston University College of Fine Arts to create a program for high-school musicians to complement the BSO’s activities at the Berkshire Music Center, which we now know as Tanglewood. [continued…]

July 18, 2016

in: News & Features

Winged Piano Victorious at Newport

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Bogany piano- (C. Dezeen photo)

Bogányi piano (C. Dezeen photo)

To the honor roll of pianists who have engraved their names on instruments, such as Muzio Clementi and Ignaz Pleyel in the 19th century and Daniel Barenboim and Paolo Fazioli in the 21st, we must now append Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi, an internationally famous Chopin specialist who won the Kossuth Prize and other honors.

Clementi and Pleyel created manufactories in an era when piano technology was rapidly advancing, Fazioli has recently perfected the standard model in an era of stasis, and Barenboim just last year looked to the past with his straight-strung model made by Chris Maene with support from Steinway & Sons; Bogányi, by contrast, has imagined and designed a futuristic apparition.

At last week’s debut for the press and selected guests at the Elms, Newport Music Festival director Mark Malkovich IV invited Bogányi to describe the powerful emotions that led him on a quest for an instrument that could convey the music in his soul. And he shared his own pride in the consummation of the two years of planning that resulted in the special presentation with two concerts. [continued…]

July 16, 2016

in: News & Features

Opera Takes to the Waters

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_LOVE_ITALIAN_STYLE_0677b

Jason Budd as Don Pistacchio  (Chris McKenzie photo)

Decamping from the Tsai Theater because Boston University revised its policies for the space, a beloved company earns the nickname Boston Area Midsummer Opera in honor of its remove to the town of waters. Thus, “Love Italian Style” comprising Donizetti’s Il Campanello and Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, will tread water (or the boards) at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Mosesian Theater on July 20th, 22nd, and 24th.

Though MBTA access, resonant acoustics, an orchestra pit, fly and wings spaces are reported AWOL from its Watertown Arsenal muster, the Mosesian nevertheless possesses certain charms: among them are ample nearby free parking, restaurants and cafes, clear projection of sound and great sightlines.

Music Director Susan Davenny Wyner’s notes on the operas follow.

Our “Love Italian Style” captures two very different sides of Italian character and theatrical tradition—one reaching back to long used prototypes of comedic farce, the other searching to break new ground with a lyrical idyll. [continued…]

July 14, 2016

in: News & Features

Berkshire Avant Music Bash(ing)

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bangonewBang? On a can? You gotta be kidding me! Are these the guys who thump tubs under the Park Street T and thrash on trash outside Fenway Park? Hmm, no: false meme. But yes, there’s some of that spontaneity, irreverence, and dash to its bold mandates of composing new music and presenting it freshly.

Now pushing 40, Bang on a Can (BOC) was born in a SoHo art gallery with a slapdash all-night musical Marathon; today it’s morphed into a wide-net, multi-faceted performing arts group with international ties and a year-round slate, notably the Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams running July 13th – 30th.

“We started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act,” wrote BOC co-founder composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe in the BOC Wikipedia entry. “We are [still] gratified that people need to hear this music … presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context.” [continued…]

July 11, 2016

in: News & Features

Foundation Mounts Vocal Gala

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David Gvinianidze

David Gvinianidze

According to Google Translate, the Russian foundation “Talents of the World” (ФондТаланты мира) aims for nothing less than to “develop the intellectual and spiritual potential of Man, restore and promote the lost traditions of Russian vocal art, pay attention to a wide audience to the inexhaustible treasury of world opera classics through the development of cultural values, to implement the program of democracy and moral solidarity of mankind, which is reflected in the motto of the fund “From the world of culture to the world peace.” What that means for Bostonians is that we are invited to a vocal gala of operetta, opera and Broadway at the Newton City Hall auditorium on Saturday, July 16th constituting the New England début of one of the largest Eastern European concert organizations. Ticket link here.

For this promising event, the artistic director of the foundation David Gvinianidze invited Adam Klein, tenor (Metropolitan Opera); Zhanna Alkhazova, soprano (Des Moines Opera); Olga Lisovskaya, soprano (Commonwealth Lyric Theater) and himself as director and baritone to mount a mélange of arias, operetta and Broadway tunes and ensembles. Apparently replete with “creative stage direction, and great voices,” the show concludes with “delicious refreshments.” [continued…]

July 8, 2016

in: News & Features

BLmO Goes All-Natural

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Landmarks founder, Charles Ansbacher.

Landmarks founder Charles Ansbacher

“Rhapsody in Green,” the free season opener for the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, takes place Wednesday evening at 7pm at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade. (Details here; rain date is the next night, with Kresge Auditorium the indoor backup.)

BLmO founder Charles Ansbacher was fascinated by the relationship between music and public spaces, and especially moved by the experience of listening under the open sky. Awareness of the natural world, the opportunity to gaze heavenward, the increased community connection we feel: all of these affect our perceptions of the music. There will be many guest species, in the same manner that last summer incorporated whale song.

The first evening begins with bugs, well-established in the repertoire, bumblebee flight and all. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s buzzing noises are from his 1909 incidental music to Aristophanes’s comedy The Wasps, characterizing the judges infesting the 5th-century Greek legal system and stinging the defenseless citizens of Athens with their pronouncements. [continued…]

July 5, 2016

in: News & Features

Satie’s Sesquicentennial: My Two Cents

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Satie in 1892 by Valadon

Satie in 1892 by Valadon

Boston Globe music critic Jeremy Eichler’s recent wide-ranging article about the sesquicentennial of Erik Satie (1866-1925) reminded that I have long wanted to put in my two cents about this beloved eccentric of the belle époque. I haven’t yet seen the new book by Caroline Potter that Eichler mentions, but at one time I was considered at least a Satie guru, having played and performed his music since age 15, given colloquia in college and graduate school, and in the 1960s having tried to put together a recording project of his piano music. Nobody else was interested in Satie back then except John Cage, able propagandist for musical Dada, for which Satie could have been considered a pioneer even before the movement in literature and the visual arts got going. It took the popularizing of Gymnopédie no. 1 by Blood, Sweat and Tears, in the late 1960s, to launch Satie into worldwide recognition.

“He was certainly the oddest person I have ever known, but the most rare and consistently witty person, too,” Stravinsky wrote in 1959. Satie’s peculiarities came in part from an assorted childhood and inconsistent musical training, but can best be ascribed to a lifelong extreme self-consciousness, one that he himself realized would conceal, even excuse, his technical limitations under a mask of wit and bizarrerie, while forward-looking musicians would acknowledge the originality of his accomplishment. Eric Salzman called Satie a composer of “a great deal of genius if little talent,” which hits it about right. Debussy was the first to recognize what Satie had to offer, and learned much from it; both Ravel and Stravinsky, half a generation later, acknowledged their debt; and the Groupe des Six, fortified by the antics of Cocteau and the aesthetic convulsions accompanying World War I, helped to make Satie famous at the end of his career. [continued…]

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