December 21, 2014

in: Reviews

“An American Christmas”: the Beauty of Simplicity

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The Boston Camerata under Artistic Director and soprano Anne Azéma sang and played pre-20th-century-American sacred music related to Christmas on Friday in Hancock Church, Lexington.  Camerata’s revelations served to convert even the most jaded modern-day Scrooge.     [continued]

December 20, 2014

in: Reviews

Holidays Among the Valois

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Blue Heron was once again transporting as it brought the season of 15th-century France to us, and vice-versa. If you were to have gone to only one holiday concert this year, you should have stormed the doors of Cambridge’s First Church Congregational to hear this wonderful ensemble.     [continued]

December 19, 2014

in: Reviews

A Bach Christmas? Bah, Humbug!

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In its Thursday outing at Jordan Hall, Handel and Haydn Society’s traditional holiday program of choral selections from the late 16th through the early18th centuries made some concessions to current taste and fashion, including a relatively well-tamed “period” instrumental complement. Repeats Sunday at 3:00     [continued]

December 18, 2014

in: Reviews

BCO Steps Up in the 18th Century

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In its 35th Anniversary Season, the Boston Classical Orchestra gave a high-caliber concert of music written during Faneuil Hall’s first years, featuring an exceptional new violinist Mo Yang, and cellist  Mee-Hae Ryo on Sunday.    [continued]

December 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Concerns, Hoorays for Atrium Winds & Strings

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Many at Sunday’s Atrium Winds and Strings performance for J.P Concerts must have been wondering what was going on, as things seemed not quite right with the sound. In addition, Atrium’s 70-minutes of an oboe quartet of Mozart and nonets by Martinu and Stanford might have left many asking, nonets by whom?     [continued]

December 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Another BSO Worth Hearing

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The Brookline Symphony Orchestra demonstrated its energy, sureness of tone, style, dedication, and inspired seriousness of purpose at All Saints Episcopal Church in Brookline on Saturday night in one work, the Symphony No. 6 of Mieczysław Weinberg.     [continued]

December 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Scholars Draw Hordes

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The Tallis Scholars’ annual visit sponsored by the Boston Early Music Festival filled St. Paul’s Parish Cambridge. This British ensemble has done a great deal to put sacred vocal music of the Renaissance on the early music map.    [continued]

December 12, 2014

in: Reviews

Electroacoustic Music about Caring and Spirituality

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For Hydra Loudspeaker Orchestra’s third and final presentation of audio-visual compositions and installations at Paine Hall Thursday, a small but robust turnout clustered around the “sweet spot.”     [continued]

December 11, 2014

in: Reviews

A Wagnerian Battle of the Wrong Sort

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“Ho Yo To Hos!” from eight potent Valkyries awakened Jordan Hall to Act III of Die Walküre as Jane Eaglen and Greeer Grimsely headed a powerful cast last night with overenthusiastic support from NEC Philharmonia under Robert Spano.    [continued]

December 11, 2014

in: Reviews

Barnatan Wows Longy Crowd

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Inon Barnatan, a 35-year-old pianist and a native of Israel, played a big, exciting program of Bach, Barber, and Schubert for the Celebrity Series last night at Edward Pickman Hall at the Longy School.     [continued]

December 11, 2014

in: Reviews

From Bach to Barber with Barnatan

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In his Boston debut for the Celebrity Series at Longy, pianist Inon Barnatan gave us a thoughtful and personal program backed by formidable technique. On Wednesday he also proved that he cares about sharing his depth of understanding.     [continued]

December 11, 2014

in: Reviews

Animals Cavort for Odyssey Opera

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Youngsters arrived in droves for the Boston premiere of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox in Sunday afternoon’s  Jordan Hal. The collaboration among the Boston Modern Opera Project, Odyssey Opera, and the Boston Children’s Chorus produced an altogether an exciting read for young an old alike.     [continued]

December 9, 2014

in: Reviews

Inner Voices: Resounding, Revealed

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Violist Gillian Rogell, mezzo-soprano Colleen Palmer, and pianist Roberto Poli gave a warm and well-received recital on at the Rivers School Conservatory Sunday entitled “Inneren Stimmen: A journey into the inner voices of Romanticism, Robert Schumann and his circle.”     [continued]

December 9, 2014

in: Reviews

Oriana Consort’s Midwinter Muse

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Oriana Consort’s “Muse of Midwinter” arrived in First Lutheran Church Friday. Centered on Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and GF Handel’s Let God Arise, the familiar program will repeat on December 15th at the First Lutheran Church of Boston.     [continued]

December 8, 2014

in: Reviews

Longwood SO Revives Hanson

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To the impressive initials after the LSO players’ names, OCD ought to be appended, since an insane level of musical activity is what keeps them sane. Their Saturday night performance at Jordan Hall was at a consistently professional quality.     [continued]

December 5, 2014

in: Reviews

Three Paroxystic Trios from Ellipsis

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Ellipsis Trio offered us three cathartic Russian trios Thursday night in Cambridge. In a thrilling concert from start to finish, Amanda Wang, violin, Patrick Owen, cello, and Konstantinos Papadakis, piano, delivered wonderful, insightful playing of challenging works by Arensky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.     [continued]

December 2, 2014

in: Reviews

NEC’s Out-of-the-Box Largesse

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NEC’s First Monday at Jordan Hall featured an out-of-the-box program with music by Josquin Des Prez, Debussy, and Shostakovich and performers the likes of Laura Lee, Paula Robison, Dimitri Murrath, Jessica Zhou, Ian Howell, Laurence Lesser, and Russell Sherman.     [continued]

December 2, 2014

in: Reviews

Non-Thematic Program Comes on First Monday

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In three succinct but masterfully crafted works, the virtuosi of First Monday brought the audience less on a directed musical journey, than offering it sequential homages to utterly unrelated composers, musical periods, and artistic inspirations.     [continued]

December 1, 2014

in: Reviews

Unusual Musical Ruminations in Concord

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The watchwords for the Concord Chamber Music Society’s Sunday concert at Concord Academy might well have been “keep calm and carry on,” since all the works presented were essentially laid-back and ruminative. Sometimes one wished they had been a bit less so in performance.     [continued]

December 1, 2014

in: Reviews

Two 18th-Century Comedies From BEMF

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“A Weekend of Chamber Opera” from the Boston Early Music Festival opened Friday night with a performance of two comic intermezzos by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi at Jordan Hall. Following what has become an annual post-Thanksgiving tradition, the semi-staged production repeated Sunday.     [continued]

November 30, 2014

in: Reviews

Blasted at the Gardner

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When Paavali Jumppanen’s forearm drove into the Steinway moments into Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück X, Calderwood Hall reeled from the blast. Robert Schumann’s Sonata in F-sharp Minor, Op. 11 followed on the relentless program Sunday.     [continued]

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December 13, 2014

in: News & Features

In Bordeaux, Hamelin Turns Reflective

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Hamelin by Michael Johnson

Hamelin by Michael Johnson

Our own Marc-André Hamelin took Boston to Bordeaux last week, playing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 to an enthusiastic audience, most of whom had never heard of him. They are now unlikely to forget him. His super-sensitive performance roused the French to demand three curtain calls before the Mozart encore. Paul Daniel conducted the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine.

Hamelin remains in demand worldwide for his virtuoso performances of piano works both traditional and obscure, but the French have until now been slow to recognize him. His dozens of Hyperion CDs are rarities in the city’s music shops, and not even his French (Canadian) name has been enough to raise his profile.

Now the French seem to be recognizing the error of their ways. The two leading classical music magazines, Diapason and Classica, have selected his three-CD box of Busoni’s late piano works as their piano disc of the year.

I sat down with Hamelin and asked him to look back at his early years, when he was active in contemporary avant-garde music, and to reflect on today’s piano world.

MJ: You studied with Russell Sherman in Boston in your younger years. You may recall that he wrote in his classic book Piano Pieces that the “pedal is the path to heaven” Does this kind of colorful advice flow freely from him?

MAH: I was with him as a private student, some time ago—1987 and 1988—and he brought me much good. And yes, he gets you to make music in ways that are totally unexpected. He is always imagique and he has this soft-spoken way of communicating. I recall hearing him advise me, in relation to part of one Beethoven sonata, to think of being behind columns as Julius Caesar is being murdered. That will bring it out of you.

You have the reputation of uncovering little-known music for some of your CDs and performances. What have you turned up lately? [continued…]

December 9, 2014

in: News & Features

Critics Remember 2014

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father-time-As the old year wanes, many of us are subject to bouts of introspection. The several BMInt writers who are not immune to that tendency have each submitted lists of their favorite CDs and concerts of the last season. We thank them for their reflections. More are expected, so check back. Some have chosen to nominate concerts they have reviewed while others have chosen from concerts which they merely attended. During the past 12 months BMInt has published over 600 reviews and articles, so this epistle must needs place a severe test on the memories of the participants. But this exercise also gives us all yet another reminder of how much to be grateful for the musical life of Boston and its environs. We salute all of our players, writers and presenters. And I add my wishes for a Happy New Year to the readers of this site who on a good day number over 5000. The discourses on these pages and their re-postings on Facebook and Twitter speak volumes to the relevance of the art we celebrate. [continued…]

December 3, 2014

in: News & Features

New Composers with Gut

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two-faces-of-music

Antico Moderno, a new Boston group whose unusual purpose is to commission contemporary music for historical instruments, will commence activities by juxtaposing “Antico” masterpieces of Vivaldi and Bach with “Moderno” compositions by Honstein, Schlossberg, and Karosi, on Friday, December 5, 2014. The ensemble kicks off its residency at First Lutheran Church in Boston Friday at 7:30. Several of its members contributed to a discussion.

 BMInt: Is Antico Moderno oxymoronic?

Jacques Lee Wood: Antico Moderno is Latin for old and new—sort of at the same time. The idea came about when several of us started immersing ourselves in studying historical practice. We felt it would be similar to exploring new music. We realized composers have great material to draw upon in historical practice that they could use in their own work, from the sound of gut strings to the different incarnations of a lower or higher base pitch. Also performance practices like using temperament as an expressive compositional device, or creating new systems of ornamentation. People spend a lot of time on how to ornament, how to create music in context; there’s a lot more focus on the performer in this process of composition, rather than having composer and performer be separate. So one of the ideas of Antico Moderno is to work closely with composers to have them be really integrated into the presentation processes. [continued…]

November 28, 2014

in: News & Features

Handel’s Messiah “In This Unbelieving City”

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h-and-h-sealOn Christmas Day 1843, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his journal that he had just heard the Handel and Haydn Society perform Handel’s Messiah at the Melodeon on Washington Street in Boston. He found it profoundly moving yet oddly out of date. Audiences—and some performers and conductors—will feel the same ambivalence this holiday season, 171 years later, as we contemplate the dozens of seasonal Messiah performances in the area beginning with tonight’s by Handel & Haydn Society.

Emerson confided that despite “some delicious strains,” he understood few of the words, yet he found the concert sublimely beautiful: “[A]s the master overpowered the littleness & incapableness of the performers, & made them conductors of his electricity, so it was easy to see what efforts nature was making through so many hoarse, wooden, & imperfect persons to produce beautiful voices, fluid & soulguided men & women.” The Concord author and lecturer was transported: “I walked in the bright paths of sounds, and liked it best when the long continuance of a chorus had made the ear insensible to the music, made it as if there was none, then I was quite solitary & at ease in the melodious uproar.”

But a discordant note struck him. “This wonderful piece of music carries us back into the rich historical past[.] It is full of the Roman Church & its hierarchy & its architecture. Then further it rests on & requires so deep a faith in Christianity that it seems bereft of half & more than half its power when sung today in this unbelieving city.” [continued…]

November 28, 2014

in: News & Features

A Messiah View from the Top of the Cleff

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handelwBoston area Messiah performances will be coming is all sizes, colors, and shapes from Boston Baroque, Trinity Church, the Concord Chorus, Masterworks Chorale, Music Worcester, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. The choice is yours from among the links to a dozen performances which BMInt lists below. But it is only the Handel and Hayden Society, whose seasonal run begins tonight, whose venerable history commences with the American premiere of the piece in 1818. H &H can claim 161 annual runs, with the promise of its imminent 400th performance.

This year the young American singer Joélle Harvey is stepping into the solo soprano role. She recently debuted with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and is familiar in Boston from previous appearances with H&H in Handel’s Jephtha and Samson. She has also established an impressive resume of Messiah performances with modern and historically informed orchestras alike. She spoke with BMInt by telephone about her upcoming performances and past experiences. [continued…]

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. [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. [continued…]

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