August 31, 2015

in: Reviews

Borromeo Quality Quartet

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When an ensemble has a reputation and history like those of the Borromeo String Quartet, you expect something out of the ordinary. That’s what we got at the ensemble’s Maverick concert on Sunday.    [continued]

August 30, 2015

in: Reviews

Spiky Schubert, Superb Stravinsky

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Frederic Chiu and Andrew Russo aren’t a full-time piano duo team. (Russo isn’t even a full-time pianist.) But they  appeared in the Maverick series on Saturday with a solo each and two large works in collaboration, one unsatisfactory, the other a triumph.     [continued]

August 29, 2015

in: Reviews

“A Most Rare Vision” in Esplanade Dream

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Enchantment reigned as Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Boston Landmarks Orchestra co-produced Shakespeare/Mendelsohn Midsummer Night’s Dream Wednesday at the Hatch Shell.     [continued]

August 24, 2015

in: Reviews

Portland’s Seasonal Peroration Pleases

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With something light, something new and something meaty, the Portland Chamber Music Festival concluded its 22nd season on Saturday; its usual format yielded an entertaining and informative evening.     [continued]

August 24, 2015

in: Reviews

Lucky 13 at Maverick

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Alexander Platt leads a small orchestra once a year at Maverick, reviving a tradition from the early days of the series. I can’t remember such a program at Maverick I enjoyed quite as much as the latest one on Saturday.     [continued]

August 23, 2015

in: Reviews

Tanglewood Final Weekend

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As the Tanglewood season closed last weekend, Kristine Opolais joined Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for two concerts in the Koussevitzky Music Shed.     [continued]

August 23, 2015

in: Reviews

Quartet (plus one) Exceeds Its Parts

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In its third concert in four days at the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, the 13-year-old Jupiter String Quartet (with pianist Brian Zeger) brought introspection and heat Friday to Wellfleet’s steamy but beautiful First Congregational Church.    [continued]

August 21, 2015

in: Reviews

Chamber Music for a Fortnight

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We caught Portland Chamber Music Festival’s fine Saturday night misture of Russian, American and French music for trio, quartet, and quintet, with one semi-premiere between two stalwart 19th-century works.     [continued]

August 20, 2015

in: Reviews

Ma’s Backward Cello Bash

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Last week a most unusual Tanglewood program billed only as “A Distant Mirror” featured numerous cellists and colleagues roaming both the globe and the centuries under the banner of Yo-Yo Ma.     [continued]

August 18, 2015

in: Reviews

Opera del West: Felicitous Figaro, Constrained

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Last Friday night at TCAN Natick, Figaro had his way—almost—in Eve Budnick’s budget-minding Opera del West production.     [continued]

August 16, 2015

in: Reviews

Nelsons Leads Mendelssohn & Mahler

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Friday night’s evening shed concert at Tanglewood contrasted the extremes of Germanic Romanticism: Mendelssohn’s sparkling, capricious Violin Concerto in E Minor with Mahler’s brooding, kaleidoscopic Symphony No. 6.     [continued]

August 15, 2015

in: Reviews

Fang with a Bang

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The Chinese Performing Arts Foundation summer festival viscerally concluded its Walnut Hill piano recitals Thursday night, with Peter Fang solidly assisted by Chi-Wei Lo.     [continued]

August 10, 2015

in: Reviews

Absurdly, Early Mozart at Santa Fe Opera

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Teenage Mozart outdoors in the Santa Fe mountains makes for compelling melodramatic absurdity for our far-flung correspondent.     [continued]

August 10, 2015

in: Reviews

Mahler Apotheosized Before Thousands

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Saturday’s Tanglewood “Symphony of a Thousand” (858 singers, 171 instrumentalists, plus Mahler, equaled 1,030 celebrants at the premiere) made for much excitement even with substantially fewer performers.     [continued]

August 10, 2015

in: Reviews

One Weekend, Two Quartets

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This past weekend  Maverick Concert offered the Miró and Danish string quartets in highly contrasting programs. Everything possible seemed to be different, except for the consistently excellent quality.     [continued]

August 10, 2015

in: Reviews

Monadnock Strikes Up the Band

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The Monadnock Chamber Orchestra under Gil Rose morphed into a version of Paul Whiteman’s Palais Royal Orchestra, with piano soloist Alan Feinberg and soprano Abigail Krawson, for an all-Gershwin program Friday at the Peterborough Town House.     [continued]

August 10, 2015

in: Reviews

George the Incredib-Li Fine Pianist

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Lexington’s George Li, recent Tchaikovsky silver medalist, returned home with an utterly triumphant Chopin-heavy recital at Walnut Hill Friday night as part of the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts festival.     [continued]

August 8, 2015

in: Reviews

Memorable Beethoven Moments from Rosenbaum

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Another Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Walnut Hill piano recital on Thursday evening featured Victor Rosenbaum’s old-school ways of examining late Beethoven.     [continued]

August 8, 2015

in: Reviews

Kavakos and Dutoit Front at Tanglewood

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The always stylish Charles Dutoit leads the BSO in a pair of Shed concerts this weekend: Moderns on Friday night (Ravel, Sibelius, Stravinsky).     [continued]

August 8, 2015

in: Reviews

Cold Mountain: New American Classic

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Our far-flung-correspondent’s review of the premier of Jennifer Higdon’s new opera for Santa Fe follows.     [continued]

August 7, 2015

in: Reviews

Goerne and Schubert Cool a Summer Evening

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Baritone Mattias Goerne and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser collaborated on an intimate and unadorned Winterreise in Ozawa Hall on Wednesday.     [continued]

more reviews →

August 10, 2015

in: News & Features

Why Was BPYO Tour So Special?

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bypo-player-crop

Nate Klause in the garden of Wagner’s house.

The three-year-old Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra returned a few weeks ago with 120 players and 15 adults from a 17-day tuitionless tour to some of the cultural centers of Europe. Their critically acclaimed performances of demanding programs in Prague, Berlin, Berne, Basel, and Lucerne deserve our notice, and incidentally our next chance to notice them in Boston comes in a free performance at Symphony Hall on November 2nd.

BMInt asked artistic director Benjamin Zander for an evocation of the accomplishment from musical, organizational and metaphysical perspectives. He responded most fully not only with words of his own, but also with those of tour-guests—musical adviser David St. George, accompanying blogger Richard Dyer, many players and of some deeply moved chaperones. And by including recordings of all eight of the pieces performed, Zander gives BMInt readers the chance to savor the home team. If BMInt were a print journal, the entire issue would be devoted to this extended piece.

“How was the tour?” I am asked over and over since we got back. “Wonderful,” I reply. And that’s it. Short of sitting the person down for a couple of hours, I cannot possibly give an adequate sense of that life-changing adventure. It’s not like with the USA Women’s Soccer team. They won the game! That’s simple. The whole country watched in delight and awe as they soundly defeated the Japanese women in the final of the World Cup. When it was all over we even remember the score—it was 5 to 2. The team got invited to the White House and had a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue. But was their achievement any more remarkable than that of the 120 young Boston area musicians who entranced audiences in several European cities with their performances of some of the most difficult music ever written for orchestra? I think not. [continued…]

August 3, 2015

in: News & Features

BSO and Berlin Announce New Leaders

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A delighted Andris Nelsons two years ago  (Stu Rosner)

A delighted Andris Nelsons two years ago
(Stu Rosner photo)

“Words cannot express my feelings—everything from euphoria and great joy to awe and disbelief. I am aware of the responsibility and high expectations of me, and I will do everything in my power to be a worthy conductor of this outstanding orchestra.” On June 21st, the Berlin Philharmonic voted by a large majority to invite Kirill Petrenko to lead them.

Two weeks later Andris Nelsons accepted BSO management’s offer of a three-year extension on his original five-year contract, “I am so very honored and incredibly excited by this new chapter in my musical life with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.” According to Mark Volpe, BSO Managing Director, “After a wonderfully successful first year as music director, it is clear that the BSO under Andris Nelsons’s leadership is poised to experience another thrilling period in its 134-year storied history.” Thus Andris Nelsons will lead the orchestra through spring of 2022. The parties also agree that Nelsons will lead several programs each season at Tanglewood and preside over tours to Europe, Asia, and North America and beyond each season through the contractual period. [continued…]

July 31, 2015

in: News & Features

Tchaikovsky Medalist To Perform at Walnut Hill

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The young composer.

The eponymous one.

Nineteen-year-old Lexington resident George Li, recent winner of the silver medal in the piano division of the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition, will be performing a solo recital Friday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the 24th Annual Music Festival at Walnut Hill. This is the first local opportunity to hear our own burgeoning international artist after his recent triumph. George’s program includes works by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. A 2013 graduate of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, George is currently a student in the prestigious Harvard-New England Conservatory dual-degree program.

Shortly after returning home in early July to give his fingers a bit of well-deserved R&R following the grueling three-week Tchaikovsky Competition, George hopped back across the pond to attend the renowned Verbier Festival, in which seasoned performers and talented young musicians are stirred vigorously in a musical melting pot, with the Swiss Alps serving as inspirational backdrop. Following his recital at Walnut Hill, George heads back to Europe, this time to France, where he will perform a solo concert as part of the Festival International de Musique in Dinard.

We somehow managed to catch up with a very busy George recently. Though (and because!) George is an ardent fan, we assiduously avoided the subject of the Red Sox. [continued…]

July 29, 2015

in: News & Features

Down Southeast, Music from Big Yellow

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widmann2007

Jörg Widmann to be featured

High seriousness may be what makes Brattleboro’s Yellow Barn more than a musical summer camp—seriousness about learning, dialog, and performance. For the listener there is a festive month of Big Barn concerts, but don’t worry about roughing it, as the 125-seat high-beamed space is air-conditioned. As for the quality of the teaching and playing, both are quite elevated, to judge from the names and the critical notices.

From 1969, when founder and cellist David Wells with pianist wife Janet opened their home and barn as a summer music retreat for students, new works and composers were central. Roger Sessions and John Cage were early residents. This year the fashionable and productive German composer/clarinetist Jörg Widmann will be in residence for concerts featuring him in both of his roles. [continued…]

July 21, 2015

in: News & Features

Yet Another Schuller Facet

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Commemorating the premiere of Schuller's "Where the World Ends" (BMInt montage)

Commemorating the premiere of Schuller’s
“Where the World Ends” (BMInt montage)

History will rightly remember Gunther Schuller as an important composer, conductor, author and teacher. But many organizations he so generously helped will remember him as a wonderful mentor and friend.

Pro Musicis is one of these organizations. In 1965 Father Eugène Merlet, a French Capuchin-Franciscan priest and musician (organ and piano), founded Pro Musicis, pioneering the concept of a classical music award combined with a social mission. He wanted to give exceptional concert musicians an opportunity to mature in their artistry by performing both in concert halls and in community service venues: prisons, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, shelters for the homeless, centers for the disabled.

In the mid-1970s Father Merlet, seeking to establish Pro Musicis in the US, asked Schuller to chair the jury responsible for selecting artists for the Pro Musicis International Award. Schuller agreed. This was the beginning of a deep friendship spanning almost four decades and resulting in an extraordinary roster of nearly 100 artists from more than 20 countries. Describing the award, Schuller said: “The emphasis is on choosing artists who are readily committed by their nature and talent to a much broader and deeper involvement with music.” [continued…]

July 17, 2015

in: News & Features

Flotow’s Finest Inked for BMO’s 10th Season

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flotowSatisfying the needs of the opera-starved public over the summer doldrums, Boston Midsummer Opera (BMO) is staging Martha, a charming and musically gorgeous romcom of surprising depth, at BU’s Tsai Performance Center, July 29, 31, and August 2. The opera contains two of the more famous arias in the repertoire, sparkling ensembles, not to mention the luminously tender “Goodnight” Quartet.

The Wikipedia entry informs us that Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha or The Market at Richmond is in four acts and set to a German libretto by Riese, based on a story by Vernoy de Saint-Georges. Flotow had composed the first act of a ballet, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet in 1844; the time available for further composition was short, so the second and third acts were assigned to Burgmüller and Deldevez. The opera Martha is an adaptation of this ballet; despite its German and Austrian origins, it is “French in character and elegance”. [continued…]

July 14, 2015

in: News & Features

“Rhapsody in Green” Opens BLMO’s 15th Season

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chris-wilkins-casualSeveral “Landmarks” or in this case, “Watermarks” traditions converge Wednesday night at the Hatch Shell after the 7:00 downbeat opens Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s annual green concert. Once again the festivities begin with BLMO’s signature anthem. Francine Trester has set three verses of At the River for Jayne West, whose lyrical, multi-hued voice has inspired a gorgeous vocal line and accompaniment, according to artistic director Christopher Wilkins

Continuing the water theme, we voyage with Mendelssohn by paddle-steamer to the Isle of Mull for The Hebrides Overture. In the best early Romantic tradition of nature painting, the composer evokes sonic images of rocking waves, the call of gulls, and echoes of human cries returning from the interior of the cave. [continued…]

July 1, 2015

in: News & Features

George Li Takes Tchaikovsky Silver

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George Li 2nd placeNineteen-year-old pianist George Li, who hails from Lexington, has been awarded the silver medal in the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition. Dmitry Masleev, 27, from Russia, took gold.

Held quadrennially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Tchaikovsky Competition (aka the ‘musical Olympics’) features four flavors of musician: pianist, violinist, cellist, and vocalist. The goal of the Competition is to discover and showcase young talent; competitors range in age from 16 to 32. It was in the inaugural Competition, debuted during the height of the Cold War back in 1958, that American pianist Van Cliburn vaulted onto the international stage by overcoming a frigid Soviet judging environment and capturing first prize. (The eight-minute ovation following his final performance no doubt didn’t hurt.) No American has captured the gold since. This year’s competition, commemorating the 175th anniversary of its eponymous composer’s birth, attracted a total of 623 applicants from 45 countries. [continued…]

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