October 24, 2014

in: Reviews

Operatic Magic Theater

by

South Africa’s Isango Ensemble has brought a unique interpretation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre this week. This inspired production places its emphasis squarely on the magic.     [continued]

October 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Thistles Abounding: Juilliard String Quartet

by

Prickles and burs as well as rounded fattiness were in evidence Saturday at Jordan Hall as the long-lived Juilliard String Quartet showed its full engagement with Viennese masterworks of two centuries.     [continued]

October 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Bachian or Not, Zelenka Superb

by

The program presented Saturday by Juilliard415 and Yale’s Schola Cantorum under Masaaki Suzuki at St. Mary’s church in New Haven (also at Jordan Hall on Friday and in New York), consisting of just of Zelenka’s Ouverture à 7 concertanti and the Missa Dei Patris, made a rousing case for taking Zelenka’s unique, thrilling musical language on its own terms.     [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

An Orphic Christoph Willibald at Mem Church

by

On Sunday afternoon conductor Edward Elywn Jones gathered the Harvard University Choir, the period ensemble Grand Harmonie, and three fine soloists to present a free concert version of Orfeo ed Euridice at Harvard’s Memorial Church.   [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Unquestioned Virtuosity from String Master

by

Violist Roberto Diaz along with pianist Max Levinson performed a recital in Boston Conservatory’s String Masters Series at Seully Hall Sunday night that was as fine an evening of music making as I have ever heard.     [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Cecilia Gives Hyphenated Tribute to Teeters

by

In the “Czech-American Connection” from Boston Cecilia at Brookline’s All Saintes Church on Sunday, Nicholas White led the 139-year-old chorus in an evocative tribute to its late director Don Teeters.     [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: News & Features

Jupiter Cycled Through Fourth Installment

by

The Jupiter Quartet resumed its Beethoven quartet cycle at MIT with installment four, which spanned extremes of Beethoven’s work in the genre, discovering ways into music that remains difficult to penetrate—sharing and projecting in equal measure.    [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: Reviews

The Real Story from Marlboro

by

Musicians from Marlboro advanced steadily in their Sunday concert at the Gardner Museum to an extraordinary finish. Some of the best harp playing I have ever heard came from harpist Sivan Magen, and Marlboro’s string quintet delivered a story so real, so natural, so Beethoven.   [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: Reviews

Two Schools From Vienna

by

Boston’s Back Bay Chorale fantastically performed a First and Second Viennese School program at Sanders Theater on Saturday, meeting the challenges of sustaining the constantly shifting textures in high professional style.     [continued]

October 19, 2014

in: Reviews

A Nameless Mass As Sweet As Any

by

The vocal ensemble Blue Heron opened its 16th-annual subscription series with a performance Saturday of an anonymous “Mass for St. Augustine of Canterbury” at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational. Those who heard it must rejoice for its survival and for its superb restoration by Sandon and performance by Blue Heron.     [continued]

October 19, 2014

in: Reviews

Laboratory of Unexpected Music

by

Symphony Nova’s “Dawn to Dusk,” on Friday at Old South’s Gordon Chapel under Lawrence Isaacson  featured paper maple leaves placed on the seats and small pumpkins adorning the aisles.  The performances impressed and even delighted throughout, but I was especially grateful to hear once more four strong and gratifying works that have all been concealed for too long.     [continued]

October 18, 2014

in: Reviews

Emmanuel Music Crosses the Charles

by

Emmanuel Music’s “Crossroads” at Friday night at the Longy School on Friday under Ryan Turner allowed wide-ranging repertoire from Mendelssohn to Stravinsky to a new work by John Harbison, not only to achieve a cogent unity but also to reveal some fascinating interconnections.     [continued]

October 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Fischer and Buchbinder Exhibit Fine Chemistry

by

Thierry Fischer made his widely anticipated debut with the BSO at Symphony Hall Thursday, directing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4.     [continued]

October 17, 2014

in: Reviews

Feast of Fraught from Padmore and Biss

by

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall was the destination for a capacity crowd on Sunday as British tenor Mark Padmore was joined by Boston pianist Jonathan Biss in an ambitious program exploring art song extremes of agony and ecstasy.     [continued]

October 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Elusive Electronica Cloud Opens BMOP Season

by

Gil Rose led his redoubtable Boston Modern Orchestra Project into its 19th season with an ambitious program of pieces incorporating electronics. Surround Sound’s composers have university connections, Ronald Bruce Smith and Anthony Paul De Ritis at Northeastern University, and David Felder at Buffalo U. and wide experience composing with electronica. Deployed around Jordan Hall were at least 20 speaker arrays, including 12 onstage and 4 placed on 2 tiers in the balcony.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Strings Big and Little, Two by Two

by

Celebrity Series of Boston’s unforgettable evening at Sanders Theater last night featured two often-overlooked instruments, double bass and mandolin, played for a devoted audience by two funloving virtuosi, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Younger Pianist Poles Toward Old School

by

Roberto Poli, the Venetian-American Chopin specialist arrived as if by gondola for an all-Chopin NEC Prep faculty recital at Jordan Hall last night, performing in an improvisatory reverie as if composing on the spot.    [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Good Company at the Goethe-Institut

by

Wistaria, the Chamber Music Society of Western Massachusetts, gave a neatly varied concert “The Company of Virgil” on Sunday afternoon at the Goethe-Institut Boston as a commemoration of the 25th-anniversary of the death (at age 92) of Virgil Thomson, whose music was featured along with Scott Wheeler’s, who also spoke about Thomson.     [continued]

October 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Songs of Love and War

by

The Festival Chamber Ensemble of singers and players was directed by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs gave an extraordinary program of late madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) for the opening of Boston Early Music Festival new season on Saturday at Jordan Hall.     [continued]

more reviews →

October 22, 2014

in: News & Features

Surveying the Minefield of Authenticity

by

hornwIn the context of Musicians of the Old Post Road’s  “Now and Then,” an exploration of historical instruments and their modern counterparts in music by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, and other masters inked for this Friday in First Parish, Sudbury, a player and BMInt writer philosophizes.

Imagine, if you will, an early-music chamber ensemble with a consort of 20th-century instruments in their hands. All that wire and varnish and velvet! Imagine a group that had always worked together using the rhetorical playbook, making decisions about how to perform Couperin while suddenly armed with equipment that could belt out Reich or Schnittke. How, precisely, does that make you feel?

When the Musicians of the Old Post Road finished up last year’s 25th-anniversary season, the programming that followed was imbued with a sense of lightness and experimentation; time to take new risks! So the group decided (why not?) to begin its next chapter by gently poking an 18th-century bow into one of the most active hornets’ nests that exists for a period-instrument ensemble

What does it really mean to play on a historically styled instrument?
How does it really compare to playing the repertoire on modern instruments? [continued...]

October 20, 2014

in: News & Features

Isango Transports Magic Flute to South Africa

by

Pauline Malefane as Queen of the Night

Pauline Malefane as Queen of the Night

Coming upon South Africa’s award-winning Isango Company’s movie U-Carmen [trailer here] on Netflix only a few weeks ago, I was mightily impressed. It’s right up there with the great film versions of the opera such as the Geraldine Farrar/Cecil B. DeMille silent and Chaplin’s burlesque thereof, not to neglect Carmen Jones and the straighter 1984 version with Migenes and Domingo.

Therefore it was exciting to learn that the Isango Company would be bringing its re-imagined, transformed and transported version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to an opera house we could easily visit. Sung in English and the Xhosa language, and employing a score transcribed for folk instruments including oil drums and marimbas by an ensemble gathered from the townships around Cape Town, the production runs October 21st through October 26th at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theater.

This article continues with unanswered questions inasmuch as no response has been forthcoming from the intended interview subjects. We hope to append the answers to a completed conversation before the run ends. In the meantime, have a look at the YouTube promos here and here. [continued...]

October 16, 2014

in: News & Features

Busy Pittman Presides Thrice

by

pittmanOn October 25th, the New England Philharmonic, under the direction of Richard Pittman, will commence its 38th season and continue the tradition of presenting Boston and world premieres from contemporary composers alongside orchestral masterworks. The 8:00 concert at theTsai Performance Center features György Ligeti’s Ramifications, Bernard Hoffer’s Ligeti Split (world premiere), Igor Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra with Randall Hodgkinson, piano, David Rakowski’s Dance Episodes Symphony No. 5 (world premiere, NEP commission) and concludes with Maurice Ravel’s La Valse. But this isn’t all Pittman will be conducting this weekend. He will also be presiding over two concerts of the Concord Orchestra on Friday and Saturday at 51 Walden featuring the rarely-performed Bruckner Second Symphony, and Randall Hodgkinson will be playing Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488. BMInt had a recent conversation with Pittman.

Mark DeVoto: I’m particularly interested in the new works which you’re going to perform next week. Would you like to tell us about those?

Richard Pittman: You probably know that David Rakowski is the composer in residence with the New England Philharmonic. He’s been with us for several years, and we do a new work by him every year. Normally I leave it entirely up to him about what he wants to write, unless I have some special programming idea that could be helpful. For last year’s season I was expecting a piece about ten or twelve minutes long, but he told me, “It turned into a symphonyI had such fun that I just kept on writing.” [continued...]

October 14, 2014

in: News & Features

Thierry Fischer To Debut with BSO

by

thierryIn a program originally planned for Rafael Frühbeck, Swiss conductor  Thierry Fischer makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in a program that pairs Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable. Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, a noted interpreter of the Austro-German canon, is the featured soloist in the Brahms concerto. Performances take place at Symphony Hall on October 16, 17, 18, and 21 at 8:00 p.m. BMInt had an interesting email interview with Mr. Fischer this weekend.

You recently extended your contract as music director of the Utah Symphony. In earlier eras, from Abravanel through our own Joseph Silverstein, that orchestra featured unusual repertoire and an ambitious recording program. What’s your vision? [continued...]

October 10, 2014

in: News & Features

Harvard Marks Gluck’s Tercentennial

by

Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

The Harvard University Choir, alongside the period instrument orchestra Grand Harmonie, will present a concert performance of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, in celebration of the composer’s three-hundredth anniversary year. Julia Mintzer, a company member of the Semperoper in Dresden, and a graduate of Juilliard and the Boston University Opera Institute, will sing the role of Orfeo, with Boston favorites Amanda Forsythe and Margot Rood performing Euridice and Amore respectively. The performance on Sunday October 19th at 4pm in the Memorial Church, conducted by Edward Elwyn Jones, is free and open to the public.

Orfeo ed Euridice was premiered at Vienna’s Burgtheater on October 5, 1762, in celebration of the name day of the Habsburg Emperor Francis I. It was to be an auspicious day for opera: for Gluck’s revolutionary masterpiece at once looks back to the very beginnings of the artform, sets a new trajectory for Enlightenment opera, and casts enormous influence on dramatic composition from Mozart through Wagner, Debussy, and beyond. [continued...]

October 6, 2014

in: News & Features

Virgil Thomson and Company

by

Not Virgil Thomson

Not Virgil Thomson

Wistaria Chamber Music Society is celebrating the 25th-anniversary of the death of the American composer, critic, and wit Virgil Thomson with a tour of playful, experimental, and meditative chamber works by Thomson and three of his friends and students. The program will be given on SaturdayOct. 11, 2014, at the Unitarian Society in Northampton, MA, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, and will feature Randall Hodgkinson, pianist, and Astrid Schween, cellist and long-time Wistaria member. They join pianists Monica Jakuc Leverett and Edward Rosser, soprano Junko Watanabe, tenor Peter W. Shea, the four-hand piano duo Gary Steigerwalt and Dana Muller, pianist Edward Rosser, and harpist Franziska Huhn.

The eclectic, searching program affords an unusual look at Virgil Thomson and his influence on friends and followers Lou Harrison, John Cage, and the well-known and busy Boston composer Scott Wheeler. More details on the event follow after an interesting interview with Wheeler. [continued...]

October 3, 2014

in: News & Features

NEC President Leaving After Eight Years

by

necawwNew England Conservatory President Tony Woodcock announced Thursday his intent to step down from his position effective June 30, 2015. Although unexpected, Woodcock’s revelation at the trustees meeting on Thursday did not come out of the blue. Intense discussions about Woodcock’s “leadership effectiveness” had been ongoing between the president and the trustees for the last six months, according to sources.

Past NEC President Daniel Steiner famously said, “The only thing standing between NEC and greatness is money.” When he took over as president, in 2001, his first action was to persuade the board to allow him to “invade” NEC’s meager endowment so that he could immediately hire the best string faculty in the country and significantly increase the amount of money available for student financial aid. This required a leap of faith by the board that the endowment could be replenished, and more, by means of a capital campaign that raised more than $110 million between 2001 and 2008. The obvious success, both of Steiner’s vision and of the capital campaign itself, are here for all to see and hear. Steiner transformed NEC from a respected regional music school into one of the nation’s leading conservatories. [continued...]

October 1, 2014

in: News & Features

From the Top Records Live at Jordan Hall

by

Christopher O'Riley

Christopher O’Riley

Meet “young musicians who will knock your socks off” (NBC’s Today) when From the Top, the preeminent showcase for young musicians heard weekly on WCRB 99.5, tapes its NPR radio show at Jordan Hall on Sunday, October 5th. This session of the popular program hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley will mark the beginning of its 15th season. For tickets and information, click here or call 617-437-0707 x 128. From the Top may be heard locally on WCRB on Sundays at 7 pm; this episode will air nationally the week of November 17th.

Featured on the show will be 12-year-old violinist Maria Lakisova from Vernon Hills Illinois, a student at Midwest Young Artists, and 17-year-old pianist Yun-Chih Hsu from New York, a student at the Juilliard Pre-College Division. Also featured will be the Snitzer String Quartet from the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, comprising violinist Carolyn Semes, violinist Beatrice Hsieh, violist Joseph Burke, and cellist Zachary Mowitz.

BMInt recent had a pleasant conversation with host O’Riley: [continued...]

September 27, 2014

in: News & Features

Epochal Evening at Symphony

by

A delighted Andris Nelsons (Stu Rosner)

A delighted Andris Nelsons (Stu Rosner)

A distinct buzz was emanating from Symphony Hall Thursday when this writer joined counterparts from two other electronic journals in a one-hour interview with new Music Director Andris Nelsons and Managing Director Mark Volpe. PBS was there doing special lighting and setting up camera positions for what isn’t even going to be opening night, although it may be the beginning of an epoch. Time will tell. As readers must already know, the excitement is about a first among firsts. Andris Nelsons, who has already had made noted BSO first appearances as guest conductor, as Tanglewood conductor, as Music Director Designate at Tanglewood and as Music Director Designate at Symphony Hall, is now (in a one-night-only special event with two stellar singers) making his regular season debut as music director in a season in which he will conduct 10 sets of concerts.

Much has been said of the Maestro’s youth, and indeed at 35 he is the second-youngest conductor to begin his tenure as BSO music director. The full-bearded George Henschel began as the orchestra’s first leader at age 31, while Seiji Ozawa, even with beads and turtleneck, began as a comparatively ancient 37-year-old. Nelsons’s enthusiasm is indeed youthful and exuberant—he seems astonished at his good fortune—and both press and management hope that this will translate into younger audiences.

Tonight’s operatic gala with lustrous soprano Kristine Opolais (the wife of Andris Nelsons) and the heroic tenor Jonas Kaufman promises to be a memorable chapter in the BSO’s storied history. A rather lengthy interview begins below the break. [continued...]

more news & features →