February 24, 2017

in: Reviews

BSO Achieves Timely Triumph

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In Gubaidulina and Shostakovich, the BSO reached a new high-water mark last night with its harrowing performance of music from the edge of war.     [continued]

February 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Minimalist’s Birthday Bash

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In an exuberant celebration of Philip Glass’s 80th birthday, a large and enthused audience at Jordan Hall on Saturday joined BMOP in expressing their appreciation and appetite for this composer’s mark on the orchestra .     [continued]

February 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Missa Caput?

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Blue Heron’s Ockeghem@600 V5 played on Friday at the First Parish of Lexington and on Saturday at the First Church, Congregational, in Cambridge, where this reviewer heard it.     [continued]

February 18, 2017

in: Reviews

A Warm Breeze From Alabama

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Organist Faythe Freese managed to heat up a cold winter’s night on Friday at St. Cecilia’s Church in the Back Bay with her recital for the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.     [continued]

February 18, 2017

in: Reviews

It’s Called Ballet, Right?

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At Old South Church, Friday night’s offering by Symphony Nova and the Tony Williams Ballet showed the dangers and successes in combining music and dance.  [continued]

February 17, 2017

in: Reviews

Is Maelzel the Boss?

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Taking on Gunther Schuller’s Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee for something like the 35th time and bringing us a beloved symphony of Beethoven and concerto of Mozart, the BSO under Nelsons with pianist Emanuel Ax played brilliantly last night.    [continued]

February 16, 2017

in: Reviews

VOCES8 Finally in Boston!

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The highly acclaimed British octet was nothing short of stupendous performing repertoire from the Renaissance to jazz and pop arrangements at Longy last night for the Celebrity Series.     [continued]

February 16, 2017

in: Reviews

Ferrier and Walter Movingly Evoked

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Contralto Emily Marvosh and pianist Tanya Blaich rewarded last night’s packed Goethe-Institut Boston with an extraordinarily moving homage to the beloved British contralto Kathleen Ferrier and eminent pianist/conductor Bruno Walter.     [continued]

February 15, 2017

in: Reviews

Aniello Astonishes

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Boston Classical Guitar Society’s Artist Series invited us on a journey with Italian guitar virtuoso Aniello Desiderio on Friday which burst the boundaries of First Lutheran Church.     [continued]

February 14, 2017

in: Reviews

Corps to Concerti: BPYO Struts for Zander

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Sunday at Sanders the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra under Ben Zander showcased more outstanding soloists and partnership.     [continued]

February 14, 2017

in: Reviews

Tetzlaff/Vogt: A Rare Absorption

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Established German duet partners violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt showed an artistically unbuttoned presence at Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center Sunday.     [continued]

February 13, 2017

in: Reviews

No Curiosities Needed on This Festive Occasion

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The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Celebrity Series performance on Sunday at Symphony Hall offered better Beethoven in spades.     [continued]

February 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Seriously Splendid Strings and Baritone

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Distinctive 20th-century music constituted A Far Cry’s appearance with baritone Dashon Burton at the Gardner on Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

February 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Stopping for Boisterous Woodwinds in the Snow

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As Pro Arte’s Chamber players sounded out Mozart and French oeuvres, listeners could also watch the snow falling outside the windows of Scandinavian Cultural Center on Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

February 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Cinderella By Any Name…

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New England Conservatory’s production of Massenet’s Cendrillon at the Cutler majestic Theater continues its flourishing run through Tuesday.     [continued]

February 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Saturday Night Anything But Casual

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BSO’s Saturday night live stands as one of the highlights of my four decades of listening.     [continued]

February 12, 2017

in: Reviews

Polygamous Convictions

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Nico Muhly’s opera Dark Sisters, culminated Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s New Music Festival with gripping narrative this weekend.     [continued]

February 11, 2017

in: Reviews

Virtuoso Entertainment from H + H Strings

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A 16-strong contingent of H + H strings entertained at Jordan Hall on Friday night with “Glories of the Italian Baroque.” Repeats Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

February 10, 2017

in: Reviews

Levit Comes to Town

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Wednesday in the Celebrity Series at Longy-Bard, the up-and-coming pianist essayed Bach à la russe, Rzewski on the chain gang, and variety-show Beethoven.     [continued]

February 6, 2017

in: Reviews

Savall Takes Hespèrion XXI Venetian

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Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI delivered assorted Renaissance and Baroque dance music stretching over two centuries to Sanders Theater on Saturday.     [continued]

February 5, 2017

in: Reviews

Three-Brahms-Sonata-Outing Becoming Meme

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Saturday night at Pickman Hall was the scene of a Brahms sonata cycle with Korean violinist Kowoon Yang and Longy faculty member Esther Ning Yau at the piano. There was also a “bonus” item, described below.     [continued]

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February 20, 2017

in: News & Features

Gubaidulina Honored by BSO and NEC

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The grippingly intense, expressive and often spiritual music of the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina (b.1931) has led many “to hail her as the truest successor to Shostakovich” (Ted Libbey). For almost 30 years Gubaidulina has had a close relationship with the BSO, but next week will be a special one for her in town. On Thursday February 23rd NEC students and faculty in collaboration with the BSO will present a “Do You Hear What I Hear?” concert / discussion at NEC’s Brown Hall, followed by the BSO’s world premiere of the composer’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Bayan. The next day sees an NEC piano masterclass with Gubaidulina. And finally, on Monday February 27th, an NEC tribute concert plus honorary-degree presentation will feature three of her works, as well as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with famed flutist Paula Robison as narrator.

Program curator John Heiss of NEC discussed Gubaidulina’s positive impact on music and the significance of the Conservatory presenting her with the honorary degree. “What an incredibly important person Sofia Gubaidulina is to music, and I am thrilled that NEC is presenting her with an honorary degree. She brings a wonderful emotional quality to her scores and I know how highly she is thought of …. This event is so important to our students, because they truly believe in new music. It has been amazing to see their excitement and watch them prepare, especially because they know Gubaidulina will be rehearsing with them and listening at the concert.” [continued…]

February 19, 2017

in: News & Features

Billings, Swan, et al. Between New Covers?

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This is not William Billings 1746 -1800

With the help of our readers, an impressive anthology of “shape-note” choral music of America from 1770 to 1860—with some pieces in the same style dating to as recently as 2008— could be published. American Harmony, the brainchild of Nym Cooke, a leading American authority on early choral music, is to be published by David R. Godine, who calls this project “dear to my heart.” Godine is one of this country’s most respected publishers, both for the high quality of his choices and for the care he takes in their production.

Cooke has been working on this compilation since 1976, the year this author met him at a concert of some of this choral music held at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The music so charmed me that I signed up Cooke’s group on the spot, to provide a concert for Trinity Church during our nation’s Bicentennial celebration. (I also curated an exhibition, “Trinity Never Closed its Doors,” and our Honorary Chair was the late Walter Muir Whitehill, at the time Director of the Boston Athenæum.) [continued…]

February 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Local Band Makes Good: BSO Grammy Repeat

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Considering his upbringing in a formerly brutalized small country that only recently had come into liberalization and independence, it’s not surprising that Latvian conductor Andris Nelson has deep responsiveness to a collectively remembered dark past.

For the second year in a row, the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons has garnered the Best Orchestral Performance Grammy for the latest in its Shostakovich Under Stalin’s Shadow cycle. Again for the DG label, this year’s performance was of Symphonies 5, 8, and 9, plus incidental music for Hamlet, following last year’s live rendition of Symphony 10, plus the Passacaglia from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

NPR’s Ted Libbey has written, “It was his music … which in its darkness and pain, its litany of hope crushed, its sense of the grotesque, the absurd, the paranoid, and the vicious—above all its grasp of suffering and sadness—which revealed the essential truth of the time.” Congratulations to the BSO and Music Director Nelsons for their second step, and repeat Grammy, in this important achievement.
[continued…]

February 6, 2017

in: News & Features

First Nico Muhly Festival, at BoCo Berklee

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Starting Tuesday and continuing through the weekend, the Boston Conservatory at Berklee will hold its annual New Music Festival: The Music of Nico Muhly, February 7–12, with Kunkemueller artist-in-residence Muhly on campus for the duration. He begins his residency at the Conservatory today, February 6; it ends Saturday, on the date of the 150th anniversary of the institution.

This is the first festival of Muhly’s works in Boston, and many will be performed in the city for the first time.

For a portrait of the artist as a younger man, including droll origin stories, see this interview.

During his time here, Muhly will perform in recital, teach composition seminars, give open chamber master classes, and coach all selections for the New Music Festival concerts. He also will host a public forum on composing for the dramatic stage, which will be presented before the Friday evening performance of his opera Dark Sisters at the Boston Conservatory Theater. Muhly’s longtime collaborator the famed violist Nadia Sirota will join in various works alongside him in recital.

Many events are free, and the full schedule is here. [continued…]

February 2, 2017

in: News & Features

A New Leader for TFC

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The BSO has announced the appointment of James Burton as conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and also the new role of BSO choral director. Burton will be only the second leader of TFC, founded in 1970.

The appointment of the British-born choral conductor takes effect immediately, in conjunction with this week’s Andris Nelsons-led BSO performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor (February 2-7), for which Burton prepared TFC.

In the newly established title of choral director, Burton will explore new opportunities to enhance the orchestra’s choral activities.

The appointment is the result of a search that began in summer 2015, when a committee of TFC members, Boston Symphony musicians, BSO staff, and a representative from the BSO’s board of trustees was charged with the task, under the guidance of Nelsons. Burton is only the second conductor to be appointed TFC director since its founding, in 1970; he follows in the footsteps of John Oliver, Tanglewood Festival Chorus founder and director from 1970 to 2015. Oliver now holds the title founder and conductor laureate. [continued…]

January 26, 2017

in: News & Features

BSO To Paint Light

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Federico Garcia Lorca

The Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts running February 9 – 11 bring the popular local women’s vocal ensemble  Lorelei to the Symphony Hall stage alongside noted countertenor Bejun Mehta for the Boston premiere of George Benjamin’s orchestral song cycle Dream of the Song, a BSO co-commission for the Tanglewood Music Center’s 75th Anniversary Season in 2015. Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique will complete the program.

Benjamin (b. 1960) began his long association with the BSO and Tanglewood in 2000 as director of the Festival of Contemporary Music, and he returned several times as a member of the composition faculty.  Along with the 2016 American premiere of Dream of the Song, Tanglewood performances of his major works include the U.S. premiere (unstaged) of his opera Written on Skin in 2013 and his Duet for piano and orchestra in 2012, among many other works. The BSO has also performed his music on numerous occasions. [continued…]

January 26, 2017

in: News & Features

Respected Chorus Plans Benefit

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Boston’s Back Bay Chorale, a 120-member auditioned chorus led since 2004 by Music Director Scott Allen Jarrett, draws experienced singers from the metropolitan area. Even in a city especially blessed by a great number and variety of singing ensembles, the Chorale has an enviable reputation among nonprofessional choruses for its high-quality performances, imaginative programming, commitment to the commissioning of new works, and its vision for the future. Since its creation 44 years ago, the ensemble has made an unwavering commitment to sharing a rich selection of the vast choral repertoire ranging from the European Renaissance to contemporary music of many countries and languages, mixing “warhorses” (e.g., Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Orff’s Carmina Burana) with unduly neglected or lesser known masterpieces and newly commissioned works (e.g., Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil [“Vespers”], Pizzetti’s Requiem, Marjorie Merryman’s Three Ballads, and Mohammed Fairouz’s Anything Can Happen). [continued…]

January 23, 2017

in: News & Features

Art, Music, and Performance To Mix in Calderwood Cube

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Composer Ted Hearn

The “exploratory and innovative” cantata, Sound from the Bench, will play the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on February 2nd as a part of the lively STIR! Performance Series. Beth Morrison Projects have attracted positive attention from BMInt writers on a couple of past occasions. Laura Stansfield Prichard opined positively [here] in 2015 and Stephen Ledbetter has [this] to say about a Last year’s “Tales of an Adventurous Woman.”

LA-based Ted Hearne sources his Sound from the Bench from Jena Osman’s “Corporate Relations.”  The cantata’s five movements will feature a chamber choir, two electric guitars, and drums, as well as language from landmark Supreme Court cases and ventriloquism textbooks.  According to the publicist, Hearne has transformed these challenging topics to a moving, eclectic, and hauntingly beautiful performance. Much of it can be sampled [here] in recordings from a live performance.

The new-music focused chamber group The Crossing with Taylor Levine, guitar; James Moore, guitar; and Ron Wiltrout, percussion will be on stage, under conductor Donald Nally, who has served as a conductor and director for many prestigious groups internationally. [continued…]

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