July 28, 2017

in: Reviews

BMO Pours Fine Potion

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Continuing tonight and Sunday at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Boston Midsummer Opera’s take on Donizetti’ s The Elixir of Love could be the highlight of your summer theater-going.    [continued]

July 28, 2017

in: Reviews

The Uncommon Satisfactions of Larry Weng

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Tuesday night’s piano recital in the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Series at Walnut Hill School in Natick proved noteworthy in numerous ways.    [continued]

July 26, 2017

in: Reviews

BSO: Luminous Heaven and Stormy Russia

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Aaron Jay Kernis’s Musica Celestis (Music of the Heavens) made for a refreshingly luminous opening to Tanglewood’s Sunday afternoon of Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.    [continued]

July 26, 2017

in: Reviews

Fellows Embrace and Extend Conventions

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The Tanglewood Music Center presented a wealth of chamber music in Ozawa Hall to a sizable group of early Sunday morning risers .    [continued]

July 25, 2017

in: Reviews

Adès and Ax Excel

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Saturday night’s Koussevitzky Music Shed concert starred Thomas Adès conducting his own new work and pianist Emanuel Ax in Beethoven’s powerful Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73.    [continued]

July 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Jasper Comes to Maverick At Last

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In the third of three concerts pairing string quartets by Brahms and Aaron Jay Kernis, the Jasper String Quartet made a welcome Maverick debut.    [continued]

July 23, 2017

in: Reviews

Emanuel Ax Programs Schubertian Journeys

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The second outing in Emanuel Ax’s six Schubert concerts featured the Emerson String Quartet and pianist Thomas Adès in works by Schubert and Mark-Anthony Turnage at Ozawa Hall on Thursday.    [continued]

July 22, 2017

in: Reviews

Newport Dances

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Ethereal passion, warm humor, and nostalgia lit up the Breakers in a memorable Friday evening of Tango Distinto.      [continued]

July 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Apollonian Winds Help Sun Set

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MetWinds’ hourlong show on the grass in Lexington’s Hastings Park on Thursday totally beguiled.    [continued]

July 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Muddle Bests Music

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At Ozawa Hall Wednesday night, the Emerson Quartet and a stage director joined Stalin, Shostakovich, and Chekhov in struggles artistic, fictive, and political.    [continued]

July 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Landmarks Launches 11th Season with a Mix

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Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s opening night at the Hatch Shell offered most welcome fare.    [continued]

July 19, 2017

in: Reviews

A Dramatic Duo Worth Noting

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With his compatriot, pianist Daniel del Pino, Spanish cellist Asier Polo made an auspicious local debut Tuesday evening at the Breakers.    [continued]

July 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Mutter Brings Out Berkshire Sun

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Sunday’s BSO concert of music by Tchaikovsky and Berlioz, with a world premiere by John Williams, featured one of the world’s most popular violinists, Anne-Sophie Mutter.    [continued]

July 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Trifonov Glitters More Than Rheingold

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Modest Baroque flavors on Friday and more filling Wagner on Saturday were on order for Tanglewood’s second weekend.    [continued]

July 17, 2017

in: Reviews

Parkers Do Big Kernis and Brahms

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The Parker Quartet made a welcome return to Maverick Concerts on Sunday, including a couple of real novelties    [continued]

July 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Trifonov Wows Crowd

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Coming with impressive credentials, Daniil Trifonov made his Tanglewood debut last night with Schumann, Shostakovitch and Stravinsky.    [continued]

July 11, 2017

in: Reviews

Vermont Is Not So Far

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Dateline Putney on Friday: At Yellow Barn, a (taped) baby fusses and gurgles in its crib as a baroque violin tenderly hovers with fragments of antique chorales and lullabies in a copacetic gathering of sunny youth.    [continued]

July 11, 2017

in: Reviews

Cherchez Les Russes

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The Breakers, that ne plus ultra of opulent Newport “cottages,” hosted a fine assortment of first-rate talent in “Russian Romantics” Sunday.    [continued]

July 11, 2017

in: Reviews

Spektral Challenges and Familiar Affirmation

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The Spektral Quartet made its Maverick debut with an unusual program consisting of 3/4 unfamiliar music along with the Ravel.    [continued]

July 10, 2017

in: Reviews

Deveau’s Graceful Finale

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Sunday at Rockport outgoing AD David Deveau bade farewell after 22 leaderly years, with fond and good vibrations all round.    [continued]

July 9, 2017

in: Reviews

Pianist Rewards with Narrative Warmth

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Garrick Ohlsson found unexpected variety within his unlikely pairing of Schubert and Scriabin at Rockport on Thursday.    [continued]

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July 20, 2017

in: News & Features

Summer Opera To Lighten Moods

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Gaetano Donizetti

Will you partake of this potion? Is it a con? All will be revealed as the Boston Midsummer Opera (BMO) presents Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Elixir of Love) for its 12th season. The show runs on July 26, 28 and 30, at the Mainstage Theater of the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown.

How will the penniless peasant Nemorino and the bewitching but fickle Adina find the key to love? Can Nemorino win her heart only by buying a magical elixir?

Nemorino (Eric Barry) is head over heels for Adina (Joanna Mongiardo), but to no avail. When she promises to marry Sargent Belcore (Keith Phares), Nemorino seeks out a love potion from a traveling quack, Dr. Dulcamara (Jason Budd), with which he hopes to turn her head even though it smells suspiciously like cheap bordeaux. When Giannetta (Erica Petrocelli) and the village girls start to pay him some attention, he becomes convinced it works. Adina is mad with jealousy—so can it be that she loves him after all?

The Elixir of Love will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. There is a pre-opera talk one hour before each performance. Noted director Antonio Ocampo-Guzman will stage the production and nationally acclaimed conductor Susan Davenny Wyner will lead the BMO orchestra. The design team includes Stephen Dobay, (sets), John Cuff, (lighting), and Elisabetta Polito (costumes).

BMInt: Susan Davenny Wyner has inerrant taste in bringing to summer audiences examples of lightish opera that is perfect for the weather and our wishes to smile rather than furrow our brows. [continued…]

July 17, 2017

in: News & Features

This Esplanade Orchestra Eschews Pop

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Soprano Sonja Tengblad

Conductor Christopher Wilkins will preside, as the Boston Landmarks Orchestra launches its 11th consecutive season of free concerts on the Esplanade this Wednesday, July 19 at 7 pm with a lively mix: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s English Folk Song Suite, Delius’s Summer Evening, Peggy Stuart Coolidge’s The Blue Planet, Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (with of soprano Sonja DuToit Tengblad), Verdi’s “Winter” and “Summer” from I vespri siciliani, and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

BMInt asked Wilkins:

How much does the programming change from year to year?

Wilkins: We continue to play a combination of great works and more recent ones, and there is a great variety in our repertoire. Each season features several premieres, most designed to invite community participation. We look to create a mix that appeals broadly, including to people for whom classical music is not a part of their regular diet. So yes, some tried-and-true, but never business-as-usual. [continued…]

July 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Yellow Barn Opens Wide Its Doors

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Seth Knopp

Yellow is the color of the sun, daisies, corn. Yellow equates with hope, happiness, lucidity. It signifies energy, optimism, enlightenment — and remembrance. There’s a yellow barn in Putney, Vermont that’s home to a summer chamber music school and festival. Putney has proven fertile ground for apple orchards and progressive thinking since the 1840s: witness the Bible Communist movement, Putney School’s animal husbandry approach to college prep, and Landmark College’s unique niche for the learning disabled. Yellow Barn, an egalitarian community of students and professionals gathered to mine the rich heritage of chamber works from Baroque to Brooklyn, fits right in with Putney’s Yankee grit and edgy determination. Chugging steadfastly towards 50 since its founding as an artists’ retreat by NEC cellist David Wells in 1969, Yellow Barn ‘just growed’ from the Wells’ farmhouse summer jams into an ideally intimate environment for creative music and contemporary expression.

First, the people: Seth Knopp, artistic director since 1998, is a pianist and educator at Peabody Institute and founder of The Peabody Trio. Knopp wrote in a recent YB manifesto: [continued…]

July 10, 2017

in: News & Features

Dramatizing Shostakovich

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The young Dmitri

The Emerson String Quartet will collaborate with seven actors in a new theatrical realization, “Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy” at the Seiji Ozawa Hall on Wednesday, July 19th at 8 PM. Co-commissioned by Tanglewood Music Festival, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and Princeton University Concerts, the concept premiered at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival on last month. James Glossman, wrote and directed this timely and interesting discourse on the suppressive influence on culture in Stalin’s Russia. A fantasy based on Shostakovich’s 50-year obsession with creating an opera from Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The Black Monk,” this musical play treats the composer’s life-long struggle for freedom and sanity against his own demons. Described by James Glossman as a “Valentine to the human spirit,” it reflects on the sarcastic Russian reactions which often inspired Shostakovich.

The writer-adapter and the founding violinist from the quartet both responded to our questions.

BMInt: Phil, how did this project come about?

Philip Setzer: Chekhov wrote, “When a person is born, he can embark on only one of three roads in life: if you go to the right, the wolves will eat you; if you go left, you’ll eat the wolves; if you go straight, you’ll eat yourself.”  This is a perfect description of the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, as well as the character Kovrin in Chekhov’s story, “The Black Monk.” [continued…]

July 3, 2017

in: News & Features

Newport Festival Ends Era

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One year shy of its 50th anniversary, the Newport Music Festival has disclosed that the family behind its operation since 1975 will cease to be involved following the conclusion of this season.

Artistic Director Mark Malkovich IV, and his 85-year-old mother, Joan Malkovich, an invisible but potent force in the office, recently announced their retirements a year before the celebratory anniversary season that they had been enthusiastically touting only a couple of weeks earlier.

While he was not the founder of the enterprise, paterfamilias Mark Malkovich III transformed it to an international extravaganza. Papers of record such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe took frequent note of the imaginative programming of unjustly neglected romantic chamber music in robber-baronial venues, and celebrated the debuts of both young and legendary artists anointed by M3. [continued…]

June 25, 2017

in: News & Features

Musical Intelligence in Antebellum Boston:

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John Sullivan Dwight

After having participated recently in a scholarly gathering on 19th-century journalism, your publisher takes great pleasure in sharing with readers three papers and a response that summon the era of the Intelligencer’s unwitting antecedents. The presence of thoughtful essays on these pages echoes the intentions of John Sullivan Dwight, whose Journal of Music inspired this journal.

Reviewers, Audiences and Performing Styles

By Robert J. Scholnick

“Musical Intelligence in Antebellum Boston” was the title of a lively session held on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the annual meeting of the American Literature Association in Boston. Sponsored by the Research Society for American Periodicals, the session considered two questions: just how did the press—both popular and elite—help to create audiences for classical music and to what extent did press criticism shape performance styles? Three papers were presented, and they complemented each other in compelling ways. Teresa M. Neff of MIT, and Christopher Hogwood HIP Fellow Handel and Haydn Society, demonstrated just how in the 1840s the fabled Handel and Haydn Society, facing poor reviews and declining audiences, came to revamp its repertory, its leadership, and performance style, beginning in 1845 with its highly successful performances of Handel’s Samson, an American premier. The press took immediate notice, as Robert J. Scholnick of William and Mary, writing about music criticism in the Boston Post, makes clear. The paper’s music critic, George Washington Peck, published several highly appreciative articles on Samson, contributing to a successful run for H+H’s production.  In “Not for Whigs or Transcendentalists Alone: Music Criticism in Charles Gordon Greene’s Boston Post,” Scholnick considers the way that Peck used the resources of this “penny paper” to introduce new readers classical music, helping to build audiences. In “The ‘yearnings of the heart to the Infinite’: The Dial and Transcendentalist Music Criticism,” Wesley Mott of WPI explores the “composite picture of the Transcendentalist moral aesthetic” as reflected in the searching music criticism of Margaret Fuller, the pioneering feminist critic, and John Sullivan Dwight, the great Boston music critic. Although the circulation of the Dial was modest, these writers helped to lay the foundation for a growing appreciation for instrumental music in Boston and beyond. In her commentary, the session’s chair and commentator, Katherine K. Preston of William and Mary’s Department of Music, welcomed the perspective of the non-musicologists on the panel (Scholnick and Mott), and spoke of the opportunities for continuing research in this area. It is an especially important subject today, when important newspapers, including the New York Times, are reducing their coverage of classical music. Responding to all four speakers, Lee Eiseman of the Intelligencer focused in particular on the activities of the Harvard Music Association and Dwight’s Journal of Music, not only in promoting and sponsoring musical organizations in Boston over the course of the 19th century, but also in supporting music education in the public schools. He also noted how , Dwight the critic could have tremendous influence on taste, through Dwight the presenter. All four panelists—and a large and enthusiastic audience—offered a hearty round of applause to Eiseman and his associates on the Boston Musical Intelligencer for their invaluable work in bringing intelligent discussion about music to contemporary Boston, thereby helping to create audiences and shape performance styles.                               

Clicking at the end of the lead paragraphs from the four following articles will link to the complete papers. [continued…]

June 17, 2017

in: News & Features

High Cs at Twenty Paces

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David Gvinianidze

Newton becomes Nürnberg for a night as Meistersingers duel for artistic gold rings (Niebelungen beware). An audience of Hans Sachs manqués attempting to tilt the decibel meter for their favorites at Newton Highlands Congregational Church (and again at Mechanics Hall in Worcester) will witness contests of glass-shattering and wallpaper-stripping from a cohort of Russian and Ukrainian baritones and tenors armed for bear. Additionally, two prima donnas promise to provide inspiration, color, and relief. Voices and egos will be large, but so too should be the artistic rewards for those with big appetites.

To provide a chivalrous  joust to settle matters involving honor, love, and musical chops, David Gvinianidze has authored this musical contest between the two male vocal timbres involving larynxes at close range, with attendant bantering and bellowing. Yelena Beriyeva, virtuoso pianist from Georgia, will preside at the piano while dodging the high notes.

In the tenor ring, Adam Klein, USA (Metropolitan Opera); Raúl Melo, Cuba (Metropolitan Opera); Benjamin Sloman, Australia (Sydney Lyric Theater); and from the baritone cage David Gvinianidze, Georgia (New Opera Moscow Theater); Anton Belov, Russia (Portland Opera); and Vasil Kolkhidashvili, Georgia (New York City Opera) will all demonstrate prowess in tournaments from opera to operetta to Neapolitan song and folksong. Prizes will come with the colors of beloved damosels Ukrainian coloratura Olga Lisovskaya (of Commonwealth Lyric Theater among others) and Canadian soprano Christine Petkus. [continued…]

June 13, 2017

in: News & Features

Noli to Opera Company: Mount Me

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José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda

Why stage the totally obscure Noli Me Tangere in the Strand Theater of Dorchester in these days of dramatically truncated arts funding with opera companies folding almost every month? For me, opera, albeit expensive, remains essential, particularly when some compelling lyric theater is forthcoming. 

The co-producers, Opera Brittenica of Boston and KGB Productions of Chicago have very different missions. The former, better known to Bostonians for bringing attention to, and producing imaginative and unique performances of the music of English language composers, specifically Benjamin Britten, and also to promote the interests and social agenda that Britten held dear. KGB Productions and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for Asian Artists (MAFFAA) are dedicated to bringing Asian art and culture to both Asian and non-Asian audiences in the United States.

So, how do these two seemingly incompatible mission statements intersect? Britten was a life-long pacifist and wrote a great many important works on the subject of alienation and reaching out to underserved global populations. He took a great deal of interest in music of the Far East as a result of Britten’s and Pears’s extensive travels in the South Pacific. In particular, he had a distinct affinity for the Balinese gamelan, as exemplified in his ballet The Prince of the Pagodas, written for Sadler’s Wells Ballet (1957). Britten also wrote a short song cycle for tenor and guitar in the same year called Songs from the Chinese, another Asian influence, though the songs are in English much as Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde is written in German after Chinese poetry. [continued…]

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