Bostonians bored with past-peak foliage can opt for a steamy seraglio this weekend as operagoers did last night for Boston Conservatory’s production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers). The hooting and hollering crowd of under-thirties that dominated the full house made the case for the relevance of lively comic opera for their cohort. Continues through Sunday. [continued]
Boston Philharmonic Orchestra treated us to three works by Sibelius followed by a “tiny, tiny” piano concerto from Brahms on Thursday evening at Sanders Theater. Benjamin Zander described and revealed hidden jewels as only a rebellious scholar could. [continued]
Celebrity Series of Boston presented the Boston debut of the Símon Bolívar String Quartet in Longy’s Pickman Hall last night. The enthusiastically anticipated and intriguing program sold out early enough that an extra show became necessary. [continued]
Boston Lyric Opera’s presentation of Frank Martin’s opera Le Vin Herbé (The Love Potion) at Temple Ohabei Shalom last night is an authentic event. This visually mesmerizing and beautifully performed realization provide chance to experience Martin’s distinctive complete with a new English translation. The Love Potion will be performed again Thursday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., as well as at an already sold-out Sunday matinee. [continued]
Comprising Martinu, Beethoven, Harbison and Strauss, cellist Andrew Mark’s recital with pianist Max Levinson at Seully Hall Sunday was a marvel of virtuosic understatement and elegant restraint. [continued]
In the intimate confines of Calderwood Hall, A Far Cryʼs collaborated with Soprano Amanda Forsytheʼs in musical and aural delights. On Sunday, the Criers partied like it was 1694. [continued]
Emmanuel Music continued its examination of the chamber music of Felix Mendelssohn and all 53 Mörike-Lieder of Hugo Wolf on Sunday in the Parish Hall with mostly accomplished performances of the well-known and lesser-known. [continued]
What made Sarah Grunstein’s Goldberg Variations of Bach so compelling on Friday in Williams Hall of the NEC was its presentation by a pianist who is not only (very) fluent on her chosen instrument, but also conversant with (and sympathetic to) the instruments of Bach’s own time and their particular syntax. [continued]
Seraphim Singers under by Music Director Jennifer Lester examined choral music’s response to war and violence during the last century at Mission Church on Sunday. The many parts came together with emotional and artistic satisfaction. [continued]
The subtle interconnectedness of the BSO’s Thursday night program gave the concert an added resonance that still lingers four days later as I write this review without having taken notes. Two Russian works, written just 25 years apart, framed the evening: Tchaikovsky’s enigmatic Hamlet Overture-Fantasy and Stravinsky’s landmark Rite of Spring. Brett Dean’s Dramatis Personae, Music for Trumpet and Orchestra with Håkan Hardenberger occupied the center. [continued]
Tom Kelly and Blue Heron offered an illuminated concert/lecture under the rubric “Capturing Music: Writing and Singing in the Middle Ages” at First Church in Cambridge Friday. Kelly’s elucidations with Blue Heron were visceral. [continued]
Michael Tilson Thomas, his crack ensemble the San Francisco Symphony, and Gil Shaham brought “Legacies and Lineages” to Symphony Hall for the Celebrity Series on Sunday. An astute Boston crowd harbored fond recollections of Tilson Thomas’s work with the BSO in the mid-1970s. [continued]
Not in the past many months had I heard another such a spectacular display of piano virtuosity as in Sunday’s Boston Civic Symphony concert under Max Hobart at Jordan Hall, where Jonathan Bass fearlessly and brilliantly tackled two really tough pieces. [continued]
Elements from L’Orfeo, and L’Arianna figure prominently in the Vespers offered by Boston Baroque at Jordan Hall on Friday. Thoughtfully tailored, the two-hour-long traversal of Monteverdi’s Marian motets seemed continually to say something new with ever more interesting and beautiful music. [continued]
The mostly sacred and mostly prayerful 17th-century French music for voices and viols from Tramontana with Long & Away in the Church of the Advent basement auditorium Friday often transcended mere cheerful pleasantness. [continued]
Boston’s imposing Old South Church in Back Bay hosted a showing of the 1925 silent, “The Big Parade” accompanied by Peter Krasinski on the very immersive E. M. Skinner organ from 1921. The experience took us out of the comfortable church as we witnessed a dramatic and tragic history unfold. [continued]
The Fifth Floor Collective, a composers’ consortium, presented Chicago-based pianist Andy Costello to the Community Music Center of Boston in the South End on Tuesday night. “Surrealism Canned,” an “auto-directed, auto-realized solo performance,” was not dramatic enough to be considered theater, and it was too serious and focused to be considered a “happening”. [continued]
New York Festival of Song co-founders/pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier with soprano Janai Brugger and baritone John Brancy presented “Art Song on the Couch: Lieder in Freud’s Vienna” on Sunday at the Gardner, exceeding my high expectations. [continued]
Renaissance Men emphasized the Da Vinci quality in their moniker in their Friday night concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Brookline. “Roots” reflected on the oldest strains in American popular music, from shape note to spirituals to bluegrass. [continued]
Symphony Hall was nearly full and the stage extended for 125 of Boston’s finest young players, and legendary cellist Natalia Gutman. Beginning its third season, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra has found an essential role in our musical community in almost record time. [continued]
In a return to the ensemble’s founding tradition of presenting Bach cantatas, Elena Ruehr’s Eve was sandwiched between S.77 and 195 (Du sollst Gott, deinen Herren, lieben and Dem Gerechten muβ das Licht immer wieder aufgehen) for the Jordan Hall opener of Cantata Singer 51st season. [continued]more reviews →
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.
FLE: I share your feeling about Purcell’s power, and in fact, his music will figure prominently in my eventual memorial service, but I must ask a journalist’s question. How did you two come to the idea of a society? [continued…]
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.
Le vin herbé (The Love Potion) is not exactly an opera or an oratorio—what is it? And how do you pronounce the name of the composer, Frank Martin?
A secular oratorio, and Frahnnck Mahrtænn
Based on a 1990 retelling of the 12th-century tales, Le roman de Tristan et Iseut, by Joseph Bédier, it has nothing to do with Wagner, though both were treating earlier sources. Is there some appropriateness to depicting medieval myths in a warmer version of Schoenberg’s language rather than in Wagner’s more sumptuous style? And of course Martin required 12 singers, 7 string instruments, and a piano rather than massive orchestral forces. [continued…]
Coming to town next week are the San Francisco Symphony with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and violinist Gil Shaham, appearing in the Celebrity Series as part of a tour also including New York, Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, Ann Arbor, and Princeton. The concerts showcase repertoire by Mahler, Ravel, Liszt, and Prokofiev along with Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, a work co-commissioned by the SFS; Adams performs on the tour. Thomas led the work’s premiere in 2012. For his 20th year with the band, Thomas has programmed other works by American composers nearly every single concert week of the upcoming season.
Since MTT assumed his post as the 11th SFS music director, in September 1995, their musical partnership has been hailed as one of the more inspiring and successful in the country. In addition, the Orchestra has been recognized internationally as a leader in both music education and recording. MTT is now the longest-tenured music director for a major American orchestra and the longest-serving music director in SFS history.
On November 16th at 5pm, Symphony Hall will resound with Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Adams’s Drift and Providence, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2. BMInt spoke with Oliver Theil, SFS communications director, and afterward with Samuel Adams.
BMInt: The orchestra is bringing Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, a BSO signature piece, to Symphony Hall. That’s brave! How difficult will it be for the orchestra to adapt to Symphony Hall, which has a livelier and louder acoustic than Davies Hall? [continued…]
A medieval chancel drama in Boston’s august and voluminous Trinity Church? Such we will be getting when Boston Camerata together with Trinity’s children’s choir produce some compelling music and theater for the anonymous Play of Daniel from medieval Beauvais. French-born singer, medievalist, and director Anne Azéma will be both singing and stage-directing on November 21st and 23rd in the Copley Square sanctuary. As usual, she had lots to say.
BMInt: 60th anniversary, hunh? You don’t look that old, Anne.
Anne Azéma: Thanks for the compliment! But of course, Camerata began long before I was involved, and even before my predecessor, Joel Cohen took over from Narcissa Williamson. She started it at the MFA in 1954. [continued…]
When conductor Kurt Masur brought the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to Boston from East Germany in 1974, it was a really big deal. Travel was difficult from the East, and no one had yet heard of glasnost or perestroika. We looked forward to hearing a very old and famous orchestra which had been insulated from performance trends in the West. Fifteen years later, the Berlin Wall fell. And now, 25 years after that historic moment, the GO is back in Boston to bring its special sound, style, and history once again. The Boston Celebrity Series concert will offer Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides (Overture), Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony. The orchestra’s leader, Riccardo Chailly will conduct and Nikolaj Znaider will be the violin soloist.
BMInt interviewed Andreas Schulz, the orchestra’s intendant. [continued…]
Donald Teeters’s sudden death, last August, continues to reverberate. This Sunday afternoon Boston Cecilia, All Saints Brookline chorus and an orchestra led by Nicholas White with concertmaster Dan Stepner will be offering a performance of the Mozart Requiem in tribute to the former music director of the church and the chorus. (See also the BMInt encomium here, with numerous comments and reminiscences.) BMInt spoke recently with Joshua Collier, a soloist for Cecilia when Teeters was music director and a ringer in the chorus for the last concert. He is one of the organizers of this event, the orchestral contractor, and the tenor soloist.
LE: Did this piece have any special connection with Don?
JC: Absolutely—this piece is (I still have a difficult time using the past tense when referring to him) terrifically important to Don. We had many post-rehearsal conversations about the nature of the musical settings of the requiem texts. [continued…]
Excepting the frequent annual visits of the Vienna Boy Choir, it is rare for Bostonians to be able to welcome a real Deutscher Knabenchor to our midst. On Tuesday at 12:15, King’s Chapel will be hosting the Windsbacher Knabechor (Windsbach Boys Choir) in an all-German program featuring works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Schütz, and German folk songs, with a repeat performance at the Groton School at 7:00 pm. A YouTube link to Bruckner’s “Os justi,” which the boys will be offering at King’s Chapel, is here. The choir’s tour, including debuts in San Francisco and Los Angles as well as here, with return engagements in Philadelphia and D.C., is part of a German effort to commemorate the 25th-anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, a monumental event, which eventually led to German reunification
In building and maintaining a boys’ choir, there is never any time to lose, since there is only a five-year period in which these boys’ voices are mature enough to sing challenging repertoire, before their voices change, now at younger ages than even 50 years ago. As we know from hearing the art form at St. Paul’s Parish, Cambridge (with the only Roman Catholic boy-choir school in the US) and All Saints, Ashmont, there is a long tradition of boy choirs all over the world. The Windsbach Boys Choir is one of the youngest, by English and European standards, at only 68-years old, yet it not only keeps the boy choir tradition alive, but also does so with demandingly high standards. [continued…]
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? [continued…]more news & features →