January 30, 2015

in: Reviews

Stars and Fisch at BSO

by

The BSO’s unusual, ably played and well-received program included Avner Dorman’s Astrolatry, Prokofiev’s second violin concerto and Schumann’s first symphony. Asher Fisch directed with a balletic style which the orchestra seemed to like.     [continued]

January 30, 2015

in: Reviews

Borromeos: Old Made New in Dorchester

by

Boston’s favorite quartet brought youthful zest and fresh insights to Beethoven’s Op. 130 (with the Great Fugue Op. 133) and Schubert’s String Quartet in G Major, D. 887 for the opening concert of Ashmont Hill Chamber Music’s 2015 season at the freshly renovated Peabody Hall.     [continued]

January 30, 2015

in: Reviews

Substance and Class from Jackiw

by

With works modern, almost modern, and Romantic, violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Anna Polonsky contemplated expanses and expansiveness for BoCo’s String Master Series at Seully Hall on Sunday.     [continued]

January 28, 2015

in: Reviews

A Remembrance of Things Dudochkin

by

NEC’s 25th Composer Anniversary Celebration returned Sunday to Jordan Hall with a plethora of accomplished performers as celebrants. This year’s honoree was Alexander Scriabin, whose death occurred 100 years ago, but curiously, none of his music was heard, even though his great-great-grandson, the Israeli-born pianist Elisha Abas, was present.     [continued]

January 27, 2015

in: Reviews

BCMS’s Mostly “French Connection” at Fitzgerald Theater

by

Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel, along with an American in Paris seeking a teacher, constituted Boston Chamber Music Society’s Sunday afternoon “French Connection at the Fitzgerald Theater at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, where some 490 enjoyed la musique française.     [continued]

January 27, 2015

in: Reviews

Sweet Music on a Wintry Afternoon

by

Boston Singer’s Relief Fund celebrated its fifth anniversary as splendid contingents from Blue Heron, Boston Baroque, Handel & Haydn Society, and Emmanuel Music came together to present a varied and interesting program Saturday afternoon at Emmanuel Church.     [continued]

January 26, 2015

in: Reviews

Rock-solid But Not Maniacal

by

Though the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s “Magyar Madness” certainly delivered on the first word by presenting four works of Hungarian or Hungarian-descended composers including two premieres at Jordan Hall on Friday, we’ll give BMOP a pass on “Madness.”    [continued]

January 26, 2015

in: Reviews

Dream Pairing: Hewitt and von Otter

by

Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter and Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt brought penetrating artistry to the Celebrity Series audience at Jordan Hall Friday.     [continued]

January 24, 2015

in: Reviews

The Nearly Transcendent Emersons

by

New and improved, the Emerson String Quartet, quietly led by recently arrived cellist Paul Watkins, combined old and contemporary works for a mostly satisfactory chamber evening.     [continued]

January 24, 2015

in: Reviews

Haydn the Experimentalist, Without Handel

by

Handel and Haydn Society examined some lesser-known works of its second namesake, Franz Josef Haydn, Friday at Symphony Hall. Despite the composer’s mammoth reputation, most casual concertgoers are unaware of the experimentalist and formal tinkerer toiling away in lesser courts.    [continued]

January 24, 2015

in: Reviews

A Masur Debuts with BSO

by

BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur made an earlier than planned subscription debut this week after scheduled guest conductor Tugan Sokhiev cancelled. Joined by cellist Johannes Moser, the son of the illustrious Kurt led heartily enjoyable performances.     [continued]

January 20, 2015

in: Reviews

From Less to More, and Beyond

by

First Vienna sweet to brooding, then Parisian variety, and finally Mongolia: violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and pianist Qing Jiang superbly traversed a dramatic range of sound and affect with strings percussed and singing on Jordan Hall Saturday night.     [continued]

January 20, 2015

in: Reviews

Concord, Consonance and Dissonance

by

Everyone’s favorite local quartet dove deep into late Beethoven Sunday. While the excellent Borromeo Quartet has been reviewed in these pages many times, it remains an Important Event whenever they take on such works. The third of four programs this season of the Concord Chamber Music Society was, as usual, worth the westward trek.     [continued]

January 19, 2015

in: Reviews

Collage Steps Out with Music from Academia

by

Hearing five new or recent works presented with utter devotion and precision by Collage New Music Sunday evening kept Pickman Hall listeners up-to-the-minute.   [continued]

January 18, 2015

in: Reviews

A Bright Spectrum from Skins and Metal

by

Batteries of percussion surrounded and immersed the audience, as Sound Icon commandeered the voluminous Center for the Arts at the Armory Friday in Somerville for G­érard Grisey’s pulsar inspired Le Noir de L’Etoile.     [continued]

January 16, 2015

in: Reviews

BSO’s Elixir for the Soul

by

Thursday evening’s BSO concert was a must-hear, yet not everything cracked musical sound barriers. Lars Vogt offered his own cadenzas, angles and experiences in the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor before Nelsons led Bruckner’s Symphony No.7.     [continued]

January 14, 2015

in: Reviews

Monteverdi’s Catholicism Test Gets High Marks

by

The sounds of Tenet/Green Mountain Project rocketed about St. Cecilia Parish, Boston, on Monday, summiting a pinnacle of early 17th-century music in one of the finest performances of any type that I’ve heard.     [continued]

January 13, 2015

in: Reviews

Heightened Intimacy in BOC’s Lettres de Werther

by

Heightened Intimacy in BOC’s Lettres de Werther  Boston Opera Collaborative’’ presents a miniature and intimate Lettres de Werther at Longy School’s Pickman Hall constitutes a fine opening for the company’s 2015 season. While the staging is somewhat Spartan, the 90-minute reparsing get to the heart of the opera. Continuing Thursday and Friday.     [continued]

January 12, 2015

in: Reviews

Elegant Polish Naturally Applied by BSOCP

by

Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players, one of the premiere ensembles in the world, took the Jordan Hall stage yesterday with less-familiar works by Mysliveček, Foote, Nathan, and Dvořák.     [continued]

January 12, 2015

in: Reviews

Teasing Timbral Qualities in Virtuosic Flights

by

Richard Stoltzman’s Sunday afternoon recital at the Gardner Museum conveyed additional evidence of his profound and peculiar place as a master of the clarinet over the last 40-odd years. Pianist David Deveau provided a strong, powerful and intelligent foundation for Stoltzman’s flights.     [continued]

January 11, 2015

in: Reviews

Kutik Bonds in Pro Arte’s Russian Portraits

by

A sparking Pro Arte with Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik introduced us on Saturday night to a salubrious new venue, First Baptist Church in Newton. In the Prokofiev Violin Concerto, the ensemble reached heights in its supportive and complementary roles.     [continued]

more reviews →

January 30, 2015

in: Reviews

Conversation with Avner Dorman

by

Avner Dorman

Avner Dorman

This week Israeli conductor Asher Fisch makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription series debut with a program that includes the Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman’s Astrolatry. This piece was an Alabama Symphony commission from 2011 and was inspired by the night sky. Dorman’s music has been performed by orchestras across the US and Europe and he is currently on the faculty of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. BMint spoke with him at his hotel following a BSO rehearsal.

Benjamin Pesetsky: This is the first time the BSO has played one of your works, but it’s not a premiere. In fact, for a new piece, it’s actually kind of an old piece. How did Astrolatry travel from the Alabama Symphony in 2011 to the BSO today?
 

Avner Dorman: It was Asher really. He emailed me probably a couple years ago when the BSO engaged him, and just asked what I’d been working on, so I sent him recordings of three pieces and this was one. He likes to learn new pieces, he’s not like some conductors who will conduct a piece a million times. He did my music first in 2000, or 2001. He was a judge on a performance competition in Israel and the pianist that won that competition played a piece of mine in the last round. And so we’ve known each other since then and essentially he suggested this piece to the BSO management. I know that Andris Nelsons has done some of my works in Europe, so maybe that had something to do with it, but essentially I got an email confirming they would do it and I said “yes, great, thank you!”

Does the piece sound very different in the hands of a different conductor and orchestra? [continued…]

January 26, 2015

in: News & Features

BMInt Celebrates Its Own

by

devotoBirthday parties are fun, and those with live music even more so. When the music is a series of premieres by the honoree performed by first-rate artists, one can get rather giddy at the prospect. Such were the circumstances at Tufts University’s Distler Hall on January 25th, when friends, colleagues and family gathered to honor Mark DeVoto, retired professor, composer, musicologist, irrepressible wit, raconteur, and author of 106 articles and reviews for this site, in celebration of his recent 75th birthday.

A couple of years ago, Harvard Musical Association President (and BMInt Publisher) Lee Eiseman asked DeVoto to contribute a variation on the HMA’s “theme song” as part of a composite variation set by 8 composer-members of HMA. This exercise seems to have triggered the revival of DeVoto’s creative mojo: in short order he had completed several other works, which were performed Sunday by an impressive array of talent, namely pianists John McDonald and Cagdas Donmezer, soprano Karol Bennett, clarinetist Ray Jackendoff, violists Anna Griffis and Will Myers, and cellist Emmanuel Feldman. [continued…]

January 21, 2015

in: News & Features

Celebrating and Supporting Essential Voices

by

Supporting Musicians 100 Years Ago

Supporting Musicians Many Years Ago

“The sedge is wither’d from the lake, / And no birds sing,” lamented Keats in “La Belle Dame sans Merci.” Imagine a silent Boston spring in which no songs rang forth from local stages, and in which no singers appeared to pour out their souls for us. Such emotive generosity cannot always extend through careers as long as instrumentalists’, and because we care about the lives of those who sing for us, attention must be paid.

“Keeping the Voices of New England Strong,” the fifth annual benefit for Boston Singers’ Relief Fund, brings together singers and musicians from Blue Heron, Emmanuel Music, Handel and Haydn, and Boston Baroque for a gala entertainment with a mission. Taking place Saturday at 4 pm at Emmanuel Church, the concert includes Bach cantatas, excerpts from Messiah, indeed a lot of superb vocal music from every period. (The complete program appears below.) [continued…]

January 21, 2015

in: News & Features

A Tribute to Borbély, a Poet of Our Time

by

Szilárd Borbély

Szilárd Borbély

Kati Agócs, whose The Debrecen Passion comes to Boston Modern Orchestra Project this Saturday night, has been making quite an impression on the global music community. But beyond her extensive curriculum vitae and skill as a composer, Kati is also a warm and compassionate person, extremely self-actualized with a fluid ability to describe her experience.

This past weekend I was able to speak with Kati over the phone shortly after she had arrived from Minneapolis where she worked with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. After speaking very highly of the compositional and rehearsal process with BMOP and Lorelei, her Guggenheim Fellowship and the commissioning group The Jebediah Foundation (with the help of Robert Amory), and applauding the incredible musicians involved (BMOP and the Lorelei Ensemble) she answered a few questions about her upcoming premiere.

SK: I have never heard of Szilárd Borbély before. Who is this poet?

KA: Ah yes, most people have not heard of Borbély yet in the West. He is well known in literary circles within Hungary, but his work hasn’t been translated that much yet, so he isn’t as well known here. I am sure he will be soon. Unfortunately, we did lose him in 2014, so he is something of a canonized contemporary within Hungary. [continued…]

January 20, 2015

in: News & Features

Scriabin’s Death Centenary: Compleat Piano Music Over 7 Nights

by

Scriabin-I am God! I am nothing, I’m play, I am freedom, I am life. I am the boundary, I am the peak.— Scriabin.

In “Toward the Flame,” NEC piano majors will perform Alexander Scriabin’s entire output for solo piano—preludes, etudes, “poems,” and sonatas—in chronological order in six concerts at Williams Hall (8 pm January 27, February 11, 17, 26, March 4 and 12), and on January 29 at 8 pm in Jordan Hall, the students will play the 10 Sonatas. Free and open to the public, the event, according to NEC piano department chair and organizer Bruce Brubaker, is certain to induce ecstasy. BMInt therefore recently attempted interrogation.

How many of these composer immersion orgies have you produced at NEC?

Quite a few. We had most of Messiaen’s piano music in 2008, all of Haydn’s piano sonatas in 2009. There was a year focused on Cage, and one season brought multiple concerts of music by Liszt. The extremely strong concentration of young pianists at New England Conservatory make it one of the few places where these projects can happen. In a professional setting, it would be very difficult. Few other schools have a large enough group of such excellent players. There’s going to be a lot of Scriabin activity around the world during 2015; I believe NEC is the only place where all the piano music will be played. [continued…]

January 18, 2015

in: News & Features

French Jews, French Music, and Terror

by

Fromental Halevy by Etienne Carjat

Fromental Halevy by Etienne Carjat

The emancipation of Jews in France began with the Revolution, when the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man specifically affirmed the civil rights of French citizens regardless of religion, and continued in the Empire, in which Napoleon in 1806 proclaimed that Judaism was an official religion of the state, along with Christianity both Catholic and Protestant. France remained overwhelmingly Catholic, but Jews moved out of ghettos and began to claim civil rights. In music, Jews began to enter public life, and a powerful testimonial to their presence began in 1835 with the success of the grand opera La juive (The Jewess), by Fromental Halévy (1799 – 1862) on a libretto by Eugène Scribe. It is possible that the moral message of the opera carried weight with a Parisian public that had previously known little about Jewish persecution, or even about Jewish religious life; Act II begins with a Passover observance. The music of La juive earned praise even from Wagner, and it is the only one of Halévy’s 40 operas to be staged today. (Halévy’s nephew Ludovic Halévy teamed up with Henri Meilhac to coauthor several durable librettos, including Bizet’s Carmen after Mérimée’s novel, several immortal operettas by Offenbach, and even a vaudeville adapted in Austria to become Die Fledermaus, although Nazi censors probably didn’t know that.) [continued…]

January 15, 2015

in: News & Features

Emersonian Discourse Renewed

by

Paul Watkins to make Boston debut as Emerson cellist

Paul Watkins to make Boston debut as Emerson cellist

The venerable Emerson String Quartet, which formed at Juilliard as a student ensemble and in 1976 took its name after the 19th-century sage from our backyard, is giving its 21st Celebrity Series concert at Jordan Hall next Thursday, January 22nd, with works by Purcell/Britten, Lowell Liebermann, and Beethoven. We recently spoke with Emerson violinist Eugene Drucker.

FLE: It is a commonplace now to say this is a Golden Age for string quartets. Since the Emerson Quartet’s beginnings, almost 30 years ago, many more such ensembles have come than gone. Almost every string player at conservatory seems to want to play in one. Why do you think that is?

ED: The repertoire includes some of the greatest music ever written. There is more support for a chamber music career than was the case decades ago; more chamber music series have been established. More-varied career paths are possible nowadays than in the past, when one had to choose—depending on one’s abilities—between a solo career and chamber music (maybe) or orchestral life, with some teaching activity as a financial base. Nowadays more soloists play chamber music in public, at least occasionally. Even within the world of string quartets, some specialize in contemporary music, crossover or some combination of the two, while more traditional quartets like ours try to play every category from before Haydn through 20th-century classics to contemporary. [continued…]

January 11, 2015

in: News & Features

Spiritual & Edible Food From Feldman & MFF

by

Kim Kashkashian (Silvia Lelli photo)

Kim Kashkashian (Silvia Lelli photo)

As we hunker down in these bleak but lengthening days and the concert scene begins to gear up after its seasonal lapse, Music for Food will give us three opportunities to hear wonderful music while doing good, beginning with Emmanuel Feldman’s account of Bach cello suites at Jordan Hall Tuesday night. What for many of us is a passion and for others an entertainment, MFF pursues as an enterprise for social change.

Readers of these pages may recall prior articles about Music for Food (here and here among others). Kim Kashkashian brought the model to the Boston area and has developed it into a powerful means to combine music with civic engagement. I volunteer with Music for Food and what most impresses me about the group is that its mission emphasizes the human need for food and music alike. Humans reduced to mere physical survival are barely humans at all. MFF advocates for the need to provide spiritual food also. Here is where music enters: Musicians volunteer their time, some concert venues donate space, and audiences get to hear great music. Along with entertainment comes education: details about hunger and food insecurity affecting tens of thousands of people in the Boston area alone. The organization asks us to turn that connection into tangible help for the hungry in our midst. Music connects us, and music feeds us—metaphorically and now literally. In many ways, this is a new twist on an old idea: J.S. Bach composed, conducted, and taught music in exchange for money and beer. Similarly, Music for Food wants us all to have both. [continued…]

more news & features →