From the moment Andris Nelsons took the reins of the monster orchestra last night, he let them loose, yet the balance and timbre of Strauss’s score, a sine non qua of any successful production of Salome, were attended to with accuracy and warmth. In the title role Gun-Brit Barkmin was riveting. [continued]
Cappella Clausura performed eight works from 14-year old Vittoria Aleotti’s Ghirlanda de Madrigali. It was not only unique, it was a powerful and memorable concert (o.k., not quite unique since it is being repeated Sunday Mar. 9). [continued]
In James Whitbourn’s Annelies, a large work for chorus and chamber ensemble to texts from Anne Frank’s diary, the composer used Anne’s words to give the music a depth it hadn’t earned. Sunday’s Chorus pro Musica performance at Old South Church was nevertheless affecting for the commitment of the performers. [continued]
The Discovery Ensemble, now in its sixth year, reveled in its mature orchestral sound and outstanding technical capability under Courtney Lewis’s expert direction yesterday at Jordan Hall, to the extent that it could even play a Brahms symphony with understanding and confidence while remaining at heart a chamber orchestra. [continued]
Richard Pittman and his volunteer New England Philharmonic are never shy about bringing new repertoire before the public, coming forward on their March 1st program at BU’s Tsai Performance Center with one world premiere and one local one. [continued]
A trio of violist Paul Neubauer, pianist Ann-Marie, and soprano Susanna Phillips treated the Gardner Museum audience to a conglomeration of tidbits and unusual arrangements put together in a salon concert style to entice and delight. [continued]
Stephen Hough’s piano recital Friday night at the Shalin Liu Center began with a notably lyrical and loving delivery of Schoenberg’s Six Little Pieces, but much of what followed did not come together. [continued]
For Friday’s Celebrity Series concert at Jordan Hall, Quatuor Ebène gave us a first half of Mozart and Bartok followed after the break by improvisational arrangements of jazz and pop standards. The playing was alert, sensitive, and intellectually interesting. [continued]
Robert Levin joined Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic last night at Symphony Hall for an inspired account of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #25. Bruckner’s Symphony #7 in E Major garnered equally enthusiastic acclaim while frustrating this reviewer with its problematic pacing and balance. [continued]
Expectations of superb musicianship drew a very large crowd to Jordan Hall on Monday night for a duo recital with Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin. Together they projected an opinionated clarity and a unique commonality of purpose. [continued]
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos gave his Celebrity Series of Boston recital debut Sunday alongside pianist Enrico Pace, a prizewinning Italian, with three Beethoven sonatas “for piano and violin,” including the “Kreutzer.” [continued]
At Harvard’s Holden Chapel yesterday, the fifth installment of “Hearing Modernity” concerned technology and the deaf. What electronic dance music had to do with the advertised topic seemed quite a bit of a stretch. [continued]
The 50th anniversary of the C.B. Fisk organ in King’s Chapel was celebrated Sunday in an outstanding concert that included the premiere of Robert Sirota’s Apparitions, for organ and string quartet. Stellar performances perfectly honored the organ. [continued]
“Capturing Music: Writing and Singing Music in the Middle Ages,”one Sunday afternoon at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, was sung by the vocal ensemble Blue Heron under the direction of Scott Metcalfe, and elucidated by Thomas Forrest Kelly. [continued]
At Calderwood Hall last Sunday, pianist Alexander Schimpf was utterly solid and regular, yet with a wonderfully assured freedom and expressivity over the basic structures in Bach, but needed to loosen up and savor more during the rest of his program. [continued]
If music be the food of love, then Tatyana Dudochkin served up a rather affectionate portion in New England Conservatory’s “Shakespeare 450” at Jordan Hall Sunday. The range of material his work has inspired, and the talent who here presented it, showed this honor worthy of him. [continued]
In its 50th season, Cantata Singers & Ensemble took to Jordan Hall Saturday with an oratorio much indebted to the Bach cantatas which constitute its musical cornerstone. Mendelssohn’s Elijah, a complex and challenging work, was given a fiery, passionate, intimate, and moving performance. [continued]
Kristian Bezuidenhout’s recital at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall on Friday evening for the Boston Early Music Festival series gave ample demonstration of just what the pianist meant by “enlivened and rhetorically varied” performance. [continued]
Florencia en el Amazonas, with music by Daniel Catán and libretto by Marcela Fuentes-Berain, is possibly the most beautiful opera in the last 50 years. Boston University Opera Institute’s production runs at the B U Theater through Sunday. [continued]more reviews →
When I wrote my BSO season overview last year, Andris Nelsons had not yet been hired; I’m delighted that our new Music Director-designate will be conducting 10 programs. Among the visiting conductors are a lot of old friends: Charles Dutoit, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, and Rafael Frühbeck will return for two programs each, Marcelo Lehninger, Stéphane Denève, and Christian Zacharias for one each. Several of the scheduled conductors are unknown to me; I’m particularly eager to hear Juanjo Mena, who will conduct Schubert’s “Great” C major in October. (It is the third time in six years this symphony has been scheduled, but I myself can’t get enough of it; for the curious, I mention my book, Schubert’s Great C Major: Biography of a Symphony, Pendragon Press, 2012.) [continued...]
A bright-eyed and smiling cherubic Andris Nelsons, wearing his third shirt of the day, greeted the Boston press and contingents of trustees, other worthies, and important local composers with the announcement of the repertoire for his first year as the 15th Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, commencing in September. The gathering was a lovefest with the charming, self-deprecating conductor, who began by mentioning how he was more comfortable relating to audiences with his backside. He also told us he felt more frightened for having to talk with such a daunting crowd than for dealing with the headless singer at the Salome rehearsal, earlier in the day.
Nelsons spoke at some length about the 10 concerts he would be conducting, and about affectionately expanding his family to include the BSO players, audience and extended communities. It is clear he will be an effective orchestra booster in the many community events he expects to attend. Mark Volpe talked about the dozen concerts which would be conducted by others. The complete calendar for next season is here. BMInt also expects to present analysis of the season from some of our correspondents in a few days. [continued...]
The Back Bay Chorale celebrates its 40th anniversary season in a concert on March 8th at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, at 8 pm. “Bach and Beyond,” looks back to highlights of seasons past in commissioned works by noted contemporary composers, Robert Kyr and Julian Wachner, and is anchored by the Chorale’s continued exploration of Bach’s major works. In this anniversary concert, the 120-member Chorale performs two celebrated Bach motets, Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf and Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied! As Music Director Scott Allen Jarrett observes, “The sheer energy that bounces off the page of a Bach motet approaches a level similar to the collision of atomic particles.” [continued...]
The Chiara Quartet, about to play their penultimate Paine Hall concert of a six-year Blodgett residency, has for all of its 14 years together looked for ways to challenge themselves and deepen their music making. The foursome’s latest commitment to one another is to play from memory. Thus there will be no music stands on stage Friday when the quartet plays Bartok’s quartets 1, 3 and 5. The final concert of the Chiara’s successful residency will feature the “even numbered” quartets of Bartok on April 11th. The award-wining quartet is not slowing down, though. Their performing and recording will continue apace after their departure.
Violinist Rebecca Fischer recently answered some questions for BMInt. [continued...]
It’s understandable when famous pieces get duplicated performances in the programs of the area’s 100-plus choral groups: for instance Boston Cecilia and Chorus pro Musica are both doing the Bach B-minor Mass this season. But it’s surprising when a relatively obscure piece gets three performances in such a span. On this Sunday, Chorus pro Musica is giving this season’s second performance of James Whitbourn’s Anneleies, based on the diaries of Anne Frank; on March 30th Coro Allegro will offer the third. (It was given its Boston premiere last October, at NEC.)
In advance of the CpM concert, BMInt spoke to the conductors of each ensemble. Jamie Kirsch is the sixth music director of Chorus pro Musica, in his first season at the helm. He shared his thoughts about Whitbourn’s composition. Conductor David Hodgkins talks to us about his performance with Coro Allegro as well.
BMInt: How are you settling into your new position? [continued...]
Not the least among the “embarrassment of riches”(complete particulars are here) that Discovery Ensemble is encouraging us to expect at its Jordan Hall concert on Sunday is the exciting announcement that its director, Courtney Lewis, has just been named Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. We salute the young maestro and have engaged with him about his new role.
BMInt: Congratulations on your appointment with the NY Philharmonic. Now there are two members of the Discovery Ensemble acting as assistant conductors of the NY Phil: you and Joshua Weilerstein, the DE concertmaster. How unusual is that?
C. L.: It’s great, and it reflects very well on Discovery Ensemble and the caliber of its musicians. Josh isn’t playing in Discovery Ensemble any more, and he will be stepping down from his NY Phil position at the end of the summer, so we won’t exactly overlap, but we are good friends and it will be very helpful for me to talk with him about what the job is like from the inside before I begin. [continued...]
Gunther Schuller at 88 is in the midst of an unprecedented confluence of commissions and creativity. He is still working and in high demand—busy with an unusually high number of commissions, premieres, and conducting and speaking engagements. Last Thursday, for example, NEC premiered his “From Here to There,” and on Sunday February 9th, the Boston Symphony Chamber players performed “Games” [BMInt review here], a work they commissioned for their 50th anniversary. On Saturday February 8th, in between rehearsals, Schuller and Louis Andriessen [BMInt review here] met at the NEC to discuss the art and mystery of creativity before an enthusiastic audience of students and local composers. There it was revealed that Schuller has received fully 19 commissions since a premiere at the Tanglewood anniversary in July 2012. Guinness World Records should keep track. What’s the story? [continued...]
For the last two years Grand Harmonie (the term Harmonie broadly means wind ensemble) has presented concerts of early chamber music—and sometimes larger ensemble music—that feature historically accurate wind and brass instruments. Now the group of young musicians from New York and Boston is growing into a full period instrument orchestra focused on 19th-century repertoire. ”We might still play Mozart or Haydn, but a lot of 19th-century repertoire has yet to be explored,” says Grand Harmonie organizer and natural hornist Yoni Kahn. Some of this repertoire is rarely played on period instruments, and some of it is rarely performed at all.
So on February 28th the ensemble will perform Beethoven’s 8th Symphony in celebration of the 200th anniversary of its premiere, and also offer the 21st-century professional premiere of a recently discovered horn concerto by Jean Baptiste Édouard Du Puy, a Swiss musician born the same year as Beethoven, who worked as a composer, opera singer, and violinist in Scandinavia and France. His horn concerto was discovered in the Royal Library of Stockholm in 2012 by Bertil Van Boer, a musicologist from Western Washington University, who passed it on to Michael Ruhling, the president of the Haydn Society of North America. [continued...]
On February 23, Tatyana Dudochkin, NEC’s prep school Piano Ensemble Program chair, will present her annual (since 1990) Jordan Hall concert honoring a composer in an anniversary year. Last year it was Verdi, to mark his 200th birthday, and this year, somewhat unusually, she has chosen William Shakespeare, born 450 years ago. “I considered several composers, but none of them really moved me,” she says. “I have to be burning with excitement about their work.”
Too diplomatic to mention the names of those passed over, Dudochkin stated that the music inspired by Shakespeare’s plays “could fill a library, and so many masterpieces.” [continued...]more news & features →