April 18, 2014

in: Reviews

This Charming Phan

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Celebrity Series of Boston, in its Debut Series at Longy, presented tenor Nicholas Phan and pianist Myra Huang in a recital of Schubert and Britten last night that was an absolute treat.     [continued]

April 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Orphic Shakespeare at Jordan Hall

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Every year the Foundation for Modern Opera presents at Jordan Hall something called The Shakespeare Concerts, appearing to have two goals: the presentation of music based on the works of Shakespeare, and the promotion of music by Joseph Summer.     [continued]

April 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Lag and Laughter Wrap Up Modernity Series

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The last of the eight seminars on Hearing Modernity on April 14th at Holden Chapel Harvard University, “Reflections of the Voice,” touched upon mental commotion and helpless laughter.      [continued]

April 15, 2014

in: Reviews

Discoveries with Yu

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Discovery Ensemble filled Jordan Hall for a lengthy concert Sunday featuring violinist Xiang Yu and works that showcased both front and back halves of the chamber orchestra. The varied program was full of gems performed to the high standard we expect from Discovery and Courtney Lewis.     [continued]

April 14, 2014

in: Reviews

New Entity Commissions for BCMS

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The centerpiece of the Boston Chamber Music Society’s grab-bag at Sanders Hall on Sunday night was a premiere Portraits of El Greco (Book I) by George Tsontakis. Surrounding it were a relatively light-hearted Beethoven, and sizable hunk of Glazunov.     [continued]

April 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Masterful Brahms from Hamelin + Ax

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Early 20th-century critic Philip Hale would surely have been horrified to see a capacity crowd fill Symphony Hall for a glorious all-Brahms program as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston’s 75th anniversary celebration of “The Art of the Piano” with Marc-André Hamelin and Emanuel Ax.   [continued]

April 14, 2014

in: Reviews

Nuance on Steroids

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Musicians from Marlboro are known for their artistic geniality among much else, and their offerings at the Gardner Museum yesterday seemed both chosen and played for those strengths. Scarcely a dark cloud passed in the course of the afternoon, nor was there any discord in compositions or execution.     [continued]

April 13, 2014

in: Reviews

Six Memorable Years Conclude for Chiara

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The Chiara Quartet concluded both their cycle of the Bartok quartets and their six-year long residency at Harvard as the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence on Friday at Paine Hall with some improvisatory playing—mostly from memory.     [continued]

April 12, 2014

in: Reviews

An Abundance of Quartets and Big Beethoven

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The rising Jupiter Quartet hit the midpoint of its Beethoven cycle a week ago (Friday April 4; Opus 59 No. 1 and Opus 130) in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, followed a few days later by a private concert of the established Leipzig Quartet also featuring Opus 130.     [continued]

April 12, 2014

in: Reviews

Celebrity and Takács Raise the Bar

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Celebrity Series raised the bar for Bartók by presenting the Takács Quartet in Béla’s even-numbered string quartets last night at Jordan Hall. Describing what these four artists accomplished makes for quite a task.     [continued]

April 11, 2014

in: Reviews

Roth Makes BSO Debut

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Conductor François-Xavier Roth made his BSO and American debut last night a curious program of Bach, Stravinsky and Beethoven that was two-thirds exhilarating and one third frustrating.     [continued]

April 10, 2014

in: Reviews

First Monday Reveals Riches

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April’s First Monday concert at the New England Conservatory offered a rich assortment of players and pieces at Jordan Hall including harpist Jessica Zhou in Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman in the Brahms Clarinet Quintet.     [continued]

April 8, 2014

in: Reviews

Peering into Mendelssohn’s Library

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Along with Mendelssohn’s early Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, violinist/leader Aislinn Nosky peered into Mendelssohn’s extensive personal library, highlighting works by Vivaldi, Handel, J.S. and C.P.E. in H&H performances Friday and Saturday.     [continued]

April 8, 2014

in: Reviews

Oh Susanna, How Fine a Performance

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Emmanuel Music’s performance of Handel’s oratorio Susanna on Saturday at Emmanuel Church brought the story vividly, emotionally and convincingly to life with a stellar cast of singers and instrumentalists led by music director Ryan Turner.     [continued]

April 7, 2014

in: Reviews

Sonic Characterization of Joan of Arc

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Saturday evening saw the second presentation of Carl Dreyer’s Passion de Jeanne d’Arc by the Seraphim Singers and “sonic artist” Peter Krasinski, this time in Boston College’s Parish of St. Ignatius.  The choir provided memorable performances.  [continued]

April 7, 2014

in: Reviews

Two by Two to Trinity Church

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It was a treat to experience Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde on Friday evening at Trinity Church, Copley Square. It is not unlike a Christmas pageant, but instead of the nativity story, it deals with the Genesis tale of Noah (Noye), his ark, and the great flood.     [continued]

April 5, 2014

in: Reviews

East Coast Opera Première of Dark River

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Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story received an excellent local premiere Friday night at Mt. Holyoke College’s Chapin Auditorium. Music and libretto are by Mary Watkins, of Oakland California, and the presenters were Northampton’s WomenArts, and the college’s music department with conductor Ng Tian Hui.     [continued]

April 5, 2014

in: Reviews

Spano, BSO, Rachmaninoff Thrill

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Spine tingling climaxes, evocative melodies, and displays of orchestral acumen would draw wholehearted response from the concert-goers, many of whom ended standing—and lit up with smiles- at least for the second half at Symphony Hall Thursday.     [continued]

April 2, 2014

in: Reviews

C.P.E.B. is 300

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Harvard’s celebration of Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach’s birthday included  a fine performance of Die Israeliten in der Wüste by the Harvard University Choir under Edward Jones with soloists Amanda Forsythe, Jessica Petrus, Jonas Budris, and David McFerrin, the Harvard Baroque Orchestra and Grand Harmonie.     [continued]

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April 18, 2014

in: News & Features

Camerata Tends Its American Vines

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Co-director Anne Azema

Co-director Anne Azema

There will be dueling directors at the Boston Camerata’s final season offering at Old West Church on April 25th. Anne Azéma and Joel Cohen, who have frequently shared the podioum on the road, will be débuting their style of collaboration for Boston audiences in a program of rare and unusual musical repertoire from the pen of a Vermont renegade and rugged individualist. We had a few questions for Azéma and Cohen as they prepared for the performance.

BMint: We see that in your upcoming concert, “Lovely Vine: Jeremiah Ingalls and the American Folk Hymn,” there is a song called “The Devil’s Nine Questions.” So we’d like to play devil’s advocate for a moment and ask at least one of those questions: Why is an early-music ensemble disinterring a songbook published as late as 1805? And an American songbook, at that? [continued...]

April 16, 2014

in: News & Features

NEC Philharmonia, Wolff Return to Symphony Hall

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Yu-Xiang in file photo

Xaing Yu in file photo

New England Conservatory’s yearlong festival Music: Truth to Power continues April 23, when the NEC Philharmonia and Hugh Wolff, the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, return to Symphony Hall for the first time since 2010. Both Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Shostakovich’s infrequently heard Symphony No. 11 (The Year 1905), which commemorated the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, clearly fit the season’s theme. Less about lofty messages but with special significance for Symphony Hall is the Violin Concerto No. 1 of Sergei Prokofiev, composed in 1917 and given its American premiere in 1925 by the Boston Symphony. Concertmaster Richard Burgin was soloist with Serge Koussevitzky conducting. The new violinist will be Xiang Yu (Angelo), candidate for the NEC Artist Diploma, who has been frequently praised in these pages: “By the sheer quality and force of his sound and ideas Angelo emerged as an artist with a distinct voice and an extraordinary ability to engage.”

Presented in association with the Celebrity Series of Boston, the performance takes place at 8 pm and is being offered as a special bonus to Celebrity Series subscribers. The public is invited to attend as well. Tickets are $20/$15, $10 for students and seniors; WGBH members 2 for 1. [continued...]

April 14, 2014

in: News & Features

Rudel Brings Discipline to WCRB

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WCRB's Anthony Rudel

WCRB’s Anthony Rudel

Our latest article on radio in Boston mainly serves to introduce the new WCRB station manager and his aural vision, as it were, for attracting listeners, though our interview touches as well on marketing and licensing for WCRB and WGBH. The news in short is that WCRB has become a pleasant companion through a combination of the agreeable, automated playlists of Tony Rudel and the “live and local” announcers who invite us to enjoy Tony’s choices. Tony told us that oenophiles may not be pleased, but Camry drivers will be comfortable.

Currently in the news is a challenge to WGBH’s license renewal. Though it is very unlikely to prevail, inasmuch as the FCC is loath to delve into content, it does raise the question of whether the station is providing “unique content to an underserved public,” as their license originally stipulated. Jack Bernstein’s Committee for Community Access is determined to restore jazz and folk music that were cut when WGBH went to a mostly talk format in 2009.

From a marketing perspective, though, WGBH’s new approach is a success, having tripled its audience share since 2009 (though most of the gain is since September 2012). WCRB, by contrast, had lost two-thirds of its share since 2009, and that’s why Rudel the spin doctor has been called in. BMInt’s interview follows. [continued...]

April 12, 2014

in: News & Features

Stone Guest Delivers Comeuppance

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Attractive Possuer

Attractive Poseur

Despite what Beethoven expressed about the vulgarity of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, he kept sketches of the music in his notebooks. And whether it is Mozart or the Don who seduces us, we are always taken to more dangerous places by good performances. We prefer to be left in such places, and like productions which omit the anticlimactic, didactic, moralizing final ensemble. To see the rake punished and be left with that image is unsurpassed as theater. It’s a good idea to get an aisle seat so you can dash for the exit as the flames of conflagration smolder.

The BU Opera Institute will give the dissolute rake another moment to prance upon the boards. Having seen many of BU’s opera productions over the years, and having found them of consistently rewarding quality, we are happy to point readers to their upcoming production.

The School of Music Opera Institute and the School of Theatre at Boston University College of Fine Arts present Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s tale of seduction and abandonment — April 17-20, 2014. Their press release follows. [continued...]

April 8, 2014

in: News & Features

BU’s Berlioz: Sights and Sounds

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On Monday night, the Boston University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus under Ann Howard Jones with tenor Christopher Hutchinson, performed Hector Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Mortes, Op. 5, at  Boston’s Symphony Hall. Scored for a very large orchestra with offstage brass sections and choral groups placed throughout the venue,“This is truly a 3-D experience,” explained Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts. “The orchestra and choral sections are to the front, to the sides, to the back, creating an enveloping sound. Not only is it an incredible experience for BU student musicians, it’s a visual and listening opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.”

For those who missed it, including this would-be reviewer who sang the work under Seiji Ozawa and Leopold Stokowski and very much had wanted to attend, one can hear a streaming version here. And as complement to that stream, BMInt is pleased to publish some excellent photos by Michael J. Lutch. [continued...]

April 1, 2014

in: News & Features

Avital Sails Into Regattabar

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avi avitalSince “Mandolinist Avi Avital was electrifying to watch and hear… takes the listener to the brink of wildest expectation and then leaps over those boundaries,” according to BMInt reviewer Rebecca Marchand [here], we are happy to direct readers to his first subsequent Boston appearance. At the Regatta Bar in Cambridge on Tuesday, April 8th night at 7:30, Avital will be appearing with accordionist Uri Sharlin and percussionist Shane Shanahan in a crossover concert with a Balkan and Israeli theme, including some composers you might have heard of, Ernst Bloch and Hector Villa Lobos, as well as less familiar ones from other genres.

The Deutsche Grammophon artist who made his Carnegie Hall debut two months ago spoke with BMInt:

There was a time 100 years ago when the mandolin was a very popular instrument on the stage and in the pit. The YouTube clip of the Italian virtuoso Bernardo Pace’s Vitaphone short, “The Wizard of the Mandolin” has always been one of the most amazing examples of popularization of classical music that I could cite. What was going on then (in addition to great comedy), and why have we had to wait until now to have another mandolin virtuoso that the spotlight loves? [continued...]

March 27, 2014

in: News & Features

Meng-Chieh Liu Joins NEC

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Meng-Chieh Liu (file photo) One of the more interesting hires at New England Conservatory in a long while adds a new, and coming, bright light to the piano department.

Meng-Chieh Liu trained at Curtis with Jorge Bolet, Eleanor Sokoloff, and Claude Frank. His masterly abilities as performer and teacher in both the solo and the chamber repertoires have since won him a loyal following and several enthusiastic reviews in these and other pages. After a first hearing, BMInt’s David Moran concluded: “to the short list of topmost interpreters [of Schubert]—meaning mature, profound, direct, not only technically immaculate—we now must add Meng-Chieh Liu. It felt like, I don’t know, discovering Murray Perahia decades ago.” BMInt’s Jim McDonald: “… one pianist I would want to hear playing in my home.” From San Francisco Heuwell Tircuit reported that the “playing was so flawless it is a tad embarrassing to report on it.” [continued...]

March 26, 2014

in: News & Features

Expectations High for Jerusalem String Quartet

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One of the this season’s eagerly awaited Boston debut recitals comes on March 29th when the Jerusalem String Quartet makes its appearance at Jordan Hall for the Celebrity Series of Boston.  The foursome is one of our personal favorites and apparently of Strad, which deems it “one of the young, yet great quartets of our time.” The program looks to be an effective showcase for the ensemble’s total engagement: Haydn: Quartet in B-flat Major, Opus 76, no. 4 “Sunrise”; Shostakovich: Quartet No. 12 in D-flat Major; Brahms: Quartet in A minor, Opus 51, no. 2. A PDF of the program notes can be downloaded here.

BMInt’s recent email exchange with the quartet’s violist Ori Kam follows: [continued...]

March 23, 2014

in: News & Features

Trinity Church Prepares for Flood

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brittenwZoltan Kodaly: “Nobody should be above writing for children. On the contrary, we should strive to be good enough to do so.”

Boston audiences will have a chance to both hear and participate in a single singular work, Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, when Trinity Church on April 4th and 5th offers what has been described as children’s opera, pageant, church opera, miracle play, and community opera. The title page calls it “an adaptation of the Chester Mystery play,” possibly dating back 500 years; with artful construction and characteristic-style features, the work, child-centered, is remarkably effective, earning its place alongside Britten’s other operas.

David McFerrin sings Noye, Katherine Growdon sings the missus, Kirsten Z. Cairns directs, and Richard Webster conducts. Choristers and members of Trinity Church (children and adults alike) will sing and play, joined by members of the Boston City Singers and Boston Children’s Chorus.

Noye’s Fludde was the conclusion of one Britten series (intergenerational works The Little Sweep and Saint Nicolas) and the ancestor of another (the Parables for Church Performance). Listeners who subscribe to the old saw that Britten is “clever but lacking in warmth” will find both warmth and craft here. Indeed, the genre-blurring Noye’s Fludde balances finely at the point between professional and amateur, sacred and secular, ancient and modern. [continued...]

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