June 26, 2017

in: Reviews

Bravura Entertainment from Albright

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A restless and romantic Charlie Albright channeled fun at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, Sunday afternoon.      [continued]

June 26, 2017

in: Reviews

Sirens Ranged Widely

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Lorelei Ensemble’s truly astounding sound reliably elicited pleasure for the Rockport crowd on Friday.    [continued]

June 25, 2017

in: Reviews

Integrity Prevailed. Musicianship Abounded.

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German violinist Katharina Giegling and Ukrainian pianist Anastasia Seifetdinova played Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Brahms very satisfyingly at First Baptist Church Medford yesterday.    [continued]

June 25, 2017

in: Reviews

Almost Completely Wonderful Dvořák

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Dvořák Quartets played by the superb Miró Quartet in the lovely surroundings of the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock was blissful Sunday.    [continued]

June 25, 2017

in: Reviews

Mugging, Stomping, and Singing

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At the Maverick Saturday, ETHEL fused the string quartet with the rock band, resulting in some very un-string quartet behavior.    [continued]

June 23, 2017

in: Reviews

Naumberg Medalists’ Trio at RCMF

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A strong but inconsistently named piano trio brought splendidly varied music most audiences will not have heard very much to Shalin Liu Center on Thursday.    [continued]

June 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Il San Vito Premieres for Moderns

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Concerto Romano gave the modern day premiere of Il San Vito by Bernardo Pasquini last Wednesday afternoon at Emmanuel Church in Boston under the umbrella of the Boston Early Music Festival.    [continued]

June 20, 2017

in: Reviews

So Many Keys to the Past, II

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A second BEMF keyboard mini-festival took us on further time-travels last Friday courtesy of the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s historic instruments.    [continued]

June 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Medalist Comes Home

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Pianist George Li, the celebrated silver medalist from the last Tchaikovsky Competition, showed astonishing prowess at Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts Saturday night.    [continued]

June 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Ensemble Correspondances Stunning in Charpentier

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Under director Sébastien Daucé, 17th-century French sacred music specialist Ensemble Correspondances debuted for the Boston Early Music Festival on June 13th at Jordan Hall. “Motets for the House of Guise” featured music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.    [continued]

June 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Escher and Yang Leave Us Breathless

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The Escher String Quartet, one of the leading young quartets making the rounds, teamed up on Friday with pianist Joyce Yang, a Cliburn silver medalist, in a thoroughly satisfying program of Russian music at Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center.    [continued]

June 19, 2017

in: Reviews

So Many Keys to the Past, I

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Whether or not you know your Schildt and Häßler, the exploratory BEMF organ mini-festival last Thursday at First Lutheran Boston was transporting—from 1600 to 1800.    [continued]

June 19, 2017

in: Reviews

H+H Purcell Beguiles All Cares

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In Rockport’s Shalin Liu Center on Saturday evening, the Handel and Haydn Society’s glorious 100-minute version of Henry Purcell’s exquisite The Fairy Queen was handsomely sung, played and narrated as a radiant sun dipped beneath Sandy Bay.    [continued]

June 18, 2017

in: Reviews

Moto Perpetuo Musical Commedia

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“Sex, Lies, and Musical Tales”  gave BEMF patrons a chance to savor Micrologus’s acerbic wit and outrageous hi-jinks on Wednesday, June 14th at Jordan Hall.    [continued]

June 17, 2017

in: Reviews

Coloring with Krasinski

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At Methuen Memorial Music Hall on Wednesday, Peter Krasinski put the emphasis on adaptations as he evoked “three personalities from the King of Instruments”—the concert hall, the church, and the theater/popular song.    [continued]

June 16, 2017

in: Reviews

An Original Pianist Enstprung

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Pianist Andrew Rangell chose a most unusual all-Brahms program for his concert at Rockport Chamber Music Festival on Thursday. He was joined by a quartet of strings.    [continued]

June 15, 2017

in: Reviews

Solamente Naturali Injects Joyous Notes

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The multi-talented ensemble combined HIP with a lively and still-alive practice of collective improvisation for BEMF at Jordan Hall Monday.    [continued]

June 14, 2017

in: Reviews

Lest We Forget

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Inspired by Mark Ludwig’s Terezin Music Foundation, pianist Virginia Eskin, mezzo soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore, clarinetist Thomas Martin, and cellist Eugene Kim gave “Memory Unearthed: Music from the Lodz Ghetto” Sunday at the MFA in conjunction with the stunning exhibition of photographs by Henryk Ross.    [continued]

June 13, 2017

in: Reviews

The Carnaval of BEMF Commences

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André Campra’s opera-ballet Le Carnaval de Venise got the Boston Early Music Festival off to a glorious start on Sunday afternoon at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theater.    [continued]

June 12, 2017

in: Reviews

Lively Feeling and Expression à la Sherman

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Russell Sherman’s all-Beethoven recital at Shalin Liu Center on Saturday would have daunted a pianist half his age.    [continued]

June 12, 2017

in: Reviews

La Guerre Is Extraordinaire

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Dana Maiben, Sarah Cunningham and Lisa Goode Crawford  channeled “The Inimitable Mademoiselle La Guerre: Violin Sonatas of Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre”  on Saturday night at Pickman Hall.    [continued]

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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…]

June 11, 2017

in: News & Features

BPYO Previews South American Tour

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Elmer Churampi, trumpet (Paul Marotta photo)

About a month ago the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra decided to add an extra concert that unfortunately has flown under the usual concert listing radar. Anyone at Sanders Theater on Monday at 8:00 will find the orchestra giving itself a send-off gala to demonstrate its touring wares before impressing the capitals of Peru, Argentina and Uruguay. For this writer, the story is how conductor Benjamin Zander is making of the Franck D Minor something of a resurrection symphony in a free concert that also includes Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis and Arutiunian: Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra.

For Zander the talking point is the latest success of one of his young players.

“Twenty-year-old Elmer Churampi, who just made the final round (one of three finalists) for the first trumpet position in the Pittsburgh Symphony, is probably the best trumpet player of his age in America today. Everyone is talking about him. He won the NEC school wide concerto competition and will be playing the same concerto with the Pops next season. We haven’t seen a trumpet talent like that hereabouts for quite a while. [continued…]

June 9, 2017

in: News & Features

Terra Incognita and Firma: Ayreheart and Kings

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Lutenist Ronn Macfalrane

At every biennial Boston Early Music Festival, new groups join the roster of the familiar and popular regulars. This year, Ayreheart debuts with Renaissance music from the British Isles. The ensemble of four was born out of Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane’s desire to feature his instrument, to “write new music for the lute, the most popular instrument of the Renaissance, and make it accessible to a wider audience. My first compositions were conceived as solos. But I was soon writing music that could not be fully expressed on solo lute and I needed musician friends to help realize the music. Willard Morris and Mattias Rucht teamed up with me first. Then in 2013 Brian Kay joined us and the band was complete. Together we perform our own original music as well as Renaissance music from the time of Shakespeare.” But it is hardly necessary to convince BEMF attendees of the worthiness of lute music with or without, colascione, hand percussion, and vocalists. Ayreheart also performs Renaissance concerts with voice, two lutes, colascione (a kind of bass lute) and hand percussion.

 “Renaissance masters like John Dowland and William Byrd had no qualms about appropriating popular folk music of the era, and Ayreheart follows their example,” McFarlane explains, “fusing Renaissance tunes with influences from contemporary folk and bluegrass traditions. The resulting sound is thoroughly unique and provides a point of entry for modern audiences to hear for themselves why Renaissance writers called the lute ‘the Prince of Instruments.’” [continued…]

June 6, 2017

in: News & Features

Domesticating Dangerous Dances

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Dan Stepner (file photo)

Sarabands, chaconas, and tangos will resound Thursday, June 15th at Slosberg Music Center, Brandeis University, as Aston Magna’s 45th Season gets underway. Featured artist Hector del Curto, bandoneon, will join Aston Magna musicians with music by Arañes, Bach, Bertali, Merula, Purcell, Corelli and Rodriquez. Artistic director Daniel Steppner’s interesting  essay follows.

What do Bach’s Chaconne and Astor Piazzola’s Oblivion have in common? Both are masterly takes on dance forms, originally fast and provocative, that had distinctly disreputable pasts.  Moreover, both had roots in the Hispanic New World, doubtless with African influence as well, given the slave trade in North, Central and South America.  While one might well readily perceive that in the case of tango, it is not so obvious in the case of the chaconne (“Ciaccona” in Bach’s spelling).  

Bach himself may not have appreciated the Mesoamerican connection. Dictionaries of his time define the chaconne’s characteristics, not its provenance.  Moreover, by the era of Bach and Rameau, the chaconne had become gentrified, slowed down, musically Bowdlerized.  It was taught in dance manuals and danced at court ballets and operas in France and elsewhere – often as a final production number.  Its character in these lavish settings is noble, valedictory, even benedictory (its accompanying choral texts often praise the illustrious monarch who financed the theatrical production). [continued…]

June 5, 2017

in: News & Features

Carrying Couperin to China

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BMInt’s far-flung correspondent Mark Kroll recently returned from China, where he gave concerts, lecture-recitals and classes in Beijing and Shanghai. He enlarges about the music he shared with new Chinese friends and colleagues, and what he learned from them.

Chinese appreciation of the harpsichord and its history and literature is just beginning. I was therefore particularly eager to make the long flight from Boston to Beijing to share what I knew, and to demonstrate how to play the harpsichord with the maximum of expression. I also decided to leap directly into the deep end, both musically and historically, by devoting all my teaching and performances to a style and repertoire that I guessed was probably unfamiliar to most Chinese teachers, students, and audiences: French harpsichord music. It turned out to be the right choice. [continued…]

May 28, 2017

in: News & Features

Poseurs Beware: Patience Rings Fresh and True

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Odyssey Opera’s fully staged production of Patience; or Bunthorne’s Bride at the Boston University Theater completes the company’s vision of Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic. Conducted by Gil Rose, the show features Aaron Engebreth as Reginald Bunthorne, Sara Heaton as Patience, Paul Max Tipton as Archibald Grosvenor, and Janna Baty as Lady Jane. Tickets are available HERE for productions on Friday and Saturday at 7:30.

Steven Ledbetter enlarges herein on his program notes for a New York City Opera production from the late 90s.

The aesthetic movement had been in full swing for nearly 20 years before W. S. Gilbert decided, in 1880, to make it the subject of a comic opera. Aestheticism had been the work of a group of artists and writers aiming to break away from the drabness of everyday Victorian life. They brought a new freedom and color into the arts.          

William Morris wrote poems based on old Nordic sources—as far from Victorian respectability as he could get. Edward Burne-Jones tried to escape the classical traditions of Raphael by designing stained-glass windows inspired by the work of Raphael’s predecessors, Botticelli and Fra Angelico. Swinburne’s poetry was rich and turbulent, filled with images that rigid Victorians surely found uncomfortably (or enticingly) erotic. Morris and Swinburne were already established in the early 1860s, and by 1872 Whistler’s most famous painting, “The Artist’s Mother,” was hung in the Royal Academy Exhibition. It is from the painters and designers that this movement gets its name: Pre-Raphaelite. (And the influences of Botticelli and Fra Angelico will be reflected in Patience in the exclamation of delight from Lady Saphir when she sees that the three Dragoon officers have put on aesthetic garb in an attempt to win their hearts: “How Botticellian! How Fra Angelican!”)  [continued…]

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