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March 22, 2013

Reaching Far Inside For Gubaidulina

Sofia Gubaidulina is a composer from the inner reaches of the far out. International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) presented works dating from between 1980 and 1993: a narrow slice of the 81-year-old’s six decade career, but nonetheless an exciting and enlightening look at her chamber music, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Thursday night.     [continued]

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March 17, 2013

Wind Exhilarations at Kresge

In the Kresge Auditorium at MIT, a sizable crowd was on hand for a world premiere of a new work Saturday. Evan Ziporyn with the MIT Wind Ensemble gave an exhilarating first performance of Don Byron’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.     [continued]

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March 16, 2013

Dead Men Walk Lively

Jake Heggie’s first opera, Dead Man Walking (2000), tells the story of a nun who becomes the spiritual advisor to a death row inmate. Last night’s performance by the Boston Opera Collaborative (with help from Boston City Singers) at The Somerville Theatre was far beyond thrilling. Further performances on  March 16, 17, and 18      [continued]

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October 24, 2011

BYSO Provides Sound Beginnings

The performances on October 23 in Symphony Hall celebrated the beginnings of a new group of musicians in the inaugural concert of the BYSO’s 54th season. The Junior Repertory Orchestra under Adrian Slywotzky’s was up to the challenge of Mendelssohn’s incidental music for Athalia; of particular note was excellent work by the brass. Mark Miller and the Repertory Orchestra approached Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture with a steady diligence and commitment culminating in a vivid picture. BYSO Music Director Federico Cortese expected no less than the attention and abilities of a professional ensemble for the suite from Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Beethoven’s “Pastoral.” We are privileged not only to be able to hear these concerts, but to witness these wonderful beginnings.     [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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March 2, 2011

Students Spirited in NEC Candide

Bernstein’s Candide, a semi-staged production of the New England Conservatory Opera Department on February 28 at Jordan Hall, was one ebullient treat. Stephen Lord’s direction was masterful, first for his sure pacing. Chorus, orchestra and principals delivered spirited, inspired performances, con brio, with conservatory orchestra players largely recruited from the more junior of NEC’s full ensembles. Students Kuhn as Candide and Caraluzzi as Cunegonde matched their senior colleagues, guests Raines, Bybeek, and Meraw. We also nod approvingly to Tafone, Brand, and Miller.“Capture,” roughly five rows back, was only about 70%; Candide being so exceptionally funny, one regretted even the single lost word. Last night’s printed program was, on the contrary, lamentable.           [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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December 11, 2010

Boston Conservatory’s Mixed Seasonal Offerings

On Dec 10, the Boston Conservatory choruses and orchestra gave their Christmas season concert at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center. The concert showcased a high level of technical proficiency of the Conservatory students, although these aspiring professionals also displayed certain musical shortcomings frequently found among younger performers — successful performance within an ensemble as well as awareness and execution of melodic and harmonic shapes not found on the written page. Works included Michael Praetorius’s brief motet, Ecce Maria genuit, Randall Thompson’s cantata, The Place of the Blest, Daniel Pinkham’s Sinfonia Sacra, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, and John Rutter’s Gloria, in which chorus and orchestra displayed a great deal of power and control, with a much stronger consideration of musical line and tonal contrast.         [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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August 18, 2009

Austerity Felt at Good, though Tame, Glimmerglass Opera Festival

Austerity made its presence felt at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival this summer; but it nonetheless proved a good though somewhat tame festival: there was nothing inherently exciting about seeing Traviata, Cenerentola, Dido and Aeneas or even the nominal novelty, The Consul, nor — despite some baffling decisions in Sam Helfrich’s production of the Menotti — much new in the way they were presented. What made August 14’s performance of Traviata memorable was its lead, Mary Dunleavy, and her touching, romantic chemistry with Ryan MacPherson’s Alfredo. Malcolm MacKenzie, a highly competent Germont, exhibited a fine, substantial baritone but limited dynamic and expressive shading. Rebecca Jo Loeb made a sonorous, committed Annina. The next afternoon, Joseph Colaneri’s crisp, detailed conducting welcomely brought the orchestra up to a different level in Cenerentola. The palm went to Keith Phares’ Dandini, dapper as Clark Gable, channeling his high-quality lyric baritone with bracing agility. Jessica Jahn’s spot-on costumes merit praise. High musical values continued for that evening’s Consul, tautly led by Music Director David Angus. Sam Helfrich directed this uneven but enduringly timely “Broadway opera” as if to impress industry insiders already bored with the piece. In the third act Helfrich threw out Menotti’s carefully plotted stage directions altogether, so  that Magda remained in the waiting room, John was not dragged away, no oven was seen or heard: Menotti’s heroine apparently died of a willed excess of anomie. Kaye Voyce somehow had located the most hideous 1970s garments still extant. The four leads excelled, with Melissa Citro a major find. Dido and Aeneas (August 16), aptly sung by fine young voices, proved a treat despite some initially scratchy string playing under Michael Beattie and Dr. Miller’s having undercut any sense of stature or tragedy. Tamara Mumford looked and sounded beautiful as Dido, her mezzo boasting both sheen and impact. David Adam Moore gym-chiseled Aeneas combined power and sensitivity. Lovely-voiced Joélle Harvey and clarion countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo made a world-class Belinda and Sorceress. Cockney accents did not amuse. But, thanks to the strong soloists and wonderful choral singing, Purcell triumphed. [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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November 13, 2008

Stimulating Presentation of Underplayed Repertoire

Despite a dubious use of the word “contemporary” (the newest piece dated from 1972), the recent program at the Goethe-Institut on November 13 was a stimulating presentation of underplayed repertoire. Surprising as it may sound, Floyd’s piece was the truly the most peculiar on the program. The passage of time has placed us in a world where Webern sounds like Schubert and avant-garde shock tactics are met with delight. Who in their right mind today would set out to write an extended soliloquy on the hardships of being Queen? [Click on title for full review]    [continued]

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