Reviews

October 22, 2014

Thistles Abounding: Juilliard String Quartet

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Prickles and burs as well as rounded fattiness were in evidence Saturday at Jordan Hall as the long-lived Juilliard String Quartet showed its full engagement with Viennese masterworks of two centuries.     [continued]

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Bachian or Not, Zelenka Superb

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The program presented Saturday by Juilliard415 and Yale’s Schola Cantorum under Masaaki Suzuki at St. Mary’s church in New Haven (also at Jordan Hall on Friday and in New York), consisting of just of Zelenka’s Ouverture à 7 concertanti and the Missa Dei Patris, made a rousing case for taking Zelenka’s unique, thrilling musical language on its own terms.     [continued]

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October 21, 2014

An Orphic Christoph Willibald at Mem Church

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On Sunday afternoon conductor Edward Elywn Jones gathered the Harvard University Choir, the period ensemble Grand Harmonie, and three fine soloists to present a free concert version of Orfeo ed Euridice at Harvard’s Memorial Church.   [continued]

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Unquestioned Virtuosity from String Master

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Violist Roberto Diaz along with pianist Max Levinson performed a recital in Boston Conservatory’s String Masters Series at Seully Hall Sunday night that was as fine an evening of music making as I have ever heard.     [continued]

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Cecilia Gives Hyphenated Tribute to Teeters

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In the “Czech-American Connection” from Boston Cecilia at Brookline’s All Saintes Church on Sunday, Nicholas White led the 139-year-old chorus in an evocative tribute to its late director Don Teeters.     [continued]

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October 20, 2014

The Real Story from Marlboro

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Musicians from Marlboro advanced steadily in their Sunday concert at the Gardner Museum to an extraordinary finish. Some of the best harp playing I have ever heard came from harpist Sivan Magen, and Marlboro’s string quintet delivered a story so real, so natural, so Beethoven.   [continued]

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Two Schools From Vienna

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Boston’s Back Bay Chorale fantastically performed a First and Second Viennese School program at Sanders Theater on Saturday, meeting the challenges of sustaining the constantly shifting textures in high professional style.     [continued]

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October 19, 2014

A Nameless Mass As Sweet As Any

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The vocal ensemble Blue Heron opened its 16th-annual subscription series with a performance Saturday of an anonymous “Mass for St. Augustine of Canterbury” at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational. Those who heard it must rejoice for its survival and for its superb restoration by Sandon and performance by Blue Heron.     [continued]

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Laboratory of Unexpected Music

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Symphony Nova’s “Dawn to Dusk,” on Friday at Old South’s Gordon Chapel under Lawrence Isaacson  featured paper maple leaves placed on the seats and small pumpkins adorning the aisles.  The performances impressed and even delighted throughout, but I was especially grateful to hear once more four strong and gratifying works that have all been concealed for too long.     [continued]

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October 18, 2014

Emmanuel Music Crosses the Charles

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Emmanuel Music’s “Crossroads” at Friday night at the Longy School on Friday under Ryan Turner allowed wide-ranging repertoire from Mendelssohn to Stravinsky to a new work by John Harbison, not only to achieve a cogent unity but also to reveal some fascinating interconnections.     [continued]

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October 17, 2014

Fischer and Buchbinder Exhibit Fine Chemistry

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Thierry Fischer made his widely anticipated debut with the BSO at Symphony Hall Thursday, directing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4.     [continued]

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Feast of Fraught from Padmore and Biss

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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall was the destination for a capacity crowd on Sunday as British tenor Mark Padmore was joined by Boston pianist Jonathan Biss in an ambitious program exploring art song extremes of agony and ecstasy.     [continued]

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October 15, 2014

Elusive Electronica Cloud Opens BMOP Season

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Gil Rose led his redoubtable Boston Modern Orchestra Project into its 19th season with an ambitious program of pieces incorporating electronics. Surround Sound’s composers have university connections, Ronald Bruce Smith and Anthony Paul De Ritis at Northeastern University, and David Felder at Buffalo U. and wide experience composing with electronica. Deployed around Jordan Hall were at least 20 speaker arrays, including 12 onstage and 4 placed on 2 tiers in the balcony.     [continued]

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October 13, 2014

Strings Big and Little, Two by Two

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Celebrity Series of Boston’s unforgettable evening at Sanders Theater last night featured two often-overlooked instruments, double bass and mandolin, played for a devoted audience by two funloving virtuosi, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile.     [continued]

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Younger Pianist Poles Toward Old School

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Roberto Poli, the Venetian-American Chopin specialist arrived as if by gondola for an all-Chopin NEC Prep faculty recital at Jordan Hall last night, performing in an improvisatory reverie as if composing on the spot.    [continued]

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Good Company at the Goethe-Institut

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Wistaria, the Chamber Music Society of Western Massachusetts, gave a neatly varied concert “The Company of Virgil” on Sunday afternoon at the Goethe-Institut Boston as a commemoration of the 25th-anniversary of the death (at age 92) of Virgil Thomson, whose music was featured along with Scott Wheeler’s, who also spoke about Thomson.     [continued]

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Songs of Love and War

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The Festival Chamber Ensemble of singers and players was directed by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs gave an extraordinary program of late madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) for the opening of Boston Early Music Festival new season on Saturday at Jordan Hall.     [continued]

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October 12, 2014

Safely Traditional? Sometimes!

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Boston Lyric Opera opened its 2014-15 season with a tried and true crowd-pleaser, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. Given BLO’s significant risk-taking this season—two of the four operas are little known—one might have expected a safely traditional staging of one of Verdi’s most popular works. This was not always the case, though the musical performances from cast, chorus, and orchestra, however, were quite fine while the acting was effective.     [continued]

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radius ensemble Encircles Mixed Rep

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The 16th season of radius ensemble opened Saturday at Longy with “Exhale,” in which an off-kilter boogie-woogie, moved on to a “feeling of summer,” shifted to darkness, took a break, and came back playing an hour’s worth of Schubert. Programmatically it was yet another ensemble radius coup, performance-wise somewhat of a disenchantment.     [continued]

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Pro Arte’s Grounded Perspective

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Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra’s concert last night at First Church Cambridge focused in on elements of special relevance to American identity and experience. Respighi was denounced as a bombastic pastichist, Mozart was honored as the songster of human fragility, and Beethoven was embraced as the voice of the Brave.     [continued]

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October 11, 2014

H&H Begins 200th Season

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Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society opened its bicentennial season on Friday night at Symphony Hall with a program of crowd-pleasers by Handel, Bach, and Vivaldi, evidently meant to showcase its chorus and string players.     [continued]

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October 10, 2014

Zacharias, Schubert, Mozart: A Trifecta

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Christian Zacharias conducted the BSO in Schubert’s Incidental Music from Rosamunde (D. 797) and the Symphony in B Minor, “Unfinished” (D. 759); he doubled as soloist, conducting from the keyboard, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453. It was a thoughtful tour de force.     [continued]

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October 8, 2014

Aging Master Attends Old School II

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The locally eminent mid-70s Gabriel Chodos gave an old-school recital at Jordan Hall to a rapt house Sunday night with golden tone, evenness of voicing, burnished subtleties of phrasing and breathing. At time it became a holy experience.     [continued]

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October 7, 2014

Old Friends Return to First Monday

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Yesterday’s installment commenced First Monday’s 30th-anniversary season at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. A justifiably proud Laurence Lesser chose pieces that “made him happy.”     [continued]

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Grit and Gracefulness from Muir

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On Monday night’s concert by Boston University’s quartet-in-residence, the Muir Quartet, the audience was treated to works by Wolf, Janacek and Dvorak. The Muir did not disappoint.     [continued]

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