Reviews

November 27, 2014

A Fiddler’s Baton Heralds Thanksgiving

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With broken love, bears, and drumsticks, Leonidas Kavakos, the violinist, and now increasingly the conductor, heralded the holiday season for the BSO this Tuesday by exposing the lovelorn soul of the young Bartok, asking Papa Haydn to bring on the bears, and then calling on Mussorgsky for tone painting.     [continued]

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Soloists, Choruses and Orchestra Compelling in Britten

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Monday evening’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem by the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Symphony Hall follows on the centennial of the composer’s birth last year and centennial of the outbreak of World War I this past summer.     [continued]

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November 26, 2014

Expansive Purcell at All Saints’ Parish

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Under Suzanne McAllister and Emily Howe in All Saints’ Parish in Brookline on Sunday, the Henry Purcell Society offered thoughtful and amazing performances of Purcell’s larger works for choir.     [continued]

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November 25, 2014

Bloodless Baroque Musical Duels

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At First Church, Cambridge, four slender but decorative harpsichords lined the curved apse for Cambridge Concentus’s  Sunday afternoon traversal of Bach’s six concerti for two, three and four harpsichords; four local luminaries were soloists and the strings were one-to-a part.     [continued]

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November 24, 2014

BSO and the Three Sergeis

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Andris Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and four illustrious soloists (including three singers making their BSO debuts) magnificently carried off a program of majestic proportions. There was a world premiere and three Sergeis—Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Koussevitzky.     [continued]

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Complex Portraiture, Fragmented Yet With Teeth

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From Classical Greece to Ukraine to Broadway, Roomful of Teeth mixed another powerful motley of mood, affect, experience, and premieres for Friday’s performance at Kresge; Roomful of Teeth reimagined madness.     [continued]

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Odyssey Opera Extends Winning Streak

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The Argento double-bill of Miss Havisham’s Wedding Day and A Water Bird Talk produced by Gil Rose’s Odyssey Opera this past weekend at Suffolk University’s Modern Theater was enticing. Rose’s direction the composer’s evocative and colorful orchestration was superb, as was the band’s playing.     [continued]

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November 23, 2014

Praise the Singers and Pass on the Premise

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First Church Congregational in the People’s Republic of Cambridge was the site last night of Spectrum Singers multicultural program “Joyously Affirmed.” Despite my skepticism on the programming premise, the chorus did rise to the pre-holidays occasion by offering a generous, ambitious and well executed spectrum of music in Hebrew, Yiddish, three forms of early English, Latin, and Nigerian.     [continued]

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Radius Radiates New and Old

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Color galore began early in radius Ensemble’s concert last night at Longy School, and developed into a still deeper sumptuousness—a French enchantment. Brief comments warmly, often humorously preceding each piece from the various members suggest a fireside kind of evening.    [continued]

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November 22, 2014

Contemplating 1964

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Terry Riley’s hypnotic In C from 1964 inspired a focus on that year for A Far Cry’s program with Urbanity Dance at Jordan Hall on Friday. Barshai’s arrangement of Shostakovich’s 10th String Quartet and the little-known Symphony No. 7 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg framed the first-named work.     [continued]

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Daniel Impressed in Trinity’s Den

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Trinity Church, Copley Square was the site for Boston Camerata’s latest speculative realization. The Play of Daniel came with immersive and subtle staging and had at its heart a remarkable performance from Jordan Wetherston Pitts. Repeats Sunday.   [continued]

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November 21, 2014

No One Wanted to Escape from BoCo’s Palace

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Bostonians bored with past-peak foliage can opt for a steamy seraglio this weekend as operagoers did last night for Boston Conservatory’s production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers). The hooting and hollering crowd of under-thirties that dominated the full house made the case for the relevance of lively comic opera for their cohort. Continues through Sunday. [continued]

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Sibelius and Brahms: A Discovery

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Boston Philharmonic Orchestra treated us to three works by Sibelius followed by a “tiny, tiny” piano concerto from Brahms on Thursday evening at Sanders Theater. Benjamin Zander described and revealed hidden jewels as only a rebellious scholar could.     [continued]

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November 20, 2014

Quartet From South of the Border Delights

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Celebrity Series of Boston presented the Boston debut of the Símon Bolívar String Quartet in Longy’s Pickman Hall last night. The enthusiastically anticipated and intriguing program sold out early enough that an extra show became necessary.     [continued]

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Aesthetic Reclamation of Tristan Tales from BLO

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Boston Lyric Opera’s presentation of Frank Martin’s opera Le Vin Herbé (The Love Potion) at Temple Ohabei Shalom last night is an authentic event. This visually mesmerizing and beautifully performed realization provide chance to experience Martin’s distinctive complete with a new English translation. The Love Potion will be performed again Thursday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., as well as at an already sold-out Sunday matinee.     [continued]

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November 19, 2014

String Master’s Series Showcases Andrew Mark

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Comprising Martinu, Beethoven, Harbison and Strauss, cellist Andrew Mark’s recital with pianist Max Levinson at Seully Hall Sunday was a marvel of virtuosic understatement and elegant restraint.     [continued]

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A Far Cryʼs Immersive “Obsession”

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In the intimate confines of Calderwood Hall, A Far Cryʼs collaborated with Soprano Amanda Forsytheʼs in musical and aural delights. On Sunday, the Criers partied like it was 1694.     [continued]

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November 18, 2014

Mendelssohn and Wolf Seeking Connections

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Emmanuel Music continued its examination of the chamber music of Felix Mendelssohn and all 53 Mörike-Lieder of Hugo Wolf on Sunday in the Parish Hall with mostly accomplished performances of the well-known and lesser-known.    [continued]

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Grunstein’s Goldbergs on Piano

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What made Sarah Grunstein’s  Goldberg Variations of Bach so compelling on Friday in Williams Hall of the NEC was its presentation by a pianist who is not only (very) fluent on her chosen instrument, but also conversant with (and sympathetic to) the instruments of Bach’s own time and their particular syntax.     [continued]

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Choral Responses to War at a Great Basilica

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Seraphim Singers under by Music Director Jennifer Lester examined choral music’s response to war and violence during the last century at Mission Church on Sunday. The many parts came together with emotional and artistic satisfaction.     [continued]

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November 17, 2014

Russian Connections and Magic Tricks

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The subtle interconnectedness of the BSO’s Thursday night program gave the concert an added resonance that still lingers four days later as I write this review without having taken notes. Two Russian works, written just 25 years apart, framed the evening: Tchaikovsky’s enigmatic Hamlet Overture-Fantasy and Stravinsky’s landmark Rite of Spring. Brett Dean’s Dramatis Personae, Music for Trumpet and Orchestra with Håkan Hardenberger occupied the center.     [continued]

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An Illuminated History of Notation

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Tom Kelly and Blue Heron offered an illuminated concert/lecture under the rubric “Capturing Music: Writing and Singing in the Middle Ages” at First Church in Cambridge Friday. Kelly’s elucidations with Blue Heron were visceral.   [continued]

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A Prodigal Returns with Genuine Goods

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Michael Tilson Thomas, his crack ensemble the San Francisco Symphony, and Gil Shaham brought “Legacies and Lineages” to Symphony Hall for the Celebrity Series on Sunday. An astute Boston crowd harbored fond recollections of Tilson Thomas’s work with the BSO in the mid-1970s.    [continued]

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Civic’s Virtues and Virtuoso

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Not in the past many months had I heard another such a spectacular display of piano virtuosity as in Sunday’s Boston Civic Symphony concert under Max Hobart at Jordan Hall, where Jonathan Bass fearlessly and brilliantly tackled two really tough pieces.     [continued]

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November 16, 2014

Boston Baroque with Vivid Vespers

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Elements from L’Orfeo, and L’Arianna figure prominently in the Vespers offered by Boston Baroque at Jordan Hall on Friday. Thoughtfully tailored, the two-hour-long traversal of Monteverdi’s Marian motets seemed continually to say something new with ever more interesting and beautiful music.    [continued]

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