Reviews

August 1, 2014

Messiaenic Revelations in Dorchester

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The sole work on Ashmont Hill Chamber Music’s Thursday program was Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, a nearly hour-long meditation on scenes and concepts from the Book of Revelation. Recently installed Artistic Director Mary Beth Alger has begun her first season with AHCM strongly, with programs of meaty repertoire and performers of the highest quality.     [continued]

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Yinfei Wang: Underwhelming, Overwhelming

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Yinfei Wang grappled with hall size, concentration, and closure in a piano recital with many satisfying moments in Boswell Hall at Walnut Hill. Among other things the piano is too large for the space. But credit for effort to Wang on Thursday night, part of the Foundation for the Chinese Performing Arts annual festival.     [continued]

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Bass Sounds and More

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Solo cellist Emily Davidson gave the third and final presentation of “Bass Sounds,” Thursday night at Emmanuel Church’s Lindsey Chapel in Boston for SoHIP, featuring J. S. Bach’s Second Suite in D Minor together with works by one younger and two older contemporaries.     [continued]

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Profound Can-Banging at MoCA

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Bang on a Can’s annual summer residence at Mass MoCA in North Adams created an electrical counterpoint that was vital in the performance I attended last Saturday. The run culminates in the BoaC Marathon on this Saturday.     [continued]

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July 28, 2014

Verve and Ease Emanate at Tanglewood

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Sunday afternoon’s Tanglewood concert was dedicated to the memory of the wonderful conductor Rafael Frühbeck, who sadly died earlier in the summer. Under conductor Jacques Lacombe, and with pianist Gabriela Montero and The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the triumphal, joyful and precise display of orchestral, instrumental and choral verve in well-known works was surely a fine tribute.     [continued]

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Big Trio Gives Big Performance

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Consisting of violinist Livia Sohn and pianist Bernadene Blaha, who live and teach in California, and cellist Luigi Piovano, who lives in Rome, Latitude 41 gave a cohesive performance at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock Sunday. These musicians play as though the trio is their whole lives.     [continued]

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Elegiac Cello in a Country Church

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The much-admired Boston-based cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer appeared in a solo recital under the auspices of Monadnock Music Sunday in the sweltering but lovely Emmanuel Church in Dublin, New Hampshire. Adorned with five gorgeous Tiffany stained-glass windows, the church was packed with local admirers who all seemed to know and to adore their festival cellist.     [continued]

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July 27, 2014

Zestful Duo at Maverick

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Cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Natasha Paremski collaborated on a virtuosic program including Strauss, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock NY last Saturday.    [continued]

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Memorable Mahler 2 from Honeck, BSO

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In a luminous Mahler 2nd, Manfred Honeck painted a vast, wild canvas with bold, masterful strokes; most satisfying of all was his comprehending native knowledge of the geography of this monumental work; every curve of the score was meticulously traced, but yet more impressive  at Tanglewood on Saturday night was his projection of Romantic scale.     [continued]

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Quartet Spins NH Mill Wheels

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Last Tuesday’s Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music offering was truly unique: beloved Boston tenor Frank Kelley performing Schubert’s dark chronicle of obsessive love and loss, Die schöne Müllerin, accompanied by the Apple Hill String Quartet in a world premiere arrangement by Jeff Louie.     [continued]

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July 26, 2014

Honeck Explodes Musical Cliches

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The last-minute substitution of conductor Manfred Honeck for Christoph von Dohnányi (sadly facing a serious illness in his family), made for both the former’s Tanglewood debut as well as an exciting concert of Beethoven, Mozart and Mendelssohn on Friday.     [continued]

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NYO-USA Quite Like Pros

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The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America made the first stop on its coast-to-coast 2014 tour last night at Tanglewood, and throughout the evening, the playing was of a surprisingly high caliber.     [continued]

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July 25, 2014

Halcyon Music Festival Takes Flight

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A new chamber music festival took flight Thursday evening in the ornate and traditional confines of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s St. John’s Episcopal Church. Both music and venue of this fledgling venture conjured all manner of glowing and colorful imagery and emotions. Continuing tonight and tomorrow and through August 2nd.   [continued]

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Enchanting Barter Enraptured

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Boston Midsummer Opera’s Tsai Performance Center production of Bedřich Smetana’s The Bartered Bride was, in a single word: splendid. Repeating Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

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A Bristling Herring From BOC

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If you can’t find your way out of town to a musical festival this weekend, you could surely do worse than going to Dorchester’s Strand Theater to see a full-length, fully-staged comic opera, performed with flair by the rising young singers of the Boston Opera Collaborative. The FREE, supertitled production of Britten’s Albert Herring runs three more performances, through July 27th.     [continued]

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July 23, 2014

FCM Coda Fills Ozawa Hall Stage

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On Monday night we gathered one last time in Ozawa Hall to hear the youthful Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center perform in the Festival of Contemporary Music. After four days of appearing in chamber music subsets, they all assembled to form an orchestra.     [continued]

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Passionate Intensity of Purcell

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Last night’s SoHIP presentation in St. Peter’s Church, Weston of Marina Rauschenfels together with the superb musicianship of the three instrumentalists, Burning River Baroque left an indelible imprint on my psyche. Repeats Thursday at Emmanuel Church Boston.    [continued]

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Harlem Comes to Woodstock

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The Harlem Quartet, active since 2006, made its Maverick Concerts debut Saturday. While most of the repertoire was not standard, including good works by Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis, the ensemble played well enough for us to wish it would return with Bartók and Schubert.     [continued]

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July 21, 2014

Mercury Orchestra Plays Like a Pro

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Channing Yu brought his assembled orchestra, chorus and soloists together at Sanders Theater for an ambitious Saturday evening, tackling the sometimes inscrutable Mahler Second Symphony.     [continued]

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Gratitude for BSO, Nelsons, Bell

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At Tanglewood, on a see-almost-forever clear Sunday, with the incoming music director on the podium to provide hope, it felt like a day to be grateful for the fact that Boston has a world-class orchestra; grateful that we have signs of encouraging new leadership; and grateful for the luxury of seeing soloists like Joshua Bell in midsummer.     [continued]

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FCM Shows Stronger Profile

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Sunday morning’s concert at Ozawa Hall paradoxically gave the FCM a much stronger profile by blowing away any sense of stylistic or formal coherence whatsoever.   [continued]

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Two Sisters + One = Fine String Trio

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Although the sisters of Duo Parnas and violist Tim Kantor had never performed together in public, they joined for a splendidly cohesive performance at Maverick Concerts on Sunday. In balance, ensemble, and interpretive unanimity, they sounded like an established group in works of Beethoven, Andrew Norman, and Dohnányi.     [continued]

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July 20, 2014

BSO Glorious in Decorative Rep

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Andris Nelsons and the BSO were in glorious form in the colorful aspects of Friday night’s Tanglewood program. Håkan Hardenberger was generous and exciting as trumpeter in  Rolf Martinsson’s Trumpet Concerto, and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien was a laudable closer.     [continued]

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More Languages To Parse at FCM

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The third concert of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music program was again heavy on the works of TCM alumni and other Americans, without having yet provided any detectable artistic unity. With eight more pieces from the last 10 years to come at the FCM, eight more languages to parse, perhaps I will discern a thread.     [continued]

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July 19, 2014

FCM and BSO: Beautiful Brevity

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The Festival of Contemporary Music last Friday at Tanglewood offered up 15 brief, brand-new pieces by the Composition Fellows, and at the Shed the BSO gave enjoyable performances of repertory that is as standard as it gets, plus some folk songs expertly gussied up by Aaron Copland and delivered with poise, aplomb and even humor by Thomas Hampson. It made for a relaxing day.    [continued]

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