October 21, 2018

in: Reviews

Jumppanen Pitches Bach’s Sonic Calculus

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The young Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen elucidated, processed, and dispatched The Art of Fugue on Calderwood Hall’s Steinway concert grand Sunday afternoon, a sold-out house attesting to Jumppanen’s status as favorite.    [continued]

October 21, 2018

in: Reviews

Waging Peace with Mozart

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Mass Peace Action’s “Music for Peace Concert” at Harvard Epworth Church triumphed in an all-Mozart concert Saturday.    [continued]

October 20, 2018

in: Reviews

BPO Opens 40th Season

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With 40 years behind him, Benjamin Zander can still make a presto arrival on the podium, and the players had no trouble keeping up in Glinka, Dvořák, and Brahms on Thursday at Sanders.    [continued]

October 19, 2018

in: Reviews

Love’s Labours Lost

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With Ken-David Masur at the helm and Garrick Ohlsson at the keyboard, the Boston Symphony Orchestra presented music by John Harbison alongside monuments of the Russian romantic tradition last night.    [continued]

October 18, 2018

in: Reviews

Too Much Organ a Good Thing

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Concert organist Nathan Laube’s entertaining and apposite selections brilliantly showcased the large and impressive Nelson Barden – E. M Skinner Organ on Sunday at the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans on Cape Cod.    [continued]

October 16, 2018

in: Reviews

A Coup de Couperin

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The French ensemble Les Talens Lyriques opened Boston Early Music Festival’s concert season Sunday at Emmanuel Church with an exquisite sampler of François Couperin’s chamber and vocal work in addition to the keyboard repertoire for which he is most famous.    [continued]

October 16, 2018

in: Reviews

Chameleon Does It Again

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In “where past and future meet,” Deborah Boldin and company gave a winning assortment of five pieces by well- and lesser-known composers fine performances at First Church over the weekend.    [continued]

October 15, 2018

in: Reviews

BLO Brings the Lyric to Seville

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With skill and playfulness, David Angus led the Boston Lyric Opera season opener, Il Barbiere di Seviglia (The Barber of Seville) at the Cutler Majestic Theater Friday, finding easy lilt and spontaneity in Rossini’s drama giocoso mastery. The run continues Wednesday night through next weekend.    [continued]

October 15, 2018

in: Reviews

Comfortable, Comprehending and Full of Smiles

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Violinist Daniel Stepner and composer-pianist Yehudi Wyner gave a recital Sunday at Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center to benefit the scholarship fund for Aston Magna.      [continued]

October 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Whatever Tone You Please, Indeed

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At the approach of his 600th birthday, Johannes Ockeghem (ca. 1420-1497) thrives, thanks in great measure to seven years of advocacy from director Scott Metcalfe and the singers of Blue Heron. I heard the eighth installment, which centered on the four-voice Missa cuiusvis toni (Mass on whatever tone you please), at the First Church in Cambridge.      [continued]

October 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Apotheosized Form From the Jupiter Quartet

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The Jupiter Quartet brought cyclic, coloristic delights of Debussy, Agócs, and Mendelssohn to a full house of deeply attentive listeners at a private concert on Beacon Hill last night. The ensemble will perform the Debussy Quartet and the Schubert Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887 at Ashmont Hill Chamber Music tomorrow (Sunday) 4 pm.    [continued]

October 12, 2018

in: Reviews

BSO Opens With Reverie and Reality

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Opening night at Symphony Hall showcased our world-ranked Boston Symphony Orchestra in works of the dominating Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Bartók, recalling another giant, Serge Koussevitzky.    [continued]

October 10, 2018

in: Reviews

“Sanctuary” Sanctifies Symphony Hall

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For the Terezin Music Foundation 2018 gala in Symphony Hall Monday, pianist Simone Dinnerstein gave an hour-plus recital after a string quartet from the Boston Symphony opened the musical portion of the evening.    [continued]

October 8, 2018

in: Reviews

Dynamic Sphinx Virtuosi Make Boston Debut

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Young string players, 18-strong, surged, thrilled and chilled, oftentimes, flashing Flamenco, as they filled Calderwood Hall’s “sonic box” with a world of music Sunday.    [continued]

October 6, 2018

in: Reviews

The true pearl Flows Through the Tapestries

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David Lang’s true pearl, an opera in five tapestries, premiered in Calderwood Hall Thursday; subsequently a recording will be available to accompany visitors in the Tapestry Room.    [continued]

October 1, 2018

in: Reviews

Brilliant “Solace” Radiates

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Introspection and catharsis abided on the Pickman Hall stage Saturday with Radius Ensemble’s “Solace,” an eclectic set of comforting pieces highlighting composers who suffered within or escaped from totalitarian regimes along with a pairing of two living composers, an underplayed oddity, and a titan of the repertoire.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

On the Shoulders with Malov

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Making his Boston début this afternoon, Sergey Malov brought his violoncello da spalla to the Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall for a performance of the even-numbered cello suites of J. S. Bach.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

H+H Shows Energy and Sparkle in Bach

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Cantatas, concerti and a Latin Mass of the German master inspired the chorus, orchestra and soloists to produce one of the lightest, most energetic events I’ve heard in the Symphony Hall for years.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

From Ethnic to Cantorial to Hepcat

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NEC Philharmonia with its charismatic conductor Hugh Wolff and NEC’s beloved Laurence Lesser recognized the latter’s approaching 80th birthday with extraordinary playing and celebratory programming.    [continued]

September 29, 2018

in: Reviews

PermaDeath: Sting or Victory?

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PemaDeath sparked to life when the characters in the world of the video game appeared on a screen above the Cutler Majestic Theater stage on Friday. Last performance Saturday.    [continued]

September 27, 2018

in: Reviews

Reliably Sourced Bouquet for Our Senior Pianist

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Russell Sherman’s performance at Sunday’s Jordan Hall faculty recital came from a realm most of us can hardly imagine, much less reach.    [continued]

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October 18, 2018

in: News & Features

Cantatas of Love and War from the Sun King’s Fadeout

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Zachary Wilder, tenor

As is their wont, Les Bostonades tunes to its French Baroque channel on Friday at Gordon Chapel of Old South Church. Two cantata modern premieres are up: Gervais’s Telemaque and Renier’s L’Indifference Puni (US premiere). Zachary Wilder, onetime Boston-based tenor who has gone on to make a name for himself across Europe and more recently in Japan, returns for this performance. (Audiences will recognize Wilder from numerous Boston Early Music Festival productions.)

BMInt wanted to get the scoop and enlisted Bostonades violinist Sarah Darling to both interview and join in with Wilder.

SD: Les Bostonades has a long tradition of promoting French Baroque music in Boston. What’s the je ne sais quoi about this rep?

ZW: French Baroque music’s appeal really comes from its intense link to language, dance, and harmony, which were highly valued by these composers at the time. Even the instrumental music, with its swung rhythms, takes on the lilt of the French language. The resulting music is full of surprising jazzy harmonies and an irresistible groove. At least that’s why I love it. We spent a lot of time looking through repertoire in the archives at the Bibliothèque National de France. At the end of the day we were really looking for repertoire that is excellent and musically compelling; otherwise it’s uninteresting to bother digging it out just for the sake of a modern premiere. When we came upon the Renier and the Gervais cantatas, we were immediately struck by the skillful and exciting compositional styles. [continued…]

October 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Reviving a Searing Attack on Opera Seria

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Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s name appears more frequently in musical textbooks than in concert programs today; though performances of his better-known works (Orfeo, both Iphigénies, and Alceste) do visit contemporary stages periodically, they are by no means standards of the operatic stage. Therefore, his opera Alceste, will be arriving as something of a novelty, when Edward Elwyn Jones leads the Harvard University Choir, Gran Harmonie, and local soloists Hailey Fuqua, Jonas Budris, and Sumner Thompson in a free concert version at Memorial Church on October 20th  at 7:30.  According to Jones:

Throughout his oeuvre, Gluck aimed for melody that is “noble, expressive, and natural, and declaimed exactly according to the prosody of the language.” The composer’s direct, immediate vocal style propels his dramas vividly, bringing tireless human emotions to life on the stage.

 Alceste’s notable arias are simple and direct: the regal “O Dieux! Du destin;” the authoritative “Divinités du Styx;” the exquisite “Ah, divinités implacables;” and the heartbreakingly poignant “Vis pour garder le souvenir.” But it is surely in the accompanied recits that we see Gluck’s true genius in portraying emotion: Alceste’s torn personality is progressing rapidly towards Gluck’s ultimate study of human psychology, Iphigenie en Tauride. [continued…]

October 8, 2018

in: News & Features

BLO Rosina Confides and Opines

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Boston Lyric Opera’s five-performance run of Rossini’s ever-popular Barber of Seville begins Friday at the Majestic Theater. David Angus will conduct stage director Rosetta Cucchi’s production designed by Julia Noulin-Mérat, costumed by Gianluca Falaschi, and lighted by DM Wood. The cast comprises Matthew Worth as Figaro, Daniela Mack as Rosina, Jesus Garcia as Almaviva, David Crawford as Basilio with Michelle Trainor, Steven Condy, Jesse Darden, Vincent Turregano in smaller roles.

BMInt writer and BLO annotator Laura Prichard tells us, “It is a veritable tour de force of vocal acrobatics, musical wit, and comedy. Beginning with a spirited overture, Rossini’s approach contrasts upbeat humor with poignant musical touches. Rossini mastered the opera buffa by peppering each act with duets and trios and capping each act’s finale with a sophisticated ensemble (à la Mozart). By utilizing the satirical opera buffa genre, Rossini could transform characters from the still-popular commedia dell’arte into scheming servants and deceptive suitors, laying bare the social injustices of their time.”

The BLO’s Rosina, mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, acclaimed for her “caramel timbre, flickering vibrato, and crisp articulation” (Opernwelt) as she “hurls fast notes like a Teresa Berganza or a Frederica von Stade” (San Francisco Chronicle), had some interesting words for BMInt.

FLE: After nearly three weeks of rehearsing, can you relate anything surprising in the BLO staging? [continued…]

September 29, 2018

in: News & Features

Donald Wilkinson: The Angel Took Risks

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How, then, to say goodbye to a collaborator, colleague, and companion of 25 years, someone with whom we made music, sharing good times and bad, season after season, adding up to a full third of man’s biblical lifespan? What appropriate, meaningful words can come forth, even as we struggle with our tears and our grief, to evoke for others essence of Donnie’s kind and tender soul?

He was a man of almost angelic purity. Candid and naïve almost to a fault, held back from the start by problems of education and upbringing, he wanted, despite significant inner handicaps, to go forward towards life and to give his existence meaning. And he did indeed forge a path for himself, realizing his ambition to be a performing artist, and giving enormous pleasure and consolation to countless others via the beauty of his voice. To cite a line from the American songbook, a repertoire that Donnie treasured and recorded, he did it his way. There was a nobility to his existence, and I am humbled as I contemplate, insofar as I perceive it, the arc of his life which sadly ended yesterday.

You heard that round, warm, tender singing voice, onstage and via recording, and reveled in its author’s solid, confident musicianship, in his authentic and appealing personal presence. Did you know, however, that Don’s training was as an electrical engineer, and that he spent years working in a large corporation before deciding that music was his true calling? He told me once that his family had strongly counseled against his career change. Yet he persisted, leaving secure employment, and braving, at the start of his new professional life, genuine hardship and financial stress. He took a big risk, and he succeeded, becoming a property owner in his personal life, and a reliable and welcome part of the Boston-area musical scene. [continued…]

September 24, 2018

in: News & Features

Twelve Tones in Tinseltown

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Omar Ebrahim as Schoenberg as Bogart.

Arnold Schoenberg fled the darkness and despair of Hitler’s Europe for 1930s Hollywood—a bold new world of golden sunshine and camera-ready beauty. Can he find a way to reconcile reflection with action, and tradition with revolution? What meaning has art in the wake of atrocity?

These are questions composer Tod Machover tries to settle in Schoenberg in Hollywood, a Boston Lyric Opera New Works Initiative commission. But the show is not some subtle intellectual disquisition. Rather, the composer told BMInt, There’s actually a lot of action, and believe it or not, there is even some blood—read about Richard Gerstl’s relationship with Schoenberg’s first wife, Mathilde, to get an idea where that is heading. Schoenberg’s life, in addition to his music, was one of the most dramatic you could imagine. So even though our cast consists only of three singers playing Arnold Schoenberg, A Boy and A Girl, they all change all the time. And the electronic handling of the 16-piece ensemble will offer lots of layers and effects.

Running for four nights (November 14th-18th) at the Emerson Paramount Theater; tickets HERE.

BMInt spoke with Machover recently.

FLE: Now, I can’t remember whether Schoenberg was introduced to Irving Thalberg by Karl Marx or Harpo Marx [continued…]

September 18, 2018

in: News & Features

Gounod Grand Opera To Be Outed

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Charles Gounod

Having found long-missing original parts for Gounod’s La reine de Saba, or The Queen of Sheba, Gil Rose is now preparing to lead Odyssey Opera in a concert version on Saturday, September 22nd, at Jordan Hall, in what may be both the American premiere of Gounod’s grand opera, as well as the first complete performance since its opening night in 1862. Ticket’s HERE.

In his day, Charles Gounod, whose 200th birthday occurred on June 17th, stood among the most highly regarded of French composers. He won the Prix de Rome at 21; while studying for the next three years in the Eternal City, he found himself bored by the current repertory of Italian opera (Donizetti, Bellini, Mercadante) feeling that they lacked the vigor of Rossini, but deeply moved by the music of Palestrina in the Sistine Chapel. His profound absorption of Renaissance polyphony was not common among French composers of his day. It lent backbone to the Mass settings and other sacred works of later years. At the end of his stay in Rome, he went to Vienna, where he was quite overwhelmed by Mozart and Beethoven. On his journey home, he stopped in Leipzig, where Mendelssohn gave him a private performance of his Scottish Symphony in the Gewandhaus. All of these experiences would strike fire at various points in the future. [continued…]

September 15, 2018

in: News & Features

80 Years, and 45 at the Conservatory

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The genial interlocutor with the nimbus-bright silver fro who presides over First Mondays at Jordan Hall has a major birthday coming up. New England Conservatory celebrates Laurence Lesser, legendary cellist, passionate teacher, and President Emeritus, for his 80th Birthday in NEC’s season-opening orchestra concert on Wednesday, September 26th at 7:30 pm at Jordan Hall. Lesser will appear as a soloist with the NEC Philharmonia and conductor Hugh Wolff in Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra

NEC Interim President Thomas Novak says, “An integral part of NEC for more than four decades, Larry is one of the foremost cello pedagogues of our time, following in the footsteps of his teacher, Gregor Piatigorsky, in creating a lasting legacy of hundreds of students.

Admission is free, but subject to the Conservatory’s new policy requiring email reservations, motivated, reputable sources tell us, by the marketing department’s interest in doing targeted advertising. No immediate plan to begin charging for free concerts seems to lurk in the offing. Click for tix HERE.  

Lesser’s conversation with BMInt begins after the break. [continued…]

September 7, 2018

in: News & Features

Continuing To Fulfill Mrs. Gardner’s Mission

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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s music season gets underway with back-to-back concerts of mostly site-specific repertoire this weekend. The highlight may come in a commissioned work responding to Whistler’s “Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach,” which hangs in the Museum’s Yellow Room. Jessica Meyer wrote Grasping for Light during her week-long residency at the Museum last March.

Other items in A Far Cry’s “Portraits,” featuring music inspired by renowned works of art, include Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Respighi’s Botticelli Triptych, nods to the Museum’s upcoming Botticelli exhibition, which opens Feb. 2019. William Grant Still took inspiration for “Mother and Child,” part of his Suite for Violin and Piano, from Sargent Johnson’s lithograph,Mother and Child.”

In celebration of the Boston native’s centennial, violinist Tai Murray will join A Far Cry, in Bernstein’s “Agathon” from Serenade after Plato’s Symposium

 “Portraits” runs on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m in the Museum’s Calderwood Hall. Tickets ($15 – $36) include museum admission, and may be purchased HERE or at the door. [continued…]

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