December 10, 2018

in: Reviews

Pinpoint Precision from Palestrina to Muhly

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Taking Palestrina as their standard bearer, Tallis Scholars regaled Harvard’s Memorial Church BEMF crowd on Friday with antiphonal symmetry even in program design.    [continued]

December 9, 2018

in: Reviews

The Variations United Are Indefatigable

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Saturday evening at Longy, the wide-ranging pianist Christopher Taylor effectively served up two of the larger thematic sets, from 1740 and 1975.    [continued]

December 8, 2018

in: Reviews

Messiah for the 18th and 21st Centuries

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In the auspicious year of 1812, some 76 years after its premiere in Dublin, and 51 years after the composer’s death, the Handel and Haydn Society introduced Handel’s Messiah to America. This weekend, Boston Baroque brings its 38th-annual HIP version to Jordan Hall.    [continued]

December 6, 2018

in: Reviews

Lutenist Succeeds With Diminutions

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Eight-course lutenist Hopkinson Smith reprised his Diapason d’Or-winning CD “Mad Dog” in a candlelight Cambridge Society for Early Music concert Monday evening at the Christ Church in Cambridge.    [continued]

December 5, 2018

in: Reviews

BMOP Features Frog, Two Cellos & Violin

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Gil Rose and Boston Modern Orchestra Project enlightened, stretched, and amused, and got  Friday’s Jordan Hall audience into “Trouble”    [continued]

December 3, 2018

in: Reviews

Refreshing Exactitude from H+ H

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Thanksgiving having passed, we heard a timely annual reminder of Who was born unto us in the year zero. Our most venerable singing society rais’d Messiah incorruptible three times at Symphony Hall over the weekend.    [continued]

December 3, 2018

in: Reviews

John Cage, Guitar?

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All the compositions on Aaron Larget-Caplan’s Saturday night concert at Arlington Street Church  came from the pen of the thorny master between 1933 and 1948. The eponymous Stone Records CD release party-concert included guest artists Sharan Leventhal, violin; and Adam Levin, guitar.    [continued]

December 2, 2018

in: Reviews

A Far Cry: Enthusiastically Mixed

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A Far Cry gave an imaginative selection of mostly transcribed pieces to a substantially populated and enthusiastic Calderwood Hall Saturday (and Sunday).    [continued]

December 2, 2018

in: Reviews

Chameleon Tells 100-year-old Tale

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The Chameleon Arts Ensemble under flutist-director Deborah Boldin honored the centenary of l’Histoire du soldat  in some interesting French company at First Church Boston last night. Repeats on Sunday, December 2, at four o’clock; don’t miss it!    [continued]

December 1, 2018

in: Reviews

Fire Bringers at Longy

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The Neave Trio (violinist Anna Williams, cellist Mikhail Veselov, and pianist Eri Nakamura) can be counted on to present interesting and varied repertoire, but Friday’s concert of Roussel, Shostakovitch, and Korngold at Longy particularly stood out.    [continued]

November 30, 2018

in: Reviews

Christmas Oratorio in Symphony Hall

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Last night Andris Nelsons led the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the the newly-refreshed Tanglewood Festival Chorus, a powerful quartet of solo voices, and the BSO Children’s Choir,  kicking off the holiday music season  jubilantly.    [continued]

November 27, 2018

in: Reviews

Thankful for the Russians, Zander & BPYO

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For its traditional post-Thanksgiving concert Sunday at Symphony Hall, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra paired Rach 2 with Shostakovich 10.    [continued]

November 27, 2018

in: Reviews

Winsor Wins: Four Moderns Plus 16th-C Susato

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Closing this Thanksgiving Weekend in style, Winsor Music dished up a delightfully varied repast of new and old at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline. Guest pianist Stephen Drury, brought some Rzewski.    [continued]

November 26, 2018

in: Reviews

Diatonics, Chromatics and Perceptibilities

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Collage New Music honored John Harbison, one of its major founders, ahead of his forthcoming 80th birthday with exemplary performances of two of his works at Pickman Hall Sunday night.    [continued]

November 25, 2018

in: Reviews

Caccini Liberates Ruggiero from Alcina

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BEMF’s well-crafted chamber version of La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina allowed Saturday’s (and Sunday’s) Jordan Hall crowds to concentrate on the delights of some fine music by a little-known composer.    [continued]

November 25, 2018

in: Reviews

The Bach Project Celebrates the Master

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Organist Andrew Sheranian and some of Boston’s more experienced Baroque players welcomed an open and intent “congregation” to partake in a Thanksgiving for Bach at All Saints’ Church on Sunday.    [continued]

November 24, 2018

in: Reviews

BSO and Beethoven: Even & Odd

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For its annual Black Friday concert, the BSO and Andris Nelsons offered two symphonies to a sold-out hall.    [continued]

November 21, 2018

in: Reviews

Danish Foursome Shows Mastery

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The Danish String Quartet brought Haydn and Beethoven classics to Rockport Music’s Shalin Liu Performance Center on Sunday along with an early work by their fellow Dane Hans Abrahamsen    [continued]

November 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Inon Barnatan Enlightens

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The pianist Inon Barnatan generated warmth and cameraderie with each piece of his remarkable Celebrity Series program in Jordan Hall on Sunday afternoon.    [continued]

November 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Styles Collide with Zenón and Spektral

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Miguel Zenón  and the Spektral Quartet animated their CD “Yo soy la tradiciòn” at First Church Back Bay on November 15th.    [continued]

November 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Not Your Usual Tradiciòn

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A CD debut concert at First Church of Boston on November 15th found the MacArthur-certified genius and Guggenheim Fellow Miguel Zenón alongside the magnificently flexible Spektral String Quartet, playing live, the music on his 11th ground-breaking album “Yo soy la tradiciòn.    [continued]

more reviews →

December 5, 2018

in: News & Features

Interesting and Unusual Opera CD Suggestions

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Last year in this space [HERE] I offered an overview of more than a dozen fascinating new CD releases of opera recordings, ending with detailed reviews of two additional operas: by Bellini and by English composer John Joubert. My feature stirred up some lively comments.

During 2018 the harvest has been even more astounding. Whether you are new to the world of opera listening or have great familiarity with the repertoire, you are bound to find something for your taste, or to give as a gift to someone who loves music, theater, or the singing voice.

I divide the pile of discs into several rough categories, for convenience: 1) relatively well-known works that have been recorded many times; 2) a handful of valuable Mozart recordings from different points in his career; 3) lesser-known works by well-known composers; 4) Baroque and Classic-era works done in some version of Historically Informed Performance style; 5) forgotten French works from the 19th century that have now been given first recordings, in superb performances; and 6) other forgotten works that turn out to be quite interesting, most of them, too, in expert performances that play to a work’s strengths.

Well-Known Works, Often Seen in a New Light [continued…]

December 3, 2018

in: News & Features

Camerata Seasonal Renaissance Music: Legendary & Hot

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The Green Mountain Man

Ever ready to assist in the marketing activities of our literate and resourceful presenters, we herewith take note of the potential Gloire, Sororité and Fraternité in Boston Camerata’s five forthcoming holiday concerts.

Artistic Director Anne  announces that she is pleased this year, to be unveiling a brand-new production, full of color and sweep. “Gloria: An Italian Christmas” will feature six vocal soloists, harp, lutes, gambas, organ, cornetto, sackbuts, and choir, performing some of the hottest music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque. Some cast members, like bass singer-lutenist Joel Frederiksen, and the legendary cornettist Bruce Dickey, are coming over from Europe to participate. We are also happy to welcome students from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Such an adventure for us…

FLE:  Yes, there are performers and hot music involved, but what about composers?

We’ll be featuring the titanic Gabrieli and Monteverdi along with a plethora from the Renaissance A-list: Marenzio, Cipriano, Willaert, and others. And, to keep the Camerata tradition alive, there will be Christmas songs from country chapels and popular sources. We found a cache of these simple, beautiful carol melodies in a Florentine print of the 17th century, transcribed some of them, and will be premiering them for modern audiences, alongside the magnificent sound structures meant for San Marco in Venice, and other major-league places.

The Camerata has also an extensive repertory book of Christmas concerts, and you are continuing to share it with the public. When did this all begin for you? [continued…]

November 28, 2018

in: News & Features

Marvin’s Ninth Inning

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In 2010, following his retirement after 32 years as Director of Choral Activities at Harvard University, Jameson (Jim) Marvin founded the Jameson Singers, an SATB choir of some 70 voices, which draws  experienced amateur singers across Boston (and includes many of Marvin’s former Harvard students). The ensemble’s 9th season will be Marvin’s final one. Exuberant and witty, Marvin discusses, among other things, the season to come: “Wondrous Light” holiday concerts on December 1st and 8th featuring works from early Renaissance to the present day (including some of Marvin’s own compositions and arrangements) and next May’s performance of the mighty German Requiem by Brahms.

GL: In your forthcoming book “Emotion in Choral Singing: Reading Between the Notes” (which will be released December 12th!) you write I believe choral music has the power to draw us into a spiritual realm, a transcendence that allows a fleeting moment of peace.” This is quite the statement!

JM It seems to me there’s a reason for choral music, a real purpose. And, simply put, it is easier to express emotion with text and singing. Of course instrumental music also has the great power to express emotion, but I find that the inclusion of text and the use of the human voice allows choral music to lift us out of our everyday experience. I believe strongly in that mission – an experience so momentary and yet so valuable. We are singing to inspire and also, to an extent, to educate. We are blessed as human beings to have the capacity to express emotion through singing or through music period. And I think humanity needs that.

Singing to educate…do you see yourself primarily as an educator? [continued…]

November 26, 2018

in: News & Features

MIT Announces Major Gift for Music Facility

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Will Frank Gehry be invited back?

Finding the money and the will to build a major building for the musical arts at Massachusetts’s most famous technical institute has been bruited about for more than 50 years. With the announcement that Joyce Linde, a longtime supporter of MIT and the arts, has made a “cornerstone gift” to enable building a new “state-of-the-art” music facility, that hurdle now seems overcome. The yet-to-be designed building must accommodate the current and future needs of the considerable and growing program. That there is such popular support of musical arts in various forms will come as a surprise to many, and the Joyce Linde commitment represents the beginning of an unfolding story.

The new building will stand between two illustrious neighbors. The Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto drew plans for the serpentine red-brick Baker House Dormitory when he was a professor in residence at the Institute in 1948, as one of but a few structures he built in America after the Finish Pavilion at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. Eero Saarinen’s 1955 Kresge complex made a radical statement of form and material. A building committee will eventually name a signature architect worthy of this prime location.

“Our campus hums with MIT people making music, from formal lessons, recitals, and performances, to the beautiful surprise of stumbling on an impromptu rehearsal in the Main Lobby after hours,” says L. Rafael Reif, president of MIT. “Now, through a wonderful act of vision and generosity, Joyce Linde has given us the power to create a central home for faculty and students who make and study music at MIT — a first-class venue worthy of their incredible talent and aspirations. As a champion of the arts, Joyce knows the incomparable power of music to inspire, provoke, challenge, delight, console, and unify. I have no doubt the new building she has made possible will amplify the positive power of music in the life of MIT.” [continued…]

November 19, 2018

in: News & Features

Larry Phillips Remembered

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Our friend over many years and BMInt colleague Ellis Laurimore Phillips III died on October 31st, at age 70, from complications of Type-1 diabetes. The harpsichordist, organist, composer, music critic, and philanthropist, seemed never to age, though he bore a long decline with bemused stoicism. He partook in the musical and social life of Boston with a light-seeming but deeply committed grace. Larry’s professional music career ran for 40 years after he won the John Robb Organ Competition in 1972 from the Royal Canadian College of Organists and the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges, Belgium in 1974.

According to the official obituary, early recognition led to signing with music agent Albert Kay Associates in New York City, who represented him from 1976-2002. He performed nationally as an organist and harpsichordist, making a valuable contribution to the Early Music revival of the 1970s with many solo performances including the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, and the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. In the 1970s, Larry was a founding member of the musical trio, Quantz, an Early Music and Baroque ensemble. He was Artistic Director and founder of the Festival Music Players, a Boston-area chamber music sponsoring organization. Larry composed the motet, “All Shall be Well” for the Commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the foundation of Saint Botolph’s Church, Boston, Lincolnshire by HRH Princess Anne in 2008. Three of Larry’s hymns were published in the Unitarian Universalist Hymnbook, “Singing the Living Tradition” including “O Liberating Rose” which receives continued popularity among choral groups throughout Unitarian Universalist congregations. Larry worked as the Music Director for the First Parish Church, Waltham, where he was church organist and much beloved choir director from 1982-2002. Larry served as the co-founder and director of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network and an editor of the Signature Choral Series, published through the Unitarian Universalist Association. A list of his 50 BMInt reviews is HERE. [continued…]

November 16, 2018

in: News & Features

War and Dance in Brass

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Patrick Valentiino (file photo)

Bay Colony Brass provides Bostonian music lovers with unique large brass ensemble performances. The group—some 20 volunteer performers—was founded in 2000 and incorporates each member of the large brass instruments as well as percussion. Led by Music Director Patrick Valentino, Bay Colony Brass most closely resembles the one-to-a-part full brass section of a large symphony orchestra and bears little resemblance to the very different and larger British brass band. BCB uses five trumpet players, five French horns, four trombones, euphonium, tuba, and two or more percussionists but with a unique twist. Because of changing instrumentation between pieces, musical requirements, stamina, and preferences of the players and Music Director, keen observers will notice that the members rotate positions during the course of the concert.  Bay Colony Brass’s repertoire includes works from the Renaissance, Baroque, classical, 19th-century romantic, and 20th-century eras. There is music written for brass as well as transcriptions from orchestra works and Broadway, jazz, and film scores. The group has also commissioned recent compositions for today’s large brass ensembles.

This weekend, Bay Colony Brass is proud to present the US premiere of Christopher Gough’s Lexington and Concord as the featured piece in their performance Exploring War and Dance. Set in 4 movements, Lexington and Concord vividly depicts elements of life in the colonies that would lead to the start of the American Revolution. The work takes us through the growing unrest among the colonies and builds from there until war was inevitable. Rumor, gossip, and intrigue lead to a hymnlike rallying cry for quartet. Finally, the war itself, complete with the sounds of alarm, galloping horses, and approaching armies, ending with echoes from the beginning of the conflict.   [continued…]

November 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Tanglewood Season Only 7+ Months Away!

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The next 2019 Tanglewood season offers something for everyone, with concerts six out of seven days during most weeks and two on Sundays. The spectrum of offerings is remarkable as well. Traditional orchestral heavies are well-represented: two Mozart, six Beethoven (including three symphonies), Schubert (Symphony 2), two Mendelssohn (Midsummer and Scottish), four Schumann (including the increasingly popular Concert Piece for Four Horns), five Brahms, four Dvorak (including Symphonies 7, 8, 9), three Tchaikovsky, two Rachmaninoff (Piano Concertos 1 and 3), and so on—mostly with the BSO but also including the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. The complete calendar is HERE.

An especially ambitious offering, with the TMC Orchestra: Wagner’s Die Walküre complete, act I on July 27th and the other two on July 28th, afternoon and evening. The stellar cast: Amber Wagner (Sieglinde), Simon O’Neill (Siegmund), Ain Anger (Hunding), Christine Goerke (Brünnhilde), James Rutherford (Wotan), and a Fricka not yet chosen. I remember back in 1965 or 1966, when Leinsdorf directed act I in Symphony Hall, my mother wrote me she was about to go hear it reluctantly, knowing how she loathed Wagner. The next day she wrote again —“I take it all back, it was glorious!

A generous helping of visitors adds to the variety. The Venice Baroque Orchestra on July 11th will play Albinoni, Corelli, and five Vivaldi (winding up with Summer, the silliest piece imaginable, but forgivable because it is summertime, after all). The National Youth Orchestra of the USA offers an intriguing program: Berlioz’s Nuits d’été and Strauss’s Alpensinfonie, a large-scale work that has acquired too much popularity in recent years. The Knights, nominally a chamber orchestra, comes on August 15 to play a Hungarian program: Ligeti, Kurtág, Kodály (Galánta Dances) and the Brahms Hungarian Dances and Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham. On August 21 the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, 80 musicians strong, performs “on traditional Chinese instruments placed in a Western configuration.” [continued…]

November 10, 2018

in: News & Features

BoC-Berk Band Hits Silkroad for Werden Brüder

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Sandeep Das to play tabla

For almost two decades, Boston’s Silkroad initiative has attempted to enact, in music and other art forms, its firm belief that engaging and embracing difference builds a more hopeful world. They have shown that music specifically can spark radical cultural collaboration and passion-driven learning.

Friday November 16th at 8pm, Grammy Award-winning Silkroad soloists join the Boston Conservatory at Berklee student orchestra in dynamic performance at Symphony Hall. Conducted by Bruce Hangen, the program will feature poetry-inspired contemporary classical works by Tan Dun, Dinuk Wijeratne, and Gabriela Lena Frank among others. The Silkroad soloists include Sandeep Das, tabla; Maeve Gilchrist, Celtic harp; and Kaoru Watanabe, Japanese shinobue flutes / taiko drums.

“It is an honor to bring Silkroad artists Sandeep Das, Maeve Gilchrist, and Kaoru Watanabe to Boston Conservatory at Berklee for this exciting concert,” said Michael Shinn, dean of music for Boston Conservatory – Berklee. “This marks the start of a longer-term collaboration between the Conservatory and Silkroad that will reimagine conservatory music training, both in concert and in the classroom. With this special collaboration, Conservatory students will now have the chance to perform a radically innovative program alongside these cutting-edge performers in one of Boston’s iconic locations for music, Symphony Hall.” [continued…]

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