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Great Lizardry Rewards Us Again

Sebastian Currier’s Vocalissimus, a suite of 18 brief to even briefer, moody numbers for Pierrot ensemble plus percussion formed the core of Chameleon Arts Ensemble’s latest outing. [continued]
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Jonathan Biss Essays Last Three

Jonathan Biss began his survey of  Schubert’s last three piano sonatas at the ISGM’s Calderwood Hall on Sunday. The others will follow on March 24th and April 28th. [continued]
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When Israelis Were In Rockport’s Land

During a period of (truly) hard times for Israelis, the four musicians from Israeli Chamber Project who appeared at Shalin Liu Center for Rockport Music on Sunday have soldiered on … [continued] [continued]
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Consorting With Dandrieu

For the young musicians of this celebrated French ensemble, Dandrieu remains an emblem of their unique vision of the trio sonata genre. Their BEMF performance at the First Congregational Church in Cambridge suggested as much exuberance as intimacy. [continued]
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BLO Englishizes L’amant anonyme

The Boston Lyric Opera’s charming production of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’s only surviving opera, The Anonymous Lover (1780), ran at the Huntington Theater last weekend. [continued]
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Lookouts Aloft! A Composer Puts Out to Sea

Smyth in 1901 by Sargent

Dame Ethel Smyth (1854-1944) said, “I want women to turn their minds to big and difficult jobs, not just to go on hugging the shore, afraid to put out to sea.”

This is the story of a woman — in the long history of women stifled by important or influential men in their lives or eras — who did the big and difficult job over and over. Ethel Smyth, a strong-minded musician, fought against her father’s pontifical noise and ‘put out to sea’ (or at least crossed the channel) in 1877 at age 19 to study at the Conservatorium in Leipzig. One of the top Smyth scholars, Amy Zigler, has a brief biography available HERE. BMInt is happy to publish this preview in the context of a Cappella Clausura’s performance of Smyth’s Mass in D at Emmanuel Church at 4pm on March 3rd. Tickets HERE.

Smyth characterized herself as making “on average 12 intimate friends per annum” (letter to Henry Brewster, 1892). Her first core in Leipzig was the Herzogenbergs, a musical family whose young matriarch, Lisl (only 11 years her senior), took a maternal interest in Ethel, and a deep, life-changing relationship began. Lisl’s brother-in-law was Henry Brewster, who was also to become a deep and romantic partner, although married. Brewster, a poet, was the librettist for many of her operas. On her many trips to Germany, her friends introduced her to more friends, many of them the glitterati of the late 1800s: Brahms (her musical hero, along with Beethoven), Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Clara Schumann, Dvorak, and more. [continued]

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Enigma Heats Up Its Britten

At the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston last weekend, The Burning Fiery Furnace concluded Enigma Opera’s project of staging Britten’s three parables for church performance. [continued]
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Boston Calls on Marlboro’s Musicians

Music for Food presented Musicians from Marlboro in vibrant takes on selections of Coleridge-Taylor, Dvořák, Webern, and Schoenberg at Williams Hall, NEC on Sunday. [continued]
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Harpsichordist Encapsulates Spirits

Duangkamon Wan Wattanasak’s Sunday recital at First Church in Cambridge delighted Boston’s early music fanatics. [continued]
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Collage New Music at MIT

Killian Hall responded Sunday with six varied, newish works in Artistic Director David Hoose’s penultimate concert with the group. Four of the composers were in the house. [continued]
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Did We Need the Science Lesson?

In Friday night’s well-aligned flow of creation in Jordan Hall, the Takács Quartet traced mighty orbits for the Celebrity Series. [continued]
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Chausson and Charles Munch: In Brief

On a Saturday evening some 70 years ago I heard the Boston Symphony Orchestra live for the first time. Melville Smith, then director of the Longy School, had given me two tickets he couldn’t use. Charles Munch conducted. Before the intermission came Honegger’s Symphony no. 1; the program notes mentioned harmony that “trends toward C major,” which amused me and my 9th-grade classmate George Nelson — it must have meant that the symphony was “modern.” After the intermission we heard Schubert’s “Great” Symphony in C Major, a work I had never heard before, but George knew it well. “This symphony begins with a solo horn,” he said. (Actually it turned out to be two in unison.) I was deeply impressed by the experience, and especially by the slow movement, but never imagined that I would write a book about this symphony a few years later (2011). [continued]

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Room at the Top 

Word is out! With pianist Yunchan Lim in Rach 3 and an exuberant account of Chausson’s only symphony,  conductor Tugan Sokhieve and the Boston Symphony Orchestra have a sellout. [continued]
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Lowell House Opera Premiers The Unknowable

Benjamin Rossen’s promising The Unknowable somewhat rang true to its name at Sanders last weekend. Lowell House Opera, with the support of many loyal audience members, is doing a great service to the community by continuing to expand our modern operatic repertoire. [continued]
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Takács Quartet To Debut Flow

The renowned Takács Quartet has a zest for new music and unconventional partnerships. They’ve collaborated with bandoneon standout Julien Labro, composer and The National vocalist Bryce Dessner, vocalist Clarice Assad, and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. For its February 16th Celebrity Series concert at Jordan Hall [tickets HERE], the foursome offers Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s Flow sandwiched between Haydn’s “Sunrise” quartet and the second of Beethoven’s Razumovskys.

In Flow, Harvard Divinity School graduate Ngwenyama embraces the cosmos…or lets it embrace her. BMInt spoke with her and and Takács violinist Harumi Rhodes.

FLE: We first met in 1999 when you gave a super viola recital at Harvard Musical Association. You probably don’t remember the event, but surely the baked beans, Welsh rabbit and ale must have traumatized you. [continued]

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Rivers Flow Within Club

Somerville’s inviting Center for Arts at the Armory on Highland Avenue hosted the Orchestra Book Club, a unique organization with tripartite intent. Sunday’s concert depicted rivers. [continued]
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Goldbergs Go Global

In pianist Víkingur Ólafsson’s 80-minute Jordan Hall journey, revelations followed discoveries; my love affair with the Goldbergs flared anew. [continued]
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Sunlit Haydn, Moonlit Bartók

This week’s BSO program offers Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C and Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle; and if you’re thinking it must be the Haydn that first entered the repertoire, you’d be wrong. [continued]
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A Beloved Genius Departed This Sphere

Seiji Ozawa just died in Tokyo at the age of 88. His durable career with the Boston Symphony, where he spent a major portion of his years as music director, spanned 1973 to 2002, the longest such term in the orchestra’s history. The BSO’s press release is HERE. And we embed a video tribute within. [continued]

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Dance Music of the Germania Musical Society

A free concert resulting from the research of this writer along with the efforts of the Harvard Musical Association Library Committee takes place on March 3rd at 3:00, at St. John’s Church, 27 Devens Street, in Charlestown. Just show up (entry is free). Leave a comment below if you have questions.

Winsome duo-pianists Chi-Wei Lo and Xiaopei Xu, collectively known as Psychopomp Ensemble (guide of souls), who have been reinventing the recital, once brilliantly interpolated the Beatles’ “Imagine” into the Gottschalk’s “The Union” HERE at 52:40; they will preside in an acoustically warm sanctuary on a restored 1870 Chickering concert grand. A light reception will follow.

The Germania Musical Society deserves to emerge from the cocoon of writings by musicological specialists and reclaim the interest of a larger public. [continued]

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Ives Sonatas Knowingly Rendered

[nec]shivaree, under the guidance of artistic director Stephen Drury, celebrated Charles Ives (1874-1954) at Williams Hall on Monday. More Ives is coming at NEC: Piano music on Feb. 27th and March 27th at 7:30 p.m. in Jordan Hall. [continued]
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Larry Bell: New Piano Music

At Berk Hall last night, Larry Bell began a concert of his own new piano music with with his single-movement Sonata No. 7, “Southern Meditations.” The three works that followed all took notice of hymn tunes. [continued]
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Opera Prima’s Well-Curated Playlist

Soprano Amanda Forsythe joined Opera Prima for its much-anticipated American debut. The group delivered a banquet of songs from the Great Italian Songbook at First Church, Cambridge on Saturday night. [continued]
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Fleming and Barnatan in the Anthropocene

The equally billed peoples’ diva Renée Fleming and celebrated pianist Inon Barnatan warmly animated “Voice of Nature, the Anthropocene” for the Celebrity Series yesterday. This long-anticipated concert motivated a capacity Symphony Hall crowd to consider the beauty yet fragility of our world. [continued]
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Bodies and Souls To Inhabit Sanders

Benjamin T. Rossen’s The Unknowable: An Operatic Ballet in Two Acts follows a young woman’s journey towards sincere curiosity in the face of a demoralizing reality, exploring themes of empathy, frustration, compassion, and inquisitiveness. Interweaving dancers and singers, the narrative is centered on the powerful musical experiences of ‘Les nuits d’été’ by Berlioz and ‘Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen’ by Mahler, carefully chosen for their rich soundworlds and allegorical relevance to the characters’ personal journeys. The Lowell House Opera production runs on February 10th and 11th in Sanders Theater at Harvard University. Tickets HERE.

“We believe that The Unknowable offers a relatable and relevant experience for a 21st-century audience, addressing universal themes of challenging decisions and the internal struggle to attain unequivocal answers.” Our Q and A with the composer follows. [continued]

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H+H Does Brits

The Handel and Haydn Society attained a rarefied sublimity Friday night as countertenor Reginald Mobley, in absolutely gorgeous voice, and relaxed of manner, imbued “Cara Sposa” from Handel’s Rinaldo, HWV 7 with heartfelt engagement. [continued]
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Nostalgia at Symphony Hall

Friday afternoon, after a five-year hiatus, I sat in Row R in Symphony Hall, pondering my memories of the players’ individual and collective sounds. It was an extraordinarily moving experience. Of course, the orchestra has some 30 players who weren’t there yet when my husband, violist Burton Fine, retired 18 years ago. [continued]
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Tanglewood 2024 Looks Good

This summer’s two months at Tanglewood offer a more varied and richer schedule than ever, on the fully equipped campus in Lenox that has abundances for every taste. The Boston Symphony shares the Shed and other halls with several other orchestras; recitals and chamber music abound, beginning with a String Quartet Marathon of three concerts on June 30th. The calendar is HERE. Tickets go on sale March 19th .

The listing that I received has some gaps (programs not yet determined), but Beethoven’s orchestral music appears on no fewer than six dates (July 5 and 21, August 4, 18, 24, and 25), including four symphonies (of course the 9th) and three concerti. Stravinsky appears on four dates (July 12 and 15, August 9 and 10). There’s an entire evening of Richard Strauss (July 7). Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony will be performed twice, by the TMC Orchestra on July 8 with Nelsons, and the National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela on August 8 with Dudamel. [continued]

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Cantemus Does Annelies Proud

A capacity crowd listened in hushed awe for 75 minutes before exploding into a much-deserved standing ovation for the Jason Iannuzzi-led Cantemus performance of James Whitbourn’s poignant Annelies (2005) at St. Paul’s, Newburyport last Sunday.   [continued]
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Shostakovich Mastered a Lady’s Passion

On the heels of a magnificent final BSO performance of Shostakovich’s masterpiece on Saturday January 27th, it may be worthwhile to step back and assess what on earth is going on. [continued]