Norman and Greenberg Meld the Scottish Baroque, Maritime Canada for CSEM


Ever in quest of repertoire and performers to enliven its nearly 60 years of concert presentation, the Cambridge Society for Early Music recast its tenets regarding performance authenticity to invite Maryland-born adoptive Canadian David Greenberg (violin, octave fiddle, Estey pump organ) and Nova Scotia native Chris Norman (flutes, Lowland bellows bagpipes, voice, Estey pump organ) to give the Society’s third five-concert series this season. The last of these evenings took place in the Weston Congregational Church on Friday, February 26.   [continued]

The CSEM program, entitled “Let Me In This Ae Night”, established the powerful ties between Scots tunes and songs a century either side of the 1746 Battle of Colloden (“The Forty-Five”) and their angular, rhythmically incisive cousins in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and eastern reaches of New Brunswick.   [continued]

To further entwine the Maritimes, Scotland, and the Baroque, Norman and Greenberg dropped in two movements from a Telemann Duo in E and two movements each from Bach solo partitas for their instruments.   [continued]

David Greenberg explained the origins of his round-bouts octave violin, by present-day Alabama luthier Shep Jones. Some 16 decades ago, William Sidney Mount unveiled his Cradle of Harmony, a baritone violin, now known as the octave violin. The octave fiddle speaks quickly, so Greenberg’s agile partnering of Norman and his various sizes of flute left listeners with the impression of two lithely vocal lines with sweetly complimentary harmonics and interlocking, subtle fundamentals. This was magical, in fact. The other pleasantly spry survivor of an eclipsed era was the small, portable 1950s melodeon by the once furiously busy Brattleboro organ firm of Estey. Norman and Greenberg alternated at it, pumping cheerfully away.         [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Alea III, Former Students, Celebrate Lukas Foss


The Alea III ensemble  paid tribute to Lukas Foss on March 2 by performing several of his works, and by offering “Epigrams,” short pieces by 19 of his recent students at Boston University where Foss had maintained an association for more than half a century and where he had taught a generation of young composers during his last years.   [continued]

For Toru, for flute and string quintet (including double bass), written in 1997 in memory of Toru Takemitsu, featured some dense but colorful chordal harmony and glissandi and microtones in the strings; it was interesting to watch the players cope with slow vibrato in a microtonal context. The flute solo was beautifully played by Kathleen Boyd.   [continued]

Two movements from Foss’s Echoi, a 12-minute excerpt of a much larger work in four movements, followed; it is an exciting adventure when heard in its entirety. The Elegy for Anne Frank for piano and small group — solo strings, horn, trombone, and percussion — was a deeply gripping piece. The dramatic reading was well executed by Carly Waldman.   [continued]

Following intermission, the Boston University Chamber Singers, directed by Ann Howard Jones, presented (with piano accompaniment) two movements, from the original nine, of Foss’s earliest large-scale work, The Prairie. The chorus handled the complex harmony of this piece with expert precision and clarity. It was a pity not to hear the entire piece.   [continued]

It was hard to keep track of 19 different short Epigrams played in rapid succession; the performances may have had a few problems, especially in quickly shifting gears from piece to piece, but there was no doubt about the former students’ abilities and their commitment, and their pleasure in honoring the memory of a friend.    [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Madame White Snake Worthwhile Effort from Opera Boston


Opera Boston now has to its credit Boston’s first operatic world premiere in two decades, Zhou Long’s attractively scored Madame White Snake, a co-production with the Beijing Music Festival that will be seen with the same staging and cast in China in the Fall.  This represented a huge undertaking, not least in diplomacy and marketing, and if the work finally proved interesting rather than deeply memorable, it was a worthwhile effort, well led by Music Director Gil Rose. The problem was the disjunction between an awkward, prolix English libretto and capably imagined music successfully utilizing combined Western and Chinese orchestral coloration. Though she deserves credit for conceiving the project, Cerise Lim Jacobs’ often repetitive libretto is problematic. The work’s second performance ( February 28th ) at the Cutler Majestic Theater witnessed very strong work by an emotionally eloquent cast comfortable with “extended” vocal techniques, chiefly in the upward direction. Pure lyric soprano Ying Huang suited the serpentine deity she was playing, by turns seductive and fiercely destructive. Xu Xian was the utterly fearless, clean-lined high tenor Peter Tantsits, who had no problems with the demanding tessitura and colored his music expressively through dynamic shading. Though Ying Huang got (and took) the real diva turns, the most interesting character in the work is Xiao Qing. Male soprano Michael Maniaci filled the theatre with his unique, arresting tone, most skillfully managed. Earthy bass Dong-Jian Gong fared slightly less well with English consonants but was generally both comprehensible and expressive as the Priest.     [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Wheeler Cello Sonata in Gordon & Hodgkinson’s “Cellotica Vol. 2” at Brandeis


At their concert at Brandeis University on February 28, Cellist Joshua Gordon and pianist Randall Hodgkinson, began by performing a set of pieces by Charles Koechlin based on ancient Breton folklore. These works, which overall reflect the musical influence of Koechlin’s teacher and friend Fauré, are charming trifles, and Gordon and Hodgkinson brought out their charm, wit and sincerity most effectively.   [continued]

It  always piques interest to hear a new cello sonata from a top-tier composer. In this case it was the première of Scott Wheeler’s Spirit Geometry, commissioned for Gordon and Hodgkinson by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University. In general, the sonata explores different ranges and performance modes, without at all appearing as a technical exercise. This is a very strong work that will survive and reward repeated hearing—we hope for a recording in the not-distant future. The performance by Gordon and Hodgkinson was admirable and will only strengthen with further performance.   [continued]

The unequal first half of the program ended with Fauré’s first cello sonata, written just before World War I and very against type for this composer. The performers were perfectly attuned to this work (as, indeed, they were to everything) and were entirely persuasive in parsing its psychological ambiguities.   [continued]

The second half began and ended with a bang, consisting of one work: Chopin’s marvelous, under-performed g minor sonata, practically his only late work not for solo piano.         [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Fine Distler and Pinkham from Fenwick Smith, Recipient of 2010 Coro Allegro Award


Coro Allegro’s program on Sunday afternoon, February 28, at Church of the Covenant, successfully crafted a concert around German “Sprüche,” which are aphorisms and dictums that have provided fertile ground for German vocal composition, particularly during the Baroque Era. Sunday’s concert centered around the extension of that tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries.   [continued]


The first half of the concert closed with a stunning performance by former BSO flutist Fenwick Smith, this year’s recipient of Coro Allegro’s third annual Daniel Pinkham award, of Elegy for alto flute written for him by Pinkham.   [continued]

Under the vise-like grip of the Third Reich, composer Hugo Distler committed suicide in 1942 at the age of 34. That alone would already make his Totentanz eerily prescient, but the presentation by Coro Allegro, with Richard Knisley as Death and Fenwick Smith on the flute, was one of the most profound experiences I’ve witnessed at a choral concert in recent memory. The speakers who participated in the work were, in most cases, not far removed from their real-life positions; but it was the last speaker, fourth grader Ashwin Devavaram (as the Child) who offered the most sobering (and poised) spoken performance of the afternoon. Aside from some strained pitches in upper voices, the chorus delivered a nuanced performance of Distler’s challenging shifts from organum to polyphony, capturing the importance of the text in each motet.             [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Intriguing Instrumentation in Alla Cohen’s Works


Alla Elana Cohen, the noted composer, music theorist, and professor at both New England Conservatory and Berklee College, was featured in a concert of her own works on February 25 at the Goethe Institut.   [continued]

The program began with her Book of Prayers, vol. 2, series 8. Querying the Silence, for solo cello, had evocative moments but lacked a larger sense of shape and momentum. Cohen’s series Watercolors of the Master Who is Accustomed to Paint Oils. Sephardic Romancero, series 1, was another instance where some I wondered if there was same explanation for the unusual instrumentation. Flute, oboe, piano and – electric guitar?   [continued]

In general, I find Cohen’s writing for woodwinds more consistently compelling than her writing for strings or even piano, since the wind writing employs a more lyrical and melodic idiom, while the string writing tends explore the brutal and harsh, without a sense of direction. The program as a whole was mostly a strong one, but I was left with some misgivings. If a piece is “mysterious, dark and sophisticated” or “majestic” then the listener will experience that without needing to be told.    [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Outstanding “Death and the Maiden” from Pacifica Quartet at Met Museum


The Pacifica String Quartet, appointed last year as the successors to the Guarneri Quartet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, played the second of their concerts Saturday night in the 708-seat Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.   [continued]

As usual with the Pacifica, the Haydn Quartet in D Major, Opus 64, No. 5, “The Lark,” was well played — particularly the last movement with its presto sixteenth notes – but not amazing. That distinction fell to the second and third pieces on the program: the Bartok String Quartet No. 4 and the Schubert Quartet in d minor, D. 810, “Death of the Maiden.”   [continued]

The performance of the Schubert was the best I have heard of this popular piece, with surprising parallels to the Bartok. The second movement was the gem of the evening. In the Pacifica’s hands it started with a unison expression of the melody of the “Death of the Maiden” lied, played pianissimo and without vibrato. The effect sent chills up my back.         [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Hypermusic Prologue an Outing to Be Avoided


Barcelona composer Hector Parra of the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, organized by Pierre Boulez) in Paris, performed a version of the popular Hypermusic Prologue at Longy in Pickman Hall on Feb. 27. Lisa Randall’s soft, quickly delivered introduction was difficult if not impossible to follow. With no programs or handouts—a very good thing for going green—titles, credits, an outline, was needed to know what was up and where we were going.   [continued]

Hector Parra took over. On the big screen on stage, his first slide contained a diagrammatic maze about fricatives and the like. His explanation of how he was putting everything together became a maze to me.   [continued]

The music itself seemed to have been written many years ago, over and over again.    [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Delightfully Varied Viol and Lute Program from BEMF


Making their debut with the Boston Early Music Festival, Vittorio Ghielmi, viola da gamba, and Luca Pianca, luttenist, appeared in a delightfully varied program at the First Church in Cambridge on Friday, February 26. The program started off with a suite of viol pieces with continuo accompaniment by Marin Marais, in which Ghielmi displayed an astonishing range of viol techniques, producing sonorous chords and flexible melodic lines ornamented with arabesques and a judicious use of vibrato. Pianca’s lute accompaniment was beautifully  realized, the plucked string sound a welcome foil to the bowed viol.   [continued]

The richness of idiomatic figuration in a group of three pieces for solo lute by Jacques Gallot brought Pianca’s expressive playing and virtuosic mastery of this difficult instrument to the fore.   [continued]

After intermission we heard music by three Central European composers. Silvius Leopold Weiss’s five-movement Partita for lute featured a stately Sarabande with suspended harmonies that were sometimes only hinted at by the rapidly-decaying sound of plucked strings, yet perfectly understood nonetheless. Ghielmi selected an improvisatory Adagio and an Allegro by Carl Friedrich Abel, whose wide-ranging compound melodic line gave the impression of a tenor melody supported by resounding bass tones. The program concluded with a melodious Sonata for viol and continuo by Andreas Lidl, an Austrian who played in the Esterházy orchestra under Haydn before moving to London.          [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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Best Beethoven in Town from Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra


The place to be Thursday evening, February 25, was Symphony Hall, where the Celebrity Series and the DeMoulas Foundation brought the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to Boston. It was decidedly the best Beethoven in town. Music director Riccardo Chailly’s program was perfectly planned and musically executed.   [continued]

Quicker tempos in Symphony No. 7 in A Major played a major role in lighting up the scores, most noticeably in the Presto: Assai meno presto. The up-tempo playing enhanced the heroic character of the scherzo’s trio by drawing out a joyful sound, leaving the powerful and noble lighter and more personal.   [continued]

Soloist Louis Lortie made more than a few astonishing passes at Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major (“Emperor”). One of these was his thrilling dialogue with the orchestra in the concluding movement. I did not always understand what he was up to, but his playing was so precise and crystal-clear that I could do nothing other than defer to his interpretation.   [continued]

And there were two encores! For Lortie it was the final movement of the piano sonata, “Les Adieux,” and for the orchestra it was the Overture to Prometheus, Op 43.             [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Surprisingly good Tosca from Harvard’s Lowell House Opera


Lowell House Opera presents the perennial favorite, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, through this month and on March, 3, 5 and 6 at 8:30 p.m. Directed by Harvard junior Michael Yashinsky, who chose to set it in Rome during the rise of Fascism, and with Channing Yu leading a large orchestra, this is a fully staged and costumed production offering well-coordinated English super-titles.   [continued]

The principal roles were surprisingly effective; all were strong vocally and dramatically, especially the tenor, Michael Hartman, as Cavaradossi. The mostly amateur orchestra members sounded remarkably good. My only complaint was that the tubular bells were too loud.   [continued]

It was a little difficult to imagine the Roman countryside in the preparations for Act III, especially since the prop man was having trouble keeping the Viva la Morta banner up. (It was opening night, after all; or maybe it was intentional.) Eventually he threw it backstage in disgust. The Lowell House Dining Hall has no orchestral pit, so from my seat to the left in the second row, I saw most of the action through harp strings.  [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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An Evening with Thomas Zehetmair


Thomas Zehetmair, the well-known Austrian chamber musician (Zehetmair Quartet), conductor (Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2010/11), and one of the technically and musically most brilliant violin soloists today, was in absolute top form at his concert at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on February 22. Hence, the audience gave him a well-deserved standing ovation after his presentation of a fascinating and challenging program that included, sandwiched between Johann Sebastian Bach, two contemporary pieces by Pierre Boulez and Heinz Holliger—the latter composed only a few months ago and specifically for Zehetmair, a tireless advocate of new music.   [continued]

In the light of the evening’s magisterial performance, this listener could not help but recall what the musician and critic Johann Friedrich Reichardt wrote in his 1805 review of the then freshly published first edition of Bach’s set of unaccompanied violin solos: “They may give the greatest example in any art form for a master’s ability to move with freedom and assurance, even in chains.”        [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Three Generations of Harpsichord Music in Authentic Tuning at First Church


Hendrik Broekman presented a fine harpsichord recital Sunday afternoon, February 21, at First Church Boston as part of their series, “Les Clavecinistes,” sponsored by Hubbard Harpsichords of which Broekman is technical director. He played on a copy of an anonymous French instrument of 1669 tuned in 1/5 comma meantone appropriate to three generations of 17th-century composers. This tuning gave the afternoon a certain pungency.   [continued]

This program was extremely thoughtful, unusual in a harpsichord recital that avoided J. S. Bach. Broekman provided copious program notes. He has a way with words, both written and spoken extemporaneously from the stage. His whole demeanor bespeaks someone who has devoted most of his career to the harpsichord. His written tribute to Frank Hubbard (1920-1976), founder of Hubbard Harpsichords and author of Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making (1965), was extremely moving.           [Click title for full review]   [continued]


Exsultemus Infuses the Leipzig Baroque with Vibrant Life


This still rather new ensemble’s astonishingly extensive 2009-2010 season— seven programs in multiple venues —presents the greater Boston public with four revealing overviews of church music from great German centers of the Baroque. These are Hamburg, Dresden, Darmstadt, and — on Sunday, February 21 — Leipzig.   [continued]

The half-century of music Exsultemus elected to present begins in the relative obscurity of the second city of Sachsen some two musical generations after the death of Monteverdi. Leipzig was a prosperous princely town of regional importance, with powerful commercial aspirations and a nascent cultural life that would, by the second quarter of the 18th century, be on a par with that of Hamburg. The Stadrath, Leipzig’s town councilors, were famous throughout the many German lands of that era for their control, disapproval, and intricate meddling in artistic matters. The integration of city affairs and Protestant church authorities was so intimate that no appointment of a musician could be made on a purely æsthetic and liturgical basis, as one promising applicant, a native of Eisenach in the neighboring state of Thüringen, was to discover during a chill winter in early 1723.         [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Four Strausses Come Calling at Symphony Hall


This season’s Annual Pension Fund Concert for the BSO on February 21 paid homage to four composers named Strauss, and thankfully the programming embraced several genuine masterpieces in its broad span.  James Levine and the orchestra made a fine case for reviving a corner of the repertoire that was once very much with us, but today is much ignored—music of the light classical inclination, which for many years was the bread and butter of Arthur Fiedler’s long directorship of the Boston Pops.  Say what one might about Fiedler—he did what he did extremely well, and maintained a high standard for Boston orchestral music making for many fruitful years.  Fiedler’s many recordings attest to this, and a particular pleasure can be drawn from his idiomatic and delightful recordings of many and surprisingly varied works by Johann and Josef Strauss.   [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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Schubert’s Piano Trios in Excellent Hands


Making their Celebrity Series debut as a trio on February 21, violinist Philip Setzer and cellist David Finckel of the Emerson Quartet joined forces with pianist Wu Han yesterday afternoon at 3 pm at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in a stellar performance of piano trios by Franz Schubert.   [continued]

Both the B-flat major trio, D.898, and the E-flat major trio, D.929, date from the last year of Schubert’s life (1828), with drafts for the trio in E-flat dating from November, 1827. A modern piano, with its over-strung bass strings and full tone can easily overwhelm its string partners, but the three players found a perfect equilibrium in both dynamics and timbre that allowed us to appreciate the intricate exchange of themes and motives throughout. It is the task of the performers to allow these lyrical moments their full expansion without losing a sense of forward motion. Setzer, Finckel, and Wu Han accomplished this masterfully by steadfastly maintaining Schubert’s tempi while paying loving attention to details of articulation. The delicacy of Wu Han’s staccato repeated notes (easier by far on Schubert’s piano) deserves special mention, as do the beautiful tone and phrasing of Setzer and Finckel.        [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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Triple Helix Adumbrates Modernity at Wellesley


The animating spirit of the February 20 concert by the renowned piano trio Triple Helix (Lois Shapiro, piano; Rhonda Rider, cello; and on this occasion Gabriela Diaz standing in for regular violinist Bayla Keyes) at their home venue of Wellesley College, was to explore how artistic currents that grew into the modernist tendencies of 20th century music rippled through the work of composers whose esthetics were mostly shaped by earlier styles. All but one of the works performed, the Debussy cello and violin sonatas, the Janácek violin sonata and Fairy Tale for cello and piano, and the Fauré and Rebecca Clarke trios, were written during or just after World War I, and most of them directly or indirectly reflect their composers’ experiences of the Great War. The Debussy and Fauré works, written near the ends of their creators’ lives, carry additional personal freight.  [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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The Claremont Trio Plays the French Triumvirate


Last September, the Claremont Trio took us to Russia in a program at the Gardner Museum that I thought engaged “the listener on a plane marked by a complete grasp of musical ideas combined with an intensely unwavering focus…” This time (Sunday, February 21), during a sold-out concert in the Tapestry Room, we were to have journeyed with the Claremont Trio to France through the music of Debussy, Fauré and Ravel, the great French triumvirate that established one continuous stream of inimitable compositions from not-so-late in the 19th century to more-than-early-on into the 20th.   [continued]

This second outing raised flags, though not the ones we might have first thought of or wished for. Whereas the French triumvirate traveled with intimacy, refinement, delicacy, perfumed atmospheres, sensuousness, colorfulness, the picturesque, and, in particular, with those ecstatic bursts or élats, this young and enthusiastic trio from New York embarked on a different route. Destination France, unfortunately, was not to be.     [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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Strauss of All Sorts at BSO Benefit


The all-Strauss concert presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, February 21 was an unexpected pleasure. While Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote, featuring cellist Lynn Harrell and violist Steven Ansell, is a big, multi-layered work, at first glance the program seemed unbalanced:  Don Quixote occupied the entire first half, while the second half consisted of an overture, a march, and various waltzes and polkas by three members of the Strauss family (no relation to Richard) who lived in the 19th century. It seemed likely that after intermission, we’d be sitting through light “pops” music, eager to get back out to the sunny Sunday afternoon we’d left   [continued]

The performance of Don Quixote was tremendously engaging from beginning to end. From the moment Lynn Harrell ran out on the stage, eager to begin this orchestral opera, there was a sense of being present at a unique unfolding of this work. The music is so dense, so much is happening at once, surely you could listen again and again, and each time a different aspect of the music would be revealed. The exquisite orchestration and the sense of never knowing what might occur next (although the orchestra was quite secure!) made people in the second balcony lean forward in their seats, the better to capture each fleeting musical event. It was a kaleidoscope of sound, fascinating in itself and constantly changing.  [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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Chamber Orchestra of Boston Brings Tangos to the Fore


An extraordinarily refreshing program was offered by the Chamber Orchestra of Boston under its musical director David Feltner on February 12 at the First Church. The event featured tangos and some rarely-heard compositions for string orchestra and percussion.   [continued]

For the tangos, Feltner commissioned two new works in tango style from Robert Edward Smith and Thomas Oboe Lee. He also consulted with pianist Virginia Eskin, who suggested a number of repertory possibilities (including piano pieces that she played on the concert). The resulting list produced a selection of tangos by a wide variety of composers, including works for piano alternating with others for string orchestra. Two varied groups of five items each opened and closed the concert.   [continued]

Feltner chose two larger works by major symphonic composers to be embedded in the middle, before and after intermission. Though Mendelssohn and Sibelius are familiar figures in our concert life, neither Mendelssohn’s youthful Sinfonia No. 11 nor Sibelius’s Rakastava (The Lovers), Opus 14, is anything like a standard repertory item. Both call for a percussionist to be added to the standard strings of the Chamber Orchestra of Boston. Feltner’s choices were canny programming, since Thomas Oboe Lee’s new work requires a percussionist. The result made for a concert full of surprises all around.     [Click title for full review]   [continued]

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Pearlman Coordinates Kaleidoscopic Styles in Monteverdi’s Vespers


Martin Pearlman and the highly skilled forces of Boston Baroque gave us a splendid rendition on February 19 at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall of Claudio Monteverdi’s music for the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin. The performance was repeated February 20 at Jordan Hall and will be performed again on March 6th at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.   [continued]

When Monteverdi published his collection in Venice in 1610, he was forty-three years old and nearing the end of his tenure at the Gonzaga court in Mantua. The original purpose of the Vespers is not known, although it might have been sung at the inauguration of a new order of chivalry by Vincenzo Gonzaga in 1608. Most probably Monteverdi, who by this time was seeking a position elsewhere (in August 1613 he was appointed maestro di cappella at St. Mark’s, Venice), intended the collection as a portfolio with which to demonstrate his abilities as a composer of sacred music in a variety of styles.   [continued]

Opulent music such as this would be suitable for any one of the great feasts of the church year dedicated to the Virgin. To complete the liturgical sequence of the vesper service, Pearlman’s performance included the plainchant antiphons for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (August 15th) that would have been sung before each of its five psalms and concluding Magnificat. [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Levine Exudes Warmth in All-Beethoven Program Redux


The bare trees lining the streets of Boston may have been shivering in a chill winter wind, but the calendar had flipped ahead a few pages within the capaciously cozy confines of Symphony Hall Thursday evening, February 18th. Conductor James Levine treated a sold-out audience to his realizations of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (“Pastoral”) and Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 as part of his postponed exploration of the great composer’s symphonic output. Last fall, with Levine on the disabled list, a series of guest conductors pinch-hit on the podium during the originally scheduled concert series. Thus, the intriguing aspect of this program was its performance by the BSO just 111 days earlier under the capable baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel. This gave concertgoers who attended last fall’s concert a rare and fascinating juxtaposition: identical orchestra and program under the guidance of two equally accomplished but markedly different conductors. I was fortunate enough to be one of those concertgoers; click here for my review of the Maazel rendition. [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Ebony Light and Dark at BSO Community Concert


There has not been nearly enough said about the Boston Symphony’s outreach program, funded by the Lowell Institute, that brings chamber music concert featuring BSO players into venues in the various cities and neighborhoods of eastern Massachusetts. On Valentine’s Day the seventh such performance (the fourth discrete program) in this series (ten in all) took place at Roxbury’s Twelfth Baptist Church, before a full and commendably diverse house. The performers on this occasion were clarinetist Thomas Martin and the members of the Hawthorne String Quartet, Ronan Lefkowitz (in the first piece only) and Si-Jing Huang, violins, Mark Ludwig, viola, and Sato Knudsen, cello.   [continued]

The program for this brief recital (one hour, no intermission) was a bit of a moveable feast. The season flyer for the series promised works of Penderecki, Viktor Kalabis, Gideon Klein and Franz Krommer. In the event, we got three movements of Hadyn’s D minor quartet, Op. 76 No. 2, the Krommer B-flat clarinet quartet, Op. 21 No. 2, the Klein string trio, and the première of Mr. Martin’s arrangement for clarinet quartet of Gershwin’s three preludes for piano, a considerably more demotic assortment. This series has not hitherto shied away from difficult music; we hope the BSO has not despaired of finding audiences for it.            [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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Baroque Light, ‘n’ Lovely


LAcadémie is a relatively new Baroque chamber group in Boston, established during the 2008-2009 season by harpsichordist and general director Leslie Kwan and tenor, conductor, and music director Michael Barrett. Their concerts this season, all in the Marsh Chapel at Boston University, are diverse but thematic, full of engaging and rarely heard music. The concert I heard on Saturday, February 13th, entitled “(S)he’s Just Not That into You: Love Songs (and More) from Seventeenth-Century England and Italy,” in spite of the ungrateful title, was a fine example of their extraordinary singing and playing, with the added fillip of delightful dramatic presentation that wove the concert into one well-proportioned tapestry.   [continued]

The two-dozen vocal works were all from the Treasury of Musick (1669), three volumes compiled by John Playford containing music chiefly by Henry and William Lawes. The seven instrumental works, performed before and after each group of four songs, derived from “the first generation of published compositions from Italy for solo instrument and basso continuo,” and included sonatas and dances by Dario Castello (ca. 1590-ca. 1658), Biagio Marini (1594-1663), Andrea Falconieri (1585/6-1656)), and Giovanni Paolo Cima (ca. 1570-1622).         [Click title for full review.]   [continued]


Pro Musicis’ 44th Season Continues with Unmistakable Virtuosity and Personal Quest


Pro Musicis artist Lydia Artymiw played piano music of Mozart, Schumann, Messiaen, and Kurtág at Pickman Hall at Longy School of Music Saturday, February 13. Both the older and the newer music underwent a transforming presentation, exhibiting unmistakable virtuosity and personal quest.   [continued]

Artymiw, with unequivocal determination, followed her muse to extreme individualism, her fingers never failing her. Well-deserved applause goes to her for opening up to us and taking us along with her on her own musical affirmation. While her virtually flawless playing, pervading the top flight acoustics of the intimate hall in Cambridge, left me in humble admiration, I could not understand the plots, messages, and voices of the composers. All seemed to take on a single voice, far too often loud if not overpowering. [Click title for full review.]   [continued]

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