April 25, 2017

in: Reviews

Zander & BPYO Do Battle with Mahler 6

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The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra concert at Symphony Hall Sunday didn’t solve all Mahler’s riddles, but the kids were definitely all right.     [continued]

April 25, 2017

in: Reviews

“Ezra’s Path”: Two Years in the Making

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The Boston Microtonal Society hosted thePickman Hall memorial concert “Ezra’s Path: Music by, and inspired by, Ezra Sims (1928-2015)” on Sunday.     [continued]

April 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Scholl Most Schön at Old South

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Counter-tenor Andreas Scholl brought “Desiring Beauty, ” a short but satisfying selection of songs and instrumental works, mainly from the late 16th and early 17th centuries, to Old South Church in Boston on Sunday.     [continued]

April 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Chameleon Needed No Camouflage

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Chameleon Ensemble’s “proud music of the storm” caught up Gerald Finzi, Erwin Schulhoff, David Bruce (born 1970), Michael Berkeley (born 1948), Ludwig van Beethoven  in storms of all sorts at First Church in Boston on Saturday.    [continued]

April 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Letting the Glorious Light Shine

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The Harvard Choruses, Boston Modern Opera Project and Boston’s Children’s Chorus, Saturday night at Sanders Theater under Andrew Clark, lifted every voice to sing of the Kristallnacht.     [continued]

April 23, 2017

in: Reviews

Handel’s Caesar: Emotion Leavened with Wit

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Boston Baroque gathered top-notch singers and players at NEC’s Jordan Hall on Friday for Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt), the final concert of its 2016-2017 subscription season.     [continued]

April 23, 2017

in: Reviews

Still on Wings of Song

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Six illustrious players from the Handel and Haydn Society played very fine chamber music very well at the Gardner this afternoon.     [continued]

April 22, 2017

in: Reviews

Sold-Out, Of Course

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Under the safe auspices of Celebrity Series, a crossover compendium of Yo-Yo Ma in his home territory, multi-modal bassist Edgar Meyer, and Home Companion mandolinist Chris Thile reached across Symphony Hall aisles.    [continued]

April 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Lupu Beguiling and the TFC Spoke to God

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Minor-key Mozart in the Piano Concerto No. 24 and the Requiem constitutes the thematic glue for this week’s Boston Symphony Orchestra program.    [continued]

April 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Dentition with Strings Arouses

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A Far Cry concluded its tour with the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth at Sanders Theater last Friday for the Celebrity Series with striking and stunningly executed musics—brand new and very, very old.     [continued]

April 17, 2017

in: Reviews

Dwarf Grabs Hold: Won’t Let Go

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Gil Rose and Odyssey Opera mounted a gripping concert version of Alexander Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) on Friday at Jordan Hall.     [continued]

April 15, 2017

in: Reviews

Good Friday Gift from Boston Philharmonic

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The Boston Philharmonic, Benjamin Zander, conductor, offered Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection,” on Good Friday at Symphony Hall.     [continued]

April 14, 2017

in: Reviews

French Maximalism at the ICA

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The Talea Ensemble, a New York-based group of twelve, with James Baker, conductor, gave a French program last night in the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater at the Institute for Contemporary Art.     [continued]

April 14, 2017

in: Reviews

Beethoven and His Cellist Friends

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Cellist Cherry Kim “& Friends” presented a fascinating recital of sonatas and cello duos, with pianist Ai-Ying Chiu and cellist Scott Thomas Lesser as partners at the Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington last Sunday.     [continued]

April 14, 2017

in: Reviews

Uchida and Bruckner: Attracting Opposites

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Andris Nelsons directed the BSO in a favorite Mozart concerto with a favorite interpreter and Brucker’s “ugly duckling” Sixth last night.     [continued]

April 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Space, Frozen Emotion with Escher

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Intimacy, deeper meaning, and dynamic overload characterized the Escher String Quartet’s Celebrity Series debut last night at Longy.     [continued]

April 12, 2017

in: Reviews

Distillation Was Icumen

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Inspired by Brahms, Joseph Summer and friends, married Shakespearean dialogue and verse with music old and new to variable effect Saturday evening at Jordan Hall.      [continued]

April 11, 2017

in: Reviews

BCMS’s Poise and Spirit, Again

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Sunday evening’s musical meal at Sanders featured generous Romantic helpings surrounding a David Rakowski commission for Peggy Pearson.     [continued]

April 10, 2017

in: Reviews

An Excellent Night for Boston New Music

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Boston Musica Viva’s “Moonlight (and a) Serenade,” on Saturday night at Pickman Hall, proved once again once again how well the ensemble engages with extremely difficult and incredibly varied music.     [continued]

April 9, 2017

in: Reviews

Bernstein Speaks Eloquently

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BoCo/Berklee’s take on Mass, a Theater Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers proved absorbing and ultimately moving in performances this weekend.     [continued]

April 8, 2017

in: Reviews

Society’s Vespers of 1610 Transcends

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Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society ventured into Monteverdi’s universe and took a capacity Jordan Hall along with them Friday night, under the direction of Harry Christophers. Repeats on Sunday.     [continued]

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April 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Celebs Ink Hub Gigs

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Perlman to sell out. (Lisa Maria Mazucco photo)

The Celebrity Series of Boston’s next season, going on sale [here] this week, will include 49 music, dance, and entertainment engagements, including: a 5-performance debut series, 2 orchestras, 13 ensembles, 4 piano recitals, 5 instrumental recitals, 3 vocal recitals, 12 jazz and popular song performances, 7 dance companies, and three spoken word performances.

Classical highlights of the 2017-2018 Season include: Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel, Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, with conductor Sir Antonio Pappano & piano soloist Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma, Pianist Evgeny Kissin with the Emerson String Quartet, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and Daniil Trifonov, joining his esteemed teacher Sergei Babayan in a two-piano performance.

A rundown of the shows most likely of interest to BMInt readers is HERE.

Gary Dunning, the fourth leader of the Celebrity Series over its 73 history, shared some thoughts:

FLE: From the press release it’s not easy to figure out how many of the Series’s presentations are classical. Please tell us what the mix is and how it has changed over the years. [continued…]

April 17, 2017

in: News & Features

CLT Conjures Majestic Demon

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Three weeks from now Commonwealth Lyric Theater mounts, they tell us, the nearly 150-year-late Boston premiere of The Demon, the 1871 Russian operatic masterpiece telling of the immortal Demon falling in love with a mortal beauty in the mountains of Georgia. The Demon will tread the Cutler Majestic Theater boards on May 18th and 20th.

Artistic Director Alexander Prokhorov brings to the stage Anton Rubinstein’s romantic drama, based on a famous poem by Mikhail Lermontov, which portrays a protagonist dwelling in isolation and weary with the weight of immortality. Wandering the earth, he encounters the princess Tamara, who overwhelms him with emotion. In his greedy passion, the Demon destroys Tamara’s fiancé and claims her for himself. Tamara returns compassion toward the Demon and his tortured spirit, and they embrace—but his kiss is fatal.

The fully staged and costumed production, with orchestra under Lidiya Yankovskaya, will feature great Russian-born soloists (Alexey Bogdanov and Zhanna Alkhazova), folkdance ensemble from Georgia (PESVEBI), spectacular design including visual elements by artists from Moscow and Vienna, authentic Georgian Dance Ensemble with their notorious sword dancing, an international cast of other soloists, and choruses of adults and children.

BMInt interrogated a couple of the CLT principals as follows: [continued…]

April 13, 2017

in: News & Features

‘Soir des Femmes’ Bigger and Better

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Charlotte McKechnie

Nine months ago I reported on an enterprising group of young musicians who performed scenes from operas by historic female composers. However, the venue had only an electric piano, not what the enterprise deserved. So now Charlotte McKechnie and her “Soir” is back, and the Brookline Public Library Hunneman Hall venue has a Steinway baby grand. This revived and expanded event, including music of four centuries, is set to soar artistically. Selections from two works have been added: Justine F. Chen’s 2007 Jeanne and the little-known Cabildo by Boston’s own Amy Beach, being fêted this year to celebrate her 150th birthday.

Over two evenings of rehearsal I saw the concert take shape. McKechnie, soprano and impresario—also organizer, instigator, producer, and stage director—will be leaving the area to start a master’s program in Glasgow. With these six varied works, all of them underappreciated, she promises to make an artistic mark on the landscape. She is joined for the ‘Soir’ by music director Maxwell Phillips and remarkable accompanist Stephanie Mao, as well as the singers discussed below. It’s time to further acknowledge women’s history of achievement in music, through the recovery of underexposed works. [continued…]

April 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Crying With Teeth

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Sarah Darling

Getting ready for our Celebrity Series concert tomorrow at Sanders, I’m standing with a violist and a singer to my left, a cellist to my right, and another singer just behind us. Across the stage, the 18 musicians of A Far Cry and the 8 singers of Roomful of Teeth have interspersed themselves into a single space. We’re about 10 seconds into our first pass at Caroline Shaw’s arrangement of Josquin des Prez’s lament Nymphes des Bois, and frankly, we haven’t found our way quite yet. Our individual polyphonic strands are trying to match up with the others, and to be in sync across the stage. Waves of sound and intention collide, unintentional dissonances form and subside, glances shoot up from the score as we try to right ourselves. It seems like we’ll need to stop and try a new strategy when suddenly, the feeling of shared pulse just clicks into rightness, and like that, we’re good.  Instrumental lines and vocal lines merge into a single intention, harmonies bloom, and we move forwards through the piece, suddenly dancing together in what T. S. Eliot would call “a formal pattern.”

[continued…]

April 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Rockport Festival in Fine Fettle

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Joshua Bell (file photo)

Violinist Joshua Bell opens the 36th Rockport Chamber Music Festival on a June 2nd benefit-tribute to one of the nation’s most successful and beloved presenters. Artistic Director David Deveau, who has led the organization for the last 22 years, presides this season in his signature avuncular style for the last time. On his watch, a regional chamber music festival has grown to greatness. The Shalin Liu Performance Center constitutes his enduring legacy.

Running through July 9th, the festival includes pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Joyce Yang, Charlie Albright and Russell Sherman, the Jupiter, Brentano, Escher and Jasper quartets, as well as the Canadian Brass, the Lorelei Ensemble, Boston Camerata and the Handel and Haydn Society.  The Festival features 2 world premieres, one by by Charles Shadle (June 3) and the second from David Alpher, co-founder of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival (June 24). In his final Festival, David Deveau is highlighting Boston’s rich musical heritage along with artists with strong ties to the Festival.  The Festival concludes in a nearly sold-out collaborative tribute to Deveau and his successor-designate Barry Shiffman. Individual tickets go on sale April 18th. The season rundown is HERE.

FLE: Lots of old friends on tap for your last year as artistic director at Rockport. And you will be playing several times with them. Can we discern a statement in your valedictory choices? [continued…]

April 6, 2017

in: Reviews

Bruckner: Lofty Soul or Bumpkin?

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Mitsuko Uchida to play stormy concerto

On the series of BSO subscription concerts beginning Thursday April 13th is included Bruckner’s seldom heard Symphony No. 6, written between 1879 and 1881 (following pianist Mitsuko Uchida’s performance of Mozart’s mysterious, stormy D-minor piano concerto K.466). According to Tony Fogg, Nelsons intends to do a Bruckner symphony each season. He announced this publicly in Symphony Hall in June 2013, and has kept his word, evincing his affinity with that composer. He’s also recording the entire cycle for DG, with the Gewandhausorchester

Austrian composer Anton Bruckner was of the generation before Mahler and died just a year before Brahms did. BSO publications director Marc Mandel writes, “And though his approach to symphonic composition is rooted in the Viennese tradition of Beethoven and Schubert, Bruckner in his symphonies expanded the four-movement form to a size his Classical predecessors never envisioned with regard to scale, conception, and instrumentation. Completed in 1881, Bruckner’s seldom heard Symphony No. 6 was the one he apparently considered his boldest. At about 50 minutes in length—about the length of Beethoven’s Eroica—it is his shortest mature symphony, and never suffered the sort of confounding alterations inflicted upon several of the others. [continued…]

March 30, 2017

in: News & Features

BSO Subscription Series Announced

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Next year’s Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 Season contains a few real surprises. Once again there is a tendency toward the theater, the most radical choice being the complete Act II of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Definitely a good choice, and preceded by the lovely Siegfried Idyll for chamber ensemble. Grieg’s familiar Peer Gynt music shares a program with Beethoven’s unfamiliar but excellent Egmont music in what is perhaps billed as a staged performance; these should be interesting. And Berlioz’s complete Damnation of Faust conducted by Charles Dutoit (I still remember the performance at Tanglewood in 1960 with Martial Singher as Mephistopheles; at one point Munch gave such a sweeping sidewise beat that Singher had to jump out of the way, to the laughter of the audience).

Leonard Bernstein’s centenary is being celebrated with four works on opening night (September 22, including the very fine Serenade) and two series in March, with Symphony No. 2 (Age of Anxiety), a fine, exciting work, and No. 3 (Kaddish), another theatrical piece which I remember only as pretentious and rather uninteresting.

Much of the remaining repertory is standard, even conventional, with a handful of always welcome new works. Mahler is represented by Symphonies 1 and 3 (maybe, just maybe, Andris Nelsons will choose the 1893 version of Mahler’s First, the five-movement version for a Brahms-sized orchestra; very worthy and very rarely heard, although the Tufts Orchestra did it last November). Stravinsky is present with the complete Firebird (welcome in any year even though we heard it two years ago; much better than any suite) and the Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss, another good choice, seldom heard. Bruckner: the Fourth Symphony, and that’s enough of him for one year. [continued…]

March 28, 2017

in: Reviews

Beethoven’s Ninth: Tempi Tempests

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Benjamin Zander has been exploring the Beethoven Ninth for 40 years; no other piece of music has occupied his imagination over so long a period. What must be regarded as the culmination of his absorption took place 10 days ago in London: a performance in the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Philharmonia Chorus and quartet of soloists, and a studio recording with the engineers and producers responsible for Zander’s Mahler and Bruckner issues.

The performance incorporated the results of Zander’s investigation of all of the text sources and consideration of every dynamic mark, expressive sign, and tempo indication that Beethoven wrote in the score, the parts, and the many other documents relating to the symphony. Most revealing were the metronome indications, several of which are frequently disregarded. These are of great importance in determining the character of movements as a whole and of various sections. Some have consistently been decried as unplayably fast, although Beethoven characterized correct realization of his tempi as “extremely necessary”. In performance and recording Zander showed that these tempi are in fact playable, although in some instances far from easy, and that they are the keys to an extraordinary and rarely tapped vein of eloquence in the symphony.

The first rehearsals were with the 130 members of the Philharmonia Chorus. Chorus master Stefan Bevier is a man whose perfectionist demands are almost impossible to meet and whose methods almost make Toscanini seem benign, and he has honed the chorus into a musical body of precision, eloquence, range, and power. Zander’s interpretation drew them in: several members confessed after rehearsal that they had been dreading yet another Beethoven Ninth, but found themselves embarked on an enthralling adventure. [continued…]

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