Though the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s “Magyar Madness” certainly delivered on the first word by presenting four works of Hungarian or Hungarian-descended composers including two premieres at Jordan Hall on Friday, we’ll give BMOP a pass on “Madness.” [continued]
Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter and Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt brought penetrating artistry to the Celebrity Series audience at Jordan Hall Friday. [continued]
New and improved, the Emerson String Quartet, quietly led by recently arrived cellist Paul Watkins, combined old and contemporary works for a most satisfactory chamber evening. [continued]
Handel and Haydn Society examined some lesser-known works of its second namesake, Franz Josef Haydn, Friday at Symphony Hall. Despite the composer’s mammoth reputation, most casual concertgoers are unaware of the experimentalist and formal tinkerer toiling away in lesser courts. [continued]
BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur made an earlier than planned subscription debut this week after scheduled guest conductor Tugan Sokhiev cancelled. Joined by cellist Johannes Moser, the son of the illustrious Kurt led heartily enjoyable performances. [continued]
First Vienna sweet to brooding, then Parisian variety, and finally Mongolia: violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and pianist Qing Jiang superbly traversed a dramatic range of sound and affect with strings percussed and singing on Jordan Hall Saturday night. [continued]
Everyone’s favorite local quartet dove deep into late Beethoven Sunday. While the excellent Borromeo Quartet has been reviewed in these pages many times, it remains an Important Event whenever they take on such works. The third of four programs this season of the Concord Chamber Music Society was, as usual, worth the westward trek. [continued]
Hearing five new or recent works presented with utter devotion and precision by Collage New Music Sunday evening kept Pickman Hall listeners up-to-the-minute. [continued]
Batteries of percussion surrounded and immersed the audience, as Sound Icon commandeered the voluminous Center for the Arts at the Armory Friday in Somerville for Gérard Grisey’s pulsar inspired Le Noir de L’Etoile. [continued]
Thursday evening’s BSO concert was a must-hear, yet not everything cracked musical sound barriers. Lars Vogt offered his own cadenzas, angles and experiences in the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor before Nelsons led Bruckner’s Symphony No.7. [continued]
The sounds of Tenet/Green Mountain Project rocketed about St. Cecilia Parish, Boston, on Monday, summiting a pinnacle of early 17th-century music in one of the finest performances of any type that I’ve heard. [continued]
Heightened Intimacy in BOC’s Lettres de Werther Boston Opera Collaborative’’ presents a miniature and intimate Lettres de Werther at Longy School’s Pickman Hall constitutes a fine opening for the company’s 2015 season. While the staging is somewhat Spartan, the 90-minute reparsing get to the heart of the opera. Continuing Thursday and Friday. [continued]
Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players, one of the premiere ensembles in the world, took the Jordan Hall stage yesterday with less-familiar works by Mysliveček, Foote, Nathan, and Dvořák. [continued]
Richard Stoltzman’s Sunday afternoon recital at the Gardner Museum conveyed additional evidence of his profound and peculiar place as a master of the clarinet over the last 40-odd years. Pianist David Deveau provided a strong, powerful and intelligent foundation for Stoltzman’s flights. [continued]
A sparking Pro Arte with Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik introduced us on Saturday night to a salubrious new venue, First Baptist Church in Newton. In the Prokofiev Violin Concerto, the ensemble reached heights in its supportive and complementary roles. [continued]
Our esteemed Robert Levin joined the self-directed chamber orchestra “A Far Cry” for a concert celebrating improvisation. What a relaxed and joyful evening it was Friday night at Jordan Hall. [continued]
In a program with variation form as a unifying thread, Andris Nelsons and the BSO started the new year with grand music-making. French cellist Gautier Capuçon starred as Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, with BSO principal viola Steven Ansell as his Sancho Panza; works of Brahms and Haydn were also essayed. [continued]
Artem Belogurov’s Piano Classics CD “American Romantics: The Boston Scene” and the recital that promoted it last night at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlestown gave an overdue exposure to salon music of neglected Boston composers. [continued]
Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque with soprano Sara Heaton and baritone Andrew Garland offered orchestral music and excerpts from operas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at Sanders Theater. [continued]
The Greek Institute’s “A Byzantine Christmas” under the leadership of Spyridon Antonopoulos in Cambridge’s First Church on Monday evening consisted of liturgical pieces from the 14th through the 18th centuries and folk music of Greece with instruments from the Greek Islands. [continued]
The Boston Camerata under Artistic Director and soprano Anne Azéma sang and played pre-20th-century-American sacred music related to Christmas on Friday in Hancock Church, Lexington. Camerata’s revelations served to convert even the most jaded modern-day Scrooge. [continued]more reviews →
Birthday parties are fun, and those with live music even more so. When the music is a series of premieres by the honoree performed by first-rate artists, one can get rather giddy at the prospect. Such were the circumstances at Tufts University’s Distler Hall on January 25th, when friends, colleagues and family gathered to honor Mark DeVoto, retired professor, composer, musicologist, irrepressible wit, raconteur, and author of 106 articles and reviews for this site, in celebration of his recent 75th birthday.
A couple of years ago, Harvard Musical Association President (and BMInt Publisher) Lee Eiseman asked DeVoto to contribute a variation on the HMA’s “theme song” as part of a composite variation set by 8 composer-members of HMA. This exercise seems to have triggered the revival of DeVoto’s creative mojo: in short order he had completed several other works, which were performed Sunday by an impressive array of talent, namely pianists John McDonald and Cagdas Donmezer, soprano Karol Bennett, clarinetist Ray Jackendoff, violists Anna Griffis and Will Myers, and cellist Emmanuel Feldman. [continued…]
“The sedge is wither’d from the lake, / And no birds sing,” lamented Keats in “La Belle Dame sans Merci.” Imagine a silent Boston spring in which no songs rang forth from local stages, and in which no singers appeared to pour out their souls for us. Such emotive generosity cannot always extend through careers as long as instrumentalists’, and because we care about the lives of those who sing for us, attention must be paid.
“Keeping the Voices of New England Strong,” the fifth annual benefit for Boston Singers’ Relief Fund, brings together singers and musicians from Blue Heron, Emmanuel Music, Handel and Haydn, and Boston Baroque for a gala entertainment with a mission. Taking place Saturday at 4 pm at Emmanuel Church, the concert includes Bach cantatas, excerpts from Messiah, indeed a lot of superb vocal music from every period. (The complete program appears below.) [continued…]
Kati Agócs, whose The Debrecen Passion comes to Boston Modern Orchestra Project this Saturday night, has been making quite an impression on the global music community. But beyond her extensive curriculum vitae and skill as a composer, Kati is also a warm and compassionate person, extremely self-actualized with a fluid ability to describe her experience.
This past weekend I was able to speak with Kati over the phone shortly after she had arrived from Minneapolis where she worked with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. After speaking very highly of the compositional and rehearsal process with BMOP and Lorelei, her Guggenheim Fellowship and the commissioning group The Jebediah Foundation (with the help of Robert Amory), and applauding the incredible musicians involved (BMOP and the Lorelei Ensemble) she answered a few questions about her upcoming premiere.
SK: I have never heard of Szilárd Borbély before. Who is this poet?
KA: Ah yes, most people have not heard of Borbély yet in the West. He is well known in literary circles within Hungary, but his work hasn’t been translated that much yet, so he isn’t as well known here. I am sure he will be soon. Unfortunately, we did lose him in 2014, so he is something of a canonized contemporary within Hungary. [continued…]
In “Toward the Flame,” NEC piano majors will perform Alexander Scriabin’s entire output for solo piano—preludes, etudes, “poems,” and sonatas—in chronological order in six concerts at Williams Hall (8 pm January 27, February 11, 17, 26, March 4 and 12), and on January 29 at 8 pm in Jordan Hall, the students will play the 10 Sonatas. Free and open to the public, the event, according to NEC piano department chair and organizer Bruce Brubaker, is certain to induce ecstasy. BMInt therefore recently attempted interrogation.
How many of these composer immersion orgies have you produced at NEC?
Quite a few. We had most of Messiaen’s piano music in 2008, all of Haydn’s piano sonatas in 2009. There was a year focused on Cage, and one season brought multiple concerts of music by Liszt. The extremely strong concentration of young pianists at New England Conservatory make it one of the few places where these projects can happen. In a professional setting, it would be very difficult. Few other schools have a large enough group of such excellent players. There’s going to be a lot of Scriabin activity around the world during 2015; I believe NEC is the only place where all the piano music will be played. [continued…]
The emancipation of Jews in France began with the Revolution, when the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man specifically affirmed the civil rights of French citizens regardless of religion, and continued in the Empire, in which Napoleon in 1806 proclaimed that Judaism was an official religion of the state, along with Christianity both Catholic and Protestant. France remained overwhelmingly Catholic, but Jews moved out of ghettos and began to claim civil rights. In music, Jews began to enter public life, and a powerful testimonial to their presence began in 1835 with the success of the grand opera La juive (The Jewess), by Fromental Halévy (1799 – 1862) on a libretto by Eugène Scribe. It is possible that the moral message of the opera carried weight with a Parisian public that had previously known little about Jewish persecution, or even about Jewish religious life; Act II begins with a Passover observance. The music of La juive earned praise even from Wagner, and it is the only one of Halévy’s 40 operas to be staged today. (Halévy’s nephew Ludovic Halévy teamed up with Henri Meilhac to coauthor several durable librettos, including Bizet’s Carmen after Mérimée’s novel, several immortal operettas by Offenbach, and even a vaudeville adapted in Austria to become Die Fledermaus, although Nazi censors probably didn’t know that.) [continued…]
The venerable Emerson String Quartet, which formed at Juilliard as a student ensemble and in 1976 took its name after the 19th-century sage from our backyard, is giving its 21st Celebrity Series concert at Jordan Hall next Thursday, January 22nd, with works by Purcell/Britten, Lowell Liebermann, and Beethoven. We recently spoke with Emerson violinist Eugene Drucker.
FLE: It is a commonplace now to say this is a Golden Age for string quartets. Since the Emerson Quartet’s beginnings, almost 30 years ago, many more such ensembles have come than gone. Almost every string player at conservatory seems to want to play in one. Why do you think that is?
ED: The repertoire includes some of the greatest music ever written. There is more support for a chamber music career than was the case decades ago; more chamber music series have been established. More-varied career paths are possible nowadays than in the past, when one had to choose—depending on one’s abilities—between a solo career and chamber music (maybe) or orchestral life, with some teaching activity as a financial base. Nowadays more soloists play chamber music in public, at least occasionally. Even within the world of string quartets, some specialize in contemporary music, crossover or some combination of the two, while more traditional quartets like ours try to play every category from before Haydn through 20th-century classics to contemporary. [continued…]
As we hunker down in these bleak but lengthening days and the concert scene begins to gear up after its seasonal lapse, Music for Food will give us three opportunities to hear wonderful music while doing good, beginning with Emmanuel Feldman’s account of Bach cello suites at Jordan Hall Tuesday night. What for many of us is a passion and for others an entertainment, MFF pursues as an enterprise for social change.
Readers of these pages may recall prior articles about Music for Food (here and here among others). Kim Kashkashian brought the model to the Boston area and has developed it into a powerful means to combine music with civic engagement. I volunteer with Music for Food and what most impresses me about the group is that its mission emphasizes the human need for food and music alike. Humans reduced to mere physical survival are barely humans at all. MFF advocates for the need to provide spiritual food also. Here is where music enters: Musicians volunteer their time, some concert venues donate space, and audiences get to hear great music. Along with entertainment comes education: details about hunger and food insecurity affecting tens of thousands of people in the Boston area alone. The organization asks us to turn that connection into tangible help for the hungry in our midst. Music connects us, and music feeds us—metaphorically and now literally. In many ways, this is a new twist on an old idea: J.S. Bach composed, conducted, and taught music in exchange for money and beer. Similarly, Music for Food wants us all to have both. [continued…]
A new music series to “present the next generation of contemporary artists to Boston audiences” has been announced by the venerable Celebrity Series of Boston. Under the banner of Stave Sessions, the weeklong festival will take place at the Berklee College of Music campus (160 Mass. Ave.) on the second and third floors of the multiuse high-rise built last spring. Performances will run nightly March 15-21, with 7:30 pm shows on March 15 and 17 and 7:30 and 9:30 pm shows the other nights.
“Stave Sessions will engage Boston’s ‘creative class’,” goes the announcement, “by building on partnerships with young professional groups and cultural organizations. Ticket prices will be accessible for urban professionals at $35 for stage-level cabaret seating and $20 for balcony standing. Bars with a specially curated Stave Sessions cocktail will be open throughout the evening.”
While many of the artists are familiar in the pop, jazz, and world music spheres, such as Banda Magna, Choropop (both appearing March 15), Kate Davis (March 17), Becca Stevens (March 19), and crossover artists Ben Sollee (March 17) and Max Richter (March 21), those whose names might be familiar to BMInt readers include Brooklyn-based composer-performer Gabriel Kahane (March 17), the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth (March 18), and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider (March 20).
BMInt good-naturedly grilled Celebrity Series head Gary Dunning: [continued…]more news & features →