April 17, 2015

in: Reviews

New Insights Into Familiar Works

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The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s reprised three Romantic warhorses at Sanders Theater on Thursday night: Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser. Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.      [continued]

April 17, 2015

in: Reviews

BU’s Cinderella Goes Beyond the Brothers Grimm

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Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon is a fine entertainment in the production the BU Theater. Having opened Thursday night, it will run for three more performances.     [continued]

April 15, 2015

in: Reviews

BMV: Cycling Across Cultures

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Boston Musica Viva under Richard Pittman concluded its 46th season at Longy Saturday evening with four meditative contemporary works, including the premiere of Shirish Korde’s new song cycle, Kala Chakra.     [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

Strings and Oboe Abloom in Newburyport

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Apple Hill Concerts dispatched its namesake quartet and Peggy Pearson with Haydn, Brahms, a new hymn, and an important premiere by James Primosch to Newburyport’s sunstruck First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, on Sunday.     [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

RenMen Amuse and Edify

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The nine-man vocal ensemble Renaissance Men wrapped up its inaugural season in Gordon Chapel at Boston’s Old South Church with a very fine “journey from the church . . . to the tavern.”   [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

A Worthy Mendelssohnian Revival

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Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 in B-flat, a “symphony-cantata” titled Lobgesang (song or hymn of praise) came to Jordan Hall on April 12th with Dedham Choral Society under Jonathan Barnhart in a success we hope will encourage other choral societies to reintroduce this great work to standard-rep status.     [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

Melodrama at the Modern

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Long champions of unjustly neglected repertories, the Musicians of the Old Post Road devoted a particularly fascinating afternoon to the music and melodrama of Franz and Georg Benda at Suffolk University’s Modern Theater on Sunday.     [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

When Jupiter Aligns with Beethoven

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Fast often but lusciously played always, the glorious conclusion to the Jupiter Quartet’s Beethoven cycle at MIT’s Kresge auditorium arrived Friday night capped by an outstanding Great Fugue.   [continued]

April 13, 2015

in: Reviews

Mistral’s Mission Accomplished

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Mistral’s final program of its 18th season of so-called gypsy music was designed to “transport you for these few hours into … a lightness of heart!” It seemed to be working for those in St Paul’s Episcopal Church on Saturday afternoon.     [continued]

April 12, 2015

in: Reviews

Upbeat Life Forces à la Parker

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Optimistic and life-affirming sounds abounded from the Parker Quartet Friday night at Harvard, including an exciting and worthy world premiere by Augusta Read Thomas.     [continued]

April 12, 2015

in: Reviews

Vocal and Instrumental Feats Delight

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Members of the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble supported the soprano Amanda Forsythe and Australian countertenor David Hansen for Saturday’ Sanders Theater musical get-together, “vocal delights.”     [continued]

April 12, 2015

in: Reviews

Goodwill and Struggles in Times of War

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Noted mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato brought the likes of Ravel and Debussy, Earl Kim and Benjamin Britten together with Reynaldo Hahn and Mohammed Fairouz to Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church in “Vocal Chamber Music in Times of War” for Massachusetts Peace Action.     [continued]

April 11, 2015

in: Reviews

Four Guitars in Search of Rep

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The four Irish guitarists brought to Longy by the Celebrity Series on Wednesday night made a case for a grouping that relied heavily on subtle, timbral qualities. The repertoire was another story.     [continued]

April 11, 2015

in: Reviews

Grand Deconstruction

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The eponymous band presented “grand harmonie: deconstruction” Friday night in Pickman Hall with two major works by Mozart and an early composition by Mendelssohn; it repeats Saturday night in New York.     [continued]

April 10, 2015

in: Reviews

Contrasts and Dreamscapes

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Music Director Andris Nelsons’s Thursday BSO program, comprising a wide range of musical styles and eras, induced an enthusiastic reception in the nearly full house. The program will be repeated tonight (Friday), Saturday and next Tuesday.     [continued]

April 9, 2015

in: Reviews

Delights Alla Turca

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Timelessly, gorgeously mixing centuries, genres, cultures, and languages, the collective Dünya last Tuesday at NEC put on a scintillating coffeehouse opera repeat that would be worth hearing yet again.     [continued]

April 9, 2015

in: Reviews

Sudbin’s Crystal-Clear Chronicling

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In his Boston debut at Seully Hall Tuesday evening with super servings of Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, and Scriabin, Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin spoke with refinement in grand narratives.    [continued]

April 6, 2015

in: Reviews

Budu’s Bagatelles More Than Mere

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Ambling on stage in a moss-green tunic and dark jeans, pianist Christian Budu bonded immediately with the crowd as he disarmingly declared his awe at finding himself in the great Jordan Hall Saturday night. His artist diploma recital placed him high in the firmament of New England Conservatory greats.     [continued]

April 4, 2015

in: Reviews

Definitive Article With High Sheen

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The Boston Trio and visitor Andrew Byun braced with a mix of familiar and unfamiliar on April 2nd at Jordan Hall as part of its resident status at NEC Preparatory Division.    [continued]

April 3, 2015

in: Reviews

Nelsons’s Precision Locomotive

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Dmitri Shostakovich’s Passacaglia from Act II of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with soloist Christian Tetzlaff, and Shostakovich’s massive Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93 provided plenty of substance for the BSO under Nelsons on Thursday.   [continued]

March 31, 2015

in: Reviews

Virtuoso Partners: Batiashvili and Lewis

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Violinist Lisa Batiashvili and pianist Paul Lewis filled a Sunday afternoon with bravura for the Celebrity Series at Jordan Hall. She’s very special and he’s the cat’s meow.     [continued]

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April 17, 2015

in: News & Features

Harvard Remembers American Civil War

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The Great Emancipator

The Great Emancipator

To Southerners it was known as the War of Northern Aggression, while those to the North of the Mason-Dixon lines referred to the War of Rebellion. Even 150 years after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, deep wounds remain from America’s most bloody conflict. Harvard’s response to this significant anniversary first recognizes that its students who died fighting for the Union were not its only victims of the conflict.

“Deep Wounds,” a multimedia exhibit continuing through May 7th” is a large-scale, site-specific interactive installation by artist Brian Knep. With names inscribed on its marble walls, the transept at Memorial Hall honors Harvard alumni who died in the Civil War while fighting for the Union. Using computer-generated projection technology, Deep Wounds uses this historic space to explore the universal challenge of unfinished healing and reconciliation, among enemies formerly bound by the ties of friendship, family, or shared experience. Commissioned and presented by the OFA Public Art Program. Memorial Hall, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge. Hours: Monday-Friday, 10-6 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12-6 pm (except April 5 and 19). Admission free; more information; 617.495.8676.

Two musical responses to the conflict also look to be moving and important. [continued…]

April 17, 2015

in: News & Features

Handel’s Athalia To Play Mem Church

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bewigged-handelwHarvard University’s Memorial Church will resound with a rarely heard opera as part of the university-wide ARTS FIRST festival. On May 1, 2015 at 7:30 pm, the Harvard University Choir and the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Gund University Organist and Choirmaster Edward Elwyn Jones, will present Handel’s rarely-heard dramatic oratorio Athalia at the university’s Memorial Church. Free and open to the public, it features an a cast led by soprano Dominique Labelle in the title role, along with soprano Amanda Forsythe, tenor William Hite, bass Mark Risinger, countertenor Eric Jurenas, and treble Gabriel Haddad.

Christopher Hogwood conducted the Handel and Haydn Society forces in the most recent Boston performance in 1987; Richard Dyer had much to say about the instrumentalists, but, “All but one of the cast, on the other hand, minced around on tippy-toes, singing with constrained techniques and pallid enunciation.” [continued…]

April 9, 2015

in: News & Features

Call to Action, Ye Lovers of Classical Music

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hornwToday’s Boston Globe has two items that should impel a call to action for classical music lovers. First is the Globe insert announcing all the nonprofit groups—141—that won free advertising during the past year. Selection is by reader vote. There are a number of deserving medical and health groups, but pitifully few local representatives of classical music. Among the winners are groups that already have support mechanisms, development staff, and budgets for advertising, and that already receive free advertising in the form of reviews. This is not the case for the numerous deserving smaller music groups, and others with small constituencies, that were recipients. But all of them obviously called out the troops. [continued…]

April 7, 2015

in: News & Features

Composer Bielawa at Rivers School

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bielawaThis Friday through Sunday, April 10-12, the Rivers School Conservatory will present in seminar form the music of Lisa Bielawa, commissioned composer of their 37th Annual Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young. The final event, Sunday at 5pm, features the premiere of Hypermelodia, for big band, chamber orchestra, piano, double-bass, and two percussionists.

Four other Bielawa works will be performed over the weekend: Scene & Aria: Layover in CDG; The Trojan Women; Midtown Passacaglia; and Synopsis #13: Thy Sting Is Not So Sharp. Each seminar concert is approximately one hour. Before the Sunday finale, a reception for Bielawa will be held at the Campus center (see schedule at end).

Of Hypermelodia Bielawa says, “While writers have, for centuries, experimented with narrative time, the age of the hypertext—the link within a text that takes one to another text, interrelated to still other texts—has brought us into a robust new world of narrative plurality and enmeshment, in which hypertext fiction writers can explore the mathematical boundaries of interrelated stories. Hypermelodia has at its core just such a deeper pool of potential stories, but instead of a reader clicking on hypertexts to be transported to other narratives, it is a small team of soloists who decide what ‘links’ to send the listener to at various moments in the piece, which are then played by a big band and an orchestra. Every performance tells a different story!” [continued…]

April 5, 2015

in: News & Features

BSO Subscriptions Now on Offer

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cartoucheVariety is the keyword for the next Boston Symphony Orchestra season [compete schedule here], though it appears heavy on Russians, beginning with Andris Nelsons’s continuing survey of Shostakovich, who is represented by Incidental Music to Hamlet, and three symphonies: 5, 8, and 9. The Fifth has always been the most popular, and first movement is really magnificent, but the last two movements are dramatically and musically weak. The Ninth is sardonic and almost frivolous, hardly a stirring paean of triumph at the end of World War II, and Shostakovich was severely criticized for that. But the Eighth Symphony, seldom played, is one of his best; brooding, defiant, and definitely a war symphony that has always unfairly been in the shadow of the “Leningrad” Seventh, much of which represents the composer at his worst. The Eighth is an important work, not to be missed. [continued…]

April 1, 2015

in: News & Features

Street Antiphons Commissioned by Club

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-quill-pen-As part of its Sanders Theater program (complete information below) on Sunday, April 19th, Boston Chamber Music Society will be premiering Street Antiphons by Pierre Jalbert, the second new score from the BCMS Commissioning Club in as many seasons. BCMS succeeded through the unconventional approach of asking many small contributors to pledge $300 over three years. Pierre Jalbert, who was selected by the BCMS Member Musicians, is the recipient of many awards and honors, most recently from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Stoeger Award, given “in recognition of significant contributions to the chamber music repertory.” 

He is, as well, a recipient of the Rome Prize and a 2010 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Jalbert has written for the Borromeo, Chiara and Emerson quartets, Music from Copland House, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. BCMS pianist Mihae Lee has spoken of how impressed she was, on hearing the premiere of his Piano Quartet in 2013 in Tucson with “his understanding of instruments, particularly…the variety of sounds he produced with different instruments; the brilliant rhythmic energy that keeps the listener on the edge; his refined craftsmanship; and the dramatic landscape one feels listening to the composition.”  [continued…]

March 30, 2015

in: News & Features

Ronald Knudsen, BSO Violinist, Local Conductor

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Ronald-KnudsenAfter a rich life and career filled with music, Ronald Knudsen died peacefully at home this week, age 83. Known chiefly as a BSO violinist, also conductor and educator, he devoted himself to bringing classical music of all kinds to the widest possible audience. Born in Nebraska and raised in Minnesota, he studied at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Following Peabody, he was a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow, where he served as both concertmaster and soloist.

Before coming to Boston, in 1965, to join the Boston Symphony violin section, Knudsen was a member of the Baltimore and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. In Boston he was active in many activities of the classical community. He was the original violinist in the contemporary group Collage, and in 1971 helped found the Curtisville Consortium, a chamber music ensemble of BSO players and friends performing each summer in the Berkshires. Knudsen also was a soloist with the Pops, Brockton Symphony, Newton Symphony and Worcester Orchestras.

In August 2013 he retired from the BSO, after 48 years of service. [continued…]

March 26, 2015

in: News & Features

H+H Exhibits its Wares on Anniversary Day

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h-and-h-carouche001It’s in the air of Boston these days: the arts are finally achieving the prominence they deserve in civic life. This is particularly well exemplified by the appointment of Julie Burros to a cabinet level position in the Mayor’s office and a strong commitment to the arts by Mayor Walsh. But it turns out that recognition of the value of the arts to the community has long been in the minds of proper Bostonians. On Tuesday we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Handel & Haydn Society on the exact date. On March 24, 1815, six worthy Bostonian gentlemen met at the home of composer, educator, publisher and oboist Gottlieb Graupner to form what has become the oldest continuously operating arts organization in the country [unless one accepts the precedence of the 229-year-old Stoughton Chorale Society]. At the time of its founding, H+H was essentially a contemporary music ensemble of chorus and orchestra;  Haydn was only five years dead, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was nine years off. Over the course of time, this organization has presented the US premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879). Additionally, they have performed at the state memorial services for Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1826), Abraham Lincoln (1865), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945). They have been on the cutting edge of the musical life of this country, and instead of resting on their lacy haunches, they remain one of the most vital and progressive of the many arts organizations in Boston. Their community outreach and education program is very strong, and their financial picture very solid, as evidenced by the remarks at the event. They have reached $10 million of a $12 million capital campaign to ensure continuing vibrancy. [continued…]

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