October 30, 2014

in: Reviews

Khodolenko’s Comic Keyboard Sensibility

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28-year-old Ukraine-born pianist Vadym Kholodenko, gold-medal winner of last year’s Cliburn Competition, offered up an unusual motley of fare, Handel to Classical to Balakirev to Glazunov for the Celebrity Series at Longy last night.     [continued]

October 30, 2014

in: Reviews

Windsbacher Knabenchor: Richness Resounding

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In the Groton School’s towering, Gothic, St. John’s Chapel, bedecked with intricate dark oak wood carving and blessed with ideal acoustics, the far-famed Windsbacher Knabenchor, performed last night.     [continued]

October 28, 2014

in: Reviews

The Organ Abides

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This is turning out to be a great year for the pipe organ in Greater Boston, right up through this weekend which saw important recitals by Thomas Murray and Isabelle Demers. A flurry of organ activity beginning in spring with the National AGO convention has continued, proving that such venerable machines are not dead.    [continued]

October 28, 2014

in: Reviews

An Elder Communes with the Up-And-Coming

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The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center dispatched the eminent and not-so-young-any-more pianist Gilbert Kalish along with two youngsters, violinist Benjamin Beilman, and cellist Julie Albers, to the Gardner Museum for a richly rewarding concert of Beethoven and  Dvořák on Sunday.     [continued]

October 27, 2014

in: Reviews

The Variation Principle as a Theme

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The Boston Chamber Music Society continued its season-long exploration of variation featuring works of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Schumann on Sunday at Sanders Theater in a program that was distinguished by commendable pacing and richness of sound.     [continued]

October 27, 2014

in: Reviews

Divining Mozart’s and Rachmaninoff’s Intentions

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Frequent chamber music partners and N.E.C. colleagues violinist Miriam Fried violist Kim Kashkashian duoed in a powerful performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Boston Philharmonic under Ben Zander Saturday night at Jordan Hall. Rachmaninoff’s second symphony completed the program.     [continued]

October 26, 2014

in: Reviews

Shall We Dance with the New England Philharmonic?

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Organized around the rubric of “Shall We Dance?,” the New England Philharmonic’s program under Richard Pittman Friday at the Tsai Center at Boston University was long, yet with two important premieres, it was every bit as exciting as it promised.     [continued]

October 26, 2014

in: Reviews

Hyla to Bluegrass with a Cash Bar

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“Shaken, Stirred, and Straight up” evoked certain expressive qualities and, as might be guessed, alluded to the pre-performance cocktail hour at The Davis Square Theater on Friday. Dinosaur Annex New Music Ensemble is an essential part of our new music scene.     [continued]

October 24, 2014

in: Reviews

Sorrow and Comfort at Symphony Hall

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bramwell Tovey conducting, blessed its audience with Bach and Brahms, aided and abetted by Rosemary Joshua and Bryn Terfel. Thursday’s astute pairing, showcasing fine musicianship, was a memorable evening in Symphony Hall.     [continued]

October 24, 2014

in: Reviews

Operatic Magic Theater

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South Africa’s Isango Ensemble has brought a unique interpretation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre this week. This inspired production places its emphasis squarely on the magic.     [continued]

October 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Thistles Abounding: Juilliard String Quartet

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Prickles and burs as well as rounded fattiness were in evidence Saturday at Jordan Hall as the long-lived Juilliard String Quartet showed its full engagement with Viennese masterworks of two centuries.     [continued]

October 22, 2014

in: Reviews

Bachian or Not, Zelenka Superb

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The program presented Saturday by Juilliard415 and Yale’s Schola Cantorum under Masaaki Suzuki at St. Mary’s church in New Haven (also at Jordan Hall on Friday and in New York), consisting of just of Zelenka’s Ouverture à 7 concertanti and the Missa Dei Patris, made a rousing case for taking Zelenka’s unique, thrilling musical language on its own terms.     [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

An Orphic Christoph Willibald at Mem Church

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On Sunday afternoon conductor Edward Elywn Jones gathered the Harvard University Choir, the period ensemble Grand Harmonie, and three fine soloists to present a free concert version of Orfeo ed Euridice at Harvard’s Memorial Church.   [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Unquestioned Virtuosity from String Master

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Violist Roberto Diaz along with pianist Max Levinson performed a recital in Boston Conservatory’s String Masters Series at Seully Hall Sunday night that was as fine an evening of music making as I have ever heard.     [continued]

October 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Cecilia Gives Hyphenated Tribute to Teeters

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In the “Czech-American Connection” from Boston Cecilia at Brookline’s All Saintes Church on Sunday, Nicholas White led the 139-year-old chorus in an evocative tribute to its late director Don Teeters.     [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: News & Features

Jupiter Cycled Through Fourth Installment

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The Jupiter Quartet resumed its Beethoven quartet cycle at MIT with installment four, which spanned extremes of Beethoven’s work in the genre, discovering ways into music that remains difficult to penetrate—sharing and projecting in equal measure.    [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: Reviews

The Real Story from Marlboro

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Musicians from Marlboro advanced steadily in their Sunday concert at the Gardner Museum to an extraordinary finish. Some of the best harp playing I have ever heard came from harpist Sivan Magen, and Marlboro’s string quintet delivered a story so real, so natural, so Beethoven.   [continued]

October 20, 2014

in: Reviews

Two Schools From Vienna

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Boston’s Back Bay Chorale fantastically performed a First and Second Viennese School program at Sanders Theater on Saturday, meeting the challenges of sustaining the constantly shifting textures in high professional style.     [continued]

October 19, 2014

in: Reviews

A Nameless Mass As Sweet As Any

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The vocal ensemble Blue Heron opened its 16th-annual subscription series with a performance Saturday of an anonymous “Mass for St. Augustine of Canterbury” at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational. Those who heard it must rejoice for its survival and for its superb restoration by Sandon and performance by Blue Heron.     [continued]

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October 28, 2014

in: News & Features

A Fine Tribute to Don

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teetersDonald Teeters’s sudden death, last August, continues to reverberate. This Sunday afternoon Boston Cecilia, All Saints Brookline chorus and an orchestra led by Nicholas White with concertmaster Dan Stepner will be offering a performance of the Mozart Requiem in tribute to the former music director of the church and the chorus. (See also the BMInt encomium here, with numerous comments and reminiscences.) BMInt spoke recently with Joshua Collier, a soloist for Cecilia when Teeters was music director and a ringer in the chorus for the last concert. He is one of the organizers of this event, the orchestral contractor, and the tenor soloist.

LE: Did this piece have any special connection with Don?

JC: Absolutely—this piece is (I still have a difficult time using the past tense when referring to him) terrifically important to Don. We had many post-rehearsal conversations about the nature of the musical settings of the requiem texts. [continued...]

October 26, 2014

in: News & Features

Now Come the Windsbach Singers

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choirboyExcepting the frequent annual visits of the Vienna Boy Choir, it is rare for Bostonians to be able to welcome a real Deutscher Knabenchor to our midst. On Tuesday at 12:15, King’s Chapel will be hosting the Windsbacher Knabechor (Windsbach Boys Choir) in an all-German program featuring works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Schütz, and German folk songs, with a repeat performance at the Groton School at 7:00 pm. A YouTube link to Bruckner’s “Os justi,” which the boys will be offering at King’s Chapel, is here. The choir’s tour, including debuts in San Francisco and Los Angles as well as here, with return engagements in Philadelphia and D.C., is part of a German effort to commemorate the 25th-anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, a monumental event, which eventually led to German reunification

In building and maintaining a boys’ choir, there is never any time to lose, since there is only a five-year period in which these boys’ voices are mature enough to sing challenging repertoire, before their voices change, now at younger ages than even 50 years ago. As we know from hearing the art form at St. Paul’s Parish, Cambridge (with the only Roman Catholic boy-choir school in the US) and All Saints, Ashmont, there is a long tradition of boy choirs all over the world. The Windsbach Boys Choir is one of the youngest, by English and European standards, at only 68-years old, yet it not only keeps the boy choir tradition alive, but also does so with demandingly high standards.

What of the difference between boy choirs such as the local ones in the English style and the Windsbach contingent in the German style? Conductor and BMInt writer John Ehrlich promises a disquisition on that subject in his forthcoming review.    [continued...]

October 22, 2014

in: News & Features

Surveying the Minefield of Authenticity

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hornwIn the context of Musicians of the Old Post Road’s  “Now and Then,” an exploration of historical instruments and their modern counterparts in music by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, and other masters inked for this Friday in First Parish, Sudbury, a player and BMInt writer philosophizes.

Imagine, if you will, an early-music chamber ensemble with a consort of 20th-century instruments in their hands. All that wire and varnish and velvet! Imagine a group that had always worked together using the rhetorical playbook, making decisions about how to perform Couperin while suddenly armed with equipment that could belt out Reich or Schnittke. How, precisely, does that make you feel?

When the Musicians of the Old Post Road finished up last year’s 25th-anniversary season, the programming that followed was imbued with a sense of lightness and experimentation; time to take new risks! So the group decided (why not?) to begin its next chapter by gently poking an 18th-century bow into one of the most active hornets’ nests that exists for a period-instrument ensemble

What does it really mean to play on a historically styled instrument?
How does it really compare to playing the repertoire on modern instruments? [continued...]

October 20, 2014

in: News & Features

Isango Transports Magic Flute to South Africa

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Pauline Malefane as Queen of the Night

Pauline Malefane as Queen of the Night

Coming upon South Africa’s award-winning Isango Company’s movie U-Carmen [trailer here] on Netflix only a few weeks ago, I was mightily impressed. It’s right up there with the great film versions of the opera such as the Geraldine Farrar/Cecil B. DeMille silent and Chaplin’s burlesque thereof, not to neglect Carmen Jones and the straighter 1984 version with Migenes and Domingo.

Therefore it was exciting to learn that the Isango Company would be bringing its re-imagined, transformed and transported version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to an opera house we could easily visit. Sung in English and the Xhosa language, and employing a score transcribed for folk instruments including oil drums and marimbas by an ensemble gathered from the townships around Cape Town, the production runs October 21st through October 26th at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theater.

This article continues with unanswered questions inasmuch as no response has been forthcoming from the intended interview subjects. We hope to append the answers to a completed conversation before the run ends. In the meantime, have a look at the YouTube promos here and here. [continued...]

October 16, 2014

in: News & Features

Busy Pittman Presides Thrice

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pittmanOn October 25th, the New England Philharmonic, under the direction of Richard Pittman, will commence its 38th season and continue the tradition of presenting Boston and world premieres from contemporary composers alongside orchestral masterworks. The 8:00 concert at theTsai Performance Center features György Ligeti’s Ramifications, Bernard Hoffer’s Ligeti Split (world premiere), Igor Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra with Randall Hodgkinson, piano, David Rakowski’s Dance Episodes Symphony No. 5 (world premiere, NEP commission) and concludes with Maurice Ravel’s La Valse. But this isn’t all Pittman will be conducting this weekend. He will also be presiding over two concerts of the Concord Orchestra on Friday and Saturday at 51 Walden featuring the rarely-performed Bruckner Second Symphony, and Randall Hodgkinson will be playing Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488. BMInt had a recent conversation with Pittman.

Mark DeVoto: I’m particularly interested in the new works which you’re going to perform next week. Would you like to tell us about those?

Richard Pittman: You probably know that David Rakowski is the composer in residence with the New England Philharmonic. He’s been with us for several years, and we do a new work by him every year. Normally I leave it entirely up to him about what he wants to write, unless I have some special programming idea that could be helpful. For last year’s season I was expecting a piece about ten or twelve minutes long, but he told me, “It turned into a symphonyI had such fun that I just kept on writing.” [continued...]

October 14, 2014

in: News & Features

Thierry Fischer To Debut with BSO

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thierryIn a program originally planned for Rafael Frühbeck, Swiss conductor  Thierry Fischer makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in a program that pairs Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable. Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, a noted interpreter of the Austro-German canon, is the featured soloist in the Brahms concerto. Performances take place at Symphony Hall on October 16, 17, 18, and 21 at 8:00 p.m. BMInt had an interesting email interview with Mr. Fischer this weekend.

You recently extended your contract as music director of the Utah Symphony. In earlier eras, from Abravanel through our own Joseph Silverstein, that orchestra featured unusual repertoire and an ambitious recording program. What’s your vision? [continued...]

October 10, 2014

in: News & Features

Harvard Marks Gluck’s Tercentennial

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Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

The Harvard University Choir, alongside the period instrument orchestra Grand Harmonie, will present a concert performance of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, in celebration of the composer’s three-hundredth anniversary year. Julia Mintzer, a company member of the Semperoper in Dresden, and a graduate of Juilliard and the Boston University Opera Institute, will sing the role of Orfeo, with Boston favorites Amanda Forsythe and Margot Rood performing Euridice and Amore respectively. The performance on Sunday October 19th at 4pm in the Memorial Church, conducted by Edward Elwyn Jones, is free and open to the public.

Orfeo ed Euridice was premiered at Vienna’s Burgtheater on October 5, 1762, in celebration of the name day of the Habsburg Emperor Francis I. It was to be an auspicious day for opera: for Gluck’s revolutionary masterpiece at once looks back to the very beginnings of the artform, sets a new trajectory for Enlightenment opera, and casts enormous influence on dramatic composition from Mozart through Wagner, Debussy, and beyond. [continued...]

October 6, 2014

in: News & Features

Virgil Thomson and Company

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Not Virgil Thomson

Not Virgil Thomson

Wistaria Chamber Music Society is celebrating the 25th-anniversary of the death of the American composer, critic, and wit Virgil Thomson with a tour of playful, experimental, and meditative chamber works by Thomson and three of his friends and students. The program will be given on SaturdayOct. 11, 2014, at the Unitarian Society in Northampton, MA, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, and will feature Randall Hodgkinson, pianist, and Astrid Schween, cellist and long-time Wistaria member. They join pianists Monica Jakuc Leverett and Edward Rosser, soprano Junko Watanabe, tenor Peter W. Shea, the four-hand piano duo Gary Steigerwalt and Dana Muller, pianist Edward Rosser, and harpist Franziska Huhn.

The eclectic, searching program affords an unusual look at Virgil Thomson and his influence on friends and followers Lou Harrison, John Cage, and the well-known and busy Boston composer Scott Wheeler. More details on the event follow after an interesting interview with Wheeler. [continued...]

October 3, 2014

in: News & Features

NEC President Leaving After Eight Years

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necawwNew England Conservatory President Tony Woodcock announced Thursday his intent to step down from his position effective June 30, 2015. Although unexpected, Woodcock’s revelation at the trustees meeting on Thursday did not come out of the blue. Intense discussions about Woodcock’s “leadership effectiveness” had been ongoing between the president and the trustees for the last six months, according to sources.

Past NEC President Daniel Steiner famously said, “The only thing standing between NEC and greatness is money.” When he took over as president, in 2001, his first action was to persuade the board to allow him to “invade” NEC’s meager endowment so that he could immediately hire the best string faculty in the country and significantly increase the amount of money available for student financial aid. This required a leap of faith by the board that the endowment could be replenished, and more, by means of a capital campaign that raised more than $110 million between 2001 and 2008. The obvious success, both of Steiner’s vision and of the capital campaign itself, are here for all to see and hear. Steiner transformed NEC from a respected regional music school into one of the nation’s leading conservatories. [continued...]

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