August 1, 2014

in: Reviews

Yinfei Wang: Underwhelming, Overwhelming

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Yinfei Wang grappled with hall size, concentration, and closure in a piano recital with many satisfying moments in Boswell Hall at Walnut Hill. Among other things the piano is too large for the space. But credit for effort to Wang on Thursday night, part of the Foundation for the Chinese Performing Arts annual festival.     [continued]

August 1, 2014

in: Reviews

Bass Sounds and More

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Solo cellist Emily Davidson gave the third and final presentation of “Bass Sounds,” Thursday night at Emmanuel Church’s Lindsey Chapel in Boston for SoHIP, featuring J. S. Bach’s Second Suite in D Minor together with works by one younger and two older contemporaries.     [continued]

August 1, 2014

in: Reviews

Profound Can-Banging at MoCA

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Bang on a Can’s annual summer residence at Mass MoCA in North Adams created an electrical counterpoint that was vital in the performance I attended last Saturday. The run culminates in the BoaC Marathon on this Saturday.     [continued]

July 28, 2014

in: Reviews

Verve and Ease Emanate at Tanglewood

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Sunday afternoon’s Tanglewood concert was dedicated to the memory of the wonderful conductor Rafael Frühbeck, who sadly died earlier in the summer. Under conductor Jacques Lacombe, and with pianist Gabriela Montero and The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the triumphal, joyful and precise display of orchestral, instrumental and choral verve in well-known works was surely a fine tribute.     [continued]

July 28, 2014

in: Reviews

Big Trio Gives Big Performance

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Consisting of violinist Livia Sohn and pianist Bernadene Blaha, who live and teach in California, and cellist Luigi Piovano, who lives in Rome, Latitude 41 gave a cohesive performance at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock Sunday. These musicians play as though the trio is their whole lives.     [continued]

July 28, 2014

in: Reviews

Elegiac Cello in a Country Church

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The much-admired Boston-based cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer appeared in a solo recital under the auspices of Monadnock Music Sunday in the sweltering but lovely Emmanuel Church in Dublin, New Hampshire. Adorned with five gorgeous Tiffany stained-glass windows, the church was packed with local admirers who all seemed to know and to adore their festival cellist.     [continued]

July 27, 2014

in: Reviews

Zestful Duo at Maverick

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Cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Natasha Paremski collaborated on a virtuosic program including Strauss, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock NY last Saturday.    [continued]

July 27, 2014

in: Reviews

Memorable Mahler 2 from Honeck, BSO

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In a luminous Mahler 2nd, Manfred Honeck painted a vast, wild canvas with bold, masterful strokes; most satisfying of all was his comprehending native knowledge of the geography of this monumental work; every curve of the score was meticulously traced, but yet more impressive  at Tanglewood on Saturday night was his projection of Romantic scale.     [continued]

July 27, 2014

in: Reviews

Quartet Spins NH Mill Wheels

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Last Tuesday’s Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music offering was truly unique: beloved Boston tenor Frank Kelley performing Schubert’s dark chronicle of obsessive love and loss, Die schöne Müllerin, accompanied by the Apple Hill String Quartet in a world premiere arrangement by Jeff Louie.     [continued]

July 26, 2014

in: Reviews

Honeck Explodes Musical Cliches

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The last-minute substitution of conductor Manfred Honeck for Christoph von Dohnányi (sadly facing a serious illness in his family), made for both the former’s Tanglewood debut as well as an exciting concert of Beethoven, Mozart and Mendelssohn on Friday.     [continued]

July 26, 2014

in: Reviews

NYO-USA Quite Like Pros

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The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America made the first stop on its coast-to-coast 2014 tour last night at Tanglewood, and throughout the evening, the playing was of a surprisingly high caliber.     [continued]

July 25, 2014

in: Reviews

Halcyon Music Festival Takes Flight

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A new chamber music festival took flight Thursday evening in the ornate and traditional confines of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s St. John’s Episcopal Church. Both music and venue of this fledgling venture conjured all manner of glowing and colorful imagery and emotions. Continuing tonight and tomorrow and through August 2nd.   [continued]

July 25, 2014

in: Reviews

Enchanting Barter Enraptured

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Boston Midsummer Opera’s Tsai Performance Center production of Bedřich Smetana’s The Bartered Bride was, in a single word: splendid. Repeating Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

July 25, 2014

in: Reviews

A Bristling Herring From BOC

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If you can’t find your way out of town to a musical festival this weekend, you could surely do worse than going to Dorchester’s Strand Theater to see a full-length, fully-staged comic opera, performed with flair by the rising young singers of the Boston Opera Collaborative. The FREE, supertitled production of Britten’s Albert Herring runs three more performances, through July 27th.     [continued]

July 23, 2014

in: Reviews

FCM Coda Fills Ozawa Hall Stage

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On Monday night we gathered one last time in Ozawa Hall to hear the youthful Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center perform in the Festival of Contemporary Music. After four days of appearing in chamber music subsets, they all assembled to form an orchestra.     [continued]

July 23, 2014

in: Reviews

Passionate Intensity of Purcell

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Last night’s SoHIP presentation in St. Peter’s Church, Weston of Marina Rauschenfels together with the superb musicianship of the three instrumentalists, Burning River Baroque left an indelible imprint on my psyche. Repeats Thursday at Emmanuel Church Boston.    [continued]

July 23, 2014

in: Reviews

Harlem Comes to Woodstock

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The Harlem Quartet, active since 2006, made its Maverick Concerts debut Saturday. While most of the repertoire was not standard, including good works by Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis, the ensemble played well enough for us to wish it would return with Bartók and Schubert.     [continued]

July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Mercury Orchestra Plays Like a Pro

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Channing Yu brought his assembled orchestra, chorus and soloists together at Sanders Theater for an ambitious Saturday evening, tackling the sometimes inscrutable Mahler Second Symphony.     [continued]

July 21, 2014

in: Reviews

Gratitude for BSO, Nelsons, Bell

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At Tanglewood, on a see-almost-forever clear Sunday, with the incoming music director on the podium to provide hope, it felt like a day to be grateful for the fact that Boston has a world-class orchestra; grateful that we have signs of encouraging new leadership; and grateful for the luxury of seeing soloists like Joshua Bell in midsummer.     [continued]

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July 30, 2014

in: News & Features

Music Festival Begins at Walnut Hills

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The redoubtable Cathy Chan

The redoubtable Cathy Chan

The admirable Dr. Catherine Tan Chan 譚嘉陵and her Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts have done enormous service to the Boston area classical music community over the last 23 years. One of the most valuable and perhaps most unsung examples (at least among general audiences) is the Summer Music Festival at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick. Each summer 40 students from age 14 to whatever are enrolled in an intensive three-week program with a really illustrious faculty. Not only are there private lessons, but also chamber music ensembles, orchestra readings masterclasses, workshops, and, of most interest to BMInt readers, concerts with faculty members; the public events begin with a piano recital by Yinfei Wang at 7:30 on Thursday, July 31st. Other concerts we recommend include piano recitals by Hung-Kuan Chen, George Li, Ming-Chieh Liu, Pi-Hsien Chen, and a concerto competition’s winner in recital with Harvard’s Mercury Orchestra. The complete calendar including masterclassess and lectures is here, and the public events are highlighted in BMInt’s “Upcoming Events” as well as on the summary  here. [continued...]

July 23, 2014

in: News & Features

Manfred Honeck To Conduct Dohnányi’s Programs

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The beloved Felix comes to Tanglewood

The beloved Felix comes to Tanglewood

Austrian Manfred Honeck, who conducted memorably with the BSO at Symphony Hall last season, including an arresting Eroica, is about to make a last-minute debut at Tanglewood to cover for Christoph von Dohnányi, taking the latter’s programs intact. Friday night is Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and then Mozart Piano Concerto 12 with Paul Lewis before concluding with the Mendelssohn Italian Symphony. On Saturday it will be Mahler’s Second. BMInt had a long and interesting conversation with Honeck:

FLE: You work a lot with our mutual friend Till Fellner, but do you have an ongoing collaboration with that other Brendel protégé Paul Lewis?

MH: I have never worked with Paul Lewis, but he was on my radar, and he’s a very serious and eloquent and clear and pure pianist with a fantastic reputation and recordings of Beethoven. And now to do Mozart with him: I’m really looking forward. I know what commitment Brendel had for all his students, and Till Fellner is for me one of the best Viennese classical players, and I expect the same from Lewis. Knowing that he is in a musical environment around Alfred Brendel gives me a good feeling that it will be a wonderful collaboration. [continued...]

July 22, 2014

in: News & Features

More Britten for Boston

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brittenwFor Boston Opera Collaborative’s next production, the award-winning team of conductor Andrew Altenbach and director Katherine Carter bring Benjamin Britten’s delightful British comedy Albert Herring to the stage of the Strand Theater. Performances from Thursday to Sunday offer FREE ADMISSION through a generous grant from The Free for All Concert Fund, Inc. The third BOC production in the historic Strand, located Uphams Corner, Dorchester, this is also BOC’s third collaboration with The Free for All Concert Fund, Inc., which has helped BOC bring performances throughout the Boston community.

The scene: The zany residents of Loxford, England are preparing for their local May Day festivities. The problem: The town lacks any young ladies sufficiently chaste to be named the May Queen. The solution: The May Day committee identifies the local greengrocer, young Albert Herring, for the dubious honor of May King. Follow Albert Herring as he discovers that sometimes it’s OK to break the rules. [continued...]

July 17, 2014

in: News & Features

Smetana’s Bartered Bride Comes to Tsai

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Bedrich-SmetanaSince 2006 Boston Midsummer Opera has offered operatic confections during a season when opera manes are in need of a sugar fix. This season’s outing, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, will run on July 23, 25 & 27 at Tsai Performance Center at Boston University with a witty staging by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman and a sparkling new translation by J. D. McClatchy. Susan Davenny Wyner will lead the BMO orchestra.

Set in a Bohemian village, the opera’s plot about comical tribulations of young lovers constitutes a fine scaffold for delightful music.

Susan Davenny Wyner answered some questions for BMInt:

BMInt: The settings for your summer opera productions are always witty and sparkling. I gather that Bartered Bride will be in correct period and place. Please tell us more about the look of this one.

SDW.: The set design is beautiful and playful, with references to the changeable sky and rural landscape of the Bohemian countryside. Costumes are colorful and incorporate elements of traditional Czech garb [continued...]

July 14, 2014

in: News & Features

BLO By the River Again

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Christopher Wilkins (file photo)

Christopher Wilkins (file photo)

Note: The concert is available in a live recorded stream here.

The Boston Pops Fourth of July Concert may herald the arrival of summer, but the subsequent seven free Boston Landmarks Orchestra concerts at the Hatch Shell sustain it. BLO inaugurates its series this coming Wednesday at 7PM and continues through the last Wednesday before Labor Day. The programming is eclectic, with a mixture of standard classics and the new and unusual. The thousands who gather by the river on opening night will hear At the River (premiere) by Larry Bell, On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein, and Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.

According to BLO Music Director Christopher Wilkins, all of this information and more is available through BLO’s new iPhone and Android apps. Program notes for every concert, artist bios and photos, and information about the concert experience, including push notices about weather. Upon occasion there will be videos of the musicians as they perform, and of the ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters, as well real time program notes for selected works.

BMInt: You’ve said in the past that BLO focuses more on classical music than on pops. I recently heard an all-Mendelssohn concert which I deemed pops. What’s your definition? [continued...]

July 12, 2014

in: News & Features

Encountering Christian Lane

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ago-sealwThe American Guild of Organists’ Pipe Organ Encounter (POE) during the week of July 13th is a summer program hosted by its Southeastern Chapter. Eighteen high school students from throughout the eastern seaboard will play on, and listen to, some of the Boston’s marvelous instruments.  Of particular interest to local organ aficionados will be a recital by Christian Lane, winner of the Canadian International Organ Competition [BMInt notice here], recipient of frequent notice on these pages, and outgoing associate organist and choirmaster at Memorial Church, Harvard. Lane has been a very positive force in our organ community as an organizer of successful events as well as an esteemed performer [review here], and BMInt scribe [here]. While his next professional steps are yet unknown, he plans to maintain the teaching studio he’s built up over these past years at Harvard, whose students recently returned from a study trip to Europe [see here]. A last good chance to hear him play in these environs comes at 7:30 on July 14th, when Chris will perform a recital on the two organs of Memorial Church, the new C. B. Fisk and the 1929 Skinner.  His free program includes works by Bach, Buxtehude, Cooman, Reger, and others. A brief interview follows.

BMInt: Can you tell us how the two instruments are doing in terms of use and appreciation? Ever have people wanting to practice on both at the same time? How much teaching goes on there? [continued...]

July 8, 2014

in: News & Features

Beloved Festival Resumes in New Hampshire

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Jaffrey Centre Meeting House

Jaffrey Centre Meeting House

Monadnock Music’s 49th season gets underway Saturday night in the Peterborough Town House with an all-Mendelssohn concert featuring the Monadnock Chamber Orchestra under Gil Rose with rising star Tessa Lark as the concerto soloist. The full calendar of the six week festival is here. Further down in this article Gil Rose will tell us about the season which includes 12 free village concerts with some New England composers as well as the predictable mainstream ones. There is nothing more emblematic of the Monadnock Music Concerts than the free concerts in quiet, acoustically satisfying country churches. The three subsequent ticketed concerts in the Peterborough Town House will offer a piano recital by Geoffrey Burleson (Bach to Zappa), a concert for orchestra and four vocalists of music by Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss, and finally a concert of John Adams and Samuel Barber played by Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Part of the news from Monadnock Music this summer is a change of the administrative guard. Gone are executive director Will Chapman and publicist Gregg Sorenson. Of the administrative team of four from last season, only one man was left standing last fall. That would be Christopher Sink, who became managing director almost by default. [continued...]

July 4, 2014

in: News & Features

BMInt Thanks Its Readers and Writers

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A very relaxed publisher not too many moons ago.

A very relaxed publisher
not too many moons ago.

On a rainy Independence Day, finding myself in a reflective mood, I looked back at the first published article on these pages. In August 2008 the Intelligencer was born with a placeholder page linking to the “History of Music in Boston” written by John Sullivan Dwight, the founder of the Journal of Music (1862-1881) which was one of the inspirations for the founding of this one. Enjoy the 50 pages [here] and keep track of what has changed and what has stayed the same. Happy reading.

I can also recommend to readers our reprint of the final issue of Dwight’s Journal of Music [here].

On this festive day, as we approach our sixth anniversary, I thank readers (averaging over 3,000 per day) for their comments and encouragement, our 140 writers for producing nearly 3,000 reviews and articles, and our editorial staff for its watchfulness.

And I conclude with BMInt’s official watchword, If you hear something, write something.

June 25, 2014

in: News & Features

Janet Packer Dies at 64

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New England’s musical community, especially composers, violinists, and lovers of new music, has lost a valued friend. Janet Packer, outstanding violinist and promoter of new music for the instrument, died on  June 20th, from complications of treatment for cancer, age 64. A 1970 graduate of Wellesley College, she won awards for her playing. After earning a master’s degree in history from Brandeis, Packer spent some years as a freelance violinist in the Boston area, performing with the Pops, Banchetto Musicale, and Dinosaur Annex, of which she was a founding member. She then decided to concentrate on a career as a soloist with particular interest in promoting new works. She established the Pro Violino Foundation and began to commission works, which she premiered, from such composers as Gardner Read, Juan Orrego-Salas, William Thomas McKinley, and Edwin London. She recorded McKinley’s Violin Concerto No. 1 for MMC Records and a Serenata for violin and small orchestra by Vittorio Rieti for CRI; she also made inaugural recordings of older music, for example works for violin and piano by Charles-Marie Widor (Centaur Records), which was widely admired. Among her recent commissions were a sonata for unaccompanied violin by Andrew Imbrie and, in 2011, Imaginary Variations for violin and piano by Krzysztof Meyer, which she performed more than 20 times. And this writer won’t forget her vivid playing of Debussy’s Fêtes in an arrangement for violin and piano which I had made at her suggestion. [continued...]

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