September 18, 2018

in: Reviews

Tasting Greatness with Hung-Kuan Chen

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The pianist served the deepest and headiest of 19th-century pours Saturday evening in Jordan Hall.    [continued]

September 18, 2018

in: Reviews

Dashon Burton Steadfast and Noble in Ashmont

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The bass-baritone brought chamber sensibilities to his recital at Peabody Hall with pianist Christopher Walter.    [continued]

September 17, 2018

in: Reviews

Borromeo Begins Mendelssohn Survey

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The 23-year-old musical institution’s singleness of focus, a polished technique, and beauty of tone emerged once again Saturday afternoon in Calderwood Hall.    [continued]

September 16, 2018

in: Reviews

Freisinger Returns to Old South

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The Freisinger Chamber Orchestra mingled multifarious Mozart, Beethoven, Donizetti, Tubin and Bernstein at Boston’s Old South Church Saturday afternoon, with soprano Hailey Fuqua, tenor Ethan Bremner, and pianist Bianca Oglice.    [continued]

September 14, 2018

in: Reviews

Festive Trio Gets Its Irish Up

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We heard Trio Festivale’s Irish-themed program of traditional and classical pieces, including a new work by an esteemed Irish composer at Community Music Center Thursday night. And we witnessed proof once again that nothing ever ends well in an Irish ballad.    [continued]

September 14, 2018

in: Reviews

Compassion Through Time

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With plenty of compassion, cellist Rhonda Rider and pianist Judith Gordon advanced an up-to-date inventory of mazes, pulls and drifts at Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall Thursday night.    [continued]

September 12, 2018

in: Reviews

A Piping State of Play

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Like the participants and jurors, BMInt’s Bach organ maven braved long hours, heat, humidity, then chill, to report on the inaugural Boston Bach International Organ Competition.    [continued]

September 10, 2018

in: Reviews

Picturing Music at the Gardner

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A Far Cry’s “Portraits,” at the Gardner Museum on Saturday and Sunday, almost plausibly connected five works inspired by images.    [continued]

September 10, 2018

in: Reviews

Two Journeys in Improvisation

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The Strings Theory Trio plus Denver microtonalist/guitarist Neil Haverstick wowed with flawless control and surprisingly new sounds at the Lilypad  Friday night.    [continued]

September 7, 2018

in: Reviews

BBIOC Distinguishes Itself

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Boston Bach International Organ Competition’s inaugural events included a Tuesday-night concert featuring three of its distinguished panel of organist/judges in a concert at Harvard University’s Memorial Church of Romantic and Contemporary pieces—with a smattering of Johann Sebastian Bach.    [continued]

September 7, 2018

in: Reviews

Opening Night! An NEC Comprovisational

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Forty-years-young, the NEC Contemporary Improvisation Program offered Opening Night!, a well-crafted Tuesday evening of widely varied contemporary and exploratory pieces showcasing a gamut of possibilities.    [continued]

September 3, 2018

in: Reviews

Incongruity Rules the Night

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Green Street Studios, the rehearsal-space-turned-stage, hosted a collaboration of Doppelgänger Dance Collective (Shura Baryshnikov and Danielle Davidson) with Ensemble Warhol on an abnormally warm Saturday night, during which two heavily incongruous routines paired to varying effect.    [continued]

September 3, 2018

in: Reviews

Maverick Season Ends in a Blaze of Glory

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Trio Solisti closed out the 2018 Maverick Concerts season in Woodstock Sunday with works by Haydn and Dvořák that raised us to heaven. They played Chausson too.      [continued]

August 31, 2018

in: Reviews

BSO Caps Bernstein Centennial

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The BSO, conductors, soloists, and friends remembered Lenny in a mood of harmony and hope in a demonstratively grateful Shed Saturday.    [continued]

August 29, 2018

in: Reviews

BSO Proves Itself Ready for Europe

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Building a symphonic edifice with expression and precision, Andris Nelsons led the BSO, TFC and Susan Graham in a spectacular reading of Mahler’s Third Friday in the Shed.    [continued]

August 29, 2018

in: Reviews

Transfigured Hall in Kittery

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Six players from A Far Cry sounded warm and present in contrasting Beethoven, Mozart and Schoenberg at the Dance Hall in Kittery Maine on Sunday.    [continued]

August 27, 2018

in: Reviews

The Littlest String Orchestra

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The Borromeo String Quartet made a welcome return to Maverick on Sunday, deeply characterizing everything they played.    [continued]

August 27, 2018

in: Reviews

The Power of the Big Guns at Maverick

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Maverick Concerts’ production of Alexander Platt’s small-ensemble arrangement of Bernstein’s rarely heard Songfest achieved a fine success Saturday.      [continued]

August 27, 2018

in: Reviews

Berkshire Rigoletto Recommended

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Berkshire Opera Festival’s striking and satisfying Rigoletto continues its run at the Colonial in Pittsfield with performances on August 28th and 31st. Tickets HERE    [continued]

August 25, 2018

in: Reviews

Robbins at 100: Celebrated at the Pillow

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Stars of American Ballet presented five classic ballets by Leonard Bernstein’s colleague and friend, Jerome Robbins at Jacob’s Pillow Saturday.    [continued]

August 24, 2018

in: Reviews

Garden Grows at Tanglewood

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The Knights found a rolicksome circus vibe for their take on Bernstein’s Candide at Ozawa Hall Wednesday.    [continued]

more reviews →

September 18, 2018

in: News & Features

Gounod Grand Opera To Be Outed

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Charles Gounod

Having found long-missing original parts for Gounod’s La reine de Saba, or The Queen of Sheba, Gil Rose is now preparing to lead Odyssey Opera in a concert version on Saturday, September 22nd, at Jordan Hall, in what may be both the American premiere of Gounod’s grand opera, as well as the first complete performance since its opening night in 1862. Ticket’s HERE.

In his day, Charles Gounod, whose 200th birthday occurred on June 17th, stood among the most highly regarded of French composers. He won the Prix de Rome at 21; while studying for the next three years in the Eternal City, he found himself bored by the current repertory of Italian opera (Donizetti, Bellini, Mercadante) feeling that they lacked the vigor of Rossini, but deeply moved by the music of Palestrina in the Sistine Chapel. His profound absorption of Renaissance polyphony was not common among French composers of his day. It lent backbone to the Mass settings and other sacred works of later years. At the end of his stay in Rome, he went to Vienna, where he was quite overwhelmed by Mozart and Beethoven. On his journey home, he stopped in Leipzig, where Mendelssohn gave him a private performance of his Scottish Symphony in the Gewandhaus. All of these experiences would strike fire at various points in the future. [continued…]

September 15, 2018

in: News & Features

80 Years, and 45 at the Conservatory

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The genial interlocutor with the nimbus-bright silver fro who presides over First Mondays at Jordan Hall has a major birthday coming up. New England Conservatory celebrates Laurence Lesser, legendary cellist, passionate teacher, and President Emeritus, for his 80th Birthday in NEC’s season-opening orchestra concert on Wednesday, September 26th at 7:30 pm at Jordan Hall. Lesser will appear as a soloist with the NEC Philharmonia and conductor Hugh Wolff in Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra

NEC Interim President Thomas Novak says, “An integral part of NEC for more than four decades, Larry is one of the foremost cello pedagogues of our time, following in the footsteps of his teacher, Gregor Piatigorsky, in creating a lasting legacy of hundreds of students.

Admission is free, but subject to the Conservatory’s new policy requiring email reservations, motivated, reputable sources tell us, by the marketing department’s interest in doing targeted advertising. No immediate plan to begin charging for free concerts seems to lurk in the offing. Click for tix HERE.  

Lesser’s conversation with BMInt begins after the break. [continued…]

September 7, 2018

in: News & Features

Continuing To Fulfill Mrs. Gardner’s Mission

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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s music season gets underway with back-to-back concerts of mostly site-specific repertoire this weekend. The highlight may come in a commissioned work responding to Whistler’s “Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach,” which hangs in the Museum’s Yellow Room. Jessica Meyer wrote Grasping for Light during her week-long residency at the Museum last March.

Other items in A Far Cry’s “Portraits,” featuring music inspired by renowned works of art, include Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Respighi’s Botticelli Triptych, nods to the Museum’s upcoming Botticelli exhibition, which opens Feb. 2019. William Grant Still took inspiration for “Mother and Child,” part of his Suite for Violin and Piano, from Sargent Johnson’s lithograph,Mother and Child.”

In celebration of the Boston native’s centennial, violinist Tai Murray will join A Far Cry, in Bernstein’s “Agathon” from Serenade after Plato’s Symposium

 “Portraits” runs on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m in the Museum’s Calderwood Hall. Tickets ($15 – $36) include museum admission, and may be purchased HERE or at the door. [continued…]

September 5, 2018

in: News & Features

BPYO Brought Mahler Back Home

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Next week the Boston Symphony may be bringing Mahler’s Third (along with Bernstein and Shostakovich) on a European tour, but the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra got the Mahler march on the BSO last June. Benjamin Zander designed his 25th youth orchestra tour in 47 years as a kind of pilgrimage through Mahler’s life, from his birthplace to his grave. No participant is likely to forget the journey through many of the cities important in Mahler’s life, performing the Ninth Symphony eight times in some of the world’s most beautiful concert halls in five countries: Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Budapest, Pecs, as well as in Mahler’s hometown, Jihlava, and culminating in two especially inspiring concerts in the Musikverein in Vienna and at the one place where his music was well-received during his lifetime – Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

From the extensive accounts submitted by the the participants in their “white sheets” and blog entries, BMInt has culled a representative 2,500 words, which tell the story in terms of its culmination. For an attractively illustrated souvenir compendium of a significant portion of the inspiring comments from the participants, woven together by Zander’s explorations of the philosophy and practices that make this orchestra so remarkable,  click HERE.

Netherlands Radio’s recording [HERE] of the Concertgebouw performance of Mahler’s 9th also includes the Musikverein performances of the Butterworth Banks of Green Willow and Ravel’s La Valse, recorded by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. Both concerts will air in their respective countries during the upcoming season. In the final performance of Elgar’s Nimrod, Zander took a slower tempo than ever before, and with good reason, “we were not ready to say goodbye to each other or to conclude the experience of a lifetime!”

Richard Dyer, the former Chief Music Critic of the Boston Globe elaborated on the inspiring concluding concert in an excerpt from his extensive blogs. The unedited version is HERE. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but Mahler’s goal is not about perfection — it is about striving for perfection. [continued…]

August 28, 2018

in: News & Features

Schepkin’s Glissando Series To Debut

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Sergey Schepkin (file photo)

A new concert series celebrating Bach’s 333rd birthday launches next month at First Church Boston (66 Marlborough St.). Running on eight Sundays at 4pm, the events comprise five chamber concerts, a vocal recital with piano, and two solo piano presentations, featuring a mix of beloved and recondite works. The opener, on September 23rd, promises transcendental chamber music of Debussy plus Bach’s Musical Offering. See complete list below.

The well-regarded pianist Sergey Schepkin, once deemed something of a Bach specialist but increasingly wider-ranging, is impresario and programmer for this new offering, entitled Glissando. We had to find out more.

BMInt: How did the idea come about? Why Bach?

SS: A few years ago I entertained the idea of performing most of Bach’s keyboard works in a series of concerts, spread over one season. Ultimately I decided to launch my own series, the first season of which would celebrate Bach, but the plan kept evolving and eventually changed to something quite different, although some of the original features remained. As you know, I have been labeled “a Bach pianist,” for better or worse; yet my interests encompass all of Western classical music, and are not limited to one particular era, to one particular composer—even Bach, the greatest of them all—or to one particular genre. I perform a lot of solo repertoire, but I also love playing chamber music and accompanying singers; and so the original idea grew to include not only Bach’s keyboard works but also his chamber and vocal music, combined with other composers’ works that have connections to Bach.

[continued…]

August 22, 2018

in: News & Features

New York Knights Mount Sturdy Vehicle

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The innovative chamber orchestra, the Knights, will bring Leonard Bernstein’s Candide in fully staged performances to Seiji Ozawa Hall for two performance, tonight and Thursday. Tickets HERE.

Bernstein based his delightful 1956 comic operetta on Voltaire’s satirical novel, which follows the title character’s traumatic adventures in imperial Europe and semi-civilized South America. All the while, Dr. Pangloss’s mock-philosophical refrain “All’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds” rings hollow as Candide’s vain sweetheart Cunegonde and her Old Lady retainer undergo humiliating and laughable trials. Lillian Hellman wrote the original play; the song lyrics were mostly by poet Richard Wilbur and Stephen Sondheim even had a hand in it. We can all certainly remember such numbers as “Glitter and Be Gay,” “What a Day for an autodafé,” and who can resist “Make Our Garden Grow?”

Eric Jacobsen conducts a large case of vocalists, dancers, and actors, including tenor Miles Mykkanen in the title role, baritone Evan Jones as Voltaire/Dr. Pangloss/Cacambo, and soprano Sharleen Joynt as Cunegonde. Alison Moritz directs the fully staged production.

Jacobsen begins an interview with a formation story for the New York-based collective. [continued…]

August 19, 2018

in: News & Features

Competitors: Start Your Stops

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Bach is the greatest, even in China.

Playing to win in Boston summons scenes of Fenway Park, TD Garden, or Gillette Stadium; only on the rarest of occasions do contestants vie at Old West, the Advent, or First Lutheran Churches. Yet when the City of Champions welcomes an entirely new and weeklong event, the first Boston Bach International Organ Competition, September 2nd – 9th, spellbinding drama is ensured, and career stakes will rise high at the latter places.

This past spring, BBIOC selected 16 organists for the preliminary round of recorded auditions. Not a competition for high school or baccalaureate students, the BBIOC invites organists ages 26 to 37 who have completed all requirements for a degree in organ performance and are currently serving in a professional position in music. Of the 16, six come from the USA; three are South Koreans; two hail from the United Kingdom; and the remaining five contestants call the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Switzerland their birthplaces. Names and biographies may be found at the site linked above.

The BBIOC jury comprises seven esteemed organ pedagogues, all virtuosos:   [continued…]

August 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Only at the Gardner, Starting September 8th

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George Steel: Mr. Music at ISGM

George Steel, the Gardner Museum’s new Abrams curator of music, has inked a fall season featuring three orchestras, multidimensional Bach, a purpose-built opera, exciting debuts, rewarding return engagements, not to mention a season-long tribute to Leonard Bernstein. His inaugural interview with BMInt, last year, certainly scintillated [HERE]. So once again we asked him to reflect on his appealing artistic manifesto. (The complete fall-season listing is at the end.)

According to the New York Times, you have “… long been a champion of “ways to make classical music matter to new generations of listeners.” I get that fact that presenters need to replace old geezers with up-and-coming-geezers, but hasn’t that always been the case? What sorts of classical presentations appeal more to 20-somethings and terrify over-60s?

As I am getting to be a geezer myself, I am sensitive to any idea of “replacing” older audiences with younger ones. Quite the opposite. The magic of the Gardner is at its peak when it creates a “big room”—one where old and young feel equally at home; where connoisseurs and first-timers share the thrill of hearing music and seeing art with fresh ears and eyes; where unhelpful shibboleths like “high culture” and “low culture” are regularly and joyfully flouted; and where music, dance, and visual art exist in sparkling dialogue. [continued…]

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