October 15, 2018

in: Reviews

BLO Brings the Lyric to Seville

by

With skill and playfulness, David Angus led the Boston Lyric Opera season opener, Il Barbiere di Seviglia (The Barber of Seville) at the Cutler Majestic Theater Friday, finding easy lilt and spontaneity in Rossini’s drama giocoso mastery. The run continues Wednesday night through next weekend.    [continued]

October 15, 2018

in: Reviews

Comfortable, Comprehending and Full of Smiles

by

Daniel Stepner, violin; and Yehudi Wyner, composer and pianist, gave a recital Sunday at Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center to benefit the scholarship fund for Aston Magna.      [continued]

October 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Whatever Tone You Please, Indeed

by

At the approach of his 600th birthday, Johannes Ockeghem (ca. 1420-1497) thrives, thanks in great measure to seven years of advocacy from director Scott Metcalfe and the singers of Blue Heron. I heard the eighth installment, which centered on the four-voice Missa cuiusvis toni (Mass on whatever tone you please), at the First Church in Cambridge.      [continued]

October 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Apotheosized Form From the Jupiter Quartet

by

The Jupiter Quartet brought cyclic, coloristic delights of Debussy, Agócs, and Mendelssohn to a full house of deeply attentive listeners at a private concert on Beacon Hill last night. The ensemble will perform the Debussy Quartet and the Schubert Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887 at Ashmont Hill Chamber Music tomorrow (Sunday) 4 pm.    [continued]

October 12, 2018

in: Reviews

BSO Opens With Reverie and Reality

by

Opening night at Symphony Hall showcased our world-ranked Boston Symphony Orchestra in works of the dominating Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Bartók, recalling another giant, Serge Koussevitzky.    [continued]

October 10, 2018

in: Reviews

“Sanctuary” Sanctifies Symphony Hall

by

For the Terezin Music Foundation 2018 gala in Symphony Hall Monday, pianist Simone Dinnerstein gave an hour-plus recital after a string quartet from the Boston Symphony opened the musical portion of the evening.    [continued]

October 8, 2018

in: Reviews

Dynamic Sphinx Virtuosi Make Boston Debut

by

Young string players, 18-strong, surged, thrilled and chilled, oftentimes, flashing Flamenco, as they filled Calderwood Hall’s “sonic box” with a world of music Sunday.    [continued]

October 6, 2018

in: Reviews

The true pearl Flows Through the Tapestries

by

David Lang’s true pearl, an opera in five tapestries, premiered in Calderwood Hall Thursday; subsequently a recording will be available to accompany visitors in the Tapestry Room.    [continued]

October 1, 2018

in: Reviews

Brilliant “Solace” Radiates

by

Introspection and catharsis abided on the Pickman Hall stage Saturday with Radius Ensemble’s “Solace,” an eclectic set of comforting pieces highlighting composers who suffered within or escaped from totalitarian regimes along with a pairing of two living composers, an underplayed oddity, and a titan of the repertoire.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

On the Shoulders with Malov

by

Making his Boston début this afternoon, Sergey Malov brought his violoncello da spalla to the Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall for a performance of the even-numbered cello suites of J. S. Bach.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

H+H Shows Energy and Sparkle in Bach

by

Cantatas, concerti and a Latin Mass of the German master inspired the chorus, orchestra and soloists to produce one of the lightest, most energetic events I’ve heard in the Symphony Hall for years.    [continued]

September 30, 2018

in: Reviews

From Ethnic to Cantorial to Hepcat

by

NEC Philharmonia with its charismatic conductor Hugh Wolff and NEC’s beloved Laurence Lesser recognized the latter’s approaching 80th birthday with extraordinary playing and celebratory programming.    [continued]

September 29, 2018

in: Reviews

PermaDeath: Sting or Victory?

by

PemaDeath sparked to life when the characters in the world of the video game appeared on a screen above the Cutler Majestic Theater stage on Friday. Last performance Saturday.    [continued]

September 27, 2018

in: Reviews

Reliably Sourced Bouquet for Our Senior Pianist

by

Russell Sherman’s performance at Sunday’s Jordan Hall faculty recital came from a realm most of us can hardly imagine, much less reach.    [continued]

September 26, 2018

in: Reviews

Odyssey Opera Resurrects the Queen of Sheba

by

The 150-year-late American debut of Gounod’s Queen of Sheba (La Reine de Saba) came to Jordan Hall with all its formerly shorn parts in a concert version on Saturday evening through the satisfying efforts of Gil Rose.    [continued]

September 25, 2018

in: Reviews

A Far Cry Crosses Borders

by

The Jordan Hall audience traveled far and wide through the agency of composers channeling cultures foreign to their own, as the “Criers” forged a lively, sonorous, show, but Mehmet Ali Sanlikol’s A Gentleman of Istanbul stole it.    [continued]

September 25, 2018

in: Reviews

BCMS Offers Unconventional From Three Bs

by

Boston Chamber Music Society inaugurated its Sanders Theater season Sunday with Beethoven, Britten, and Brahms works which departed from conventional expectations.    [continued]

September 25, 2018

in: Reviews

A Glissando of Depth and Discovery

by

Sergey Schepkin opened his new concert series, this season devoted to “Bach at 333” on Sunday before a full house at First Church in Boston.    [continued]

September 24, 2018

in: Reviews

Mannys Hail Cecilia

by

Ryan Turner led an outstanding roster of singers and players with unfailing verve and stylish sensitivity in Britten and Handel works devoted to St. Cecilia on Saturday evening at Emmanuel Church.    [continued]

September 18, 2018

in: Reviews

Tasting Greatness with Hung-Kuan Chen

by

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

by

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

more reviews →

October 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Reviving a Searing Attack on Opera Seria

by

Detail from Duplessis portrait of Gluck

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s name appears more frequently in musical textbooks than in concert programs today; though performances of his better-known works (Orfeo, both Iphigénies, and Alceste) do visit contemporary stages periodically, they are by no means standards of the operatic stage. Therefore, his opera Alceste, will be arriving at as something of a novelty, when Edward Elwyn Jones leads the Harvard University Choir, Gran Harmonie, and local soloists Hailey Fuqua, Jonas Budris, and Sumner Thompson in a free concert version at Memorial Church on October 20th  at 7:30.  According to Jones:

Throughout his oeuvre, Gluck aimed for melody that is “noble, expressive, and natural, and declaimed exactly according to the prosody of the language.” The composer’s direct, immediate vocal style propels his dramas vividly, bringing tireless human emotions to life on the stage.

 Alceste’s notable arias are simple and direct: the regal “O Dieux! Du destin;” the authoritative “Divinités du Styx;” the exquisite “Ah, divinités implacables;” and the heartbreakingly poignant “Vis pour garder le souvenir.” But it is surely in the accompanied recits that we see Gluck’s true genius in portraying emotion: Alceste’s torn personality is progressing rapidly towards Gluck’s ultimate study of human psychology, Iphigenie en Tauride.

  [continued…]

October 8, 2018

in: News & Features

BLO Rosina Confides and Opines

by

Boston Lyric Opera’s five-performance run of Rossini’s ever-popular Barber of Seville begins Friday at the Majestic Theater. David Angus will conduct stage director Rosetta Cucchi’s production designed by Julia Noulin-Mérat, costumed by Gianluca Falaschi, and lighted by DM Wood. The cast comprises Matthew Worth as Figaro, Daniela Mack as Rosina, Jesus Garcia as Almaviva, David Crawford as Basilio with Michelle Trainor, Steven Condy, Jesse Darden, Vincent Turregano in smaller roles.

BMInt writer and BLO annotator Laura Prichard tells us, “It is a veritable tour de force of vocal acrobatics, musical wit, and comedy. Beginning with a spirited overture, Rossini’s approach contrasts upbeat humor with poignant musical touches. Rossini mastered the opera buffa by peppering each act with duets and trios and capping each act’s finale with a sophisticated ensemble (à la Mozart). By utilizing the satirical opera buffa genre, Rossini could transform characters from the still-popular commedia dell’arte into scheming servants and deceptive suitors, laying bare the social injustices of their time.”

The BLO’s Rosina, mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, acclaimed for her “caramel timbre, flickering vibrato, and crisp articulation” (Opernwelt) as she “hurls fast notes like a Teresa Berganza or a Frederica von Stade” (San Francisco Chronicle), had some interesting words for BMInt.

FLE: After nearly three weeks of rehearsing, can you relate anything surprising in the BLO staging? [continued…]

September 29, 2018

in: News & Features

Donald Wilkinson: The Angel Took Risks

by

How, then, to say goodbye to a collaborator, colleague, and companion of 25 years, someone with whom we made music, sharing good times and bad, season after season, adding up to a full third of man’s biblical lifespan? What appropriate, meaningful words can come forth, even as we struggle with our tears and our grief, to evoke for others essence of Donnie’s kind and tender soul?

He was a man of almost angelic purity. Candid and naïve almost to a fault, held back from the start by problems of education and upbringing, he wanted, despite significant inner handicaps, to go forward towards life and to give his existence meaning. And he did indeed forge a path for himself, realizing his ambition to be a performing artist, and giving enormous pleasure and consolation to countless others via the beauty of his voice. To cite a line from the American songbook, a repertoire that Donnie treasured and recorded, he did it his way. There was a nobility to his existence, and I am humbled as I contemplate, insofar as I perceive it, the arc of his life which sadly ended yesterday.

You heard that round, warm, tender singing voice, onstage and via recording, and reveled in its author’s solid, confident musicianship, in his authentic and appealing personal presence. Did you know, however, that Don’s training was as an electrical engineer, and that he spent years working in a large corporation before deciding that music was his true calling? He told me once that his family had strongly counseled against his career change. Yet he persisted, leaving secure employment, and braving, at the start of his new professional life, genuine hardship and financial stress. He took a big risk, and he succeeded, becoming a property owner in his personal life, and a reliable and welcome part of the Boston-area musical scene. [continued…]

September 24, 2018

in: News & Features

Twelve Tones in Tinseltown

by

Omar Ebrahim as Schoenberg as Bogart.

Arnold Schoenberg fled the darkness and despair of Hitler’s Europe for 1930s Hollywood—a bold new world of golden sunshine and camera-ready beauty. Can he find a way to reconcile reflection with action, and tradition with revolution? What meaning has art in the wake of atrocity?

These are questions composer Tod Machover tries to settle in Schoenberg in Hollywood, a Boston Lyric Opera New Works Initiative commission. But the show is not some subtle intellectual disquisition. Rather, the composer told BMInt, There’s actually a lot of action, and believe it or not, there is even some blood—read about Richard Gerstl’s relationship with Schoenberg’s first wife, Mathilde, to get an idea where that is heading. Schoenberg’s life, in addition to his music, was one of the most dramatic you could imagine. So even though our cast consists only of three singers playing Arnold Schoenberg, A Boy and A Girl, they all change all the time. And the electronic handling of the 16-piece ensemble will offer lots of layers and effects.

Running for four nights (November 14th-18th) at the Emerson Paramount Theater; tickets HERE.

BMInt spoke with Machover recently.

FLE: Now, I can’t remember whether Schoenberg was introduced to Irving Thalberg by Karl Marx or Harpo Marx [continued…]

September 18, 2018

in: News & Features

Gounod Grand Opera To Be Outed

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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…]

more news & features →