February 17, 2019

in: Reviews

Love’s Labored Lauds

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Odyssey Opera claimed the Boston premiere laurels for Gluck’s Paride ed Elena  at the Huntington Avenue Theater Friday night. The Gil Rose-conducted and Crystal Manich-directed show repeats on Sunday afternoon.    [continued]

February 17, 2019

in: Reviews

Weilerstein Summits Cello Kilimanjaro

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Alisa Weilerstein’s “heroineiac” Celebrity Series traversal of all six Bach Cello Suites in a single span provided both a spectacle and spectacular gift.    [continued]

February 15, 2019

in: Reviews

Wang Ignites Schumann; Bruckner’s Lights Dimmed

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The BSO celebrated Valentine’s Day with a pair of love letters: Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor for his pianist wife Clara, and Bruckner’s unfinished final symphony, dedicated to his “beloved God.”    [continued]

February 14, 2019

in: Reviews

ACRONYM Restores Republic in Rare Scarlatti Gem

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Love, mercy, and harmony triumphed over a corrupt, lustful tyrant in ACRONYM’s resuscitation of Alessandro Scarlatti’s La caduta de’ Decemviri (The Fall of the Decemvirs) a vocally uneven Boston debut at the ISGM Sunday.    [continued]

February 12, 2019

in: Reviews

On Blue Wings of Polyphony

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Five rare early English Catholic a cappella votive antiphons from Blue Heron’s Gramophone Classical Music award-winning wowed a capacity crowd on Saturday night in First Church Cambridge.    [continued]

February 11, 2019

in: Reviews

Collage Moves Souls and Chairs

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A small but receptive audience braved the cold weather for Collage New Music’s second concert of the season at Pickman Hall on Sunday. The evening’s main success belonged to David Rakowski, whose Dream Logic (2017), in seven short movements, revealed itself as the night’s most persuasively mature work.    [continued]

February 11, 2019

in: Reviews

Goldberg Derangement Syndrome Continues Apace

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A Far Cry and pianist Simone Dinnerstein partnered terrifically at Friday at Jordan Hall in their au courant arrangement of BWV 988.    [continued]

February 11, 2019

in: Reviews

Confronting Miller’s Daughter in Taproom

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At Aeronaut Brewery of Somerville we shared a heady taste of Frank Kelley and Joshua Rifkin on a soulful musical and poetical journey in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin last night.    [continued]

February 11, 2019

in: Reviews

Beyond Guitar Music

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The Great Necks Guitar Trio arranged works by Holst, Sibelius, Bach, Scriabin, and Márquez for their three-guitar format at First Lutheran Church on Friday.    [continued]

February 11, 2019

in: Reviews

Rewards From European Women Composers

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Kudos to Cantata Chamber Series director Allison Voth for the profound and prodigious program of German, French and English songs by women composers which rewarded the listeners at a concert at the AAAS Saturday night.    [continued]

February 9, 2019

in: Reviews

Risky But Enlightening Program at BSO

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In three works spanning eight decades of the 20th century, Andris Nelsons excited Central European hyper-impressionism, American neoclassicism, and American postwar expressionism to Symphony Hall Friday afternoon.    [continued]

February 9, 2019

in: Reviews

Fourteen Paragraphs on Hydrogen

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The music of Philip Glass felt agnostic alongside texts by Allen Ginsberg in Boston Conservatory’s Hydrogen Jukebox production at BoCo’s Center stage. The run continues through Sunday.    [continued]

February 8, 2019

in: Reviews

劉孟捷 鋼琴家 and Friends in Recital

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Graceful chamber-music transcriptions of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major (K. 415) and 17 in G Major (K. 453) bookended pianist Meng-Chieh Liu’s tour-de force faculty solo recital at Jordan Hall last night.    [continued]

February 7, 2019

in: Reviews

NEC Composers Shine

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NEC composers past and present gave pleasing evidence of the faculty’s continuing innovativeness over a wide breadth of styles in the NEC Composers’ Series’ Arthur Berger Memorial Concert Monday at Jordan Hall.    [continued]

February 3, 2019

in: Reviews

Viva Defends Earth Under Attack

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Boston Music Viva enacted a virtual Saturday Night Live at Tsai Performance Center as Pittman and his Pierrot ensemble made up of some of Boston’s finest musicians took on the Patriot Act, NEA, the environment, and the moon.    [continued]

February 3, 2019

in: Reviews

Playful Gaiety Meets ¿Churlish Critique?

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Lovers of the lower register flocked to Jordan Hall on Friday for a Celebrity Series winter warmer cheekily titled “No Tenors Allowed,” with baritone Thomas Hampson and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni.    [continued]

February 2, 2019

in: Reviews

From Ashes to Comeuppance at Agassiz

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Harvard College Opera’s glowing production Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon came across as a practical but satisfying take on a durable French repertory number; the run continues through February 10th at the Agassiz Theater.    [continued]

February 1, 2019

in: Reviews

Rachlin, Mena, BSO Bust the Chart

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The 43-year old Lithuanian-born Julian Rachlin, standing at 83rd among “The World’s Greatest Violinists,” should certainly rise in ranking after his appearance Thursday evening at Symphony Hall. Conductor Juanjo Mena’s organic approach lead to sound-structure substance.    [continued]

January 30, 2019

in: Reviews

H+H Does Right by Namesake Composer

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Handel and Haydn Society’s Sunday afternoon concert at Symphony Hall had Harry Christophers leading a symphony and mass of Haydn, and a Mozart violin concerto with the enthusiastic Aisslinn Nosky; we very much enjoyed hearing three new superb principal players.    [continued]

January 27, 2019

in: Reviews

Huang Teamwork in the Highest

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Saturday evening at Jordan violinist Paul Huang and pianist Helen Huang showed how it’s done, in every possible respect.    [continued]

January 26, 2019

in: Reviews

Heggie on AIDS’ Specter

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Jake Heggie’s intimate chamber opera Three Decembers opened Friday night to an enthusiastic crowd at Boston Playwright’s Theater, where it runs through Sunday in a moving production has been developed by director Sharon Daniels for t.b.d. opera projects.    [continued]

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February 16, 2019

in: News & Features

Lost Baroque Jewish Oratorio Found

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Rembrandt’s wife modeled Esther

A month before Purim, the rattlingly joyful holiday celebrating a Jewish queen’s triumph over evil shegetz Haman, the ensemble MIRYAM, founded three years ago to bring Jewish early music to New England audiences, will debut the rarely heard Baroque oratorio Esther by Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti. Rediscovered two decades ago and performed only a handful of times since (never on the East Coast), the Hebrew-language oratorio, written for the Jewish community of Amsterdam in 1774, is unique in a number of ways. An Austrian Christian of Italian descent composed it to a commission from a community of Portuguese Jews, employing a Venetian rabbi’s translation of Handel’s Esther libretto into Hebrew. It is the only complete oratorio surviving from the Baroque  with an entirely Hebrew text.

Aside from possessing historical and cultural significance, the oratorio also contains gorgeous music, with striking arias, beautiful choruses, and rich orchestration. MIRYAM’s roster, based mostly in Boston, draws also from Connecticut and NY. The ensemble will present the Boston and East Coast premiere on Saturday, March 2nd at 7:00 PM at Emmanuel Church in Boston and Sunday, March 3rd at 4:00 PM at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley; harpsichordist and conductor Dylan Sauerwald will direct an ensemble of five soloists, nine choristers, and 14 instrumentalists, while soprano Alicia DePaolo, director and co-founder of MIRYAM, will sing the role of Esther. Visit miryamensemble.org to reserve tickets or call 781-832-0968; further details are below and at article end. [continued…]

February 10, 2019

in: News & Features

On the Diseased State of Opera and Suggested Cure

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Veteran opera critic Conrad L. Osborne delivers a lifetime’s worth of keen perceptions, stern judgements, and personal angles in a quirky yet compulsively readable 837-page compilation on the state of opera today; his Opera as Opera: The State of the Art should be required reading for all operamanes.

Over the course of the past four centuries, opera—grand or intimate, tragic or satirical, moralizing or wacky, colorful and often rather “extreme” form of art (and/or entertainment)—has spawned legions of devoted fans and merciless critics.

Among the many intensely readable book-length essays on this complex, sometimes problematic genre, Joseph Kerman’s Opera as Drama [HERE] stands as perhaps the single most famous example (at least in English). Operagoers can also consult wonderful, thought-provoking histories full of insight and imagination: for example, Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker’s A History of Opera [HERE] or James Parakilas’s The Story of Opera [HERE]. Numerous richly informative books treat a narrower swath of repertory: e.g., Tim Carter’s Understanding Italian Opera [HERE] and Stephen Meyer’s Carl Maria von Weber and the Search for German Opera [HERE]. And there are authoritative books on individual opera composers, such as Hugh Macdonald’s recent, subtly witty Bizet [HERE]. [continued…]

February 6, 2019

in: News & Features

New Institute Broadens and Brightens Summer Spectrum

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra herein announces the opening this summer of its Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), an in-depth initiative of cross-cultural activities, at the orchestra’s summer campus in Lenox. This center will be housed at a multipurpose complex of four buildings called the Linde Center for Music and Learning, designed by architect William Rawn (who also designed Ozawa Hall), which will be the first all-season facility at Tanglewood. In coordination with the BSO’s regular Tanglewood season, TLI will present programs that connect the music being performed to broader social and artistic contexts. Centering on four TLI Weekends, the offerings include (in a program called “The Big Idea”) talks by the likes of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on nation-building (keyed to the BSO’s performance of Verdi’s Requiem), historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on leadership (anent Wagner’s Die Walküre), and Harvard psychology professor and conflict-resolution expert Daniel L. Shapiro on issues of freedom and peace (suggested by Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony).

The programming has traditional musical components as well, such as master classes, experimental offerings, composer and performer talks, a program on the music-cinema interface, an intensive eight-day session with the Juilliard String Quartet and members of the Tanglewood Music Center faculty and students, and other extended-learning programs. Details on all of these are available starting February 6th at TLI’s new web site, www.tli.org. You can also get a glimpse of the Linde Center, as conceptual drawings and as live work-in-progress, at the fundraising site for the project, [HERE]. The opening weekend for TLI and the Linde Center (with ribbon-cutting!) will be June 28th to July 1st. The BSO envisages that TLI programming will continue, at Tanglewood, in Boston, and online, during the non-summer seasons, though details of these programs were not yet provided. Tickets for all TLI summer programs will go on sale beginning February 10th through the regular Tanglewood channels. Excerpts from the complete BSO press release larded with some images run below the interview after the break.

BMInt has some questions for the Judith and Stewart Colton Tanglewood Learning Institute Director Sue Elliott. [continued…]

February 6, 2019

in: News & Features

No Goldbricking for these Forces

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Bach is the greatest,even in China

The self-led orchestra A Far Cry, normally artistically home at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Jordan Hall, and St. John’s Church JP, does a runout to Ithaca this week to kickstart a 3-day, 3-performance tour with the celebrated pianist Simone Dinnerstein built on an arrangement for piano and chamber orchestra of J. S. Bach’s keyboard classic Goldberg Variations by Sarah Darling, Alex Fortes, and Dinnerstein. The show comes to Jordan Hall on Feb. 8th, and to Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Feb. 9th.

Longtime collaborators A Far Cry and Simone Dinnerstein both came to prominence in 2007, as part of a burst of musical energy that erupted in the Northeast Corridor as the Great Recession started to upend traditional arts structures. The 17-member A Far Cry formed with a countervailing idea: that the ensemble should have no fixed conductor, working as a self-conducted chamber orchestra whose players shared leadership. Dinnerstein took a then-novel approach with self-funding her own professional recording debut recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which propelled her to national acclaim as critics praised as “an utterly distinctive voice” (New York Times) and “a timeless, meditative, utterly audacious solo debut” (O, The Oprah Magazine). Although Dinnerstein now plays concerts and concertos across the world, the Goldberg Variations remains central for the pianist, with much-praised collaborations adding choreography (with Pam Tanowitz) and the re-imagined arrangement that Cornell and Boston will hear.

Basil Considine of the Twin Cities Arts Reader spoke with Alex Fortes and Sarah Darling of A Far Cry on the Goldberg arrangement, the dynamics of playing in A Far Cry, and the joys of collaborating with Simone Dinnerstein.

Basil: Why the Goldbergs? [continued…]

January 31, 2019

in: News & Features

Favorite Memories of Sandy

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Wendy Maeda photo

Baritone Sanford Sylvan had so many great operatic roles, it’s hard and maybe even silly to single out any of them. The wise and sinister Chou En-lai opposite James Maddalena’s enthusiastic and oddly innocent Nixon in the original cast of John Adams’s Nixon in China. The exuberant Figaro jumping up and down on a bed with Jeanne Ommerle in the famous Peter Sellars/Craig Smith “Trump Tower” production of The Marriage of Figaro. Or as Orlando, in his mad scene, being wheeled across the stage on a gurney, in the Sellars/Smith production of Handel’s Orlando at the Loeb Drama Center in the days when the A.R.T. was run by Robert Brustein. Sylvan, with the music transposed for his mellow baritone, was singing the title role in the “second” cast, when there weren’t enough countertenors to alternate with Jeffrey Gall in the first cast.

Sylvan provided another extraordinary moment in another almost forgotten Sellars/Smith production, at Harvard’s Agassiz Theatre in 1983—a double bill of the Brecht-Weil Kleine Mahagonny followed by a staged version of excerpts from Bach cantatas under the title “Conversations with Fear and Hope after Death.” In the Weill, Sylvan was part of a male quartet singing “Oh moon of Alabama!” (that moon hanging overhead like a big Swiss cheese); in the Bach, crouching on all-fours, he sang a heart-rending aria, “How frightened, trembling are my footsteps,” to the obbligato accompaniment of Kenneth Radnofsky’s more-Weill-than-Bach saxophone (one of Smith’s most inspired decisions), as he crawled backwards under a kitchen table. He finally emerged with his arms stretched out against the table in the pose of a crucifixion—a visual and vocal image of total spiritual agony.  [continued…]

January 30, 2019

in: News & Features

Sanford Sylvan Leaves Us

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Known to Bostonians as frequent collaborator in director Peter Sellars’s and conductor Craig Smith’s re-imaginings of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro (which also appeared in PBS’s “Great Performances”), for his work as a member of Emmanuel Music, for his longtime collaboration with pianist David Breitman in such works as Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, and with the Lydian String Quartet in Fauré’s La bonne chanson, the beloved baritone Sanford Sylvan died yesterday.

Over the years in the Boston Globe, Richard Dyer has often been touched by Sylvan’s accomplishments, once describing how he had:

“…arrived at an accomplishment denied to most professional singers, the art of delivering American English in a completely natural, unaffected and expressive way… without a trace of the opera singer’s…orotund recital delivery; instead there is a confidential, communicative, and even at times imposingly public statement of private feelings. Over the years Sylvan has simplified his performances as his understanding has deepened, and today he is one of America’s master singers.” [continued…]

January 30, 2019

in: News & Features

Only Baritones Need Apply

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Brand-name baritone Thomas Hampson returns for his fourth Celebrity Series appearance alongside his son-in-law, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, with operatic and Broadway favorites in “No Tenors Allowed!” Resonance, pathos, and comedy will reign in selections by Mozart, Verdi, Rodgers & Hammerstein this Friday at Jordan Hall with Kevin Murphy presiding at the piano.

Hampson boasts an opera repertoire of more than 80 roles sung in all the major opera houses of the world; his discography comprises more than 170 albums, which include multiple nominations and winners of the Grammy Award, Edison Award and the Grand Prix du Disque. he was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s first Artist-in-Residence. In 2010, he was honored with a Living Legend Award by the Library of Congress. Hampson was made honorary professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Heidelberg. Italian bass-baritoneLuca Pisaroni is celebrated for charisma and versatility since his debut at age 26 with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

If you want to learn which (if either) of the two will channel Ethel Merman in “Anything you can do…” from Annie Get Your Gun, read below the break. [continued…]

January 28, 2019

in: News & Features

Currier & Viva & Lives & Ives?

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The local musical cosmos will presently be aligning for the eminent and much-awarded American composer Sebastian Currier. He answers our interviewer’s question, “are you getting rather cosmic?” below the break.

Next Saturday, Boston Musica Viva, Currier in attendance, delivers a musical program calling sharp attention to the challenges facing all of us citizens of Earth and featuring the world premiere of his Eleven Moons. Commissioned for BMV and soprano Zorana Sadiq by Chamber Music America, Currier’s work incorporates perspectives from moon-related texts from science, poetry, fiction, religion, and fable. Other pieces at the February 2 BMV concert include Deborah and Richard Cornell’s Wind Driven, a stunning multimedia work on climate change; Brian Robison’s Bonfire of the Civil Liberties, a sardonic look at xenophobia in the name of patriotism and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib; Michael Gandolfi’s Budget Cuts, “a septet for three players and conductor” which takes the arts fiscal squeeze from diminishing public funding to a comical and poignant extreme; and the premiere of Viva!, a bagatelle by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich in honor of BMV’s 50th anniversary. [continued…]

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