Classical Music News of the Week, August 19, 2017

"Sonic Youth" Opens Nichols Hall Season Sept. 23

The Music Institute of Chicago opens the 2017–18 season of its Faculty and Guest Artist Series with "Sonic Youth," a program of works associated with the theme of "youth," Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL.

The program to date includes Ives's Sonata No. 4 for violin and piano "Children's Day at the Camp Meeting"; Janitsch's Sonata da camera in D Major "Echo," Op. 5; Ravel's Mother Goose Suite for 4 Hands; Debussy's Piano Trio in G Major and excerpts from Children's Corner Suite; Schumann's Abegg Variations, Op. 1 and Scenes from Childhood: Traumerei; excerpts from Surace's Pinocchio Suite; movements from Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" performed by duo pianists Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem; and excerpts from Ifukube's Rhythmic Games for Children.

Faculty members performing include pianist Inah Chiu, pianist Elaine Felder, violinist/violist Julie Fischer, flutist Shanna Gutierrez, pianist Matthew Hagle, pianist Grace Juang, violinist Charlene Kluegel, pianist Sung Hoon Mo, recorder player Patrick O'Malley, cellist Mindy Park, pianist Katherine Petersen, pianist George Radosavljevic, viola da gamba player Phillip Serna, lutist Joel Spears, pianist Ann Surace, pianist Ron Surace, harpist Katherine Ventura and pianist Reiko Yamada. Jim Setapen conducts the faculty ensemble.

"Sonic Youth" takes place Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at musicinst.org/nichols-concert-hall or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change.

For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

The Crypt Sessions Presents David Greilsammer's Labyrinth
The Crypt Sessions Season 2 continues on September 27, 2017 with Israeli pianist and conductor David Greilsammer giving the only North American performance of his acclaimed Labyrinth program. The performance centers around Leoš Janácek's haunting cycle "On An Overgrown Path," interspersed with works by C.P.E Bach, Mozart, and Jean-Féry Rebel, as well as the North American premiere of Lost in the Labyrinth, by Israeli composer Ofer Pelz.

Greilsammer was slated to perform on the series on April 5, but had to withdraw due to illness.

Says Greilsammer of the program: "Each one of us has been, at some point in life, lost, disoriented, or in search for a safe and luminous path. This feeling of disorientation, leading at times to inner chaos, can also serve as the force that will push us to begin the pursuit of new routes, new ideas, and new emotions. Walking through the daunting sounds of Janácek's music, and exploring the mysterious alleys of various enigmatic pieces from early baroque to our present days, I have decided to embark on a musical journey to the heart of a beautiful, abstract, and dazzling labyrinth."

Due to rapid sell-outs and waiting lists, each new concert will be announced immediately after the one preceding it, first to the mailing list, then via The Crypt Sessions Web site (http://deathofclassical.com/) and Facebook page.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Carmina Burana to Open LA Master Chorale's New Season
Performances of Carl Orff's perennially popular choral showpiece Carmina Burana and Leonard Bernstein's hope-filled plea for brotherhood, Chichester Psalms, will open the Los Angeles Master Chorale's 54th concert season on Saturday, September 23 at 2 PM and Sunday, September 24 at 7 PM in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Tickets start at $29 and are available online from lamasterchorale.org, by calling the Box Office at 213.972.7283, or in person from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, Monday – Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM.

The concerts will feature the full roster of 100 singers and a full orchestra and will be conducted by Kiki and David Gindler Artistic Director Grant Gershon, launching his 17th season with the Master Chorale.  Guest soloists in Carmina Burana are So Young Park (soprano), Nicholas Phan (tenor), and Stephen Powell (baritone) who will be joined by members of the Los Angeles Children's Chorus. The concerts will open with Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Pslams, presented as part of the worldwide "Bernstein at 100" celebrations.

One of the world's most popular choral masterworks, Carmina Burana was last performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Gershon in 2013. Most recently, the Master Chorale performed the work with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015. The work's use of full chorus heralds the Master Chorale's move this season to becoming a fully professional ensemble.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets to all concerts are available now, starting from $29
Online: lamasterchorale.org
Phone: 213.972.7282
Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM.

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

FAYM Announces Classes for 2017-18
Foundation to assist Young Musicians's "Violins For Kids" (V4K) program is offering violin and cello lessons to students starting in the 3rd grade. With so many community youth orchestras and thriving school programs, our aim is to give students a head start on their musical futures. The students are placed in a group class that meets twice a week and will be given an opportunity to perform in the FAYM orchestra that meets on Tuesdays for those that pass the audition.

Class Locations:
East Las Vegas Community Center – 250 N. Eastern Ave. Las Vegas, NV, 89183
Monday – Thursday 4:00PM-5:00 PM, 5:00PM-6:00 PM
Orchestra meets Tuesday 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Pearson Community Center – 1625 West Carey, North Las Vegas, NV 89032            
Monday/Wednesday 4:00PM-5:00PM, 5:00PM-6:00PM

FAYM's eligibility requirements for new students:
Be entering third grade this fall.
Attend a Title 1 School and/or qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program at the school.
Have a parent or relative who can accompany them to each class.
Pay monthly fee payment of $20 for the 9-month school year or apply for scholarship assistance. (September thru May). Or pay by the semester or year for reduced fee.
Attend our Orientation for class schedule information and paper registration: Orientation: Pierson Community Center: Tuesday, August 22nd @ 6PM; East LV Community Center: Thursday, August 24th @ 6PM.

If you have any questions please direct them to our program coordinator, Tim Thomas at TimThomasFAYM@gmail.com.

For further information, visit http://thefaym.org/about-violins-for-kids/

--Hal Weller, FAYM

Concerts at Saint Thomas Announces its 2017-2018 Season
The second full season with Organist and Director of Music Daniel Hyde will include a concert of music by Pärt, Rutter and Vaughan Williams, the holiday traditions of Handel's Messiah and Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, the two-piano version of Brahms's A German Requiem, a guest performance by The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and the debut duet organ recital by Daniel Hyde and Associate Organist Benjamin Sheen.

The season will also see the continued installation of the new Miller-Scott organ, slated for completion in 2018-19.

All concerts take place at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC.

Tickets may be purchased at www.saintthomaschurch.org, by calling the Concerts Office at (212) 664-9360, by email at concerts@saintthomaschurch.org or in person at the Concerts Office at One West 53rd Street at Fifth Avenue (enter through the Parish House).

For complete information, visit http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/concerts

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Music Institute of Chicago Chorale Announces Season, Hosts Auditions
The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale, conducted by Daniel Wallenberg, announces its 31st season of three concerts, along with its 2017–18 season auditions.

The season opens Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. with a Holiday Concert with the Northbrook Symphony at Our Lady of the Brook Church, 3700 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL. A program of choral and orchestral music features special guests the Chicago Children's Choir's Rogers Park and Humboldt Park Neighborhood Choirs. Tickets and information are available at 847-272-0755.

The Chorale performs Mozart's Mass in C Minor with orchestra on Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL. And the season concludes with "Chicago," a celebratory program of works by Chicago composers, Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m., also at Nichols Concert Hall. Tickets to each of these concerts are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for students, available by calling 847-905-1500 or visiting musicinst.org/chorale.

2017–18 Season Auditions
Auditions for the Chorale take place Tuesday, August 22 and 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. For an appointment, call Evanston Campus Director Patrick O'Malley, 847-905-1500, ext. 100.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Visit Miami Music Fesival at ArtsLaunch2017 – A Day of FREE Activities!
Thank you for making our 2017 Summer Music Festival such a success. Our festival has now concluded and we are already planning the 2018 festival. To get an exclusive sneak peak of the 2018 festival and hear some of our fabulous alumni in performance, come visit us at the Arsht Center.

Miami DDA Community Arts Village@ArtsLaunch2017
September 9th |10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Ziff Ballet Opera House Stage

2:30 PM | Performance
Betsy Diaz- Soprano (MMF Alumni, 2015, 16)
Ziff Ballet Opera House Green Room

Miami Music Festival will be amongst 100 of our fellow Miami arts & cultural organizations showcasing our upcoming season. Come learn about our 2018 Summer Music Festival and enter our drawing to win a pair of free tickets.

For complete information, visit http://miamimusicfestival.com/

--Leticia Rivera, Miami Music Festival

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Consul General of Mexico in Dallas Francisco de la Torre Join Fort Worth Opera for the First Libretto Reading of The Last Dream of Frida and Diego
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) will present the first full libretto reading of Nilo Cruz and Gabriela Lena Frank's The Last Dream of Frida and Diego on August 24, 2017, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Francisco de la Torre, Consul General of Mexico in Dallas, will be joining FWOpera for the official announcement. Following the press conference, renowned Mexican actors Anna Silvetti, Javier Díaz Dueñas, Evangelina Sosa, and Adrián Alarcón will read the roles of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Catrina, the keeper of souls, and Leandro. This new co-commissioned work with San Diego Opera, the college of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, and DePauw University in Indiana, will receive further libretto, compositional, and orchestral workshops, as the opera evolves in the years preceding the 2020 world premiere in Fort Worth, Texas.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said, "For over 70 years, Fort Worth Opera has elevated the arts in our community, presenting innovative stories that reflect the incredible diversity of all North Texans. An investment in the future of our cultural institutions, is an investment in the future of Fort Worth. We are proud to host the 2020 world premiere of The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, and I am honored to join Fort Worth Opera as we make exciting new connections in Mexico City that will impact the city of 'Cowboys and Culture' for years to come."

For complete information, visit http://www.fwopera.org/

--Ryan Lathan, Fort Worth Opera

Renée Fleming Performs a Signature Role in Der Rosenkavalier
On the season finale of "Great Performances at the Met," Sunday, September 3 at 12 p.m. on PBS.
Elina Garanca, Erin Morley, Günther Groissböck, Markus Brück and Matthew Polenzani round out the lustrous cast conducted by Sebastian Weigle.

The Met's first new production since 1969 of Strauss's rich, romantic masterpiece stars Renée Fleming in one of her signature roles as the Marschallin, opposite Elina Garanca as Octavian, the impulsive young title character, on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, September 3 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.

Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.

--Harry Forbes, WNET

SF's Community Music Center Opens Up Its Doors for Free CMC Sundays
San Francisco's Community Music Center (CMC), the Mission District-based nonprofit that provides high quality lessons, programs and concerts at no or low cost, kicks off its quarterly "CMC Sundays" series on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. CMC Sundays is a free event that offers people of all ages the opportunity to explore a variety of musical instruments and classes, or jam with fellow musicians playing jazz, Latin or chamber music. The September event will include CMC faculty led workshops featuring acclaimed composer Jon Jang on jazz piano; noted performer, pianist, and arranger Maestro Curtis work shopping blues music; local jazz composer Charlie Gurke and GRAMMY Award-Winning Javier Cabanillas co-leading a Latin jazz jam; and much more. Two additional CMC Sundays are scheduled to take place on January 7, 2017 and March 18, 2018. The March 18 date will include an all-day performathon to raise money for CMC scholarships.

Founded in 1921, San Francisco's Community Music Center (CMC) is one of the oldest and largest community arts organizations on the West Coast. CMC makes high quality music accessible to all people, regardless of financial means. Last year, CMC awarded nearly $2 million in tuition assistance, serving more than 2,400 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels with music lessons, classes and other programs. Thousands enjoyed performances at CMC and out in the community.

Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Sun, Sept. 10, 2017: 3-5pm
Free

For more information, visit http://sfcmc.org/

--Anne C. Mitchell, Community Music Center

Viennafest (CD review)

Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Telarc CD-80547.

It had been a while since I last heard the late Erich Kunzel and his Cincinnati Pops doing a record for Telarc, so it was fun renewing an old friendship. Having remembered Kunzel's work with Telarc's Straussfest discs, I prepared myself for something a bit unusual in the way of waltzes and polkas, and that's exactly what Kunzel delivers. However, I didn't find it always in a good way.

In Viennafest we get a mixture of the traditional and the novel, all of it done up in reasonably good taste. The disc starts with an appropriately rousing curtain raiser, the "Radetzky March" by Strauss, Sr., and done in loud, boisterous, if somewhat mechanical fashion, followed by the overture from The Gypsy Baron. Then we have a polka, "The Huntsman," with a horse whinnying for effect.

Here are a few more selections, including one of the more controversial items on the program, the "Voices of Spring" waltz with a vocal part sung by soprano Tracy Dahl that you'll either love or hate, depending on what you're used to. A couple more novelty polkas come next, "At the Double" and Eduard Strauss's "At Full Steam," both featuring suitable sound effects. After those are Franz Lehar with the "Gold and Silver" waltzes and the "Siren of the Dance" waltzes from The Merry Widow.

Josef Lanner's "Court Ball" waltz is particularly nice, Robert Stolz's "Two Hearts in Three-Quarter Time" is delightful, and Strauss, Jr.'s overture to Die Fledermaus is as charming as ever. The proceedings come to a close with a fairly schmaltzy rendition of Rudolf Sieczynski's "Vienna, City of My Dreams," but what are you going to do: It is what it is.

Erich Kunzel
Although Erich Kunzel may have sold probably more albums than almost anyone, he was never among my favorite conductors, generally taking things a little too matter of factly for my taste. This is especially noticeable in the aforementioned "Radetsky March" and also in the Lehar numbers, even if he is certainly felicitous enough in "Voices of Spring." Still, I prefer Willi Boskovsky, Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel, Andre Reiu, and others in Strauss material to Kunzel's more relatively straight-arrow, largely uninspiring approach.

Telarc recorded the album using Super Bit Mapping Direct Stream Digital at the Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio in February 2000. The resultant sound is very smooth, as we have come to expect from this company, the bass drum always at the fore, with decent stage imaging, and a wide dynamic range. Nevertheless, the sound also appears to me a little thin in the midrange while at the same time a bit shy on the sparkle I had expected, as though Telarc had recorded things a tad more distantly than normal for them.

Anyway, the collection will please most of Kunzel's fans, even though I'm not sure any of the old Strauss family themselves would have usually had so large an orchestra at their command. Whatever, the current Johann Strauss Orchestra under Andre Reiu with its considerably fewer players (about two dozen or so) produces a more lustrous and transparent sound, and for a big, full ensemble it's still hard to beat the Vienna or Berlin Philharmonics.

JJP

To listen to a few brief excerpts from this album, click below:


The Deer's Cry (CD review)

Music of Arvo Part, William Byrd, and Thomas Tallis. Harry Christophers, The Sixteen. CORO COR16140.

The juxtaposition of works on this album by modern Estonian composer Arvo Part (b. 1935) and Renaissance English composers William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) and Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585) may at first blush seem odd. Yet the combination works surprisingly well.

As almost everyone knows by now, The Sixteen and its founder and conductor Harry Christophers are a vocal and period-instrument ensemble founded by Mr. Christophers in 1977. They deal largely in Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical repertoire but have obviously here expanded their scope to include modern music. With over 130 recordings and numerous awards to their credit, one can understand their critical and popular success.

Here are the track listings for the present album:
1. Byrd: Diliges Dominum
2. Byrd: Christe qui lux es et dies
3. Part: The Deer's Cry
4. Byrd: Emendemus in melius
5. Part: The Woman with the Alabaster Box
6. Byrd: Miserere mihi, Domine
7. Byrd: Ad Dominum cum tribularer
8. Tallis/Byrd: Miserere nostri
9. Tallis: When Jesus went
10. Byrd: O lux beata Trinitas
11. Part: Nunc dimittis
12. Byrd: Laetentur coeli
13. Byrd: Tribue, Domine

The total timing for the album runs very nearly sixty-seven minutes.

Harry Christophers
So, why include the music of Arvo Part among that of Byrd and Tallis? Well, although both Byrd and Tallis wrote some secular music, the bulk of their output was sacred. Byrd, for instance, wrote sacred music for use in Anglican and Catholic services, and Tallis (Byrd's teacher, by the way) worked at a Benedictine priory, Waltham Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, and the Chapel Royal, among other places. And of Part? He, too, writes both classical and religious music. In fact, he is one of the most important and certainly one of the most prominent of today's composers of spiritual music. Yes, as I said, the combination of composers on the album works.

As always, The Sixteen sing in a heavenly manner, and their voices sound rich and full in harmony, their intonation flawless, and their commitment to the music as emotionally vibrant as ever. What we've got as a result is beautiful music, beautifully performed.

Now, what did I like best? That's hard to answer because everything about the music and the singing is so letter-perfect. Of course, the Byrd and Tallis pieces go without saying. Their music has stood the test of time and been enjoyed by and inspirational to people for centuries. However, Part's music in particular impressed me, starting with the album's title tune, The Deer's Cry. Like the other two of the composer's selections, it's partly new, partly old; partly modern, partly ancient. Obviously, Part is a man of many parts. Sorry. The Deer's Cry is an updated setting of an incantation written in the fifth century. It's appropriately solemn yet wonderfully uplifting. The Woman with the Alabaster Box sets a narrative from Matthew 26:6-13. But equally impressive is Nunc dimittis, written in Part's tintinnabular or bell-like style; it's beautiful, and as with the rest of the album the singers do it full justice.

Producer Mark Brown and engineer Mike Hatch recorded the album at the Church of St. Augustine, Kilburn, London in October 2015. Here is the only minor fly in the ointment: The venue is highly reverberant, and, consequently, voices sometimes appear to have a touch too much bloom and echo to them. Still, the ambient glow makes the choir sound more "heavenly," even it doesn't do as much to clarify the album's transparency as it could. There is also a slight upper midrange brightness to the sound, which doesn't hurt and probably actually helps make the voices appear more distinct. There is much to like here, so I'm not really complaining.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa