"Having a beer with Haydn" was the title of one of a number of casual sketches by pianist Roman Rabinovich, projected on a screen in Glick Recital Hall at the Music Settlement last Sunday.
Other imaginary encounters were sketched in an overhead view of Rabinovich and Haydn playing a four-hands duet; a self-portrait of the artist in an 18th-century wig and costume titled "What if;" Haydn in an apron cooking on a stove while Rabinovich looks on with amusement; and the mandatory "Selfie with Haydn."...
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There are pianists who are tickled pink if a piano's 52 white keys and 36 black keys are in working order in front of them. And then there are pianists like Till Fellner.
In the 2009 German-Austrian documentary, "Pianomania," Fellner, arguably one of Austria's finest concert pianists, is shown at Steinway-Haus Hamburg telling master Steinway piano technician Stefan Knuepfer in German that, "Naturally, there are pianists who aren't all that much concerned about the instrument, which I find peculiar. Clear. It's like a singer's voice. That is our instrument. As a pianist, one must be very critical and be in contact with good (piano) technicians and actually work constantly. It's not just tuned and voiced once, but one must constantly continue to work further."...
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"The Nutcracker" and Handel's "Messiah" may dominate the airwaves, but they're not the only musical options. Not this season.
Thanks to ChamberFest Cleveland and pianist Roman Rabinovich, listeners this month in Northeast Ohio also can take sustenance in Haydn, in a new winter lineup of three solo recitals exploring the composer's piano sonatas....
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Pianist Aristo Sham, 20 and a student at Harvard, isn’t sure whether he’ll go into music or economics, but his recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection made a strong case for the former.
The concert was part of Sham’s prize for winning the New York International Piano Competition this year — it was just the latest in a string of such victories, and it was immediately clear why. In the Mozart Sonata in F, K. 533/494, the highly detailed voice-leading between the hands sounded like two different but complementary players performing simultaneously. In the Mozart/Volodos “Turkish March” (Sham’s second encore), the speed and clarity were startling. In the coda to the second movement of Schumann’s “Fantasie,” Sham risked everything with a breakneck tempo and didn’t miss a note....
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Polishing the Pipes in Philadelphia

November 18, 2016 - The Wall Street Journal (On Facebook post)
The entire evening was a triumph for Mr. Jacobs, whose technical fluidity and sensitive playing added measurably to each piece, whether performed from the portable organ console onstage or the stationary one high above the orchestra. (It was also a workout, but this is a man who once performed all 18 hours of Bach’s solo music in one day.)
Mr. Jacobs, who has waged a tireless campaign to increase the repertoire for his instrument, will play the Rouse again this spring. It was a co-commission by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra. Hopefully the Philadelphia Orchestra will continue to use its Dobson organ each year for orchestral accompaniment, in concertos and Halloween concerts or in special programs like this one, which it presents on occasion. And hopefully its example will inspire other orchestras with concert hall organs to do the same....
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Might soloist Paul Jacobs be thinking, "Oh no! Not again."? Actually,  he and the orchestra's music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, lit up at the discovery: It's a familiar window onto something new. With Rouse's taste for ultra-fortissmos, the quotation is likely to be an inaudible inside joke. And considering how much the 67-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has expanded the sound envelope of symphonic music, you wonder what took him so long to write for an instrument with the earthshaking possibilities of the organ. In fact, his concerto begins at triple forte. And with Kimmel's Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the composer knows he'll get to it....
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Celebrating the Essential Presence of Mozart

October 31, 2016 - The Epoch Times
“I think he is almost as essential as the air we breathe and the food we eat, don’t you think?” pianist Marc-André Hamelin said of Mozart. 
The beloved classical composer, who is often said to have created from divine inspiration, is so foundational to everything we know about music today. 
“I can’t imagine a world in which we could do without him,” Hamelin continued. “I can’t really pinpoint it, but he is one of those composers whose works have always seemed like they have always been with us, even before they were written.”...
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Worlds collide and a quiet gem stands out at Here and Now Festival

September 1, 2016 - New York Classical Review
There’s a variety show going on at Bargemusic over the Labor Day weekend, under the title and guise of the Here and Now Festival. More so than even the standard grab-bag classical program, the festival presented a disorienting mix of styles, ideas, and quality.
The eight pieces from eight different composers heard Wednesday night covered not only the classical tradition but world music and popular genres as well—a variety show with a travelogue. Two of the stops, seemingly coincidentally, were in Japan: James Nyoraku Schlefer opened the evening with the world premiere of his 2Blue for shakuhachi and viola, and after intermission, Duo Yumeno played Daron Hagen’sCantabile. The disparities between the two pieces, and the two performances, was a microcosm of the concert....
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Hamelin honored with heroic embrace at SummerFest

August 25, 2016 - The San Diego Union Tribune
If you love the music of Alkan or Godowsky, you’re probably a fan of pianist Marc-André Hamelin.
Don’t recognize those composers? You’re not alone. Their piano music is so devilishly difficult that only the rare virtuoso tackles it.
Hamelin is that Superpianoman. No scale is too quick, no fingering too contorted, no counterpoint too dense to deter him. His colossal performances of Alkan and Godowsky have probably done more than any other pianist today to resurrect their music....
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A Pianist on the World Stage

July 25, 2016 - Harvard Magazine
ARISTO SHAM ’19, winner of last month’s New York International Piano Competition (NYIPC), is no stranger to the big stage—he’s been playing the piano since he was three years old. Sham, who is originally from Hong Kong, and is a rising sophomore enrolled in the dual-degree A.B.-master’s program with the New England Conservatory (NEC), won the competition’s first prize of $10,000, plus concert and recital appearances to come....
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Marc-Andre Hamelin's friendly, unassuming manner belies a formidable musical intelligence and a questing spirit.
For one thing, the French-Canadian pianist doesn't follow the same playbook as his colleagues.
In many respects he is a throwback to a golden age of the piano when legendary pianist-composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov, Ignaz Friedman, Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann dazzled audiences with their superhuman feats of derring-do at the keyboard, playing their own music along with the standard repertory....
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Nearly every time you look down at the sidewalk, there's a stenciled image of a mustachioed face and the word"Essere."
The source of this is OperaDelaware, which has imposed the likeness of little-known composer Franco Faccio onto the local landscape while making his opera Hamlet part of the international landscape after 145 years of obscurity. "Essere" means "to be" - better than "not to be."
With an intelligent cast, solid direction both on stage and in the orchestra pit, plus the treat of being at Wilmington's lovely Grand Opera House, the opera's East Coast premiere on Saturday is what OperaDelaware hoped for: an event worth traveling for with Hamletpresented in repertory with Verdi's Falstaff. Faccio buried his opera after a disastrous 1871 La Scala production - and now, resurrected by conductor Anthony Barrese, it feels strangely familiar but new, like something Verdi should've written but didn't....
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Franco Faccio’s opera “Amleto,” based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” languished for more than 130 years, from its fiasco at the Italian theater La Scala in 1871 to the early 2000s, when a young conductor named Anthony Barrese tracked down the score and started transcribing 900 pages of handwritten manuscript. His work paid off. “Amleto” had its modern debut in a 2014 concert performance in Baltimore, had its first full staging later that year at Opera Southwest, in Albuquerque, and, on Friday night, came to Opera Delaware in its staged East Coast premiere, before it moves to Austria this summer for the Bregenz Festival....
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 It wasn't quite like expecting Judy Garland and getting Julie London instead, but close.
Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire, who has a wonderfully warm-hearted approach to the keyboard, was scheduled to give a recital Sunday evening for the 50th anniversary season finale of Shriver Hall Concert Series. When he canceled just a few days before, the organization secured a first-rate replacement, Till Fellner, an Austrian with a much cooler temperament.
As Fellner launched into Schumann's "Papillons" at the top of Sunday's program, there was no mistaking the intellectual solidity of the music-making. But for those of us fond of a singing tone and sensual, rhythmically elastic phrasing, the sort that Freire has so long produced, there were disappointments....
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How a composer helped put his 78th birthday on the map

May 2, 2016 - The New Washington Post
Then the pianist Ursula Oppens — who gave the world premiere of “The People United . . .” in 1976 at the Kennedy Center — and the violinist Jennifer Koh, an assured contemporary-music virtuoso, lit into “Notasonata,” which opens with rich, singing lines from the violin, channeling the spirit of Shostakovich that Rzewski evoked in his program notes. Belying its title, the piece offered a spectrum of sonata-like gestures and movements: that singing theme from the violin; a wispy brief engaging scherzo, gentle treads from the piano, like clouds of mud rising beneath the violinist’s forward motion. But the music kept interrupting itself to examine, question and sometimes play with whatever it was doing at a particular moment. It’s a piece to sink your teeth into, or your ears, and I look forward to hearing it again....
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Many young violinists with the talent and discipline for a promising career lack only one thing: a truly fine instrument. There is a limited supply of superb violins, and they tend to be terribly expensive.
The South Korean violinist In Mo Yang, 20, a student at the New England Conservatory, is fortunate to have a coveted Stradivarius on loan through an anonymous donor. On Tuesday at Weill Recital Hall, in his New York recital debut, presented by Concert Artists Guild, Mr. Yang proved himself most deserving of this fine instrument in an impressive program with the accomplished pianist Adam Golka....
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Ian Hobson, Pianist in Review

April 13, 2016 - New York concert Review
Ian Hobson has unusual stamina. He plays with an uncanny virtuosity. His interpretations are nuanced and fresh. Of those elements, the stamina aspect cannot be overstated here. He opened with Fauré’s Theme and Variations, Op. 73, then proceeded with Chopin’s Etudes, Op. 10, followed by Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13, and then concluded with none other than Rachmaninoff’s Preludes, Op. 32. There was exceptional pacing within each work, and he never tired technically or emotionally....
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Modernist edge rather blunted in Cutting Edge series

April 12, 2016 - New York Classical Review
After an onstage discussion between Bond and a very funny Tower, the Cassatt Quartet returned, along with pianist Ursula Oppens, to play Tower’s Dumbarton Quintet. This was the third piece commissioned by the Dumbarton Oaks Estate in Washington, after her main influences, Stravinsky and Copland.
As Tower explained, and is clear in the music, the piece has far less of those composers, and is instead an energetic embrace of, and strong response to, Shostakovich’s chamber music. Long, impassioned lines course through the piece, exploring deep emotional terrain. Cassatt and Oppens played this stirring work like they were playing Brahms, digging in with gusto. This is earthy music that surveys the shattered landscape of the 20th century and embraces what has endured....
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Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Rachmaninoff’s “Isle of the Dead” are among the most well known examples of compositions inspired by visual art. More recently, the pianist and composer Michael Brown wrote “Surfaces” after studying the abstract art of the pianist and painter Roman Rabinovich. Mr. Rabinovich gave the premiere of the piece on Sunday morning at the Walter Reade Theater, part of Lincoln Center’s one-hour Coffee Concerts series.
“Surfaces” is based on a series of four paintings of the same name by Mr. Rabinovich, in which muted shades of green are blended with brighter colors and swooping black circles. In his short, alluring composition, Mr. Brown wanted to represent the similarities between the four paintings, expanding and reusing motifs throughout the four movements....
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REVIEW

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY, Aram KHACHATURIAN

March 27, 2016 - Music Web International
It’s worth pointing out that the version played by Xiayin Wang – and by Donohoe and Hough – is the original one. The pianist, composer and conductor Alexander Siloti altered the Andante: in fact the violin and cello solos were removed altogether. The score he published in 1897 also included cuts and changes elsewhere. As a bonus Vänskä's well-filled set includes Siloti’s version of that movement as an appendix, plus one by Hough. That makes for some very interesting contrasts, especially if one programmes in either of these alternatives in place of the composer's original....
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Paul Jacobs brings thundering drama in a calm package

March 17, 2016 - The Washington Post
There was drama — implicit drama, at least — in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Wednesday night from the moment you walked into the auditorium and saw the organ console alone onstage, spotlit and poised at a slight, rakish angle to the audience with a kind of come-hither approach. Who says the organ is staid? When it’s onstage, anything can happen.
There’s a myth that Paul Jacobs, one of today’s leading organ virtuosos, is a kind of good-boy foil to Cameron Carpenter’s enfant terrible. Carpenter is aggressively seeking to make the organ a mainstream instrument, with outre performances, unusual outfits and distinctive registration choices that make some organists’ blood boil. Jacobs, by contrast, has the demeanor of a choirboy: someone you’d be happy to bring home to your mother, and who would delight any church organist’s heart and ear. His speech, onstage on Wednesday night, was peppered with ingratiating “Ladies and gentlemen”s as he gave short spoken introductions to each piece....
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I very much regret that I’ve not been able to attend any of Ian Hobson’s splendid recitals in his series. Preludes – Etudes – Variations, since the first one in October. Listening to this concert in a vacuum, so to speak, brought home to me with all the more clarity, how each recital, from programming to execution, is focused on a specific aspect of the function of the three genres in the concert hall—an especially significant consideration in the cases of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, who wrote music for themselves to perform as piano virtuosi. Debussy, who did not, drew on the virtuoso tradition in his Preludes, for others to play in public. Mr. Hobson’s program, consisting of a very early work by Chopin, which he wrote as a conservatory student at age 17 and performed soon after his graduation two years later, the fifty-year-old Debussy’s peak as a writer for the piano, and Rachmaninoff’s final work written in Russia: in 1917, when he was forty-four, and his world was crumbling around him, as the Revolution continued its course and he realized that he would have to leave his native country, where he had friends, money, and property, and face an uncertain future as an exile, most likely supporting his family with concert tours in the United States, which he hated. All these works have their harmonic, coloristic, and emotional extremities, at points going as far as to reflect the Paganinian tradition of the demented, or diabolical virtuoso. Hobson responded to this with full sympathy in all, as well as prodigious energy....
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The Notes Of The Fischer-Men

February 19, 2016 - ConcertoNet
Now it would be understating Marc-André Hamelin’s affinity for Liszt, since he seems to have an affinity with every single facet of keyboard literature. He discovers, arranges, parodies, performs everything pianistic (though I don’t recall his Bach). Yet I had prior misgivings tonight, through one incident several years ago. Mr. Hamelin played the Dvorák Piano Concerto in Carnegie Hall. Either the music, the orchestra or conductor was not up to his standard. He ran through it quickly, came out for a quick bow, then disappeared.
Last night, we heard a partnership between Mr. Fischer’s own orchestra, the conductor, Mr. Hamelin and the Carnegie Hall acoustics which had to have been made in musical heaven....
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The orchestra was eager and agile accompanying Marc-André Hamelin in the Liszt piano concerto, but the pianist was the star. His touch at the keyboard was explosive or silky, depending on the demands of the moment. There was a brightness and a smoothness to his playing that sat well against the accompaniment.
The concerto unites both parties in on-going, cyclic variation, but it also pits two characters against each other—cool piano and eccentric orchestra. They connect marvelously through the strange and wonderful triangle part in the last two movements. Fischer made this explicit by seating the percussionist upfront, just behind Hamelin’s left shoulder....
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Few would argue that Marc-André Hamelin is one of today's most prolific, technically meticulous and programmatically adventurous pianists. His discography includes more than 70 albums for the London-based Hyperion label, and his globe-spanning touring schedule in 2016 includes Moscow, Milan and Montreal ... and those are just the M's.
His searing interpretations of canonical composers have won international praise — BBC Music Magazine placed him "on the shortlist of most revelatory Haydn interpreters on record" for his Hyperion three-volume set. He has elevated the achievements of 19th- and 20th-century composer-pianists, including Charles-Valentin Alkan, Leopold Godowsky, Percy Grainger and Nikolai Medtner, with a clarity and authority of interpretation that seems at odds with his ever-shifting, diverse interests....
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A gusty, unexpectedly chilly February night in a boomy, barewalled basement-level public space hardly makes for optimum conditions for an up-and-coming string quartet to debut their new collaboration with a similarly irrepressible, cutting-edge concert harpist. But Bridget Kibbey and the Amphion String Quartet – violinists Katie Hyun and David Southorn, violist Wei-Yang Andy Lin and cellist Mihai Marica – defied the elements and made a strong impression Tuesday night, notwithstanding the gusts of wind, ganja smoke and a hi-tech coffeemaker working hard in the background during quieter moments. Kibbey took it all in stride, no surprise considering that she made her way up with shows in rock clubs and loft spaces, and the quartet were just as game. Watching them pull everything together made the prospect of seeing them in more comfortable surroundings all the more enticing....
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Tous le Park Avenue cabbed down to the DiMenna Center at the cocktail hour last Saturday for a very unusual concert of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony was offering a chance to sit check by jowl with the performers, a rare immersion whose goal, as maestro David Bernard explained, was to give non-musicians an experience similar to that of the performer, and perhaps lure them into the concert hall again.
Before taking our seats, we were all asked if we’d been to a concert in the last month (in which case we received a blue bracelet), in the last year (yellow bracelet), or not in the last year (red), which we later had a chance to demonstrate with a show of hands. The color coding had me wonder if we would indeed be getting cocktails out of the bargain....
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Love Slays Multitasking Yesterday Evening

February 8, 2016 - Lucid Culture
Pianist Ko-Eun Yi brought equal parts fire and luminosity to Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Together, she and the orchestra made it swing, made it rock, at the end threatening to crush the piano keys with her savage, fortissimo chords as the coda swung in like a construction crane run amok. No wonder its themes have been plundered by so many rock acts – for example, ELO, who made surf rock out of it, and the Fugs, who would have made it x-rated had their 1967 record label let them. From that bristling, wickedly anthemic six-chord hook that Yi really took her time with, making it resound for all it was worth, through gleaming cascades and dazzling sunset-on-the-waves ripples, she had come to bring the party, and Yahr and the group behind her were only too glad to raise a sturdy foundation and a wide-angle backdrop for all the Romany and flamenco-tinged festivities....
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Religion, Both Sacred and Secular

February 7, 2016 - ConcertoNet
But as performed last night by the New York Choral Society under the energetic baton of David Hayes, the Mass, proved at least listenable. And at times actually inspiring.
Comparing this to either Haydn or Beethoven’s own Missa Solemnis is hardly beneficial. When Haydn wrote his great Masses, they rang out. His minor religious works still showed a natural penchant for old-style classical methods. As conducted by Mr. Hayes last night, the fugues sounded well-polished, the choruses were beautiful, though rarely inspired, and for some reason, Beethoven gave his four soloists little solo material.
The New York Choral Society, though, made the most of it. In fact, the opening Kyrie had the kind of buildup from its soft unfolding to a gorgeous full-bodied, almost Handelian climax in seven or eight quick-moving measures....
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New York Choral Artists score with Beethoven; Pärt not so much

February 6, 2016 - New York Classical Review
Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major were the repertory on offer by the New York Choral Society and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall Friday night under conductor David Hayes. More than just music for massed voices, these are liturgical works, and their raison d’être is for people to come together and sing with a sense of ceremony and extra-musical meaning.
That was only half-realized in the concert, through the Beethoven performance after intermission. The performance in the first half didn’t work. The composition is so finely made that its quality comes through any kind of performance—but on Friday night it was missing the point of the music, the hymn of praise to God.
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Rites of spring: Classical concerts not to miss

February 4, 2016 - The Washington Post
Mad about opera. In a spring with Wagner’s “Ring” (April 30-May 22), is there room for any other news — especially when the Washington National Opera is also presenting Eric Owens in Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars” (Feb. 12-20), and the Washington Concert Opera is bringing Donizetti’s “La Favorite” (March 4)? Carve out time, though, for “Amleto” by Franco Faccio on May 14, 20 and 22. Why should you care? Because “Amleto” is essentially a missing link in Italian opera between Verdi and Puccini, with a libretto by Arrigo Boito, who wrote Verdi’s “Otello” and “Falstaff.” Because “Amleto” wasn’t heard from 1871 until 2014, when it was exhumed by the conductor Anthony Barrese and given a concert production in Baltimore (Barrese will conduct it here). Because it’s full of melody, pushes the envelope of opera convention at the time, and is well worth hearing for any lover of Italian opera. Because it’s going on to the festival in Bregenz, Austria, this summer and is likely to get quite a bit of attention there, and you can say you heard it before that. And because the Delaware Opera is reinventing itself as an annual festival, with Shakespeare as this year’s focus (they’re also doing “Falstaff”), following a national trend and, perhaps, re-placing itself on the operatic map. This is a great chance to be part of a discovery.
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It is probably safe to say that no single performer has done more for the cause of American piano music than Ursula Oppens. Almost 40 years ago to the day, Oppens walked onstage at the Kennedy Center to play the world premiere of “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!,” a piece she commissioned from American composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski. I wasn’t there on that occasion, but I was in the audience when Oppens played the work for the first time in New York. I came away convinced that I’d heard a fresh, vital contribution to American piano music that would probably acquire a prominent place in the repertory. That it has done.
On Thursday night, Oppens again played Rzewski’s compelling variations, this time at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the International Piano Archives at University of Maryland....
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CD reviews: Divine Redeemer

February 3, 2016 - The Washington Post
A new album of Christian devotional pieces by a major opera singer, while part of a long tradition, might turn off some listeners. On her new disc, “Divine Redeemer,” the celebrated soprano Christine Brewer, together with the equally celebrated organist Paul Jacobs, moves beyond cliche with a varied selection of music that she approaches with a sincerity that reflects her start singing in church in her Illinois home town.|
There are only a couple of pieces that might set off chestnut alarms. César Franck’s “Panis angelicus” is offered, thankfully, in a version closer to its original form, in the “Messe à 3 voix,” than the schmaltzy arrangements with oohing chorus often heard now. Jacobs plays the organ arrangement in a way that recalls Franck’s original scoring for cello, harp, and organ, with the cello melody on a solo stop and the closing arpeggios rendered in a harp-like way. And the title song, from the English translation of Gounod’s “Repentir,” is sung here with intensity and not too much oozing rubato....
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This month will see the first free concert in 2016 in the 60th anniversary season of the Morrison Artists Series, presented under the auspices of the May Treat Morrison Chamber Music Center. The young harp virtuoso Bridget Kibbey will perform as guest artist with the members of the Amphion Quartet, violinists Katie Hyun and David Southorn, violist Wei-Yang Andy Lin, and cellist Mihai Marica. The quartet won the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. In 2013 they won the audition with The Chamber Music Society (CMS) of Lincoln Center for the CMS Two program, and they made their Alice Tully Hall debut in March of 2014. Kibbey also won her CMS Two audition and, to date, has been the only harpist to do so....
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Pianist Jon Nakamatsu has been named the new Artist in Residence for the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester for the organization's 2016-2017 season.
Officials say Nakamatsu will be available to the chamber music group for repertoire and performer discussions. He will also be a spokesperson for the organization when he is in town, and will perform with the chamber music society at a gala concert that will conclude the 40th anniversary season....
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On the subway after work one night, Mathilde noticed a fellow passenger carrying a violin case. "Do you play?" she asked. "Yes, I'm on my way to an audition," he replied. A musician herself, Mathilde beamed at the thought of playing with an orchestra in New York City. "This stop is, Times Square," the robotic voice of the subway announced. Hopping out onto the subway platform, Mathilde turned and shouted to the disappearing musician, "Hey, what's the name of your orchestra?" The violinist yelled back, "Park Avenue Chamber Symphony!"
Throw out your preconceived notions of classical music. This Saturday, February 6th, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS) will perform Beethoven's Fifth Symphony at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Conducted by PACS Music Director David Bernard, "Beethoven's Fifth: FROM THE INSIDE OUT!" is a unique reimagining of the traditional listening experience. In seating the audience inside the orchestra, Bernard seeks to transform the passive listener into an engaged participant....
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NEW YORK—Every word he speaks cascades deliberately to the next with clear articulation. David Bernard is not one to slur his words, especially when he’s conducting. “I need you to be on the edge of your seat, you need to be playing even when you are not playing,” Bernard tells the musicians of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS).
He maintains an intense gaze throughout the rehearsal. “Plus, I’d like to hear energy in every single attack you make, every single one, there’s no letting go, ta-ta-ta-taaa! Let’s try it again,” he said, as he went over perhaps the most recognizable first four notes of all music—Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.”...
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The organist is the impressive Paul Jacobs, one of the few American concert all-stars on the instrument. He also gives fine readings of solo works by Nadia Boulanger and Bach, plus a virtuosic rendition of the dazzling, borderline insane Toccata and Fugue from Reger’s Twelve Pieces, Op. 59. The echoing acoustics of the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee, with its huge organ of 115 ranks containing 6,804 pipes, prove flattering for Brewer. Her upper reaches come less easily than once they did, but she still emits a powerful, luxurious tone....
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Singers spark high flames in FGO’s impassioned “Norma”

January 24, 2016 - New York Classical Review
Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma is one of the operatic masterpieces of the bel canto era. More ambitious in scale than most other Bellini works, the tale of the title Druid priestess’s love affair with the proconsul of the occupying Romans melds a profusion of memorable arias, duets and ensembles with moments of high musical drama. In many ways Norma looks forward to the integrated musical theatricality of Verdi’s stage works....
Anthony Barrese conducted with passion and idiomatic fluency, never allowing the dramatic tension to flag while drawing first-rate orchestral execution....
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Marc-André Hamelin Gradually Ups the Ante at Carnegie Hall

January 21, 2016 - The New York Times
In a delightfully perverse bit of programming, the esteemed pianist Marc-André Hamelin opened his Carnegie Hall recital on Wednesday evening, after a hero’s welcome from the audience, with Mozart’s unassuming Sonata in C (K. 545) — in the composer’s words, “a little piano sonata for beginners.”
Mr. Hamelin, having spent much of his early career exploring pianistic showpieces on the fringes of the repertory, has a commanding technique. But there was no sense of slumming or condescension. As in his brilliant recordings of Haydn sonatas for Hyperion, Mr. Hamelin approached the relative simplicities with warmth and affection....
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Nézet-Séguin's own preoccupations with choral music and stage works are apparent in his programing of Mozart's Mass in C minor on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1-2, as well as Bartók's one-act opera Bluebeard's Castle on March 2-4, 2017. He'll premiere the Rouse Organ Concerto with Paul Jacobs in a concert with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 on Nov. 17-19. The season ends with Mahler's Symphony No. 3 on May 18-21, 2017....
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Violinist Alexi Kenney Stuns the Crowd in Chelsea

January 20, 2016 - Lucid Culture
After violinist Alexi Kenney‘s solo performance last night, Concert Artists Guild president Richard Weinert enthused that it was one of the best he’d ever seen: high praise from someone who gets to see an awful lot of concerts. And by any standard, it was pretty transcendent – and no surprise that despite this being the coldest night of the year so far, there was a full house at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea.
Kenney opened with Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006. On a surface level, it’s a dynamically shifting suite of variations on what might well have been pilfered folk dance themes. Playing from memory, Kenney went way below that surface for a minutely jeweled interpretation that quickly became a showcase for his quicksilver legato. We talk about having a fluid, legato approach, but this guy’s is so unwavering that if it was a sine wave, it would be flat. Which made all the more contrast when the music became more lilting and kinetic, Kenney establishing a trope he’d fall back on frequently throughout the performance, adding just a wisp more bow at the end of a phrase if he thought it needed the emphasis....
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Hobson’s deep, robust playing animates music across the centuries

January 20, 2016 - New York Classical Review
Through the current concert season, pianist Ian Hobson has been playing his way through masterpieces of the piano repertoire, as well as new compositions, in a series he calls “Preludes, Etudes, and Variations-Downtown/Uptown.”
The title is a mouthful, but informative: Hobson is playing familiar and new works in each of the three forms, in concerts at SubCulture (downtown) and Merkin Concert Hall (uptown). Tuesday night, Hobson was uptown, playing the Op. 28 Preludes from Chopin, new Etudes by Robert Chumbley, and Variations by Rachmaninoff....
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Bringing the Audience Into the Orchestra

January 19, 2016 - Epoch Times
NEW YORK—Every word he speaks cascades deliberately to the next with clear articulation. David Bernard is not one to slur his words, especially when he’s conducting. “I need you to be on the edge of your seat, you need to be playing even when you are not playing,” Bernard tells the musicians of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS).
He maintains an intense gaze throughout the rehearsal. “Plus, I’d like to hear energy in every single attack you make, every single one, there’s no letting go, ta-ta-ta-taaa! Let’s try it again,” he said, as he went over perhaps the most recognizable first four notes of all music—Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.”...
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