Vast and inscrutable, serene or raging, no earthly place has inspired more Romantic visions than the sea. Sunday afternoon in Carnegie Hall, an oceanic presence loomed over three Romantic/neo-Romantic works in vivid performances by the New York Choral Society and Orchestra under David Hayes.
After Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides” Overture as appetizer, the program bypassed familiar maritime fare by Liszt, Wagner, Debussy, and Vaughan Williams in favor of two lesser-known but superb works, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet (1910) and Frank Ticheli’s Symphony No. 3 “The Shore,” composed in 2013 and receiving its East Coast premiere…
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Michael Hersch and Ah Young Hong to Present Program

February 10, 2018 – The Peabody Post
On Saturday, February 10, at 4:00 pm, Faculty artists Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition) and Ah Young Hong (BM ’98, MM ’01, Voice) will present a program, “Recording the Vocal Works of Michael Hersch with Soprano Ah Young Hong.” Early 2018 sees the commercial release of two new recordings by Hong singing recent vocal works by the composer. Together, Hong and Hersch will present excerpts and discuss the collaborative process with a reception following. The event will take place at the Peabody Institute Centre Street Performance Space, and is free and open to the public.
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Rippling Account: Among many accomplishments, the pianist Ian Hobson has an enormous repertoire. He has been recording the complete piano works of Chopin on the Zephyr label. (He’s up to Volume 12.) And starting last November, he began a six-program series at SubCulture on Bleecker Street, playing the complete piano works of Debussy (in honor of the centennial of the composer’s death) and (for contrast? for fun?) Ravel. The highlights of the third program this week included a rippling account of Ravel’s pathbreaking “Jeux d’eau,” two Debussy rarities, and Debussy’s familiar first book of “Images.” Mr. Hobson also plays lots of music by living composer, like this 2016 premiere at Merkin Concert Hall of Robert Chumbley’s “Three Etudes (by any other name…).” The spacious, hazy second one is especially appealing. (His next Debussy/Ravel program at SubCulture is Feb. 28.) ANTHONY TOMMASINI
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Michael Hersch is an extraordinary composer. His chamber opera titled On the Threshold of Winter, which recently was presented in an astonishing production by the NOVA Chamber Music Series, makes as huge demands on audience members as it does on the soprano and the chamber orchestra that accompanied her…
In a performing arts genre that has been obsessed with death even as it has romanticized it to the point of paradoxical pop cultural appropriation, Hersch’s opera, a monodrama set for one singer, is an emancipating work. Soprano Ah Young Hong, the definitive performer for the opera, brings forth every bit of poetic impact from the libretto Hersch composed from the final set of poems that Marin Sorescu, a Romanian poet, satirist and playwright, wrote during the last five weeks of his life in 1996. It is a remarkable display of endurance for a two-hour work. Her vocal musicianship is a mastery of breath control and phrase articulation that amplifies the rhythmic textures of Sorescu’s original verses. The emphasis is not in soprano’s familiar domain of the higher register but on the darker, visceral textures in the lower ranges. Hong’s dramatic presence astounds at every turn…
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Concert Review: The Pointillist Procedure

February 8, 2018 – Superconductor
The pianist and academic Ian Hobson may not be as well-known as the flashy virtuosos who pack the schedule of major concert venues. However, sometimes the best recitals are those that are on a more intimate scale. On Wednesday night, Mr. Hobson, a veteran soloist and conductor and recording artist who also teaches music at Florida State came back to New York for the third of six recitals this season at SubCulture. Tucked downstairs on Bleecker Street, this funky downtown performance space is currently in a struggle to reclaim its spot at the front of the cutting edge of Gotham performance venues…
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2018-2019: 2 world premieres, more 360 concerts in PSO new season

February 7, 2018 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On the heels of its recent Grammy win, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday announced its 2018-2019 lineup, complete with a pair of world premieres, a return to New York City’s Lincoln Center and four additional PSO360 performances, which seat audience members onstage with the musicians…
Outside of the traditional “Messiah” concert and the gala, the symphony’s other specials include a visit from violinist Joshua Bell in June and a pair of concerts with pianist Till Fellner, one in Pittsburgh and one in New York City’s Lincoln Center in May.
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The New York Choral Society will present a concert dedicated to the sea entitled “Where Even the Sea Sings.”
The program will include the East Coast premiere of the Frank Ticheli’s Symphony No. 3, “The Shore,” which conveys the power, beauty, and mystery of the sea. The piece has been described as a subtle but commanding score set to poetry in which the sea is a metaphor for life’s journey, from childhood to redemption. David St. John’s poetry provided a rich palette of musical moods evoked by the sea.
The program will also include Charles Stanford’s “Songs of the Fleet!” featuring rising star Baritone Jarrett Ott. It will conclude with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, which was inspired by the composer’s visit to Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland.
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STRAVINSKY Rite of Spring. Concerto for 2 Pianos

February 5, 2018 – Gramophone
…That this superiority is not an automatic thing in actual performance is shown by Barenboim and Argerich, who, despite using two instruments, are neither as idiomatic nor as polished as their finest single-piano counterparts. But now comes a version that flies as high as the two Frenchmen, and in some respects arguably even higher. The differences in approach are very soon apparent. The Introduction to Part 1 shows that [Marc-André Hamelin and Leif Ove Andsnes] are a degree more vividly recorded and that their instruments – perhaps also their touch – are more brightly coloured. After this brighter stage-lighting Guy and Bavouzet sound unduly muted. On the other hand the French pair contrive to work in more of the ‘missing’ orchestral texture, be it from the alternatives noted in the published duet score or details gleaned from the orchestral score itself (in which respect Barenboim and Argerich scarcely bothered at all). So pretty soon there are swirls of figuration from the Frenchmen, suggesting, perhaps, the mists of time as Stravinsky transports us to his mythical pre historic arena…
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There were seasons past when the Dallas Chamber Music Society was the most conservative of presenters, offering nothing but string quartets. Programming has been far more varied in recent years, but still Monday night's concert by the Imani Winds was said to be the first in decades by a wind quintet.
The program, at Southern Methodist University's Caruth Auditorium, was certainly anything but business as usual. The only piece of standard wind-quintet rep was the Poulenc Sextet for piano and winds, in which pianist Jon Nakamatsu joined the ensemble. Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral chestnut Scheherazade was presented in a shortened arrangement by Jonathan Russell.
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Lincoln Center Announces 2018/19 Great Performers Season

January 30, 2018 – Broadway World Classical
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 53rd season of Great Performers, dedicated to presenting many of the world's most accomplished and inspirational artists in the concert halls and performance venues across the institution's storied campus. This coming season brings distinguished soloists, orchestras, chamber ensembles, and conductors from across the globe, showcasing them at the height of their artistry.
Highlights of the 2018/19 season include performances by Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the Philharmonia Orchestra in back-to-back concerts featuring Bruckner's Seventh Symphony and the conductor's own work. Closing out the season, Manfred Honeck conducts the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a blockbuster program of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with pianist Till Fellner and Mahler's Symphony No. 5.
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Sounds of music will be heard Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center as renowned American composer Michael Hersch will be in town to hear his two-act monodrama "On the Threshold of Winter."
This performance, sponsored by the NOVA Chamber Music Society and Utah Opera, caps off a weeklong celebration called "American Visionary," which has highlighted Hersch's music. This season marks NOVA's 40th anniversary of making music in the Beehive State.
"I'm just deeply honored to be part of it," Hersch said. "These are extraordinary musicians, so I know that the piece will be presented in a manner that it was intended”…
The performance will feature soprano singer Ah Young Hong in the leading role — a part that she performed to rave reviews in New York City in 2014. Hong has been a member of several symphonies, including the Phoenix Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, among others. She is also on faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, where she serves as the voice department chair…
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In one of the most adventurous explorations of music by an American composer whose career and approach are unique in many ways, the NOVA Chamber Music Series is presenting this week a festival of three concerts featuring several major works by Michael Hersch, including the production of his chamber opera and monodrama On The Threshold of Winter
The week’s concerts culminate in the performance of Hersch’s first chamber opera On The Threshold of Winter, completed a few years ago. It features soprano Ah Young Hong of Peabody Conservatory who premiered the work. A chamber orchestra of Utah musicians will be led by Tito Muñoz, Phoenix Symphony’s music director. The performance takes place Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at the Rose Wagner Center for the Performing Arts.
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 Rivals on Xbox, Partners Onstage

January 29, 2018 – The New York Times
January 29, 2018 – The New York Times
It was a day off for Broadway’s two Farinellis. The man who plays the role and the man who sings the role were instead focused on a big-screen television. They were feverishly toggling Xbox One controllers — novices trying to figure out how to make animated soccer players properly execute a cross.
Sam Crane and Iestyn Davies both portray the famed 18th-century Italian opera singer in “Farinelli and the King,” a play by Claire van Kampen now at the Belasco Theater.
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The immensely versatile and renowned pianist Ian Hobson, whose playing has been described by Gramophone as “intensely alive to expressive nuance, textural clarity and elastic shaping,” will perform a six-recital cycle of the complete solo piano works of Debussy and Ravel at New York’s downtown venue SubCulture over the course of six months, from November 2017 to April 2018.  All recitals take place on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 pm.
Mr. Hobson’s recitals will explore Debussy’s revolutionary quest to reach beyond traditional harmonic means to portray people and nature in an ambiguous yet still immediate reality; as well as Ravel’s brilliant, sometimes darkly-menacing solo piano works which tease the imagination with skillfully wrought intimations of spooky fairy tales, faraway places, and Gothic fantasies.
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Orchestra Hall could do much, much worse than having Manfred Honeck back on the podium to prep the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Riccardo Muti’s return next week, when the music director will lead a world premiere to precede a two-week tour of the East Coast in early February.
If that was a coincidental benefit rather than the intention behind the CSO’s re-engaging the charismatic Austrian conductor for his second set of CSO concerts of the season, that was the effect…
The Mozart performed before intermission benefited from a similar meeting of sensibilities, in this case those of Honeck and his fellow Austrian, the stylish and absorbing pianist Till Fellner. These artists have collaborated before with the CSO, in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, in 2012, but their Mozart C major concerto was, if anything, even better.
Fellner’s pianism reminded one of the patrician Mozart performances here of his great teacher, Alfred Brendel (whose cadenza he played): limpid and rounded of tone, singing of line, cultivated but not mannered of phrasing. His sound was always present, always well supported by the orchestra, notably in those pages where the piano and solo woodwinds engage in quasi-operatic song. The unhurried finale wore a Viennese smile to complement its tasteful classical manners. I found much to enjoy here, and so, evidently, did the audience, which called the pianist back for bow after bow.
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Honeck leads CSO in an individual and triumphant Mahler Fifth

January 26, 2018 – Chicago Classical Review
…Mozart often makes a congenial prelude to Mahler and so it proved again with his Piano Concerto No. 25 performed by Till Fellner on the first half.
Like his compatriot Honeck, Fellner is often at his best in the central Austro-German cornerstone repertoire. He is a superb Mozartian, playing with easy fluency and pearly tone, ideally suited to this music. His singing way with a phrase in the Andante and buoyant articulation in the gently galumphing Allegretto finale were all pleasure…
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WHAT’S GOING ON

January 26, 2018 – Our Time News Press
…The Second Harlem Classical Music Celebrations, co-hosted by Opera Ebony, Three on 3 Presents, Opera Noire of New York, the Harlem Chamber Players and Harlem Opera Theater, present the works of renowned operatic and spiritual composers in symposium and in concert. This collaboration series runs from February 1-24 at multiple venues and includes program titles like “A Tribute to the Spiritual”, symposium and concert; Opera Ebony and Three on 3 Presents with Jasmine Muhammad and Christopher Cooley; A 10th Annual Black History Month Celebration with works by H. Leslie Adams, spirituals and Nonet by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; “Lift Every Voice and Sing”: A Tribute to John Rosemond Johnson; a two-act theatrical work, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom; and the David I. Martin Music Guild of the National Association of Negro Musicians 2018 Scholarship Local Competition Winds & Percussion. For full calendar of events, visit HarlemOperaTheater.org; Harlemchamberplayers.org; Operaebony.org…
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Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts for Jan. 26-Feb. 1

January 25, 2018 – The Chicago Tribune
Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Manfred Honeck directs Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, with pianist Till Fellner as soloist; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Edman Chapel, Wheaton College, 401 E. Franklin Ave., Wheaton; $15-$85; repeated 8 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Orchestra Hall; $36-$250. Riccardo Muti returns to lead the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Low Brass Concerto, a CSO co-commission, with orchestra trombonists Jay Friedman, Michael Mulcahy and Charles Vernon, and tubist Gene Pokorny, as soloists. The subscription concerts also hold works by Stravinsky and Britten, and mezzo-soprano Clementine Margaine will sing Chausson’s “Poems of Love and the Sea”; 8 p.m. Thursday (repeated Feb. 2 and 3); $34-$220. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $34-$221; 312-294-3000,www.cso.org
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Classical music and dance listings

January 25, 2018 – SFGate
Manasse-Nakamatsu Duo Jon Manasse, clarinet; Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Works by Brahms, Kabalevsky, Debussy, Paco D’Rivera, Goodwin, J. Novacek. 7 p.m. Sun., Feb. 4. $20-$50. Kohl Mansion, 2750 Adeline Dr., Burlingame. www.musicatkohl.org
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Critic’s Choice

January 24, 2018 – Chicago Classical Review
This coming week is one of the most packed on Chicago’s music beat of the season. Among the riches are the Minnesota Orchestra coming to town on Sunday, a fine Mozart concertante program from Music of the Baroque, and the final weekend of the Winter Chamber Music Festival featuring the Dover Quartet and violinist Jennifer Koh. But two events stand out from the crowd.
Manfred Honeck, one of the most esteemed and popular of Chicago Symphony Orchestra guest conductors, returns Thursday to lead performances of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Music of Mahler has lost some of its historic CSO visibility in the Riccardo Muti era. And with Honeck figuring high on any short list of Muti successors, the implications are clear for the Austrian conductor’s first Mahler program with CSO, beyond this week’s actual performances. Till Fellner performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 on the first half.
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Organ Recital: Organist Paul Jacobs performs pieces by Bach and Liszt. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sun., 7 p.m. $10-$50. (714) 755-5799.
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Most composers when they evoke the experience of death or dying — think of Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich and John Adams — create listener empathy through the emotional distancing that music, perhaps uniquely so, is able to provide.
Michael Hersch has no use for obliqueness. Confrontation is his thing. His first opera, a song cycle/monodrama called “On the Threshold of Winter,” which had its Chicago premiere by Ensemble Dal Niente last week at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, makes the suffering of his protagonist, a terminally ill cancer patient modeled on the Romanian poet Marin Sorescu, our suffering, our existential crisis, our anguished wrestling with mortality.
The writer’s final poems, penned shortly after he won the Nobel Prize and before he succumbed to liver cancer in 1996, are an unremittingly bleak inner journey that Hersch’s musical settings confront head-on.
But whatever compassion we are supposed to feel toward the dying woman (portrayed with soul-baring intensity by the fearless soprano Ah Young Hong at the Saturday night performance) must be snatched from the few chinks of daylight that poke through the unrelenting wall of eruptive dissonances and fractured rhythms that is Hersch’s 2012 score. 
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…In brief spoken remarks before the performance, [composer Michael Hersch] said he waited until he had found the right soprano for this demanding work before he would sanction the first performance of On the Threshold of Winter.
Clearly he found her in Ah Young Hong, who was the soloist in the two previous rounds of performances of Hersch’s monodrama and repeated that role in this Chicago premiere.
Clad in a white, hospital-like gown, the petite soprano was a fearless presence, wielding her unamplified, bell-like voice like a weaponized instrument. Hong delivered a tour de force vocal performance in this almost unfathomably difficult music—attacking the dizzying high notes with surprising power,  racing through the rapid-fire desperation of agitated sections, and bringing a numbed, toneless sprechstimme and contralto-like darkness to the low tessitura. Her crystal-clear enunciation of the translated English texts made the projected surtitles largely irrelevant.
Yet in addition to the daunting vocal demands, of Hersch’s score, Hong brought blazing intensity to the crucial theatrical element as well. There was always a plaintive human vulnerability to her presence, whether she was sobbing, screaming, moaning in pain or pulling down the long, diaphanous curtains, and wrapping herself in them like a shroud.
Hong also directed the performance for the first time, “a logical progression” Hersch said, in what is essentially a one-woman show…
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Terry Eder’s Key Pianists concert series is full of surprises. Eder, a pianist herself, recruits fine musician who don’t necessarily have the highest-profile careers, and has them play the repertoire that appeals to them most—as opposed to what’s listed on the latest CD of the  musician.
It’s those individual choices that are the surprise and Thursday night’s concert at Weill Recital Hall was an example. Pianist Cecile Licad played music one expects at a piano recital by Liszt, as well as music that one is unlikely to ever hear.
That made for an enjoyable night via the unexpected yet pleasurable pairing of Liszt with Elie Siegmeister and Edward MacDowell.
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In between our conversation, renowned international Philippine pianist Cecile Licad played Liszt: Paganini Étude No. 6 in A Minor Fireflies. This piece would be part of her program in the upcoming concert at the Weill Recital Hall of the Carnegie Hall on January 18, 2018 at 8 PM, [presented by Key Pianists].
The long nimble fingers of the petite virtuoso produced music that’s simply breathtaking. There were fireflies in my head, jumping and swirling, as her rendition so evoked. Cecile’s West End apartment has two grand pianos, several photographs and paintings of family and herself, and a wall unit of CDs. Nothing frivolous or lavish – truly an artist’s haven.
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Critic’s Choice

January 16, 2018 – New York Classical Review
In 1981, at age 20, the Manila-born pianist Cecile Licad joined the likes of Van Cliburn, Eugene Istomin, and Joseph Kalichstein by winning the Leventritt Gold Medal.  After a decade or so in the superstar spotlight, Licad (like Kalichstein) turned chiefly to chamber music, collaborating with violinists Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Arnold Steinhardt, among others.
But her occasional solo outings have shown that she’s still got the goods in that department. The Key Pianists series will present her Thursday in Carnegie Hall’s intimate Weill Recital Hall performing music alternately poetic and knuckle-busting by Liszt (Sonata in B minor, and the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 as “enhanced” by Ferruccio Busoni) and colorful rarities by American composers Edward MacDowell and Elie Siegmeister.  One can hope for some encores by New Orleans-born Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a Licad specialty.
Cecile Licad performs solo piano works by Liszt, Siegmeister and MacDowell 8 p.m, [presented by Key Pianists]. Thursday in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall.  carnegiehall.org212-247-7800.
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Critic’s Choice

January 16, 2018 – Chicago Classical Review
Michael Hersch is among the most compelling of contemporary American composers. His style is personal and adheres to no dogma, feeling both traditional and modern. His most celebrated work, The Vanishing Pavilions, is characteristically ambitious, quirky and explosive, a work for solo piano that spans nearly 2-1/2 hours.
Dal Niente is presenting the Chicago premiere of Hersch’s On the Threshold of Winter in two performances this week. Inspired by the final poems of Martin Sorescu, this music-theater monodrama is a meditation on death. Soprano Ah Young Hong will reprise her role as the solo protagonist.
Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater.
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Even amid the shifting truths of our uncertain world, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Thursday audience surely had never heard an ode to the Cro-Magnon hyena. That otherworldly yelping came early on in James MacMillan’s A Scotch Bestiary, which opened the British Isles Festival with a state-of-the-art blast from the Kimmel Center’s Fred J.Cooper Memorial Organ and continued for a half hour in a manner that might leave longtime MacMillan watchers pleasantly appalled…
Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and organist Paul Jacobs had truly taken the measure of this bestiary — effectively introducing it in ways that made it more piquant than shocking to the receptive audience and delivering a more convincing performance than the composer-conducted Chandos label recording.
Nézet-Séguin knew how to maintain convincing momentum while the piece was going every which way, but being an opera conductor, he wasn’t about to downplay the theatricality. Jacobs thoughtfully colored and shaped the music’s numerous descriptive effects with expressive precision that brought out the music’s natural wit, but more important, its purpose…
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A Scotch Bestiary is a superb two movement work for organ and orchestra. It is in that most British of poetic forms – nonsense. Jabberwocky even. Homage is paid to Elgar; like the Enigma Variations, MacMillan confesses coyly that he is depicting characters and types he has encountered in Scotland over the years; the ultimate in-joke is reserved for MacMillan’s own personal delight – what we get is the fantastical animal forms, the “slithy toves who gyre and gimble in the wabe”. But lest we over-emphasize its Britishness, MacMillan is keen to mention that his motivation is just as much Disney; it premiered in the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
The work is a very funny riot, and Paul Jacobs on the organ, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the podium gave it the comic and rambunctious treatment it deserved…
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The Philadelphia Orchestra’s ongoing tradition of locale-themed “Winter Festivals” have, in recent years, highlighted the musical legacies of Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. The 2018 Festival tours the British Isles over the course of three weeks, beginning with a program that puts one of the United Kingdom’s most respected living composers in conversation with two historical giants.
From the podium, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin described Sir James MacMillan’s A Scotch Bestiary: Enigmatic Variations on a Zoological Carnival at a Caledonian Exhibition as “a truly fun piece.” The massive concerto for organ and orchestra was premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2004 and receives its first local performances in this series, with Paul Jacobs as organ soloist…
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For pianist Till Fellner, it’s mostly Mozart and his brethren

January 11, 2018 – CSO Sounds and Stories
When Till Fellner returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for concerts Jan. 25-27 and 30, he will be performing a Mozart piano concerto. That comes as little surprise, since the Austrian-born pianist favors the Austro-Germanic repertoire. Alongside Mozart, the other composers he admires most are Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Schubert and Schumann.
It’s not that I don’t like Russian or French music,” Fellner said. “I play a little French music but not so much the Russian music. But it seems to me that Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Bach are so important, and it’s the most interesting music for me.”
Fellner, 45, who has in unassuming fashion built a world-class career beginning with his victory at the respected Clara Haskil Competition in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1993, is known for his probing, insightful interpretations. He prefers to delve deeply into the repertoire, and to do that, he has taken on a few large-scale performance projects. In 2008-10, for example, he presented the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in 10 cities worldwide, including London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna and Washington, D.C., performing seven concerts at each locale.
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Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts Jan. 12-18

January 11, 2018 – The Chicago Tribune
Ensemble Dal Niente: Although music by the contemporary American composer Michael Hersch has been widely heard elsewhere, Chicago performances have been rare. Dal Niente will make amends with the Chicago premiere of Hersch’s 2014 instrumental monodrama “On the Threshold of Winter,” based on poems written by Romanian writer Martin Sorescu after he was diagnosed with cancer. 7 p.m. Thursday and Jan. 20, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; $30; 773-871-3000, www.victorygardens.org
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Take a Trip to the British Isles Through Music

January 10, 2018 – Playbill
… “This is very important for me,” says Yannick of the Handel, “because I believe that The Philadelphia Orchestra can play Baroque music uniquely, retaining its color but also being lighter and transparent.” Also part of the first week’s program is a work by Scottish-born composer James MacMillan, A Scotch Bestiary for organ and orchestra, featuring soloist Paul Jacobs. Known for weaving Scottish tunes into his music, MacMillan describes this Carnival of the Animals-like piece as a caricature of “individuals and archetypes encountered in Scottish life over the years.” The concert concludes with another “water-influenced” piece, the Four Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes…
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..MUSIC TO OUR EARS: Internationally acclaimed pianists Jon Nakamatsu and Igor Resnianski are on the faculty for this year’s California Concerto Weekend, an amazing event that will bring together 14 amateur pianists for three days of coaching and rehearsal leading up to a gala concert with the Mission College Symphony on Sunday.
The pianists from all around the United States and Canada share a passion for a music but have generally unmusical professions as doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and media executives. A rehearsal from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the West Valley College theater in Saratoga will be free and open to the public, with Resnianski coaching the pianists in the morning and Nakamatsu working with them in the afternoon.
Sunday’s concert begins at 2 p.m. at the West Valley theater with a program featuring selections from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and more. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors, and West Valley and Mission College students get in free. Go to www.californiaconcerto.org for more information…
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Aldeburgh Festival 2018 programme revealed

January 9, 2018 – Rheingold Publishing
The Aldeburgh Festival will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2018, with a number of events looking back to the year of its launch (1948).
The connections between Britten, America, and Leonard Bernstein will be explored throughout the Festival, which will feature 15 world premieres, six Aldeburgh Festival commissions, five European premieres and five UK premieres, and includes events curated by this year’s artists in residence: violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, conductor John Wilson and flautist Claire Chase.
New works will include the world premiere of Emily Howard’s opera To See The Invisible, based on a short story by Robert Silverberg, as well as works by Vassos Nicolaou, Philip Cashian, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and featured composers Michael Hersch and Simon Holt.
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The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL), under the baton of music director David Hayes, will appear at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium (881 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019) with Where Even the Sea Sings, Sunday afternoon, February 11, 2018, at 3 pm. This program juxtaposes three composers of very different backgrounds and styles, inspired by a shared commonality in theme: the grandeur of the "sea." Each composer responds to this theme in a different way, allowing the audience to experience a deep, personal, journey of the soul. It includes Sir Charles Stanford's Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117, featuring baritone Jarrett Ott and the East Coast premiere of American composer Frank Ticheli's Symphony No. 3 "The Shore."
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The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL), under the baton of music director David Hayes, will appear at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium (881 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019) with Where Even the Sea Sings, Sunday afternoon, February 11, 2018, at 3 pm. This program juxtaposes three composers of very different backgrounds and styles, inspired by a shared commonality in theme: the grandeur of the "sea." Each composer responds to this theme in a different way, allowing the audience to experience a deep, personal, journey of the soul. It includes Sir Charles Stanford's Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117, featuring baritone Jarrett Ott and the East Coast premiere of American composer Frank Ticheli's Symphony No. 3 "The Shore."
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Theater Review: ‘Farinelli and the King’

January 8, 2018 – The Epoch Times
Claire Van Kampen examines the healing power of song in her very absorbing work “Farinelli and the King.” Based on actual events and originally presented in London in 2015, the play is now making its North American debut at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway…
It actually takes two people to bring the character of Farinelli to life on stage. Crane handles the acting duties, while Iestyn Davies delivers a superlative performance in the singing department. Davies’s performances hush the audience and bring a few tears to the eyes by the time each piece ends.
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What a scoop: ice cream shop mystery solved

January 6, 2018 – The Times
…But there’s this new British place on Broadway that is even more exclusive. At the Belasco Theatre a small, mostly British cast is midway through a run of Farinelli and The King. Sam Crane plays Farinelli, the renowned 18th century Italian castrato, and the countertenor Iestyn Davies does his singing voice. Davies lurks behind Crane on stage, in an identical outfit, ready to burst into song. Sir Mark Rylance plays Philip V of Spain, on the brink of madness and seeking solace in the vocal stylings of Farinelli.
Meanwhile, to stop all the actors losing their minds, a drinking den has been set up in the basement. “We’ve got a pub set up down there,” Davies said. There’s a table tennis table, sofas, a TV and a fridge well stocked with beer. “Guests like Steven Spielberg come down there and have a drink,” he said…
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..As spring break approaches on the UI campus, the Sinfonia da Camera, led by Ian Hobson, will perform on March 9 in Foellinger an all-Beethoven concert, beginning with the intense "Coriolan" Overture. Then Hobson will play solo at the piano and conduct Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major. The program will end with Beethoven's rhythmic whirlwind, the Symphony No. 7 in A Major…
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An Autumn of Pianists in New York

January 3, 2018 – New York Arts
…[Pianist Marc-André Hamelin], through this program, which was very much about the piano and virtuoso, has his own view of Liszt, which encompasses both the dualistic and the unitarian view of him. Certainly, like Brendel, Hamelin understands him as a composer rooted in the classics, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach…

If I remember correctly, this is Kimiko Ishizaka‘s second New York recital. Of mixed German-Japanese parentage, she resides in Cologne with her American husband. To judge by her concert programs and recording releases so far, she specializes in the music of Bach, but she is constantly exploring other composers, notably Chopin, who, given his devotion to Bach, above all to the Well-Tempered Clavier, is closely knit with her more public interests…

My season of piano recitals closed, most gratifyingly, with two programs from Ian Hobson’s New York season, which is ongoing at SubCulture, with concerts coming up on February 7th and 28th as well as April 4th and 18th. In his biennial cycles, Hobson concentrates on a particular composer or theme…

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18 winter classical music highlights for 2018

January 2, 2018 – The Chicago Tribune
…Ensemble Dal Niente: Although music by American composer Michael Hersch has been widely heard elsewhere, Chicago performances have been rare. Dal Niente will make amends with the Chicago premiere of Hersch’s 2014 instrumental monodrama “On the Threshold of Winter,” based on poems written by Romanian writer Martin Sorescu after he was diagnosed with cancer. Jan. 18 and 20, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; $30; 773-871-3000, www.victorygardens.org...
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The first international organ competition to take place in the People’s Republic of China was held in Shanghai in September 2017. The Shanghai Conservatory of Music International Organ Competition was part of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music International Organ Festival (September 12-17), which took place at Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Shanghai Conservatory. The event was planned with the purose of promoting the development of Chinese organ education, promoting international interaction, and being a first-class organ art center with an international perspective…
Paul Jacobs and Xuntian He served as presidents of the jury, which included John Walker, Aude Heurtematte, Cherry Rhodes, Jürgen Kursawa, Thierry Mechler, and David Hamilton…The Festival concluded with a recital by Paul Jacobs. His stunning performance conquered the hearts of the audience, making a successful ending to the entire event…
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…The singing Farinelli is played by countertenor Iestyn Davies. He says the king and the singer, each uncomfortable with their public personae, become close friends.
"They kind of recognize something in each other, which throws off the kingship and throws off the stage persona of Farinelli," Davies says. "And they're able to connect on a human level."
Davies is a major opera star and van Kampen says it was a coup to get him to commit to a Broadway run from a first-time playwright…
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…One of the world’s foremost choral conductors, De Cormier long championed peace and humanitarian causes through music. He died Nov. 7 in Rutland at the age of 95, leaving as a legacy a new world of vocal and choral music in his chosen state of Vermont.
His friends and admirers are invited to “A Celebration of the Life and Music of Robert De Cormier (1922-2017),” from 3- 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at Rutland’s Grace Congregational Church, presented by the two Vermont vocal ensembles he created, Counterpoint and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. They will join with other local choruses and musicians who worked with him for this musical tribute – and the audience will sing.
Internationally De Cormier was best known as the longtime music director of the New York Choral Society, as well as singer Harry Belafonte and the legendary folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.
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What is the link between mental suffering and artistic creativity?

December 28, 2017 – America Magazine, The Jesuit Review
…The second part of the evening was a performance of Michael Hersch’s austere string quartet “Images from a Closed Ward” (premiered in 2010), played by the Flux Quartet. A faculty artist at the Peabody, Hersch’s work was inspired by drawings of mental patients by Michael Mazur and by Lowell’s poetry. As the quartet was played, Mazur’s stark images and black-and-white photographs of mental hospitals in the early 20th century slowly appeared and dissolved on the hall’s screen. Enigmatic phrases from Lowell’s Lord Weary’s Castle—“And the laugh of Death is hacked in sandstone”—emerged on the screen between each of the 13 movements.
The slow tempos of Hersch’s composition evoke the indeterminacy of depression. Its highest time is 66 beats a minute (the tempo of a heart at rest) and its lowest a sepulchral 30 beats. Repetition and stasis dominate many of the movements. “And the oak splatters and splatters on the cenotaph.” Several movements evoke mania in a blasting cacophony of sound. “My bones are trembling and I hear the earth’s reverberations and the trumpet bleating into my shambles.” Others rest in an elegiac chord of grief…
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Ian Hobson and the Sinfonia da Camera at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in Foellinger Great Hall will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein by playing his "Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story.'" All the other pieces on the program represent anniversaries of their composers. They are Charles Gounod's "Petite Symphony for Winds," Gioachino Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" Overture, and Claude Debussy's "Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra," with UI Professor Debra Richtmeyer performing the solo part…
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Sublimity doesn’t come frequently to Broadway. Noise, comic shenanigans, and familiar emotional tropes heavily underlined with histrionics are the commercial theater’s stock-in-trade. Yet every once in a while, it does allow room for something that goes a bit beyond these aspects of its everyday traffic, some occasion on which a little space for the contemplation of transcendent beauty is opened up. Since our trashy failure of a civilization provides few such occasions in any walk of life, welcoming them when they do arrive is a wise move.
Several such moments of sublimity are currently being supplied by the countertenor Iestyn Davies, who plays the singing voice of the first-mentioned title role in Claire Van Kampen’s Farinelli and the King, at the Belasco Theatre for a limited engagement…
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‘Farinelli and the King’ at Belasco Theatre, New York

December 26, 2017 – BLOUIN Art Info
Belasco Theatre, New York is staging English playwright Claire van Kampen’s “Farinelli and the King,” starring Tony award-winning actor Mark Rylance as Phillipe V. The production is directed by John Dove, along with designer Jonathan Fensom’s spectacular visuals.
Claire van Kampen’s “Farinelli and the King” delineates the story of the Spanish 18th century monarch, Philllipe V, who was out of his mind, and an Italian castrato, Farinelli, celebrated for his mellifluous voice. The singer’s ethereal vocals is believed to have eased the ruler’s debilitating depression. While the play does not duplicate the sound of Farinelli’s voice, it is still a richly theatrical reminder of the power of music.
Rylance’s portrayal of Philippe is credible, seen as a king whose shaky mental health drove everyone in his court nuts. The king’s loving second wife Isabella, played by Melody Grove, believed that Farinelli’s angelic voice could help him overcome his mind's chatter. The plot thickens as, over time, harmony is laced with discord and romantic intrigue in van Kampen’s story. Sam Crane plays Farinelli with vocals provided by countertenor Iestyn Davies. As selections by Handel are sung, both actors stand side-by-side in near-mirror images.
“Farinelli and the King” is being staged through March 25, 2018, at Belasco Theatre, New York, noted Daily News. 
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Grammy-Award winning American organist Paul Jacobs will appear in solo recital at the Pacific Symphony at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626), Sunday evening, January 21, 2018 at 7 pm. The program—part of the Symphony’s 2017-18 “Pedals and Pipes” series—will include selections by J.S. Bach and Franz Liszt…
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… Music comes at us so many different ways nowadays — with social media only broadening the possibilities. A tweet from the pianist and composer Ethan Iverson directed me to Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Piano Concerto from the 1980s, in a live performance by a then-very-young Marc-André Hamelin, precociously magisterial, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Günther Herbig. The piece is tightly conceived and appealing, a little Rachmaninoff-y with brooding noir flavors. A central slow movement begins with an eerie duet between a stark piano and a forlorn English horn, then broadens into a full-orchestra grandeur that feels earned…
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No one suffered more for their art than the castrati, the men whose heavenly high voices cost them part of their manhood.
Among the most famous of their ranks was the 18th-century Italian known as Farinelli, the Pavarotti of his day. So enthralled was Queen Isabella with his voice that she took him home to Spain to serenade her manic-depressive husband, King Philip V. Music may not have cured the monarch, but Farinelli stayed with the king until his death, and never sang in public again.
That’s the history behind “Farinelli and the King,” which opened on Broadway on Dec. 17 to ecstatic reviews for Mark Rylance’s addled king and Iestyn Davies’ castrato…
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What a superb venue the Belasco is for Farnelli and the King; an enjoyable piece of magic for theatergoers during this holiday season. It is a delightfully charming play based on the true-life story of 18th-century Spanish Monarch, King Phillipe V (1633-1746), by Claire Van Kampen from Shakespeare’s Globe. Lit mostly by candlelight and enhanced beautifully with adjunct golden bulbs a glow, the Belasco is transformed into a dazzling setting in the Kingdom of Spain…
Certainly, Iestyn Davies doppelganger to actor Sam Crane’s tender Farnelli spoiled the audience for any other countertenor they will ever hear…
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Carlo Maria Michaelangelo Nicola Broschi was one of the most famous Italian singers of the 18th century, but audiences would have known him only by the name Farinelli. Castrated at a young age, Broschi's soprano voice made him famous, but he gave it all up when he was hired by the court of King Philip V of Spain to sing privately on the belief that his voice might be able to cure the king's crippling depression. He never sang publicly again.
This story forms the basis of Farinelli and the King, a new play by Claire van Kampen at Broadway's Belasco Theatre. Headlined by van Kampen's husband, Tony and Oscar winner Mark Rylance as the King, the production features two performers taking on the role of Farinelli simultaneously: Sam Crane acts the role, while Grammy-winning countertenor Iestyn Davies sings several arias.
This double casting serves a purpose underlined in van Kampen's script. Early on, Crane and Davies realized that there were two people in Farinelli's body, the performer and the man, and we recently had the chance to talk to them both…
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…One of the initial problems the production had to solve is that the character Farinelli has to sing several Handel arias, requiring a major operatic voice. So while Sam Crane plays the sweet and modest young man Farinelli, the much-admired countertenor Iestyn Davies steps onto the stage to sing as the star Farinelli. They are both dressed identically, and are similar enough in height and appearance to both persuade us and further the identity dilemma…
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“You can’t guess what an audience is going to do,” says Iestyn Davies, sitting in a back corner of the lobby at the Algonquin Hotel. He was reflecting on the first two weeks of preview performances for Broadway’s “Farinelli and the King.” The show, which originated at the Globe Theatre on London, opened at the Belasco Theatre on Sunday…
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ARTISTS YOU CAN TRUST: 2017

December 17, 2017 – Classics Today
…Starting in 2017, we’re taking an artist-based approach, assembling our annual list of ten performers currently active whose body of work sustains the highest level of consistency and musical excellence. Why limit yourself to a single disc? Fill out your collection, or start a new one, secure in the knowledge that with these ClassicsToday.com “Artists You Can Trust,” you basically can’t go wrong. Here they are for 2017, in no particular order, [including pianist Marc-André Hamelin].
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Philippe comes to see art as a healing and redemptive force. And with art given sublime voice here by the British countertenor Iestyn Davies, you are unlikely to argue with the King’s belief in its holy transcendence…
Isabella spoke earlier of being transported by the sound of that voice, and Mr. Davies, improbably, matches her account…In the paradoxically plaintive and joyous sound of a castrato’s voice channeling Handel’s music, the King has glimpsed a paradise beyond his fractious court and his burdened royal self. Trying to create that idyllic vision in the real world, in a rustic outpost in the forest in the second act, is an experiment doomed to failure.
But watching Mr. Rylance’s Philippe experience Farinelli’s voice, we hear what we hears. And an actor and a singer temporarily turn a night at the theater in an anxious city into an Eden beyond worldly care, all the more precious for its evanescence.
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Farinelli and the King

December 17, 2017 – Theater Mania
…While Farinelli's career predates recording, vocalist Iestyn Davies thrillingly gives us a sense of what he might have sounded like, performing nine baroque arias in his soaring countertenor. You may come for the king, but you'll stay for Farinelli…
Already a star in the opera world, Davies makes the most exhilarating Broadway debut of the year as the voice of Farinelli. We completely believe that his heavenly singing has coaxed the king out of his gloom, because it has the same effect on us. Music director and harpsichordist Robert Howarth expertly leads an orchestra of seven, offering Davies rich accompaniment. ..
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 …[Beyond] the emotional tempests and strange, modern-worded outbursts Rylance executes, there is also the beautiful singing of Iestyn Davies, who sings on stage as the double of Sam Crane who plays Farinelli as an actual character.
They are dressed the same, and when Davies appears you know music will strike up. Davies sings nine arias in total—all from Handel operas—and these musical expositions are all so strikingly and beautifully executed they throw into cruel contrast the dramatic passages Crane must negotiate.
Davies’ singing is peerless…
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…If Van Kampen’s script unsurprisingly falls far short of Shakespeare, Farinelli and the King also features what should count as a secret weapon — the singing of Iestyn Davies, a countertenor who provides what surely is the closest possible version in modern times to the arias sublimely rendered by the superstar castrati of the 18th century such as Farinelli…
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'Farinelli and the King': Theater Review

December 17, 2017 – Hollywood Reporter
…Not least of these [rewards] is the chance to hear countertenor Iestyn Davies perform a number of baroque opera arias by Handel, in what's probably as close as possible to the castrato sound without using a boy singer or mixing in a soprano… the conclusion is redeemed by Davies tender singing of Handel's "Lascia, ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo, powerfully drawing out in music the sorrowful affinity between the castrato and the King.
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Aisle Review: The King and The Castrato

December 27, 2017 – The Huffington Post
Now [Mark Rylance] is back, in Farinelli and the King. The King is Philippe V, King of Spain from 1700-46. (Not a Spaniard by birth, though; he was born at Versailles in 1683, grandson to the “Sun King” Louis XIV). Farinelli is a world-class Italian castrato, one of the most celebrated opera singers of the day (circa 1725)…
Van Kampen and her producers have arranged to have world-class countertenor Iestyn Davies do the singing at most performances…Devotees of eighteenth century music, thus, get two-for-the-price-of-one…
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Van Kampen has chosen dual casting for Farinelli: Actor Sam Crane portrays the right amount of conflict, speaking the part of the man who was born Carlos Broschi; countertenor Iestyn Davies beautifully sings the stunning arias in the difficult upper vocal ranges the style demands…
Really, though, this is a play about the curative qualities of music. While it would be satisfying enough to simply embrace Rylance’s mastery and the glorious works of (mostly) Handel, there is a more significant message, one well documented by research but perhaps more valid to theater lovers in the soaring popularity of “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen.” Bullied, anxious, depressed? Music can make you feel better.
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…The play’s bright creative stroke is having Sam Crane, who’s wonderfully sympathetic, act the part of Carlo, and sweet-voiced countertenor Iestyn Davies sing as Farinelli. (James Hall sings at some performances.) As selections by Handel are sung, both actors stand side-by-side in near-mirror images. It’s a stirring comment on one man’s duality….
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Farinelli and the King

December 17, 2017 – Time Out
…In Van Kampen’s cleverest device, Farinelli is often played by two performers at once: The appealing Sam Crane acts the part, while the gifted countertenor Iestyn Davies sings it (at most performances). As the public Farinelli floats through Handel arias, the private one stands beside him, a mutilated man estranged from his performative perfection.
Davies’s singing provides most of the high notes in this otherwise workmanlike play…
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…The wonderful thing about “Farinelli” is the chance to hear a great countertenor in a theater of 900 seats, rather than the much larger Carnegie Hall or the truly gargantuan Metropolitan Opera. The Belasco is much closer in size to the theaters Handel wrote for than where opera is usually performed in New York City. [Countertenor Iestyn Davies’s] tone, range and coloratura can be heard to their full dazzling effect.
He sings the role of the real-life castrato Farinelli (1705-1782), while Sam Crane acts and speaks it. When the two are on stage together, they’re dressed alike (designs by Lorraine Ebdon-Price). Crane doesn’t lip sync while Davies sings. Rather, he stands around looking terribly glum at being so magnificently upstaged…
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The awe-inspiring forces of the William J. Gillespie concert organ combine with the extraordinary talent of Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs—called a “brilliant young organist and evangelist for the instrument” by The New York Times—for a one-night-only concert. The program of virtuosic organ music includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach—including his ever-popular “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”—and Franz Liszt, whose mighty “Fantasy and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” is sure to thrill. After a recent concert by Jacobs, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross wrote: “An obliterating performance by one of the major musicians of our time.” The Economist calls him “America’s leading organ performer”…
[Secret weapon — the singing of @iestyn_davies , a #countertenor who provides what surely is the closest possible version in modern times to the arias sublimely rendered by the superstar castrati...Farinelli"  @DC_theatrescene  http://ow.ly/1SdV30hiKNq #FarinelliBway 
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Highlights of Aldeburgh Festival 2018 announced

December 13, 2017 – Rheingold Publishing
The 2018 Aldeburgh Festival, which will take place 8-24 June, will mark the event’s 70th anniversary, looking back to the year of its launch (1948) with a number of events.
The event will celebrate Britten, America, and the centenary of Leonard Bernstein, exploring the connections between the two composers.
The Festival will feature events curated by artists in residence violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, conductor John Wilson and flautist Claire Chase.
Kopatchinskaja will presents two concerts with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The first will explore the boundary between fable and reality, memory and modernity, virtuosity and expression, comprising works by Bartók, Stravinsky and Ligeti, and the second will feature orchestral performances and collaborations with video and sound designers. She will also present a programme of works by Michael Hersch, including UK premieres of three of the composer’s pieces, and her final concert will see her explore her native Moldovan roots in a performance with her musician parents…
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Countertenor Iestyn Davies was just going about his usual business when Claire van Kampen called him up to make an offer.
She had been preparing “Farinelli and the King” when she heard a voice on the radio. A countertenor to be sure. The singer in question? Davies. She knew that she had to contact him to be on the show.
“It’s about a singer who goes to help a person that is suffering from a form of madness. It shows the power of music to restore,” Davies told OperaWire in an interview relating his upcoming participation on “Farinelli and the King” as it makes its Broadway debut. “So she wanted a voice convincing onstage that people might help someone out of their madness”…
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Iestyn Davies has a voice you’ll never forget

December 12, 2017 – Newsday
When Iestyn Davies steps onstage and sings, it’s a fair guess that most people in the audience have never heard anything quite like it.
Davies is one of a brigade of men today who sing like women — or, more to the point, who sing (as close as anyone can approximate) like castrati, those 1700s-era, soprano-voiced chaps whose gonads were lopped off before puberty in order to preserve their unusual, high sound.
“To me, it doesn’t feel high, although I suppose it sounds that way if you’re hearing it for the first time,” says Davies, an acclaimed British classical countertenor appearing opposite Oscar-winner Mark Rylance in “Farinelli and the King,” a new Broadway play by Claire van Kampen, opening Sunday, Dec. 17 and running through March 25 at the Belasco Theatre. Inspired by true events, it recounts the palace intrigues surrounding Spain’s King Philip V (Rylance), whose madness was apparently eased by the graceful, angelic voice of Farinelli (acted by Sam Crane and sung six shows a week by Davies)…
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A mad Spanish monarch who can be soothed only by the arias of a celebrated Italian castrato: that's the improbable plot—based on the actual lives of Philip V, who reigned 300 years ago, and the opera singer Farinelli—at the center of a 2015 London hit soon coming to Broadway. Farinelli and the Kingopens in December with its sumptuous original set and most of its original cast… Seven arias pierce the performance, sung onstage by the countertenor Iestyn Davies. Is Farinelli and the King a musical? Not in any conventional sense, but music defines its character. A central question of the play, Rylance noted, has to do with “the idea of music and harmonics bringing a disordered psyche to health”…
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5 Shows to See if You’re in New York in December

December 1, 2017 – The New York Times
Farinelli and the King
Congreve’s observation that music hath charms to soothe a savage breast was never put to the test as literally as in the true story of Philippe V of Spain. In Claire van Kampen’s new play, Philippe, mentally unstable and getting worse, obtains relief only upon the arrival in court of Farinelli, a great castrato of the day.
Ms. van Kampen is a first-time playwright but a longtime creator and arranger of music for period dramas, including the Shakespeare’s Globe productions of “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III,” which drew raves on Broadway in 2013. Like those productions, “Farinelli and the King,” directed by John Dove, uses traditional instruments, offers onstage seating and is performed in candlelight.
Perhaps even more significant, it stars Ms. van Kampen’s husband, Mark Rylance, as Philippe. The role of Farinelli is split in two: Sam Crane acts the character and the haunting countertenor Iestyn Davies sings him, performing Ms. van Kampen’s arrangements of — mostly — Handel…
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Saint-Saëns stars in an eclectic evening at the Utah Symphony

December 2, 2017 – The Salt Lake Tribune
The Utah Symphony and music director Thierry Fischer launched their two-week Saint-Saëns festival on Friday. The concert, recorded as part of a three-album deal with European label Hyperion, included two of the composer’s most popular works along with a rarity…
The major work was Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, nicknamed the “Organ” Symphony because that instrument has such a prominent role. Juilliard organ professor Paul Jacobs is doing the honors this week. It isn’t the most technically challenging music for an organist; as Jacobs observed in a preconcert interview, it’s all about the registrations, or the sets of pipes the soloist chooses. And Jacobs chose well. Presumably recognizing that an electronic instrument in Abravanel Hall can never have the same seat-rattling effect as the mighty Tabernacle organ across the street, he focused on musical coloration rather than sheer power. Jason Hardink’s sparkling piano offered the perfect complement…
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Paul Jacobs with the Utah Symphony
Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs is on a quest to give the organ what he considers a much-needed push into the realm of mainstream classical music, and the Utah Symphony is on a quest to become the first American orchestra to record all five of French composer Camille Saint-Saens’ symphonies. The performances this weekend will help both Jacobs and the symphony achieve their goals, as Jacobs performs Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony” alongside the Utah Symphony. Jacobs once played the organ nonstop for 18 hours, so his performances Friday and Saturday night are sure to be filled with energy and gusto…
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It’s been 17 years since Paul Jacobs expressed his passion for the organ through an unparalleled feat: playing nonstop for 18 hours.
Well, he did take a few minutes here and there to drink some water and eat a cup of chocolate pudding.
But the remaining 17 hours and change were devoted to performing the complete organ works of J.S. Bach — Jacobs’ way of commemorating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death…
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Our 10 favourite Canadian classical albums of 2017

November 29, 2017 – CBC Music
#3: Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus
Artist: Marc-André Hamelin
Label: Hyperion Records
Upon listening to Marc-André Hamelin's latest release, you might think you had accidently hit play on a video of Nora the piano cat. But no, the pianist who never ceases to amaze us has ventured into the sound world of American composer Morton Feldman and in the process given us our new favourite soundtrack for late-night, lights-off, lying-on-the-floor musical reveries.
"It's going to be the most aggravating thing you've ever listened to, either that or the best migraine medicine you've ever had," he told NPR of Feldman's For Bunita Marcus, a 75-minute, pointillistic sound matrix that essentially never rises above a pianissimo dynamic. Hamelin likens the experience to observing the immensity of space and the irregular patterns of stars.
It's trippy and, frankly, a surprise from the pianist known for his dazzling keyboard prowess….
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Bargemusic This Weekend

November 29, 2017 – Brooklyn Heights Blog
…On Sunday afternoon, December 3, there will be two concerts. At 2:00, pianist Ursula Oppens will play works by Stravinsky, Carter, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy. At 4:00, pianist Jerome Lowenthal will play works by Mozart, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Debussy…
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Cleveland Orchestra with organist Paul Jacobs (Nov. 24)

November 28, 2017 – Cleveland Classical
The menu for The Cleveland Orchestra’s Thanksgiving Weekend concerts may have resembled a potluck more than a well-balanced meal, but the main course, Stephen Paulus’s continuously imaginative Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with Paul Jacobs at the Severance Hall E.M. Skinner, left you wanting a second helping of the late composer’s music.
Paulus, who died of a stroke at the age of 65, wrote four works for organ and orchestra — this one, the third, a commission from the Dallas Organ Competition in 2003. And although Jacobs had premiered the fourth concerto a few years before the composer’s death, the organist was performing the 2003 piece for the first time on Thursday evening, with guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero on the podium…
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Marc-André Hamelin (piano), the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra

November 28, 2017 – The Moscow Times
Canadian virtuoso pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin plays Brahms
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 and No. 2. Conductor Dimitris Botinis. Marc-André Hamelin’s startlingly original blend of musicianship and virtuosity has earned him legendary status as a true avatar of the piano. Long known for his matchless exploration of unfamiliar pianistic terrain, Mr. Hamelin is now recognized worldwide for the originality and technical brilliance of his performances of the classical repertoire. He has appeared as guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Montréal Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and many others.
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Anyone who has witnessed Marc-André Hamelin play Godowsky’s fantastical inventions on Chopin’s études or the mammoth Alkan solo symphony knows the feeling of a jaw grown sore from dropping. The pianist’s incredible feats of dexterity, memorization and musical élan are dazzling, and yet — perhaps in a greater testament to his talents — a listener almost forgets these complications and simply marvels at the music’s strange beauty. 
Something like the converse happens when Hamelin plays a more familiar Haydn sonata or Debussy prelude: like a diamond cutter with soul, he enables the listener to hear the kaleidoscopic richness of the music anew. He is not only a pianist’s pianist; he is a music lover’s pianist…
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CLEVELAND, Ohio - Thanksgiving weekend at Severance Hall was a lot like the holiday itself: a chance to reconnect and to forge new bonds.
With the Cleveland Orchestra, guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero reminded listeners Friday why Tchaikovsky remains in permanent rotation, brought back a Copland classic, and supported organist Paul Jacobs in a stunning modern concerto. In short, as musical meals go, the orchestra's post-Thanksgiving feast hardly could have been heartier or more diverse…
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If all you know of Camille Saint-Saëns is “Carnival of the Animals” and that tune from the movie “Babe,” Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony are about to give you a crash course. The next two weekends of concerts will be devoted to music of the French composer.
Fischer and the orchestra are recording all five of Saint-Saëns’ symphonies for the Hyperion label — a first for an American orchestra. This coming week brings Symphony No. 3, which is easily the composer’s most popular and recognizable symphony thanks to its prominent use of the organ and that unforgettable tune. The soloist will be American organist Paul Jacobs, chairman of the organ department at the Juilliard School in New York, enthusiastic advocate of organ music old and new, and the only organist to win a Grammy Award…
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Hemsing Associates presents Kimiko Ishizaka in Review

November 26, 2017 – New York Concert Review
Kimiko Ishizaka gave an energetic, somewhat dry reading of Bach’s last work, Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of the Fugue), further demonstrating her lifelong involvement with the master’s works. She has previously performed and recorded the “Goldberg” variations and Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier.
She performed this gigantic series of fugues (referred to by the archaic term contrapunctus) and canons, all based on a single theme, from memory, an astonishing accomplishment, and she favored crisp touch, lots of détaché, generally brisk tempi, and absolutely no use of pedal. Andras Schiff also eschewed the pedal in his last presentation of the WTC at the 92nd Street Y a few years back, stating that although he had used it before, he preferred to find what he calls the “hand phrasing” that is only revealed when no pedal is used…
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New West Symphony again plans pre-concert lectures

November 22, 2017 – The Ventura County Star
New West Symphony announced that UCLA faculty member David Ravetch will once again be presenting pre-concert lectures as part of the symphony’s 2018 masterpiece concert series…
The New West Symphony current season continues in the new year with “Tchaikovsky Pathétique” showcasing the Lyris Quartet in January, violin superstar Pinchas Zukerman in March, “Classical Vienna” with Austrian pianist Till Fellner in April and “Virtuoso Tour de Force” in May featuring Van Cliburn Competition gold medalist Haochen Zhang...
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Most classical music organizations are lying low during Thanksgiving week, but The Cleveland Orchestra will fill the weekend with interesting concerts, and the Christmas season gets a late November leg up with two other events.
Concert organist Paul Jacobs returns to Severance Hall for three performances of Stephen Paulus’s Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, one of four works the late Twin Cities composer wrote to feature an instrument that can be a whole orchestra in itself. Nashville Symphony music director Giancarlo Guerrero will be the guest conductor, and the program — as varied as a Thanksgiving feast — also includes Aaron Copland’s El Salón México and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. You can hear performances on Friday and Saturday, November 24 and 25 at 8:00 pm or on Sunday, November 26 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are available online.
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The MET’s Exterminating Angel Brings Hellish Fun to the Big Screen

November 21, 2017 – San Francisco Classical Voice
When the guests arrive at a posh postopera dinner party and tell each other how “enchanted” they are to be there and meet one another, it’s an ironic premonition of what’s to come. By the time the party finally does break up, after a harrowing immersion in cruelty, fear, spasmodic sexuality, and near-anarchy, air-kissing enchantment has swerved into the darkest bewitchings of the human heart.
Anyone who’s seen Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s 1962 surrealist masterwork The Exterminating Angel is likely to have the mysterious room that no one can leave embedded somewhere in the subconscious. In a brilliantly corrosive translation from screen to stage, composer (and conductor) Thomas Adès and his co-librettist (and director) Tom Cairns have turned Angel into a bitter, dankly funny, shiver-inducing opera…
Music figures importantly in the action. An opera diva (soprano Audrey Luna, singing at the highest, borderline dog-whistle peak of her range) is both feted and crudely insulted by her gossipy guests. Later, in her final, wrenchingly intense aria, she becomes the agent of their release. A pianist (played by mezzo Christine Rice), provides a mordantly lulling interlude before the storm. For vocal variety, along with a hint of incest, the opera tosses in a countertenor (Iestyn Davies) suffering from ulcers and a possible crush on his sister (soprano Sally Matthews)…
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Mateusz Borowiak Third Recital in Review

November 20, 2017 – New York Concert Review
Mateusz Borowiak’s series of three recitals came to a close on Sunday, with perhaps his most magisterial display of pianistic grandeur. It also gave me, now having heard all six of Louis Pelosi’s piano sonatas, a clear favorite. This is terrible to decide, a sort of musical “Sophie’s choice,” but his Sonata No. 3 in B-flat gets my vote. The crystalline piano sonorities juxtaposed with the characteristically dense ones, the overall playfulness of some of the material, and a certain resemblance (spiritual only, not imitative) to Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (slow movement) in Pelosi’s slow movement, all endeared it to me.
Over the course of the three recitals, I heard numerous audience members grumbling that they couldn’t “follow” the structure, but make no mistake about it, Pelosi is a firm structuralist. It does take a certain fierce concentration, for it is more about densities, textures, and motives, things that the average listener has lost touch with identifying (a fault of society’s lack of music education, and the decline of home music making). I think someone clever could fashion two sonatas for every one of Pelosi’s, simply by removing about half the material and placing it on another manuscript page, but that is not for me to decide…
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Organist Paul Jacobs returns to Severance Hall for Paulus Concerto

November 20, 2017 – Cleveland Classical
Mateusz Borowiak’s series of three recitals came to a close on Sunday, with perhaps his most magisterial display New York-based concert organist Paul Jacobs played solo works by Johannes Brahms and Johann Sebastian Bach on the first half of a Cleveland Orchestra program in February of 2015 and was featured with the Orchestra in Aaron Copland’s Organ Symphony in September of 2016. Jacobs will return to Severance Hall this weekend to take the solo role in Stephen Paulus’ Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with Giancarlo Guerrero on the podium.
“Some composers find the organ daunting — understandably so — and will avoid writing for it altogether,” Jacobs said in a telephone conversation from his studio at the Juilliard School, where he heads the organ department. “But Stephen was someone who embraced the instrument, understood it, and composed very beautifully for it”…
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Mateusz Borowiak Second Recital in Review

November 20, 2017 – New York Concert Review
As serendipity would have it, I saw a poster in a small restaurant prior to attending Mateusz Borowiak’s second recital (of three) comprising his US debut. The slogan said: “The only way to do great work is to love.” This seemed particularly apropos regarding the sonatas of Louis Pelosi, two more of which (Nos. 5 and 1) were played on November 8, 2017 by Mr. Borowiak.
Clearly, Pelosi works with a great deal of love: love of imitative counterpoint, love of tonal harmony with many layers of complexity, love of the piano and its possibilities, and love of expressing large feelings and ideas…
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Pianist Marc-André Hamelin returns to Severance Hall

November 16, 2017 – Cleveland Classical
“This marks a major change in the evolution of his piano concertos,” Marc-André Hamelin said during a telephone conversation from St. Louis. He was referring to Mozart’s Concerto No. 9 (“Jeunehomme”), which he will perform with The Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Nicholas McGegan on Friday, November 17 at 7:00 pm and Saturday, November 18 at 8:00 pm.
“The concerto is such an incredible departure from what he did before. There’s an explosion of activity from the very beginning, and the way that he inserts a second slow movement in the middle of the rondo — that’s really quite exceptional”…
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Opera Southwest: Franco Faccio's Amleto

November 15, 2017 – Red River Radio
Airs Saturday, November 19, 2017, at 12 noon. This week the American Opera series from WFMT continues with a production by Opera Southwest of Franco Faccio's Amleto starring Alex Richardson as Amleto and Shannon De Vine as Claudio, with Matthew Curran as Polonio, Joseph Hubbard as Orazio, Paul Bower as Marcello, Javier Gonzalez as Laerte, Abla Lynn Hamza as Ofelia, and Caroline Worra as Geltrude. This production also features Jeff Beruan, Paul Bower, Jonathan Charles Tay, Heather Youngquist, Jeffrey Beruan, and Matthew Curran. Paul Bower is the Chorus Master and the Anthony Barrese conducts the Opera Southwest Chorus & Orchestra in this production.
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INTERVIEW WITH KIMIKO ISHIZAKA

November 15, 2017 – New York Piano Group
Kimiko Ishizaka is the first of three child prodigies born to German-Japanese parents in Bonn, Germany. Piano studies began at the age of 4, with her mother, followed by conservatory studies with Professor Roswitha Gediga-Glombitza at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. From the early age of five, Ishizaka distinguished herself as a soloist and chamber performer, especially in the context of the Ishizaka Trio, which consisted of her and her younger brothers (violin, cello).
In 2012 she received worldwide attention and recognition for her innovative recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”, a project which was financed by her fans using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com.  In 2017, Kimiko released her fourth album, Bach's "Kunst der Fuge" which she also financed through Kickstarter.
Aside from being a concert pianist, Kimiko is also a former Olympic weightlifter and power lifter who has won three medals at the 2008 German championships…
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The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL) has announced its opening night performance.
Under the baton of music director David Hayes, the season will open on [Saturday, Nov. 18] with Roads Less Traveled, a performance of works by Schubert and Randall Thompson.
The concert will include Schubert’s Mirjam’s Siegesgesang, D. 942 Der 23. Psalm, D. 706 Widerspruch, D. 865 and Thompson’s Frostiana.
The concert will feature soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez and pianist Zalman Kelber from the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program…
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It’s another busy week in the rush up to Thanksgiving. Here are eight events that stand out in our calendar…
The Cleveland Orchestra welcomes two distinguished guests for concerts this weekend. Nicholas McGegan, music director of California’s Philharmonia Baroque, will join pianist Marc-André Hamelin for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 (“Jeunehomme”) on Friday, November 17 at 7:00 pm (Fridays@7 Series), and Saturday, November 18 at 8:00 pm. McGegan and the Orchestra will also play suites by Rameau and Gluck, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 (“Linz”). An 11:00 am matinee on Friday the 17th will omit the concerto. Tickets available online.
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Charles Neidich displayed several facets of his immense talent on Friday night during one of his well-curated “Wa” concerts. “Wa” is a word that means “circle” or “harmony, completeness,” and these values were abundantly in evidence, from the intelligent programming of works by Robert Schumann and Max Reger, to the divine performance, the genial verbal introductions and context-setting, and the pre- and post-concert feast and wine by his wife Ayako Oshima (also a fine clarinetist). The intimate setting of the Tenri Institute was perfect for this event…
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Pianist Ursula Oppens to Perform in Bargemusic’s Masterworks Series

November 13, 2017 – Broadway World Classical
The renowned American pianist Ursula Oppens will appear in solo recital on Bargemusic's Masterworks Series, Sunday afternoon, December 3, at 2 pm.
A regular performer at the venue, Ms. Oppens will feature a program of works by American composer Elliott Carter-a close friend and longtime collaborator of Ms. Oppens-alongside selections by Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy…
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Join us on Sunday, November 19th at 1 pm as we launch the 2017/2018 Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast season on WRTI 90.1 with music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and the East Coast premiere of an organ work by the Texan Wayne Oquin, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin…
This first concert of the Orchestra’s 2017-18 season brings to the Verizon Hall stage Emanuel Ax, in Mozart's final piano concerto, the 27th; an exploration by Yannick and the Philadelphians of Wayne Oquin's work for organ and orchestra, Resilience, written for organist and Philadelphia audience favorite Paul Jacobs, who will perform it in this concert; and Tchaikovsky's imposing Fourth Symphony to conclude the program…
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In the New York musical scene, the name Charles Neidich seems almost synonymous with the clarinet. He is indeed a superb exponent of this instrument, and in addition to being one of the most active players around, he is also a well-known authority on historically informed performances (such as when he plays a specially constructed instrument). In addition, Mr. Neidich has set about to enlarge the existing repertoire for the clarinet; his last recital being an example of this attempt. And he is also a great advocate for music of our time; his next concert on December 16 will be devoted to works of Elliott Carter, whose music he has championed for decades.
This season he has undertaken the task of presenting a series of five recitals at the Tenri Cultural Institute, during which he will perform some rarely heard repertory. I was able to attend his second recital on November 10. Tenri is a space ideal for the intimate character of chamber music as the audience is seated surrounding the performers. In Mr. Neidich’s case, he seems to diminish the distance even more by addressing his listeners directly and offering some commentary on the works being performed…
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Storgårds leads the SLSO in an outstanding program

November 10, 2017 – St. Louis Tribune
Friday morning’s coffee concert by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra brought one of the best programs of the season so far.
Conductor John Storgårds and pianist Marc-André Hamelin led the SLSO in spot-on performances of three works in very different styles: one virtually unknown piece by a familiar composer, one jazzy concerto from the first half of the 20th century and one classic 19th-century symphony.
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Mateusz Borowiak in Review

November 10, 2017 – New York Concert Review
A stunning display of profound musicality and musical profundity took place in the first of Mateusz Borowiak’s epic three-recital series at Merkin Concert Hall, the venue of his US debut. When I first saw advance notice of the series, presenting the complete piano sonatas of American composer Louis Pelosi, two per recital, coupled with three of the major etude cycles—all twenty-four Chopin, all twelve Debussy, and Rachmaninoff’s Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39, I thought “This guy is either a foolhardy daredevil, or one of the great pianists.” After this first recital, I’m inclining to the latter…
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YING QUARTET RETURNS TO EASTMAN-RANLET SERIES, FEATURING ROMAN RABINOVICH AT THE PIANO

November 10, 2017 – Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
The internationally renowned, award-winning Ying Quartet is back in its prominent position within the Eastman-Ranlet Series, presented Sunday, November 12, at 3 p.m., at the Eastman School of Music in Kilbourn Hall. Featuring Roman Rabinovich at the piano, the program will include Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, Stravinsky’s Concertino for String Quartet and the Piano Quintet, Op. 84 by Elgar…
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Robert De Cormier, Arranger for Folk and Pop Stars, Dies at 95

November 10, 2017 – The New York Times
Robert De Cormier, who led a musical double life as a choral director and composer in classical music and an arranger and a conductor for folk and pop stars like Harry Belafonte and Peter, Paul and Mary, died on Nov. 7 in Rutland, Vt. He was 95.
His wife, Louise De Cormier, said the cause was kidney failure…
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Starting to Swing: The composer Francis Thorne, who died in March at 94, had many facets to his career. In his early days he was an accomplished jazz pianist, and the influence of jazz courses through many of his concert works. His Piano Concerto No. 3, a piece recorded brilliantly by Ursula Oppens, deftly blends jazz and modernist styles. Mr. Thorne was also the primary founder of the invaluable American Composers Orchestra, which began its 40th-birthday concert with his exuberant “Fanfare, Fugue and Funk.” Here’s a piece that shows another, more pensive side of Thorne’s music: the Adagietto Cantabile movement from his Symphony No. 6 for Stringed Instruments (1992). Every moment matters in this ruminative yet somehow intense and harmonically piercing music. But catch the playful bit a few minutes in, when things ever so briefly start to swing. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
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John Storgårds, Marc-André Hamelin and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
When 10:30 a.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday • Where Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard • How much $25-$83 • More info 314-534-1700; slso.org
It’s another big weekend for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as conductor John Storgårds leads them in music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Maurice Ravel and Peter Tchaikovsky. Canadian Marc-André Hamelin is the soloist in Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G; the second half of the program belongs to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. By Sarah Bryan Miller
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I was recently in the UK for some solo recitals and to make my debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. One of the highlights of the trip was playing a similar programme in two very different settings: first on some magnificent period instruments and then a week later on a modern Steinway piano at Wigmore Hall. Having never before performed publicly on historical instruments, my recital at the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park in Surrey felt like a complete experiment. The experience had an indelible influence on the way I approached the repertoire at Wigmore a week later, and has set me on a new voyage of discovery for years to come…
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Classical Music > Recitals > An die Musik

November 06, 2017 – The New Yorker
The chamber ensemble, an Upper West Side fixture since 1976, offers its annual show at Merkin Concert Hall. In addition to old friends (such as the violinist Mark Peskanov and the pianist Constance Emmerich), the lineup features a distinguished newcomer, the cellist Thomas Demenga. The program includes music by Beethoven, Handel (Halvorsen’s arrangement of the Passacaglia for Violin and Cello), Mozart, and Haydn.
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The past is prologue for Borowiak’s program of Chopin and Pelosi

November 6, 2017 – New York Classical Review
On Sunday night, Mateusz Borowiak opened a series of concerts he will be playing this week at Merkin Hall with a performance that was a model of the ideas he has in store for audiences.
Each of the Polish pianist’s three concerts is built through a combination of great Etudes from the piano repertory and, across the three nights, the world premieres of Piano Sonatas Nos. 1–6 by New York composer Louis Pelosi
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State of the Classical Music Art, 2: Patricia Kopatchinskaja

November 5, 2017 – The Huffington Post
Despite turning 70 this year, the four days in June Ojai Festival continues to be one of the freshest takes on what’s hip on the contemporary scene with an invigoratingly wide reach. The Festival hires its music directors for one-year stretches, gives them reasonable budgets, pretty much carte blanche for artists and programing, and makes good hires. This year it was Vijay Iyer, last year Peter Sellars, next year it will be Barbara Hannigan. Esa-Pekka Salonen was penned in for 2018 but when he withdrew in January due to his increasing workload as a composer, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who was already scheduled for 2020, was ready, willing, and able to take over.
In making her Ojai Festival debut, Kopatchinskaja won’t be alone. Also making their first appearances at the Festival will be the Berlin-based Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the New York-based JACK Quartet, composer/pianist Michael Hersch, soprano Ah Young Hong, pianists Markus Hinterhäuser (in his spare time artistic director of the Salzburg Festival) and Amy Yang, pianist/harpsichordist Anthony Romaniuk, and composer/sound designer Jorge Sanchez-Chiong.
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The stuff of which legends are made

November 1, 2017 – ConcertoNet
Years ago, when old-timers were still around, I would often ask them about their recollections of pianists such as Rachmaninov, Paderewski, Friedman, Moiseiwitsch or Hoffman. God, did I envy their luck in having been able to [hear] that they were so lucky and heard all those masters [live who are] no longer around! Well, these days every time I hear the Canadian-born virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin, it seems to me that the future generations of piano enthusiasts will ask future old-timers (now belonging to my generation) a similar question such as “did you hear Hamelin live”? For there is no doubt that when we hear him, as we did at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 1st, we witness some of the greatest piano playing of our times even now when we’re not exactly starved for pianists who can play practically anything and execute the most difficult scores effortlessly…
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Classical Music in NYC This Week

October 26, 2017 – The New York Times
MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN at Carnegie Hall (Nov. 1, 8 p.m.). With both Mr. Hamelin and Daniil Trifonov, hyper-virtuosos both, on the schedule, it’s a tough week for the Stern Auditorium’s Steinways. After some exploration of relatively modest works in recent years, Mr. Hamelin returns with a program that has its delicate sides (Liszt’s rapt “Bénédiction de Dieu Dans la Solitude,” Debussy’s “Images) but is otherwise filled with pyrotechnics, not least Godowsky’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Johann Strauss.”
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Mechanstic Music: In Memoriam Paul Zukofsky in Review

October 24, 2017 – New York Concert Review
The Paul Zukofsky Memorial Concert, entitled “Mechanistic Music,” took place at Elebash Recital Hall at CUNY’s Graduate Center in Manhattan, and was pre-arranged between tonight’s artists and the late Paul Zukofsky in the months before his death. The first step for this program transpired when Mr. Zukofsky showed the score for Craig Pepples’ Monkeys at Play to his life-long friend, the pianist Ursula Oppens, who in turn passed the score on to the piano duo of Aaron Likness and Andrew Zhou. As a result, the work was given its world premiere this evening, and with the ‘mechanistic’, yet light-hearted sounds, one could see why Mr. Zukofsky, who was often known for his dry wit, wanted the work performed…
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Review: RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

October 22, 2017 – The Herald
The music from the fecund first half of the 19th century that makes up so much of the standard orchestral repertoire is now firmly in the province of “period” music specialists, so the sight of a very different looking – and sounding – national orchestra on the concert hall platform is no surprise…
Mendelssohn’s own Piano Concerto No 1, which the composer himself had premiered ten years earlier, was written both as personal showpiece (and subsequently taken up by great showman Franz Liszt) and to impress a girl, and still sounds inspired. In Roman Rabinovich, artist in residence at last year’s Lammermuir Festival, it has the perfect contemporary champion, a player in his 30s who combines youthful vigour with a deep knowledge of early music rigour…
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Countertenor Iestyn Davies: A Vocal Contortionist Hits a High Note

October 20, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal
On a recent rehearsal break at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, singer Iestyn Davies let out a yodel to demonstrate his singing range. The highest point of his “yodel-ay-ee-oo!”—the “ee” part—is the range that he’s known for. “The top bit is the bit that I do all the time,” he says.
As a countertenor, he sings in a range that most men rarely reach. “It’s not something you can do on a whim,” he says, calling it the vocal equivalent of “being a contortionist”…
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The next day another memorable event took place at the Frick Collection, pianist Paavali Jumppanen’s recital at the Frick Collection. My pair of ears, in any case, was still under the spell of Boulez, and this made me all the keener a listener…Mr. Jumppanen first played at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2000 under the aegis of Young Concert Artists. (He was therefore of the same vintage as Viviane Hagner and Mason Bates.) In his considerable wisdom Scott Nickrenz, the Abrams Curator of Music at the Gardner (who only just retired this summer) invited him back so frequently that he seemed something like a house pianist… This is by no means the first time Jumppanen has played in New York, but it marks a significant shift in the course of his career. Boston’s loss is New York’s gain. And a significant gain it is, judging by this magnificent recital…
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Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus Marc-André Hamelin (Hyperion)
Marc-André Hamelin’s wonderful sleeve note recalls the “beautiful sense of liberation” he felt when sitting down to tackle Morton Feldman’s late piano work For Bunita Marcus. You can understand why a pianist used to tackling the thorniest, most technically challenging repertoire would relish what’s described as “a 72-minute stretch of delicate, triple ppp textures with the damper pedal held constantly down…” This is extraordinary music. It's quiet, spare and slow. But put aside conventional expectations of what an epic piano work should sound like, and you'll be sucked in…
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American violinist Paul Zukofsky (1943-2017) was especially renowned for his commitment to contemporary music; he premiered works by the likes of Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Philip Glass, and many others. A few months before his death earlier this year, Zukofsky began planning a concert around a new work that he admired, a piece for two pianos/four hands by Craig Pepples (1961- ), who was born and educated in the U.S. but has spent the last thirty years living and working as a business executive in Asia. The concept for the concert began to solidify as Zukofsky lay ailing in a hospital in Hong Kong, where he was a frequent participant in the new music scene; as Pepples observes in his program notes, “Likely [Zukofsky] knew this concert would be held in his honor”…
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A Happy Homage and a Similan Simulacrum

October 12, 2017 – ConcertoNet
The only unforgivable error tonight was labeling this a “memorial concert” for Paul Zukofsky, who died this year at the age of 74. His life, as violinist, conductor and writer, had apparently been filled with so much light–from performing for Ezra Pound at the age of 11 to introducing works by Babbitt, Cage, Carter, Glass, Feldman etc etc throughout his career–that laments and obsequies were out of the question.
(In fact, Mr. Zukofsky’s joy in new composers was the opposite of Jascha Heifetz, who sighed, “I occasionally play works by contemporary composers, mainly to discourage the composers from writing any more.”)
Thus, a few months before his death, Mr. Zukofsky, with the help of his frequent collaborator, Ursula Oppens, arranged the music to be played after his death. And not a hint of a requiem or chorale. Rather, duo-pianists Aaron Likness and Andrew Zhou, performed five works from 1915 to 2013 that breathed ebullience and energy…
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The immensely versatile and renowned pianist Ian Hobson, whose playing has been described by Gramophone as “intensely alive to expressive nuance, textural clarity and elastic shaping,” will perform Sound Impressions: the Piano Music of Debussy and Ravel, a six-recital cycle of the complete solo piano works of the two composers…
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Paavali Jumppanen - Debussy, Duckworth & Beethoven - 10/08/17

October 10, 2017 – Classical Music Rocks
 The more I think about it, the most I suspect that there is something in Finland’s water that has been helping the small, inconspicuous Northern European country churn out distinctively brilliant composers, such as Jean Sibelius, Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and reliably intriguing musicians, such as violinist Pekka Kuusisto and pianist Paavali Jumppanen.
It was the latter that was giving a sold-out recital in the Frick Collection’s attractive and intimate round-shaped concert hall on the Upper East Side last Sunday. Beside the exciting perspective of hearing the fast-rising musician live, I also could not help but marvel at the demanding program that included some selections from William Duckworth’s The Time Curve Preludes that were book-ended by Claude Debussy’s devilishly intricate Études and Ludwig van Beethoven’s grandly tempestuous Appassionata
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Pianist P. Jumppanen

October 8, 2017 – ConcertoNet
There are sometimes instances when a flabbergasted music critic or reviewer encounters a performer previously unknown to him and he asks himself: “why was this artist off my radar?” which in turn prompts him instead to ask “where was this artist all my life?” That was exactly my feeling when I finally heard a pianist live who for far too long was off my radar, though his name, Paavali Jumpannen, was known to me.
I am ashamed to admit that prior to his recital at the Frick Collection, I neither knew much about him nor had I come into contact with his growing discography that by now includes works as diverse as the complete sets of Beethoven sonatas for piano and Sonatas for piano and violin, as well as all three Boulez piano sonatas. On the other hand, that “ignorance” freed me to listen without any prejudice and without expectations; not the worst thing, considering we often come to a concert with a preconceived idea of an artist and all the good or bad he has to offer. His program for this recital showed not only his varied interests but also his audacity to present it in a place traditionally not known for adventurous programming…
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Philadelphia Orchestra gets down to business (at last)

October 7, 2017 – The Philadelphia Inquirer
With any number of galas, special events, and community-service activities out of the way, the Philadelphia Orchestra settled into what it was created for: playing concerts of substantial classics for which Friday’s Verizon Hall audience seemed unusually hungry…
The Wayne Oquin organ/orchestra work Resilience came as a hearty surprise, even for me, who had done some background work on this 39-year-old composer from Houston and found him to be ceaselessly agreeable, but not writing anything that sent me running back for more. But this piece warranted an instant encore. It’s solidly constructed and has an eventful narrative that makes the piece – like Strauss’ Don Juan – great for opening a concert.
Organ soloist Paul Jacobs showed great taste and precision in accentuating and contrasting the instrument with the orchestra. Even though the cadenza is one of the quietest you’re likely to encounter, Jacobs made it speak with clarity. The performance is part of a larger Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ Experience – the latest attempt to bring the instrument more into the mainstream. Smart new works that speak to our time seem to be the way to go…
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Philadelphia Orchestra: the season begins

October 6, 2017 – Bachtrack
Tonight was the opening concert for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2017-18 season. There was palpable excitement; they know that their man, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is on the way to the Met in 2020. The atmosphere was heightened; attendance high and enthused. What is the place of the organ in the contemporary orchestra? Yannick Nézet-Séguin announced that it was an intention of some of the season’s programmes to deepen the connection between “both orchestras”, the organ and the orchestra proper. Tonight was the east coast première for Resilience, fruit of the creative partnership of organist Paul Jacobs and composer Wayne Oquin. Oquin has conceived a deeply moral work and, in its way, a work to lift morale: he wants the musical intensity of the organ to mirror real-life values of tenacity and perseverance amidst tumultuous forces. The organ is his hero, battling against the odds.
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The immensely versatile and renowned pianist Ian Hobson, whose playing has been described by Gramophone as "intensely alive to expressive nuance, textural clarity, and elastic shaping," will perform "Sound Impressions: The Piano Music of Debussy and Ravel," a six-recital cycle of the complete solo piano works of the two composers, at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street (between Bowery and Lafayette Streets).
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. To purchase, please visit www.subculturenewyork.com. The series will take place over the course of six months, from November 2017 to April 2018, featuring six Wednesday evening concerts…
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British-Polish pianist Mateusz Borowiak makes his US debut in this three-concert series held at Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Concert Hall, featuring the world premiere of composer Louis Pelosi's first set of piano sonatas.
Performances will take place on Sunday, November 5, Wednesday, November 8, and Sunday, November 12, all at 8:00 pm.
The program juxtaposes Pelosi's modern works with études written by famous Romantic composers, including Chopin, Debussy, and Rachmaninov. The series as a whole presents a rich palette of human sentiments portrayed through technical strength and emotive virtuosity…
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Pianist's work is never complete

October 5, 2017 – The Herald-Palladium
Pianist and conductor Ian Hobson admits he’s a bit of a completist.
In recital, Hobson has performed Johannes Brahms’ complete solo piano works and chamber music with piano. His discography of some 60 releases includes a complete edition of Brahms’ variations for piano, as well as the complete piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann. He also has recorded a complete edition – the most comprehensive to date – of the works of Frédéric Chopin, whose volumes are still being released…
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Fall Means the Classical Music Scene Kicks Into High Gear

September 27, 2017 – The Cleveland Scene
It's a landmark year for The Cleveland Orchestra, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017-2018 … Early music guru Nicholas McGegan returns to conduct Rameau, Gluck and Mozart — with pianist Marc-André Hamelin — Nov. 17 to 18, and Giancarlo Guerrero will be on the podium for concerts featuring organist Paul Jacobs in Stephen Paulus' Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra on Nov. 24 and 26…
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Marc-André Hamelin, beloved by Seattle audiences following two enthusiastically received appearances at Benaroya Hall since 2015, returns Thursday with a program that includes pieces by Franz Liszt, Samuel Feinberg and Leopold Godowsky.
Filling in for ailing pianist Lang Lang this Thursday in Seattle is not Marc-André Hamelin’s first good deed this week. This past Sunday he replaced Yefim Bronfman for a Beethoven piano concerto with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina…
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Award-winning chorus coming to Southern Pines

September 24, 2017 – The Robesonian
…There are two other concerts in the Classical Concert Series. The Escher String Quartet is to perform Feb. 26, and pianist Jon Nakamatsu on March 26. Nakamatsu won the Van Cliburn Piano Competition in 1997…
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Lots in store for classical concert season

September 23, 2017 – The San Mateo Daily Journal
The mid-Peninsula’s classical music season begins this Saturday with the first concert of the season by the Redwood Symphony, under its longtime music director, Maestro Eric K.
Redwood subscription concerts are held at the main theater of Cañada College…
Peninsula Symphony is also giving the most robustly American of all local celebrations of Leonard Bernstein’s birth centenary next year. Its March concert will include music by Bernstein, Copland, Howard Hanson (another distinguished composer of Copland’s generation) and the local contemporary Nancy Bloomer Deussen. In October, famed pianist Jon Nakamatsu will join the orchestra for Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. In January, the symphony will give a concert performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” And November’s choral concert at Stanford will feature Elgar’s rarely-heard ode “The Music Makers”…
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…Hamelin, a Canadian-born pianist who now lives in Waltham, has a reputation for technical virtuosity, often put at the service of repertoire well outside the mainstream. So Feldman’s hushed, incomparably spare 72-minute piano opus dedicated to composer Bunita Marcus is about the last thing you’d expect him to tackle. Which makes his triumph in this music unexpected and all the more rewarding…
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MW1 Guest Soloist Change: Welcome Marc-André Hamelin

September 21, 2017 – Asheville Symphony
Due to illness, Yefim Bronfman will not perform in this Sunday’s Masterworks concert. We are pleased to announce that premier pianist Marc-André Hamelin will be joining us to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”…
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Boulder will see a classical-music double-header Sunday, Sept. 24 as the Takács Quartet and the Boulder Philharmonic both open their seasons the same day…
Music director Michael Butterman and the Boulder Philharmonic will open their 60th season with a work co-commissioned with orchestras in all 50 states, Dreamtime Ancestors by Christopher Theofanidis. Other works on the program are Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, and Dvorák’s Symphony No 7. in D minor…
Nakamatsu is looking forward to playing the Schumann Concerto, even though he has played it many times before. “People say if it’s really familiar to the audience, it’s more difficult to play because everyone has an opinion,” he says. “But I find if you don’t have to win people over with the piece, you just have to play. Playing something everyone loves already, you have happy people in the hall. That’s a good place to start.”
Another pleasure of repeating a familiar piece, he says, is that it can be different every time. “I think every performance alters in ways that I don’t necessarily intend at the outset. It’s a nice thing to do this piece with different conductors, different orchestras, people who feel it differently than I do. All of those things make my job really interesting”…
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As an American Orchestra entering its 50th year, the Bozeman Symphony begins a season of celebrations with fitting tributes to the music of our native land. Bernstein’s Candide Overture begins the performance and next, the much-anticipated return of one of Bozeman Symphony’s most requested guest artists: Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jon Nakamatsu, performing Gershwin’s flashy Piano Concerto in F. A deeply introspective moment follows with Samuel Barber’s Essay No. 1, and the finale of Symphonic Dances from one of our greatest American masterpieces, West Side Story. Star Spangled Indeed! Welcoming his return, Jon Nakamatsu first performed with the Bozeman Symphony in February 2003…
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In today’s episode of the podcast I’m joined by the legendary Charles Neidich for a conversation about his upcoming “Wa” concert series in New York City, and he shares some incredible insight into his performance and historical study of pieces including Elliott Carter’s “Gra” and the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, for which he is releasing his own annotated version in the spring of 2018…
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Written by Women, Performed by Women

September 19, 2017 – Seen and Heard International
…Each night opened with the wonderful Ursula Oppens – who has recorded Rzewski, Carter, and Derek Bailey improvisations – in Laura Kaminsky’s Fantasy. As the longest piece (about 20 minutes), it grew more interesting over repeat listens: stark pointillism grew more fluid and cohesive over the three readings. Throughout, Kaminsky’s gentle, cascading dissonances and subtle dynamic shifts found counterpoint in the rocking motions of the barge…
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Ensemble Klang Releases Works of Michael Hersch

September 18, 2017 – The Peabody Post
Innovative Dutch contemporary musical group Ensemble Klang has released their album Black Untitled. The CD features the works of Composition Department Chair Michael Hersch (BM ’95, MM ’97, Composition). Described by the ensemble as a “ritual of sound and space,” cortex and ankle I – XI opens the album featuring faculty artist Ah Yong Hong (BM ’98, MM ’01, Voice).
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The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra marks the 60th anniversary of its founding as it opens its 2017-18 concert season next week. After a landmark year — in which the musicians traveled to Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras selected to participate in the inaugural SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras— the Phil continues to aim high with a blockbuster opening program and a particularly high-caliber guest soloist.
Pianist Jon Nakamatsu — the most recent American to win the gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Competition — performed in Boulder several times after taking that honor in 1997. He appeared on the CU Presents Artist Series (as all gold medal winners do) in 1998. In 2009, he appeared with both the Phil and the Colorado Music Festival…
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Pops concerts are designed to be crowd-pleasers, and few programs could be more crowd pleasing than an all-Gershwin program…
The centerpieces from the show were 1997 Cliburn Competition winner Jon Nakamatsu’s performances. On the first half of the program, he played the first movement Allegro from Gershwin’s Concerto in F; on the second half, he played Rhapsody in Blue, with a magnificent opening glissando by clarinetist Paul Garner. Nakamatsu is a fine performer, and produced respectful, sensitive renditions of both pieces…
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New West Symphony moves Oxnard concerts to Sunday afternoons

September 12, 2017 – The Ventura County Star
The New West Symphony will perform Sunday afternoons in Oxnard during the upcoming Masterpiece Concert Series, a change from its traditional Friday night schedule…
April 13 at 8 p.m.: Classical Vienna, with guest conductor Andrew Grams and Austrian pianist Till Fellner.Viennese music is on display with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major, plus Brahms and Beethoven. Please note this performance takes place on a Friday night, not a Sunday afternoon like the others…
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LPO launches new season, with eyes on the Big Apple

September 12, 2017 – The New Orleans Advocate
Other pieces on the opening night program will include Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” (The Sea) and George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. Marc-Andre Hamelin will be the guest soloist on the Gershwin piece. The program will be repeated tomorrow night at First Baptist Church in Covington and again at the Orpheum on Saturday night…
Speaking about the guest soloist, Boyd termed Hamelin “a beautiful performer. The audience should very much enjoy his performance”…
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PATRICIA KOPATCHINSKAJA AND JAY CAMPBELL This violinist and cellist come together in the snug Board of Officers Room at the Park Avenue Armory for a wide range of works — from early music to a premiere by Michael Hersch — that will test their shared taste for extremity. (Ms. Kopatchinskaja, a creative curator as well as an intense player, will get a more vast canvas for her talents next June as the music director of the 2018 Ojai Festival in California.) Oct. 9-10; armoryonpark.org
MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN As technically accomplished as any pianist, Mr. Hamelin doesn’t rest on those laurels. He delves deeply into dusty corners of the repertory, and emerges, in this recital at Carnegie Hall, with rarities by Samuil Feinberg and Leopold Godowsky, alongside works by Liszt and the first book of Debussy’s “Images.” Nov. 1; carnegiehall.org.
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The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Jon Nakamatsu, piano and Doug Labrecque. The concert will be conducted by Jeff Tyzik. Selections for the concert will include Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” “An American in Paris” and “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”…
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Turn It Down: Morton Feldman's Silent Revolution

September 4, 2017 – NPR Deceptive Cadence/All Things Considered
The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.
Feldman is tied to the New York School, a group of experimental composers who gravitated to John Cage beginning in the 1950s. Before Feldman died in 1987, his music became increasingly expansive and more silent. His Second String Quartet lasts up to six hours.
Hamelin thinks of For Bunita Marcus as a kind of "alternate reality." He loves its colossal breadth and quiet beauty, but he realizes the music may not appeal to everyone…
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Il a une technique superlative, une capacité d'assimilation hors du commun. Il a enregistré plus de 80 disques consacrés à des compositeurs souvent méconnus. L'un de ses faits d'armes, ce sont les 24 Etudes de Chopin qu'il a enregistrées dans les arrangements de Leopold Godowsky, des arrangements qui combinent parfois deux ou trois Etudes du compositeur polonais en une seule!
Marc-André Hamelin, pianiste québécois, est au micro de Julian Sykes au lendemain d'un concert qu'il a donné le 27 août 2017 au Septembre Musical. Il évoque son apprentissage à Montréal, sa carrière, qu'il a démarrée sur le tard, et son tout dernier disque consacré à une oeuvre de 72 minutes de Morton Feldman, "For Bunita Marcus", parue sous le label Hyperion…
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Women composers (and performers) reign at Bargemusic

August 31, 2017 – New York Classical Review
…Pianist Oppens opened the event with her only performance of the night, an extensive Fantasy for solo piano by Laura Kaminsky (N.Y. premiere) that explored, in episodic fashion, piano sonorities from Debussyesque gongs and watery burbles to jazzy dialogue between the hands.
Kaminsky’s piece, with its moderation of expression and close attention to nuance and detail, often had one imagining an atonal Amy Beach composing “A Hermit Thrush at Eve” in 2017. Oppens’s insight into the score, communicated through a varied tonal palette and keen-eared voicing, was a reminder of why composers from John Adams to Elliott Carter have queued up to write pieces for her…
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Au Septembre Musical, triomphal succès d’un Marc-André Hamelin inspiré complice d’un Charles Dutoit musicalement heureux en un après-midi à la gloire de Ravel et de Gershwin.
Pour un pianiste, existe-t-il meilleur support qu’une aussi longue et profitable expérience du Concerto en sol majeur de Maurice Ravel que celle dont peut s’enorgueillir Charles Dutoit qui depuis plus de trente ans peaufine cette partition ? Quand le soliste s’appelle Marc-André Hamelin, quand on s’enthousiasme au plaisir qu’il prend à jouer, quand on ressent cette joie, quand on s’émerveille de cette totale absence d’effets de manche, de cette humilité musicale, de cette formidable authenticité, on ne peut qu’assister à un moment de grâce. Et c’est bien ce qu’a offert ce troisième concert du Septembre Musical de cette année…
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… On October 25 & 26, guest conductor Juanjo Mena (Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic) is at the helm of the TSO for Schubert Symphony 9. Also known as the "Great", Symphony No. 9 was the final large orchestral work Schubert composed. Canada's own Marc-André Hamelin brings his magic to Ravel's jazz-inspired Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. The evening also includes the Canadian Première of Ollantay by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera…
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It’s been said the most passionate and opinionated music lovers are opera and organ fans.
Organist Paul Jacobs, who will be performing at Gretna Theatre next Sunday, knows that’s true, at least for the organ…
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Renowned organist to perform at Westminster Church

August 22, 2017 – The Almanac
The Music & Arts Series of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Upper St. Clair, presents renowned virtuoso organist Paul Jacobs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25, in the sanctuary.
A native of Washington, Jacobs returns to the church where at age 23 he played all of Bach’s solo organ works to mark the 250th year of the composer’s death. That 18-hour marathon concert in 2000 laid the foundation for Jacobs’ remarkable career, which includes the only Grammy ever awarded for a solo organ recording. Jacob, who performs widely throughout the U.S. in solo recitals and with symphony orchestras, heads the organ department at Julliard and works tirelessly to promote traditional and contemporary classical music in our culture…
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Before the interval, Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin gave a similarly eyebrow-raising account of the Chopin Second Piano Concerto, a world away from dreamy Romantic indulgence, replacing it with crystalline clarity, an almost Mozartean sense of balance and a surprising muscularity.
That ruggedness continued in a blistering encore, Hamelin’s own darkly witty Toccata on L’homme armé, which sent him cascading up and down the keyboard in an unashamedly virtuoso display.
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Auxiliary Input: August 2017

August 16, 2017 – Theater Jones
I can't remember being more excited about the release of a recording. Here we have one of the most important works of 20th-century piano literature by one of the most important composers of that century; for a work as stylistically sui generis as it is, it's surprising how often it has been recorded: nine times since 1995, and seven of those in the last ten years.
One of the characteristics that distinguishes this Hyperion release, though, is the stature of the performer. Marc-André Hamelin is, by a longshot, the best-known pianist to record Feldman's For Bunita Marcus. I probably would have been nearly this excited had the performer been another unknown to me—no offense to Hildegard Kleeb or anyone else who has recorded the work—but Hamelin's doing it gives it a special quality. More about that later.
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Ursula Oppens, seeker of melodies

August 15, 2017 – The Broad Street Review
Ursula Oppens is not a flashy concert pianist. A quiet, poised, gracious, and unassuming performer, she comes onstage to play and starts making music the second she sits down. No fuss, no muss. At her concert sponsored by the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy at the Curtis Institute, Ms. Oppens played a program in two sections, the first half consisting of 20th-century Russian composers.
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Pianist Ursula Oppens taps music at its source

August 14, 2017 – Philly.com
As Joseph Joachim the violinist was to Brahms and composers of his time, so is Ursula Oppens a pianist today who draws power by living close to the source of creation.
Oppens has commissioned dozens of works. Does this sense of ownership translate into insight or a sense of authority? There seemed something to the notion in the way Oppens pieced together her Sunday afternoon Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy recital at the Curtis Institute of Music’s Field Concert Hall.
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On Wednesday, August 16 the NY Choral (New York Choral Society) continues its Summer Sings Open Readings of beloved choral masterworks. This time it will present Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” a beloved masterwork.
The reading will feature Conductor Michael Ciavaglia with a distinguished cast of soloists. Hannah Spierman will take on the soprano role while Michael Kuhn will take on the tenor part with Nathanial Sullivan as the baritone.
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Emersons Adventure Minus One

August 9, 2017 – The Boston Musical Intelligencer
Three members of the Emerson Quartet played Mozart’s Divertimento, KV 563 at Wellfleet’s wonderful Congregational Church Monday before pianist and series co-director Jon Nakamatsu joined them in the Brahms’s Quartet in G Minor, Op 25, for piano and strings, for the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. They earned what is these days an unusual standing ovation: In place of the now obligatory rise-and-clap, the packed house, including many of a certain age, leapt as one to its feet, entirely unperturbed by various impediments to locomotion.
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’You are about to enter a world unlike any other’ writes Marc-Andre Hamelin, one of the best, most audacious and most significant of all current classical pianists, in the notes to this. It is, he says, ‘a universe of sound completely unrelated to the narrative, linear musical physiognomies we are all used to. With “For Bunita Marcus,” Feldman has managed to wipe the slate clean and invent a world which has its own laws, which must be dealt with on its own terms.’
That means a 73-minute piece of ‘radically reduced dynamics’ and ‘uncommon textural spareness.’ Hamelin compares it to Jorge Luis Borges' story ‘The Library of Babel’ which he calls ‘one of the most startling original pieces of fiction ever written ... Every moment,’ says Hamelin of both Borges and Feldman ‘is a window toward the infinite.’
And there you have some reasons why this is one of the greatest of all recordings of Feldman's music. It is played and presented here by a pianist perfectly attuned to Feldman both technically and intellectually.
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Loin des sortilèges digitaux de Godowsky et Alkan, Marc-André Hamelin abat les murs et nous plonge dans une cérébralité sensorielle, un rituel sonore et rythmique (la métrique change tout le temps), plus que « musical » au sens traditionnel. L’art de Morton Feldman (1926-1987) s’est orienté vers une exploration de la dilatation du temps : « 72 minutes d’affilée de délicates textures ppp avec la pédale forte constamment enfoncée, ce n’est pas quelque chose à quoi les pianistes pourraient être préparés », écrit Hamelin dans la notice. Les auditeurs non plus. La réaction ? Deux possibilités : l’hypnose ou l’allergie profonde devant cette infinie trituration microscopique du néant. Mon point de vue est qu’il faut absolument tenter l’hypnose. Après, c’est comme avec Messmer : selon les individus, ça marche ou non. Mais tout a été fait parfaitement : le sérieux de la démarche, la précision décantée du jeu et la justesse de la captation sonore, très en adéquation avec l’oeuvre.
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Composed in 1985, two years before Morton Feldman’s death, For Bunita Marcus has become one of the most frequently recorded of all his works, and one of the few of his pieces that shows signs of moving beyond the exclusive territory of new-music specialists and into the mainstream piano repertory. It also provides a perfect and, at around 80 minutes, a relatively concise introduction to the timeless, pared-down world of late Feldman, with its webs of repeating, minutely displaced motives, hanging harmonies and absolute avoidance of anything that could be construed as conventional musical rhetoric.
Marc-André Hamelin presents that world of microscopic nuances with immaculate care. There’s none of the impatience that characterised Ivan Ilić’s reading of For Bunita Marcus two years ago; everything in Hamelin’s performance seems part of a natural, inevitable unfolding, and the Hyperion recording perfectly catches all its details, and clouds of decaying sonorities that colour every silence. As Hamelin shows, the empty spaces in Feldman’s piano writing are as important as the pitches themselves.
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The organist Paul Jacobs has a blast this weekend at the powers-that-be:
‘So much of our understanding of the arts in this country is bound up with the individual tastes of the listener or consumer. The primacy of classical music as an artful or superior genre has gradually diminished. Increasingly, classical musicians are not so much advocates for their art as apologists. This is not a trend I observe, however, in great art museums…
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Sacred Spaces: An Interview with Paul Jacobs

July 27,  2017 – VAN Magazine
Recently, I met the organist Paul Jacobs at a restaurant in Lincoln Center, where he ate a salad and a bowl of cold soup. Jacobs is known in the U.S. as the only organist to have ever won a Grammy; he has an active recital career and collaborates regularly with major American orchestras, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing concertos and premiering new works. He also serves as chair of the organ department at the Juilliard School. In fact, you could say that Jacobs’s career has more in common with successful violinists and pianists than with other concert organists. I sought to find out how and why…
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Two top drawer musical attractions played for an appreciative audience when the young pianist Thomas Nickell and the acclaimed Orchestra of the Swan appeared at Lichfield Cathedral.
Playing music from the more populist end of the classical music spectrum, with music by the American composers Aaron Copland and George Gershwin in the first half, and Dvorak’s New World Symphony in the second, this was music of the brightest colours, and most ear-catching of tunes.
The Orchestra of the Swan got things rolling with four dance episodes from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo. The four movements are familiar from any number of adaptations to cowboy and indian films, the wide expansiveness of the music bringing to mind the American West as better shown in any John Ford film, while the best-known part, Hoedown, with its fleet Xylophone part and enthusiastic playing from all members of the orchestra, showed just how joyous and buoyant this music is.
Thomas Nickell is only 18 years old, but already has a phenomenal control of the piano and an ever increasing reputation as a player’s player and composer. He joined the orchestra for a reading of one of George Gershwin’s better known pieces, Rhapsody in Blue. From the opening, technically demanding clarinet part, to the fleet piano playing, this was music making of the highest calibre.
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This August the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival returns for its 38th season, presenting 12 concerts from Wellfleet to Cotuit.
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This August, the New York Choral Society hosts its annual Summer Sings. The public is invited to sing and socialize with members and the artistic staff of NYChoral including Music Director David Hayes and Associate Conductor Michael Ciavaglia. The participants will be able to step into the shoes of an NYChoral member and sing along with the conductor, pianists and soloists to a different piece each week. After the sing along, the audience, chorus members and staff will continue the festivities with an after party around snacks and drinks.
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Marlboro Music features instrumental, vocal chamber works

July 12, 2017 – The Commons Online
The town of Marlboro has a population of 978, and the town center consists of an 18th century inn, a post office, and a meeting house.
But, for seven weeks each summer since 1951, some of the world’s most respected concert artists and most talented young professional musicians have gathered on the campus of Marlboro College to explore music with unlimited rehearsal time in a way that isn’t possible elsewhere…
The 2017 benefit concert on Friday, July 28, at 8 p.m., in the Marlboro College Dining Hall offers a wonderfully varied program with the Mozart’s Sonata in B flat, K. 252, for Bassoon and Cello; Elliott Carter’s Con Leggerezza Pensosa and Charles Neidich’s Tempest (in a Teapot); Dohnányi’s Serenade in C for string trio, and the Beethoven Archduke Trio.
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Saturday afternoon's chamber music olio featured a lithe, muscular and impressively unified Schumann Piano Quartet in E-flat major, pianist Marc-André Hamelin providing a vital pulse and the string trio of Masao Kawasaki (violin), Beth Guterman Chu (viola) and Michael Mermagen (cello) the warm sound…Wednesday is a big day for Brahms fans. Hamelin takes an at-bat with the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor in the 6 p.m. Aspen Philharmonic concert in the tent….
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The organ recitals always are always a highlight of the Oregon Bach Festival.
J.S. Bach left humanity well over 1,000 outstanding compositions. A renowned organist in his lifetime, Bach was cited at least once as being more skilled with his feet on the pedal board than many other organists were with their fingers. His mastery of the instrument is evident in the music he wrote for it and some critics (including this musicologist) would argue that Bach’s organ music is part of the core of Europe’s musical cultural heritage.
G rammy award-winning organist Paul Jacobs, in his congenial style, remarked during his sold-out concert on Thursday at Central Lutheran Church on the stunning array of compositional devices — all virtuosically deployed by Bach — in the keyboard literature he offered to his audience.
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One of the gratifying trends in recent piano recitals has been the interest in Debussy’s most ambitious piano compositions, above all Book II of his Préludes. In the past few years I’ve reviewed penetrating, deeply considered realizations of these subtle and complex sound-poems by Ian Hobson and Stephen Porter, which were among the most significant piano recitals I heard at the time. Marc-André Hamelin also included a characteristically brilliant and subtlety tinted and shaded reading of Images, Book I. It was a rich season for Debussy.
Now a relative newcomer, Amy E. Gustafson, has offered an equally insightful and sensually generous traversal Debussy’s Préludes, Book II. In this brief recital, intended to launch her new CD, her first, and limited to the repertoire on the disc.
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PIANO prodigy Thomas Nickell will be joining Orchestra of the Swan to perform at Stratford Artshouse on Tuesday (July 11).
The 18 year-old American pianist, composer and Young Steinway Artist is considered one of the most promising emerging classical artists.
He has joined forces with Orchestra of the Swan’s s artistic director David Curtis to present a diverse performance of works by Dvorák, Mozart, and Schubert, along with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and a special arrangement of fellow American composer Aaron Copland’s Rodeo.
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This week, Paul Jacobs returns to the Oregon Bach Festival where he will direct its Organ Institute and perform an all-Bach recital. That’s a big deal, because Jacobs is considered America’s leading organist. He is the only organist to have won a Grammy Award (2001 for Olivier Messiaen’s “Livre du Saint-Sacrement”), appears with orchestras all over the nation, premieres works by contemporary composers on a regular basis, and teaches at Juilliard where became the chairman of the organ department in 2004 at the ripe old age of 23. That was at that same time that he played from memory Bach’s complete organ works in an 18-hour marathon performance. Such an undertaking would probably cause other organists to lose their minds, but Jacobs is going on as strongly as ever before, and you can hear him play an all-Bach program ex memoria at 7pm on Thursday, July 6th at Central Lutheran Church in Eugene. The program consists of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565), the Trio Sonata in E-flat Major (BWV 525), the Prelude and Fugue in D Minor (“Fiddle”) (BWV 539), the Trio Sonata in C Major (BWV 529), and the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major (“St. Anne”) (BWV 552).
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On Sunday, Sept. 3, Paul Jacobs, the only organist ever to win a Grammy Award, will perform. Jacobs “is one of the greatest living virtuosos,” according to The Washington Post...
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