August 30, 2016

in: Reviews

Pittsfield Butterfly Warrants Attention

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Berkshire Opera Festival offered a damned good Puccini production in a beautifully restored 750-seat theater in Pittsfield on Saturday. Concluding on September 2nd.     [continued]

August 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Follow This Butterfly

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Berkshire Opera Festival brought an estimable Butterfly to the Colonial Theater, Pittsfield: continuing on August 30th and September 2nd.    [continued]

August 28, 2016

in: Reviews

Pianist Goes Berserk, Blasts Violin

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An often inaudible violinist Lara St. John and dominating pianist Matt Herskowitz promoted their new CD “Shiksa,” at Maverick Concerts on Saturday.     [continued]

August 27, 2016

in: Reviews

Friday Night Special

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On a rare classical Friday night at the Maverick, the St. Lawrence Quartet lived in with us as old friends.     [continued]

August 25, 2016

in: Reviews

Electric Eclecticism in Maine

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The Portland Chamber Music Festival wrapped up for this year on Saturday with its usual pleasantly eclectic blend of old and new.     [continued]

August 22, 2016

in: Reviews

Celeste Nelsons, Opolais, Verdi, BSO, et alia

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Under the sure hand of Andris Nelsons, the BSO demonstrated its operatic potential with the first two acts of Aida in the Tanglewood Shed on Saturday.    [continued]

August 22, 2016

in: Reviews

Portlandiana Rewards Again

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The third of the four concerts of the Portland Chamber Music Festival got going Thursday  with Vivaldi before works of David Ludwig and Franck occupied the stage.     [continued]

August 22, 2016

in: Reviews

A Star Is Born

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Russell Platt’s Mountain Interval, a commission for the Maverick centennial, received great advocacy from th Borromeo in a Saturday concert which also included Beethoven and Haydn.     [continued]

August 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Stabat Mattered at Tanglewood

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Charles Dutoit directed 200+ players and singers along with pianist icon Menahem Pressler Friday at Tanglewood.     [continued]

August 21, 2016

in: Reviews

Chamber Orchestra–and Soloists On Their Own

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Alexander Platt led the Maverick Chamber Orchestra and in an interesting, varied and challenging program which also featured solos outings from pianist Adam Tendler and cellist Emmanuel Feldman.     [continued]

August 19, 2016

in: Reviews

Weimar Enlivens Berkshire Hills

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Aided and abetted by Meow Meow and members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Barry Humphries presided over a foray into what the Nazi’s deemed degenerate (Entartete) music at Ozawa Hall on Sunday.     [continued]

August 16, 2016

in: Reviews

Slavic Poles of the Chamber Sort

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A half-century separated the two offerings in the Portland Chamber Music Festival Saturday night, expertly served.     [continued]

August 16, 2016

in: Reviews

Solisti Indeed, Alas

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At Trio Solisti’s  Maverick concert Sunday, pianist Fabio Bidini produced excellent sound quality from Maverick’s Yamaha, but he produced much too much of it. As a result, in Beethoven’s “Geister” Trio and Brahms’s Op. 101, the strings were difficult or impossible to hear.     [continued]

August 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Depth and Prowess from the Borromeo

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Following its recent three-part pattern there, the quartet gave us three transcriptions from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, a modern work, and  a “Rasumovsky” Sunday at the Gardner.     [continued]

August 14, 2016

in: Reviews

Mercury Beats Heat

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Mitigating the 95-degree weather, Channing Yu and the Mercury Orchestra remained in northern climes Friday evening at Sanders.     [continued]

August 14, 2016

in: Reviews

Yes Portland Has No Programmatics

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The Portland Chamber Music Festival got underway Friday with Beethoven, Brahms and Magnan.     [continued]

August 12, 2016

in: Reviews

Offenbach and Novello: As Different As Can Be

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In one amazing day, Ohio Light Opera Company morphed from Offenbach’s frothy “theater of the absurd” La Vie Parisienne to a very rare production of Ivor Novello’s The Dancing Years.     [continued]

August 11, 2016

in: Reviews

50 Years of Music- and Musician-Making

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The Boston University Tanglewood Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday with a gala concert and “soiree” reception, highlighting its legacy by featuring students of the 2016 Young Artists Orchestra and Chorus Programs along with a host of alumni performers and composers.     [continued]

August 9, 2016

in: Reviews

Mikado Fits Crime & Kiss Me Kate Brushes Up

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The Ohio Light Opera gave Mikado and Kiss Me Kate to delighted crowds on Wednesday in Wooster, OH.     [continued]

August 8, 2016

in: Reviews

The Astonishing Alex Beyer

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In the continuing Chinese Performing Arts Foundation Walnut Hill Festival, featuring more and more superior young pianists, it turned out that the last would be first, in this case a sensationally mature 22-year-old on Saturday.     [continued]

August 8, 2016

in: Reviews

No Contest Between Mighty Russians

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The Emerson Quartet served up a variety of standards, with the newest one the winner, in Wellfleet on Thursday.     [continued]

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August 28, 2016

in: News & Features

Ouroboros: 3! Operas

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Cerise Jacobs

Cerise Jacobs

In 2005 Cerise Lim Jacobs set out to mark her husband’s birthday with a commissioned song-cycle. She finished with libretti to a trilogy of operas. The first to be performed was Madame White Snake, premièred in 2010 by Opera Boston, reviewed here), and winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Charles Jacobs lived long enough to see the première but not the Pulitzer. Boston will now see the première of the Ouroboros cycle September 10th – 17th in the Cutler Majestic Theater, thanks to Beth Morrison Projects and Arts Emerson. In advance of this event, principals in the production spoke and performed at The Boston Athenæum on August 18th and composer Scott Wheeler (by email to BMInt earlier) kindly answered our questions.

Madame White Snake begins with a Chinese folktale dating from the Tang and Five Dynasties period (7th – 10th centuries CE) and the earliest written version extant dates to the Ming Dynasty (14th – 17th centuries CE). It is now considered one of that nation’s four great folktales, and has grown and shifted over time. There are Taoist and Buddhist elements in this story of good and evil, a quest for immortality, an intergenerational quest to reunite a family, and stories of striving in the face of adversity and opposition; sometimes it is a tale of horror and sometimes a romance. There are television series, films, plays, picture books, modern dance interpretations, Chinese operas, and Western opera. Swatch even based a 2012 watch design on this legend, celebrating the Year of the Snake. It is a widely known cornerstone of Eastern folktales. [continued…]

August 25, 2016

in: News & Features

Restoring a Classic Broadway Score

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Hans Spielek

Hans Spialek

Performing classic Broadway musicals with a full orchestra returns them to their original symphonic splendor. Because of the decreasing size of pits and budgets, many first-rate theater companies now use scaled-down instrumental forces when producing musicals. Clever reductions exist, but something is lost. The harp part is covered by the pianist, four sax lines are boiled down to one, and the string section is decimated. In the worst scenario, everyone is replaced by a synthesizer. What is lost is not just color and richness but also counterpoint—the back and forth among instruments that is a hallmark of masterful orchestral writing.

When Boston Landmarks Orchestra and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) decided to revive Rodgers & Hart’s The Boys from Syracuse, this summer, we looked forward to what we had done in 2013 with Kiss Me, Kate: playing the full charts. The performance comes next Wednesday at 7pm at DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell. [continued…]

August 17, 2016

in: News & Features

A Grand Weekend for Singing

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rossini3wOn Friday night, renowned conductor Charles Dutoit will lead two works by Mozart as well as the Rossini Stabat mater, featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and four soloists making their BSO (and Tanglewood) debuts.

In a surprise substitution, award-winning tenor Pavol Breslick will replace Matthew Polenzani, in what is sure to be an explosive local debut (featuring a rare high D-flat in one of Rossini’s most beautiful tenor arias). After winning First Prize at the 2000 Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in the Czech Republic and studying with Mirella Freni, Breslick was named “Most Promising Singer of the Year” in the critics’ survey of Opernwelt magazine, while appearing regularly with the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden. He is recognized as one of the great new European Nemorinos and Lenskis (the latter notably for the Vienna State Opera and Covent Garden’s recent productions of Eugene Onegin), and has been a member of the Zurich Opera House since 2012, singing Števa, Don Ottavio, Faust, Roberto Devereux, Nadir, and Peter Quint. He describes his 2014 debut at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg as a “highlight of his career,” and has recently released a recording of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin [here] . [continued…]

August 12, 2016

in: News & Features

Nelsons To Replace Recuperating Dohnányi

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beethovenMusic Director Andris Nelsons will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its now traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, August 28th, at 2:30 p.m. in place of 86-year-old Christoph von Dohnányi, who had cataract surgery earlier in the summer, and whose recovery was more difficult than expected: he canceled his earlier Tanglewood weekend on doctor’s orders. At that time, he expected to be able to get to Tanglewood for the closing Beethoven Ninth, but apparently he’s still not cleared to fly.

Andris Nelsons became available for the final Tanglewood weekend after he withdrew from Parsifal at Bayreuth. Nelsons did the Beethoven Ninth last summer at the Proms as his final appearance in the role of Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. According to member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus Steven Owades, “We in the chorus (and orchestra) are looking forward to our first opportunity to explore the B9 with Andris.”

The tradition of ending the Tanglewood season with Beethoven 9 is pretty well established, but it doesn’t date to the early years of the festival. Leinsdorf’s gave his farewell performance with it in 1969, and the newly formed TFC sang it in both the spring and summer of 1970, but it was a while before annual performances became standard. In some seasons, B9 has come before the close, but in recent years it’s concluded the series. [continued…]

August 6, 2016

in: News & Features

Landmark’s “Lollapalooza” Makes Inevitable Feature

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Weather Update: Postponed until Thursday at 7:00

The August doldrums find BMInt in no doubt as to what musical event to feature this week—the only one in town on our calendar for the night. Tens of thousands attend Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s Hatch Shell concerts for the good reasons that they’re free and they present summer classical hits without pandering. Don’t expect the Boston Pops to play any contemporary classical music on its annual Esplanade outing or any classical music at all, for that matter, but count on BLmO to do both.

John Adams’s Lollapalooza, in fact, opens the show Wednesday at 7:00. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, and Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band Overture follow before the next new work, Gonzalo Grau Elements, a world premiere. In Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, Music Director Christopher Wilkins brings a once-beloved pops staple. [continued…]

July 28, 2016

in: News & Features

Live from Tanglewood, It’s Saturday Night!

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RKOlogoSerious BSO listeners and classical lovers always have the fine live WCRB broadcasts, plus CRB’s superb Concert Channel archives, to get their Tanglewood or Symphony Hall fix. But we live in visual times, and shorter-attention times, in case you hadn’t noticed. And to that end, Saturday nights at 9:05 the BSO has been live-video-streaming a selected 15 minutes of the Tanglewood performance via http://streambso.org/. We’re halfway through, so for the next three weeks, be there or be square.

The time constraint is due (of course) to American Federation of Musician union regulations for orchestra promos. There is no connection with the simultaneous CRB broadcasts, and while audio quality is unknown at press time, we request that BMInt readers who caught the first three weeks already past, report (15 minutes from the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto, Mozart 39, and Sibelius 5).

This Saturday sees, or rather hears, the first movement of Beethoven 7 under the orchestra’s music director, and anyone who heard Andris Nelsons’s indoors rendition last winter knows the power and excitement likely to be in store. The August 5th video stream is Brahms Serenade 2 IV and V under Giancarlo Guerrero, and the 12th’s is La Mer II and III under Dutoit.

It may not be the Evening at Symphony of yore, and excerpting movements may not be haute enough for many of us, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Per the BSO, it’s “a pilot test project to assess the level of interest in this kind of access.” We wish all involved every success!

 

July 26, 2016

in: News & Features

Verdi’s Anvil, Wagner’s Valkyries and Everyman’s Chorus

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BrunhildeFamed Wagnerian soprano Jane Eaglen’s hojotohos at the Hatch Shell Wednesday, as Boston Landmarks Orchestra highlights Wagner’s Ring, including The Ride of the Valkyries and the dramatic final scene of the cycle. The stirring Anvil Chorus precedes the New England premiere of Verdi’s Libera me, which five years later would become the dramatic conclusion of the Requiem.

One City Choir, Back Bay Chorale (Scott Allen Jarrett, music director), North End Music and Performing Arts Center Children’s Choir join the orchestra in a free extravaganza which begins at 7:00.

Music director Christopher Wilkins is pleased to share his thoughts on the program.

For six years the One City Choir has embodied the Landmarks Orchestra’s desire to bring people from every Boston neighborhood together in joyful and meaningful collaboration. This year a record number of choristers have signed up—so many that we have to place them both behind and in front of the stage. (Just the kind of complication we love.) [continued…]

July 24, 2016

in: News & Features

BU Institute Now 50-Year Institution

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Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)

Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)

As you make your way out of Lenox on your way to Tanglewood, you may easily overlook a small sign on the side of the road, marking a driveway. If you pay attention, you’ll often notice young people in groups, many with instrument cases, walking to and from the concert grounds. This sign marks the location of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, where young people talented high-school students attend one of the country’s premiere training programs for musicians. The low-profile sign belies the importance and long history of the Institute (BUTI for short), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer on August 6th with a day of events, culminating in an Anniversary Concert and “BUTI@50 Soiree” at the Lenox campus.

The redoubtable Erich Leinsdorf, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director in 1966, asked the Boston University College of Fine Arts to create a program for high-school musicians to complement the BSO’s activities at the Berkshire Music Center, which we now know as Tanglewood. [continued…]

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