January 22, 2017

in: Reviews

A French Wind Blew

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Boston Symphony Chamber Players beautifully honored and evoked their late colleague Jules Eskin with a Mozart Andante before embarking on a lighter French program this afternoon at Jordan Hall.     [continued]

January 22, 2017

in: Reviews

Splendid Musical History from Les Bostonades

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It was indeed a stark transition from Saturday’s sunny, unseasonably warm day of mass protest to the dark, enclosed Gordon Chapel in which Les Bostonades offered six little-known Baroque instrumental works.     [continued]

January 22, 2017

in: Reviews

Judith Triumphs?

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Saturday’s collaboration between Eudaimonia, “a purposeful period band,” and the Early Music Department of the Longy School of Music for Vivaldi’s oratorio Juditha triumphans will repeat Sunday afternoon.     [continued]

January 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Russia Beyond the Classical

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With works of Prokofiev, Weinberg, and Tchaikovsky, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and violin soloist Gidon Kremer under Juanjo Mena illustrated three moments in Russia’s musical history with flair and pathos on Thursday.     [continued]

January 16, 2017

in: Reviews

Confident Mastery at Age Ten

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A Far Cry reached the midpoint of its 10th-anniversary season on Friday at Jordan Hall, where the ensemble epitomized execution and programming. The performing pallet spanned nine centuries.    [continued]

January 16, 2017

in: Reviews

Summer with Overcoats

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Boston premieres of loud pieces bookended ” Collage New Music’s “Summer Past and Present. Sunday’s picknic at Pickman Hall was impressive as it was long.     [continued]

January 16, 2017

in: Reviews

“Oh, Glory! Black History Matters”

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Baritone James Dargan and pianist Mark Whitlock inspired us on Friday evening at Theodore Parker UU Church in West Roxbury.     [continued]

January 16, 2017

in: Reviews

Filial Approach to Schumann and Bartok

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Miriam Fried, violin, and her son Jonathan Biss, piano delivered flawless Schumann and Bartók in a Sunday recital at Calderwood Hall the complemented one they offered last weekend.     [continued]

January 15, 2017

in: Reviews

Haydn Plus Hoeprich Again

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The London Haydn Quartet and clarinetist Eric Hoeprich returned to First Church, Cambridge Friday night with an agreeable show for the Boston Early Music Festival.     [continued]

January 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Carpenter Constructs Glittering Edifice

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Cameron Carpenter, an organist of prodigious technique and an immensely creative bent, played throughout a compelling BSO program under the direction of guest conductor Bramwell Tovey on Thursday evening.     [continued]

January 8, 2017

in: Reviews

The Right Musical Stuff at the Gardner

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Sonata partners Jonathan Biss and Miriam Freed earned rapt attention from the four-story audience in Calderwood Hall for their “Bartok and Schumann Project.”   [continued]

January 8, 2017

in: Reviews

Women in Love, in Life

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Friday night at Longy School of Music, the Boston Opera Collaborative’s  “Mirror” took the audience on a literal journey, as we followed two quite different women in Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben and Dominick Argento’s From The Diaries of Virginia Woolf.     [continued]

January 7, 2017

in: Reviews

Five Concerted Works Reveal BSO Depth

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Ken-David Masur and the BSO never faltered during a Thursday evening which limelighted some worthy back benchers.     [continued]

January 3, 2017

in: Reviews

Engaging Baroque Comforts

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Boston Baroque served the musical equivalent of comfort food, with vitality and engagement on New Year’s Day at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.     [continued]

December 20, 2016

in: Reviews

The Colors of Camerata’s German Christmas

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Deep and rich: dark forest greens, mossy pine-bark browns, and lush burgundies were seen and heard in Boston Camerata’s “In dulci jubilo: A German Christmas”at the First Church in Cambridge on Sunday.     [continued]

December 20, 2016

in: Reviews

Not a 404 Page Error

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Violinist Sasha Yakub and pianist Forrest Eimold challenged and disrupted at Holden Chapel Saturday night with For John Cage and more.     [continued]

December 18, 2016

in: Reviews

Holiday Cheer Sans Chestnuts

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Musicians of the Old Post Road attracted a brave and loyal audience to Emmanuel Church on Saturday for an unpredictable “Christmas in the New World.”     [continued]

December 18, 2016

in: Reviews

Seasonal Bliss from Darkness to Bursting Joy

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Blue Heron executed “Christmas in 15th-century France and Burgundy” as if the company had been born to it. Repeats on Saturday, December 17th at 2:30 pm and 8 pm at First Church, Cambridge.     [continued]

December 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Tallis Scholars Arrange Vocal Bouquet

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A capacity BEMF crowd at St. Paul’s Parish in Harvard Square proved that the Scholars’ appeal is as strong today as it was 28 years ago when the group began performing .     [continued]

December 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Following a Star

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Despite certain ragtag qualities, the Amahl and the Night Visitors at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Friday gave the perfect nudge to my holiday spirit.     [continued]

December 15, 2016

in: Reviews

Knowledgeable and Engaging BrSO Candidate

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The Brookline Symphony Orchestra’s second music director candidate, Lidiya Yankovskaya, showed her fine stuff Sunday at All Saints, Brookline.     [continued]

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January 16, 2017

in: News & Features

Saying “I Do” and “Yes We Can” to Le Nozze

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Droit du seigneur…OMG

The Harvard College Opera Society, formerly the Dunster House Opera Society, began 25 years as the University’s premier undergraduate company. HCO now presents one full-length opera each February with an entirely-undergraduate cast and production team. This year’s Le Nozze di Figaro features over 50 students from Harvard College, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

According to stage director Joule Voelz, “Our 25th-Anniversary production attempts to capture the timeless quality of Mozart’s musical exploration of love and human weakness. In the vaguely 18th-century Rene Magritte-inspired palace of Count Almaviva, our familiar cast of characters meet to play out a day of folly. Members of our eclectic ensemble all sport distinctive quirks: Marcellina an aging flapper, Basilio a carnival barker, and more. It’s not a period piece, but rather an anti-period piece that aims to suspend disbelief for the sake of comedy that cuts across all limits of time and space.”

HOC’s Marriage of Figaro runs on February 1st, 3rd and 4th at 7:00 PM, with an additional matinee on February 5th at 2:00 PM at Agassiz Theater on the Harvard University campus (10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA). Tickets ($10-$20) may be purchased through the Harvard Box Office (1350 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA – 617.496.2222) or at the door pending availability. Tickets to the opening night performance on February 1st will be free. [continued…]

January 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Eighteen Far Flyers Flocking

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In the expectant room a quiet composer, 18 musicians with 18 individual parts. The musicians count to 4 together, a silent “measure for nothing.” That’s the last gesture we’ll make together for most of the first movement of the new work we’re rehearsing for our concert at Jordan Hall on Friday

One by one, we Criers enter, playing quiet strings of harmonics and brief patterns of notes. We are eighteen birds, a group that is not yet a flock. Since we never play at exactly the same time, we follow a lovingly notated string of cues through the chaos of our tweets and flutters. We wonder together about how best to keep the invisible beat steady moving forward. At first, we assign the job of pulse-keeper to one individual, mirrored by others. But this is clumsy and creates a strange central point in the nearly aleatoric texture. Eventually we agree on a system where whoever is playing the cued line has the group’s attention—and in case of that person making a mistake, the next one can reset, and the next, and the next. [continued…]

January 11, 2017

in: News & Features

Juditha Triumphans(es) at Longy

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Judith and Holerfnes by Genteleschi

Think of Antonio Vivaldi, and the brilliant violinist and prolific composer of sonatas and concertos for violin and other solo instruments most likely comes to mind. Yet Vivaldi was also an important composer of vocal music: some 21 operas, over three dozen secular cantatas, and a substantial number of sacred works have survived. While serving as violin master at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice he managed to pursue a successful career as an opera violinist and as opera composer and impresario. Although two of Vivaldi’s four oratorios were intended for performance by the capable musicians of the Ospedale, only one has survived. Juditha triumphans celebrates the three-hundredth anniversary of its first performance at the Pietà with a staged production on January 21st at 8 pm and January 22nd at 3 pm at the Longy School of Music, Cambridge. The production, presented jointly by the Longy Early Music Department and the period ensemble Eudaimonia, is co-directed by Vivian Montgomery, harpsichordist, and Julia McKenzie, violinist. [continued…]

January 6, 2017

in: News & Features

STEPs Small and Large

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Michael J. Lutch photo

A few days before the next political chapter of our polarized era officially begins, we will be honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the assassinated civil rights pioneer and man of peace, on the 88th anniversary of his birth. As part of the Monday, January 16th observance, Project STEP, the string training and education program founded in the 1980s for musically talented local minority children, presents its annual MLK Jr. celebration, at Symphony Hall at 1pm.

Consisting of ensemble performances by all Project STEP students, this free event lets the surrounding community join with STEP families, staff, faculty, board, and friends to commemorate King’s life and legacy. It includes an annual panel featuring students, teachers, and local musicians of color discussing the intersection of classical music and race. And new this year, Project STEP students will present their submissions for a poster and essay contest.

The performances and panel discussion are open to the public and will take place in Symphony Hall’s Higginson Hall (entrance through the Cohen Wing door), at 1pm Monday Jan 16th. A reception will follow. [continued…]

January 2, 2017

in: News & Features

Collaborators Hold Mirror to Schumann and Argento

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Chamisso wrote of a woman’s love.

Turning the expression of a conventional song cycle graphic supports suspension of disbelief for some and suppresses it for others able to fantasize richly. Some pieces exist to burst genres—a ballet of the Matthew Passion and an opera of Mendelssohn’s Elijah come instantly to mind. An April outing had mezzo Susan Graham bring heightened intensity to lieder in a Celebrity Series recital [interview here].

Which brings us to Boston Opera Collaborative’s upcoming operatic non-opera: a January 6–8 “pictorialization” of two song cycles, in which 12 groups of 15 auditors will follow paired singers and pianists through domestic parlors of Longy’s Zabriskie House.

BMInt had questions for co-artistic director Patricia-Maria Weinmann.

FLE: Why are you doing this labor-intensive expansion or retelling of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben and Dominick Argento’s From the Diary of Virginia Woolf? [continued…]

December 29, 2016

in: News & Features

BSO Leads: Steppin’ Out in ’17

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Henry’s band going strong

The most self-effacing team-member orchestral musicians still like to shine once in a while, so select Boston Symphony players will be featured as soloists in a wide-ranging concerto program led by assistant conductor Ken-David Masur January 5-7. The selections, Baroque to modern, feature concertos by Vivaldi, Krommer, Schumann, Jolivet, and Rota. To ring in the New Year, three concerts are dedicated to the artistry of nine BSO musicians performing as soloists. The program includes Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C, featuring Cynthia Meyers; Krommer’s Concerto No. 2 for two clarinets and orchestra, featuring William R. Hudgins and Michael Wayne; Jolivet’s Concertino for trumpet, piano, and strings, featuring BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs; Rota’s Trombone Concerto, featuring principal Toby Oft; and Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns, featuring James Sommerville, Michael Winter, Rachel Childers, and Jason Snider.

Antonio Vivaldi was the king of concertos, writing more than 500 that we know of for all kinds of solo instruments as well as groupings. Three are for flautino, a high-pitched small recorder that had a range similar to the piccolo. The delightful Concerto in C, RV443, is extraordinarily virtuosic, even when compared with Vivaldi’s other concertos for woodwinds. The first and last movements dazzle, with copious finger- and lung-busting passagework, and the middle Largo provides an opportunity for the soloist to display lyrical touches. [continued…]

December 21, 2016

in: News & Features

Yehudi Wyner Celebrated, Fittingly

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The content of some “modern” music is just as human as what is thought of as “classical,” composer Yehudi Wyner explained to the audience at the concert featuring his music at the Boston Athenæum on Monday evening. His explanatory remarks were well taken; although there were a number of active composers, music critics and announcers, and musicians in the audience, it was generously sprinkled with regular attendees at Athenæum events who might not have been as familiar with the modern-music scene in Boston.

The concert was the first of three by the superb New-York-based Ecce scheduled for this academic year by the Athenæum. It offered three pieces by Wyner: Concert Duo, for violin and piano (1955), Refrain, for solo piano (2011) and Trio 2009 (2009), that ended the program. Also heard were two strong complementary pieces, Trio No. 4 (2014) by Martin Boykan (born in 1931) and Tenebrae (2013) by Martin Brody (born in 1949, and a former student of Wyner). Violinist Jennifer Choi, pianist Julia den Boer, clarinetist Liam Kinson, and cellist Seth Woods, performed. 

Wyner’s music, probably more easily digested than that of many other modern-music composers, deals very much with emotions, in very rich textures, with wide variety of rhythms, tempi, and dynamics, and, as he noted, “the power of pauses and punctuation.” The instrumentation of the Wyner compositions is inventive, often provocative, conversational, combative and bemused, by turn. His titles are often evocative. The endings of Wyner’s two latter pieces particularly left this listener with a profoundly satisfying emotional experience. [continued…]

December 13, 2016

in: News & Features

Retrospectively Ours

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Haochen Zhang, favorite of two

In early 2008, a bon vivant classical impresario, a veteran journalist, and a renowned musicologist-pianist began to free-associate about the decline of classical music print journalism. A few months later, I hit the “publish” button for the Boston Musical Intelligencer.

An entirely volunteer undertaking, we’ve had no business plan or dedicated revenue stream beyond the generosity of one individual and one association. We have declined to accept advertisements from performers or presenters, and general fundraising has been nonexistent since this journal lacks formal nonprofit status. The publisher has so far seen fit to absorb the remaining costs.

That in a bit over seven years we have published 4,155 articles and reviews and attracted the eyes of as many as 2,000 people a day gives great satisfaction. We have found our niche. Nearly 10,000 comments and sometimes more than 1,000 Facebook likes indicate that readers care strongly about what our 75 writers have to say about local classical events. Those who write (whether as reviewers or commenters) really do take pleasure in seeing their thoughts materialize on these pages as part of a lively debate.

The strains of making this happen may not be apparent, but they are certainly real. Getting sufficient quality content onto the screen requires considerable effort, as well as vigilance, skill, and sometimes arm-twisting. The assistance of a professional editor has helped, and readers and fellow writers as well all conspire to catch typos and the like. When we see how presenters cite our reviewers and articles (previews, features, interviews, obituaries, memoirs, reminiscences, and more), and when we hear of the sophisticated appreciation from many respondents, we glow.

And another kind of glow persists in our remembrance of music past. Once again, I have called upon BMInt writers to recall favorite concerts and recordings from the parade gone by. The following list serves to remind us of 2016’s musical riches.

We salute all players, writers, readers and presenters. Happy New Year! And the year’s best nominations follow. [continued…]

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