August 14, 2018

in: Reviews

Levit, Thomas, Mahler, & Rachmaninoff Rhapsodize

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Was Michael Tilson Thomas paying tribute to “Lenny gestures” in the double-handed thrust with shoulder shrug and upward gaze? It all worked well at Tanglewood Sunday for a fine shed concert with pianist Igor Levitt’s Rachmaninoff,  Mahler’s First, and a tonally inventive whimsy of Thomas’s own.    [continued]

August 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Fellows Perform Bernstein’s Last Opera

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Ozawa Hall was anything but A Quiet Place Thursday, as Stefan Asbury shaped both the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Fellows with elegant control.    [continued]

August 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Danes Bat One Out of the Park

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Making a welcome return to Maverick Concerts in Woodstock on Sunday, the Danish Quartet introduced us to perhaps the first string quartet ever written, as well as advocating effectively for Abrahamson and Beethoven.    [continued]

August 9, 2018

in: Reviews

Adding to a Fistful of Borromeo Raves

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The Borromeo String Quartet discoursed well-arranged Goldbergs, dark and haunting Schubert, and memorably intense Mendelssohn at Walnut Hills last night.    [continued]

August 8, 2018

in: Reviews

Opera Company Drops Atomic Bomb

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When the sun sets on a high plateau to the northwest of the city; the back of Santa Fe Opera’s stage opens to the desert and mountains, and one can see distant lights of Los Alamos, Dr. Oppenheimer’s 0ne-time home. I saw the namesake opera on July 18th.      [continued]

August 7, 2018

in: Reviews

Emerson’s Divergent Beethovens Down Cape

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The Emerson Quartet opened the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival last Wednesday in Wellfleet’s First Congregational Church with mixed takes on late Beethoven.    [continued]

August 5, 2018

in: Reviews

Exuberance Reigns at Tanglewood

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The deep and wide importance of Tanglewood activities by young and old and fondly remembered came to vital life last Saturday.    [continued]

August 5, 2018

in: Reviews

Passion and Panache at Walnut Hill

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Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and pianist Peter Chuang Chuang Fang brought passion and panache to the Keiter Center Saturday in a spectacular display of technique and musicality.    [continued]

August 5, 2018

in: Reviews

Jupiter Quartet and Pianist Generally Satisfy

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In Jupiter String Quartet’s concert at Maverick Concerts concert with pianist Daniel Gortler Sunday, we didn’t hear  enough first violin, but it generally satisfied.    [continued]

August 5, 2018

in: Reviews

Festive and Contemporary Not Oxymoronic

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Tanglewood’s 2018 Festival of Contemporary Music an astonishing array of music from the past few decades, including works by such “elders” as Witold Lutosławski and György Kurtág, as well as brand new compositions by younger composers.    [continued]

August 4, 2018

in: Reviews

The Gamut of Russian Moods

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Ken-David Masur led the BSO and pianist Kirill Gerstein in Rach2 and Firebird last night at the Shed.    [continued]

August 4, 2018

in: Reviews

Memory and Celebration in Outdoor Requiem

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The Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Back Bay Chorale, and One City Choir led by Christopher Wilkins and Scott Allen Jarret recast the Verdi Requiem as a memorial for the late bass-baritone Robert Honeysucker on Wednesday at the Hatch Shell.    [continued]

August 4, 2018

in: Reviews

Niu Niu, Sovereign Already

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The young pianist reached peak after peak in his mainstream Chinese Performing Arts Foundation Walnut Hill festival recital Tuesday evening.    [continued]

August 3, 2018

in: Reviews

Paul Lewis: Sound Versus Fury

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Paul Lewis centered last night’s Ozawa Hall recital on Beethoven Bagatelles with supporting musical commentary from Haydn and Brahms.    [continued]

August 3, 2018

in: Reviews

Eighteen Feet of Keyboard at Tanglewood

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Thomas Adès and Kirill Gerstein conjured modernist virtuosity on two pianos at Ozawa Hall Wednesday night.    [continued]

August 3, 2018

in: Reviews

SangYoung Kim, Drawing Bright Lines

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The South Korean competition laureate brought lean and evident interpretations through steely and intense piano tones at Walnut Hill Wednesday.    [continued]

August 2, 2018

in: Reviews

The Demon Treads Lively

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Up the Hudson at Bard’s SummerScape festival, the underappreciated Anton Rubinstein returns vitally to sung and acted life upon the wicked stage. The run continues on Friday and Saturday at 2:00.    [continued]

August 2, 2018

in: Reviews

Mihae Lee Inks Imaginative Program

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Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival, after 46 years, makes its first appearance on these pages.    [continued]

August 2, 2018

in: Reviews

The Press of Larry Weng

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Directness waged battle against poetry Monday evening within Larry Weng’s pianism in the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Walnut Hill Festival.    [continued]

July 31, 2018

in: Reviews

Bernstein and Peter Pan: Ambivalent Bedfellows

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Bernstein’s 1950 adaptation paid a visit to the Fischer Center in Christopher Alden’s psychoanalytic production as part of BardSummerScape    [continued]

July 31, 2018

in: Reviews

Cape Orchestra Celebrates Summer

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Under founding conductor Matthew Scinto, the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra was all-in for a wonderful ride at Pilgrim Congregational Church at Harwich Port on Sunday.    [continued]

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August 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Only at the Gardner, Starting September 8th

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George Steel: Mr. Music at ISGM

George Steel, the Gardner Museum’s new Abrams curator of music, has inked a fall season featuring three orchestras, multidimensional Bach, a purpose-built opera, exciting debuts, rewarding return engagements, not to mention a season-long tribute to Leonard Bernstein. His inaugural interview with BMInt, last year, certainly scintillated [HERE]. So once again we asked him to reflect on his appealing artistic manifesto. (The complete fall-season listing is at the end.)

According to the New York Times, you have “… long been a champion of “ways to make classical music matter to new generations of listeners.” I get that fact that presenters need to replace old geezers with up-and-coming-geezers, but hasn’t that always been the case? What sorts of classical presentations appeal more to 20-somethings and terrify over-60s?

As I am getting to be a geezer myself, I am sensitive to any idea of “replacing” older audiences with younger ones. Quite the opposite. The magic of the Gardner is at its peak when it creates a “big room”—one where old and young feel equally at home; where connoisseurs and first-timers share the thrill of hearing music and seeing art with fresh ears and eyes; where unhelpful shibboleths like “high culture” and “low culture” are regularly and joyfully flouted; and where music, dance, and visual art exist in sparkling dialogue. [continued…]

August 12, 2018

in: News & Features

Sounds Project Oceanic Light

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Disney’s Willy will not be singing.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra joins with the New England Aquarium to turn the Hatch Shell into a seashell next Wednesday, as cetacean song and Debussy’s La Mer evoke the mysterious power and psychological depths of wind and waves. Stella Sung’s seascape discourses a watery dialogue between marine and human life, while Moby Dick rises again in the haunting music of Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock’s most frequent musical collaborator. And what could be a more a more startling segue than from Handel’s Water Music to Bedelt’s Pirates of the Caribbean?

Rain Date: Thursday, August 16th. If it rains on August 16th as well, the concert will be held at Emmanuel Church (15 Newbury St., Boston)

My podium notes follow.

The New England Aquarium first made music with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra in the summer of 2015. A male humpback—recorded by researcher Salvatore Cerchio—performed as vocal soloist in Alan Hovhaness’s And God Created Great Whales. The collaboration was a revelation, demonstrating startling similarities between human and cetacean music making. [continued…]

August 8, 2018

in: News & Features

范曾玥 To Play Schumann Concerto

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Contemplating Schumann’s only opera

The Mercury Orchestra will provide blessed relief from Boston’s summer orchestral doldrums at Sanders Theater on Saturday at 8:00 in an all-Schumann concert featuring the 14-year-old winner of the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Concerto Competition.  

Over the 11 years that Channing Yu’s Mercury Orchestra has brought “amateur orchestra musicians together … to play challenging repertoire in … performances of the highest quality,” audiences have found the results of the deep, enthusiastic engagement of the volunteer ensemble consistently satisfying. Year after year the Sanders Theater concerts that these talented volunteer players mount show that they can really play.  Yu will be leading Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva, op. 81, Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54 and Symphony No. 2 in C Major, op. 61 [continued…]

July 29, 2018

in: News & Features

Verdi Wakes the Grateful Dead

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Next Wednesday, weather gods permitting, will find the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, One City Choir, Back Bay Chorale, and a quartet of soloists combining forces in Verdi’s monumental Requiem, a work Hans von Bülow described as “opera in church vestments.” After playing the immortally sprightly overture to Rossini’s “Semiramide,” artistic director Christopher Wilkins will summon hushed, prayerful tones to open Verdi’s Mass setting. But don’t worry, because an impassioned plea for salvation ensues; in the monumentally dramatic “Dies Irae e Tuba Mirum,” trumpets will surround the audience and bass drums pound as if the ground were opening  under the Esplanade.

We have dedicated this concert to the memory of Robert Honeysucker (1943-2017) [see BMInt tribute HERE]. His sonorous voice and expressive musicianship graced our stages many times, including our 2008 performance of the Verdi Requiem at the Hatch Shell, and our memorable Beethoven’s 9th at Fenway Park. Honeysucker was not only one of America’s finest baritones, he was also a true friend of Boston Landmarks Orchestra from our very beginning. We truly miss him.

Rain Date: Thursday, August 2. If it rains on August 2 as well, the concert will be held at First Church Cambridge (11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138).

Prelude concert (at approximately 6:20 pm) by North End Music & Performing Arts Center Children’s Choir.

My podium notes follow. [continued…]

July 19, 2018

in: News & Features

Famous Factotum To Cheer Watertown

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Davenny-Wyner dances with Rossini (BMInt staff graphic)

For its lucky 13th season, Boston Midsummer Opera celebrates the immortal shenanigans of Rossini’s Barber of Seville. The master of opera buffa sees to the improper arrangements of dowries, ladders, love, noise, triangles, mistaken identity, and headaches through splendid musical hilarity, and yes, there is collusion. Susan Davenny-Wyner directs a crack orchestra and a lively cast:  Theo Lebow (Count Almaviva);  Robert Balonek (Figaro), Soprano Alisa Jordheim (Rosina),  Jason Budd (Don Bartolo), David Cushing (Don Basilio).

The show runs Wednesday, July 25 and Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 29 at 3:00 p.m. at the Main Stage, Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown. Tickets HERE.

Stage Director Antonio Ocampo-Guzman answered our questions.

BMInt: Is Rossini’s The Barber of Seville the perfect opera buffa, or is that mere publicist hype?

AOG: Barber of Seville is a great opera buffa — I just don’t believe in ‘perfection.’ The way the music reflects the spirit of the characters is quite delightful — lots of dotted and double-dotted rhythms, lots of expressive ornamentation… The characters are direct descendants of the best types in commedia dell’arte, so their quick wits and their short tempers constantly place them in impossible situations that are inherently funny. For example, in one of my favorite sequences, the end of Act 1, the music absolutely mirrors the bewildered state of mind of the characters. [continued…]

July 13, 2018

in: News & Features

Pompous, Celestial, Celebratory, and Free

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The Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s 12th season of free concerts on the Esplanade wakens the Hatch Shell Wednesday at 7:00, during what is also the 90th summer that Bostonians have gathered on the Esplanade to hear live orchestral music since 1929, when Arthur Fiedler began the tradition. Landmarks’ music director Christopher Wilkins opens with suitably ceremonial Edwardian pomp in a program that concludes with a celebration of our best possible solar system.

In the centenary year of Holst’s The Planets, the Orchestra welcomes the St. Paul’s Girls’ School Choir, whose predecessors had originally provided the mysterious offstage wordless chorale sounds in the finale. Holst’s masterpiece explores the [supposed] astrological influence of the planets on human personality and behavior. Young musicians of ZUMIX perform an original work echoing Holst’s fascination with the human psyche. Other music inspired by the heavens includes Debussy’s bewitching Clair de lune

Rain Date: Thursday, July 19. If it rains on July 19 as well, the concert will be held at First Church Cambridge.

Wilkins’s program notes tell us: [continued…]

July 10, 2018

in: News & Features

Oliver Knussen, 1952-2018

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Oliver Knussen’s recent passing leaves modern music at a terrible loss. He was a composer of our own era who wrote very good music, and no less than that, he was a conductor who cared about sustaining the modern era in performance. Only 66 years old when he died Sunday, he had suffered from significant health problems for some time.

Some of us will remember his wonderfully picturesque and boisterous “wild rumpus” music for his opera Where the Wild Things Are, after Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book. We will remember his NPR talk about Act II of Boris Godunov, which he compared to the best children’s music of all time. I will remember him for his able management of Fromm Week at Tanglewood, his loyalty and skill in defense of Alban Berg’s music, and especially a fine Boston Symphony appearance 26 years ago, when he conducted Debussy’s La boîte à joujoux, an entrancing work from 1913 which the BSO, in all of its French-oriented history, had never before managed to perform.

Knussen’s career start, as adolescent composer and conductor, was auspicious and already accomplished. Writing in the Boston Globe 49 years ago from the Florida International Music Festival, Michael Steinberg reported that: [continued…]

July 6, 2018

in: News & Features

BSO: Is Its Pay Policy Suitable?

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Elizabeth Rowe (Borggreve)

So, the question that’s burning everyone’s mind this week (or is it just that the heatwave has toasted everyone’s mind?) is whether the BSO’s first-chair flute player is worth as much (speaking strictly in dollars and cents) as its first-chair oboist. Or, put more correctly (as opposed to concisely), is the amended Massachusetts Equal Pay Act that took effect on July 1st going to force the BSO to pay its first-chair flutist, Elizabeth Rowe, as much as its first-chair oboist, John Ferrillo?

If the first question in your mind is, who am I to be dilating on this on these pages, my answer is, that’s a pretty good question. Wearing one hat, I write music reviews here. Wearing the more expensive hat, I’m a lawyer. I am not, strictly speaking, a labor or employment lawyer, though as a business-transactional lawyer I’ve done a fair amount of work on (executive) employment agreements. So, consider me an informed quasi-layperson in this discussion. I’ve been around the block a few times. But as to specialist knowledge, don’t expect that from me; and for sure, don’t consider what I write here as legal advice (my lawyer makes me say that).

In aid of this discussion, we have reprinted the entirety of the old and new statutes HERE. The law is codified at chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws, section 105A (don’t get me started on the ridiculous numbering system—it probably dates from John Adams’s day). You’ll probably notice, when you get past the definitions to the business end of the new statute, that it’s not substantially different from what it replaces. It adds what purports to be greater detail (but I have my doubts, as will become apparent), and provides more administrivia around who can sue, anti-retaliation provisions, the power of the state to sue, the damages to be collected, and so forth. It also provides some more precise exemptions, some of which may bear on Rowe’s first-out-of-the-gate lawsuit. [continued…]

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