Friday, April 24, 2015

Grimaud reviewed

Moving into new quarters has prevented me from attending several concerts I wish I’d heard, most recently the April 22 recital by pianist Hélène Grimaud at the University of Richmond.

Here’s Anne Timberlake’s review of Grimaud’s performance for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Letter V Classical Radio this week

April 23
11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Rossini: “The Barber of Seville” Overture
The Hanover Band/
Roy Goodman
(Newton Classics)

Mendelssohn: Double Concerto in D minor
Wu Han, piano
Benjamin Beilman, violin
Kristin Lee & Sunmi Chang, violins;
Richard O’Neill, viola;
Dmitri Atapine, cello;
Scott Pingel, double-bass
(Artist Led)

Schubert: Impromptu in A flat major, D. 899, No. 4
Krystian Zimerman, piano (Deutsche Grammophon)

Mozart: Sonata in E flat major, K. 380
Andrew Manze, violin
Richard Egarr, fortepiano (Harmonia Mundi USA)

Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer (Philips)

Mason Bates:
“String Band”
Claremont Trio (Tria)

Past Masters:
Dvořák: Violin Concerto
in A minor
Josef Suk, violin
Czech Philharmonic/Karel Ančerl (Fidelio)
(recorded 1960)

Kodály: “Hungarian Rondo”
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: Richmond Symphony

Steven Smith conducting
with Daisuke Yamamoto, violin
April 18, Richmond CenterStage

The Richmond Symphony’s Masterworks series greets spring with two helpings of grandeur and a generous side order of brooding high-romanticism.

The grandeur comes from Edward Elgar, the leading musical voice of Edwardian Britain, and – perhaps surprisingly – from Benjamin Broening, the University of Richmond music professor best-known as director of the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival.

Broening’s “Sea Surface Full of Clouds,” receiving its premiere in the weekend’s symphony concerts, is purely acoustic, traditionally orchestrated, couched in a modern but hardly radical idiom, attuned to the latter-day impressionism that has become widespread in contemporary American composition.

The five-movement work draws its title and much of its inspiration from a 1923 poem by Wallace Stevens evoking a sea voyage from New York to California through the Panama Canal. Broening’s music sounds less representative of the sea itself than of its energies and those of the atmosphere around it – one hears wind more than water. The piece is highly colorful, but more primary colored than the pastel hues favored by the early 20th-century impressionists.

The composer clearly knows what impressions he wishes to impart – the movement titles are strings of unambiguous adjectives – and audibly knows how to use the resources of a large orchestra to vivid effect.

Elgar showed a similar mastery in his “Enigma Variations” (1899), a set of sound portraits of 14 friends (“13 and a dog,” to be precise) that range from the monumentally declaratory to the skittishly playful to the wistfully noble (the famous “Nimrod”).

Conductor Steven Smith and the symphony reveled in both the Broening and the Elgar in the first of two weekend performances. The more dramatic the gesture or complex the interplay of voices, the better they performed.

Daisuke Yamamoto, the orchestra’s concertmaster, is the program’s featured soloist, playing the Violin Concerto in D minor of Jean Sibelius. This is one of the most elusive of virtuoso violin concertos, both because of its considerable technical challenges and because of its peculiar expressive quality, simultaneously highly romantic and emotionally reserved.

Yamamoto showed a firm grasp of the Sibelius rhetorically, especially in the concerto’s central adagio. Technically, the performance I heard displayed stretches of darkly sonorous beauty and weighty expressivity, but altogether was more effortful than fluent.

The program repeats at 3 p.m. April 19 at the Carpenter Theatre of Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets. Tickets: $10-$78; details: (800) 514-3849 (ETIX),

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letter V Classical Radio this week

April 16
11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Ferdinand Hérold: “Zampa” Overture
London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Bonynge (Decca)

Past Masters:
Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor
Steven Kovacevich, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis (Philips)
(recorded 1970)

Saint-Saëns: “Morceau de concert,” Op. 20
Patrice Fontanarosa, violin
Orchestral Ensemble de Paris/Jean-Jacques Kantarow (EMI Classics)

Past Masters:
Wagner: “Götterdämmerung” – “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey”
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
(RCA Victor)
(recorded 1959)

Schubert: Sonata in A major, D. 959
Shai Wosner, piano (Onyx)

Missy Mazzoli: “Isabelle Eberhardt Dreams of Pianos”
Shai Wosner, piano (Onyx)

C.P.E. Bach: Clavier Concerto in C major, Wq 20
Raphael Alpermann, harpsichord
Akademie für alte Musik Berlin/Stephan Mai (Harmonia Mundi France)

Brahms: “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel,” Op. 24
Murray Perahia, piano (Sony Classical)

'Voices of Survival' televised

The “Voices of Survival” concert, presented on Jan. 27 by the Richmond Symphony and Chorus with a combined chorus from the state’s colleges and universities, will be broadcast at 9 p.m. April 15 on WCVE (Channel 23), Central Virginia’s public television station, to mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Children's choir auditions

The Greater Richmond Children’s Choir will hold auditions for its 2015-16 season on April 18 with an information session at 10:30 a.m. and on May 12 with an information session at 7 p.m., both at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 8 N. Laurel St.

GRCC, which is open to children 8 and older, has several choirs at different proficiency levels. No audition is required for the entry level Treble Choir. Membership in other ensembles require auditions.

To make an appointment for an audition, call (804) 201-1894.

To learn more about the Greater Richmond Children’s Choir, visit its website,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

'St. Matthew Passion' online

The Netherlands Bach Society, the ensemble whose 2007 performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor at the University of Richmond is still fondly remembered in these parts, performs the master’s “St. Matthew Passion,” part of the ongoing “All of Bach” online project of the Nederlandse Bachvereniging: