Letter V
Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
1410 Entries

Decca/Deutsche Grammophon this year has sold 6,250 copies of its “Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition,” a boxed set of 200 compact discs, leading at least one math-challenged compiler to list it as the best-selling recording of 2016, The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel reports:


If you multiply 6,250 by 200, you get 1.25 million discs, which exceeds the 1.2 million CDs of “25” by Adele, the British pop artist, sold during 2016. This prompted Billboard magazine to call the Mozart set the year’s best-seller, Frankel writes.

Then realization dawned that a multi-disc set is counted as one “unit,” and the magazine revised its report to rate the big-box-o’-Mozart as a “surprisingly hot seller.”

The set is priced at $350 to $500 by various online retail outlets. That works out to $2 or so per disc, which looks like a bargain until you consider that we’re talking about every piece that Mozart is known to have written, juvenilia, scatalogical canons and other marginal material included. The per-disc price rises if you only count the music you’d care to hear more than once.

(One online retailer estimates the weight of the set at 26 pounds. That’s quite a lift. Put a grip on it, and you could market it as fitness equipment – “Curling Mozart.” Sales would skyrocket.)

The “what really happened is even more surprising” element of Frankel’s report is that the actual best-selling recording of 2016 was the Canadian rap artist Drake’s album “Views,” which sold just 300,000 CDs, but also racked up 1.2 million digital album sales, 5 million digital singles sales and 2.8 billion audio streams. That, by the permutations of Nielsen – the firm tallies record sales as well as broadcast ratings – translates to sales of nearly 4 million units.

(Wait – did you just read that roughly one-quarter of the population of the planet bought this album via an audio stream? No. A tech-savvy friend explains that some more plausible number of people paid streaming services 2.8 billion times to hear the recording, many of them paying to hear it more than once. Drake has not inherited the Earth. Yet.)

In any case, sales of audio streams dwarfing sales of CDs and digital albums are a harbinger of recorded music’s future.
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A team of Stanford University scientists and the vocal ensemble Capella Romana recreate the sound of liturgical music in Hagia Sophia, the mother church of Orthodox Christianity in Byzantine Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), converted to a mosque after the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453 and turned into a museum in 1935.

The vast interior of the structure, consecrated in 537 A.D. and for nearly 1,000 years the largest church in the Christian world, has unique acoustics. Sounds reverberate for nearly 11 seconds, four or five times longer than in most concert halls.

For a recent performance at Stanford, Capella Romana’s singers wore headphones to hear a simulation of the sanctuary’s acoustics; their voices were then put through the same audio simulator in the concert hall, giving listeners the sensation of hearing the program of early Christian music in Hagia Sophia.

Kat Eschner reports on the project, with a video-audio link, on Smithsonian.com:


(via http://www.artsjournal.com)
1 month ago | |
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A special show at a special time: Sampling some of
the finest recordings of 2016 – which, as you’ll hear, turned out to be a banner year for piano discs.

Dec. 28
11 a.m.-3 p.m. EST
1600-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, K. 447
Pip Eastop, natural horn
Hanover Band/
Anthony Halstead

Peteris Vasks:
Cello Concerto No. 2
Sol Gabetta, cello
Amsterdam Sinfonietta/
Candida Thompson
(Sony Classical)

Past Masters:
Prokofiev: Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28
Martha Argerich, piano
(recorded 1960)
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Tommaso Vitali:
Chaconne in G minor
Jessica Lee, violin
Reiko Uchida, piano

Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano

J.S. Bach: Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Rachel Barton Pine, violin

Sonata in D major,
Op. 10, No. 3
Lucas Debargue, piano
(Sony Classical)

Ginastera: “Pampeana” No. 1, Op. 16
Gil Shaham, violin
Orli Shaham, piano
(Oberlin Music)

Liszt: “Transcendental Études” –
IX: Ricordanza
X: Allegro agitato molto
XI: “Harmonies du soir”
Kirill Gerstein, piano
(Myrios Classics)

Arthur Bird:
Reverie, Op. 37, No. 4
Artis Wodehouse, harmonium
(Raven Recordings)

“Symphonie fantastique”
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/
Daniel Harding
(Harmonia Mundi)
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Katherine Needleman, onetime principal oboist of the Richmond Symphony, now principal oboist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, posts a novel holiday greeting, passed along by Norman Lebrecht on Slipped Disc:

1 month ago | |
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For Christmas, one of the greatest recordings of Handel’s “Messiah,” made in the 1990s by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and Brandenburg Consort, Stephen Cleobury conducting, followed by a sublime modern Christmas work, “Lauda per la Natività del Signore” (“Laud for the Nativity”) by Ottorino Respighi, performed by the Berlin Radio Choir and Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin.

Dec. 21
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Handel: “Messiah”
Lynne Dawson, soprano
Hilary Summers, contralto
John Mark Ainsley, tenor
Alastair Miles, bass
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Brandenburg Consort/
Stephen Cleobury

Respighi: “Lauda per
la Natività del Signore”
Yeree Suh, soprano
Kristine Larissa Funkhauser, mezzo-soprano
Krystian Adam, baritone
Berlin Radio Choir
Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin/Maris Sirmais
2 months ago | |
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia’s winter baroque concerts, Dec. 11 at Wilton House Museum and Dec. 13 at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter:

2 months ago | |
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In the first of two programs for the Christmas season, a sampler of compositions and carols from England, France, Germany, Spain and early America.

Dec. 14
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Michel Corrette: “Sinfonie de Noël” No. 3
La Fantasia/Rien Voskuilen
(Brilliant Classics)

Michael Praetorius:
“Terpsichore” – selections
“Il dulci jubilo”
trad. English:
“Good Christian men rejoice”
Apollo’s Singers
Apollo’s Musettes
Apollo’s Fire/
Jeannette Sorrell

Dieterich Buxtehude:
Cantata, “Nun danket alle Gott,” BuxWV 79
Bettina PahnMiriam Meyer &
Johannette Zomer, sopranos
Bogna Bartosz, alto
Patrick van Goethem, countertenor
Jörg Dürmüller &
Andreas Karasiak, tenors
Klaus Mertens &
Donald Bentvelsen, basses
Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/
Ton Koopman
(Challenge Classics)

Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto grosso in G minor,
Op. 6, No. 8 (“Christmas Concerto”)
Il Giardano Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
(Virgin Classics)

trad.: “Burst ye emerald gates”
William Billings: “Boston”
Daniel Read: “Sherburne”
John Jacob Niles:
“I wonder as I wander”
trad.: “Star in the East”
trad.: “Bonnie Doone”
trad.: “The Star of Bethlehem”
trad.: “Shepherds, Rejoice”
trad.: “Hallelujah”
trad.: “Adeste fidelis”
Anne Azéma, soprano
Daniel McCabe, baritone
Schola Cantorum of Boston
Chamber Choir of the Harvard-Radcliffe
Collegium Musicum
Boston Camerata/
Joel Cohen

Vaughan Williams: “Fantasia
on Christmas Carols”
Joseph Cullen, organ
City of London Sinfonia/
Richard Hickox

Rodrigo: “Retablo de Navidad”
Raquel Lojendio, soprano
David Rubiera, baritone
Comunidad de Madrid Orchestra & Chorus/
José Ramón Encinar

Poulenc: “Quatre motets
pour le temps de Noël”
Berlin Radio Choir/
Nicolas Fink

J.S. Bach: Magnificat
in E flat major, BWV 243a
Julia Doyle & Joanne Lunn, sopranos
Clare Wilkinson, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas Mulroy, tenor
Matthew Brook, bass-baritone
Dunedin Consort/John Butt

Michael Praetorius: “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen”
Monteverdi Choir/John Eliot Gardiner

Lowell Mason: “Joy to the World”
Boston Camerata/Joel Cohen
2 months ago | |
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Ash Lawn Opera is changing its name to Charlottesville Opera.

The company, founded in 1978, formerly staged its productions in the boxwood garden of Ash Lawn, the home of James Monroe outside Charlottesville. Singers and audiences soon became accustomed to performances at the mercy of variable summer weather, and often with obbligato vocalizing by the peacocks resident on the grounds.

After 24 years of the troupe being supported by the College of William and Mary, which owns and operates Ash Lawn, organization and financing were assumed by the Ash Lawn Opera Festival Foundation, established in 2002.

In 2009, productions were moved to the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville.

The company stages two productions each summer, and other performances and educational activities during the rest of the year. In March 2017, it will present the East Coast premiere of “Middlemarch in Spring,” an opera based on the George Eliot novel, composed by Allen Shearer with a libretto by Claudia Stevens, and will stage Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” next July and August.

For more information on the company, visit http://www.ashlawnopera.org
2 months ago | |
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On the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, music made in America during World War II. Not only by native-born composers – some of the greatest wartime scores were the work of exiles and émigrés.

Dec. 7
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Past Masters:
Copland: “Fanfare for the Common Man”
London Symphony
Orchestra members/
Aaron Copland
(recorded 1968)
(Sony Classical)

Randall Thompson:
“The Testament of Freedom”
(arrangement by John Corley)
Turtle Creek Chorale
Dallas Wind Symphony/
Timothy Seelig
(Reference Recordings)

Roy Harris:
“American Ballads,” Set 1
Richard Zimdars, piano

Kurt Weill:
“Four Walt Whitman Songs”
Steven Kimbrough, baritone
Dalton Baldwin, piano

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Quartet No. 3
Flesch Quartet

Past Masters:
Concerto for Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/
Fritz Reiner
(recorded 1955)
(RCA Victor)

Barber: Symphony No. 2 –
II: Andante, un poco mosso (“Night Flight”)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/
Neeme Järvi

Martinu: Symphony No. 3
Czech Philharmonic/
Václav Neumann

William Schuman:
“Prayer in Time of War”
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/
Gerard Schwarz
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