Letter V
Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
1478 Entries
Feb. 15
noon-3 p.m. EST
1700-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Berlioz: “Benvenuto Cellini” Overture
Montreal Symphony Orchestra/
Charles Dutoit

Past Masters:
Stravinsky: “Pulcinella” Suite
Academy of St. Martin
in the Fields/
Neville Marriner
(recorded 1967)

“The Cunning Little Vixen” Suite
(arrangement by Vaclav Talich)
Czech Philharmonic/Charles Mackerras

“Le Tombeau de Couperin”
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Piano Concerto No. 19
in F major, K. 459
András Schiff, piano
Camerata Academica des Mozarteums Salzburg/
Sándor Végh

Rimsky-Korsakov: “Capriccio espagnol”
Berlin Philharmonic/Lorin Maazel
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Quartet in C minor,
Op. 18, No. 5
Cypress String Quartet

Symphony No. 2
in B flat major
Anima Eterna Orchestra/
Jos van Immerseel
(Zig Zag Territories)
4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

Cellist Zuill Bailey’s disc of works by Michael Daugherty with Giancarlo Guerrero conducting the Nashville Symphony, LA Opera’s recording of John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles” and a collection of three Shostakovich symphonies from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons conducting, are the highest-profile classical winners in this year’s Grammy Awards.

Bailey’s set of Daughtery’s “Tales of Hemingway,” “American Gothic” and “Once upon a Castle” (Naxos) won in the Best Classical Compendium category, with “Tales of Hemingway” named the Best Classical Instrumental Solo and Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

“The Ghosts of Versailles,” conducted by James Conlon (Pentatone), won awards for Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Classical Album. The Boston Symphony set of Shostakovich’s Fifth, Eighth and Ninth symphonies (Deutsche Grammophon) was named Best Orchestral Performance.

Other winners of classical Grammy Awards:

* Best Choral Performance: Penderecki: “Dies Illa,” “Psalms of David,” “Hymn to St. Danill,” “Hymn to St. Adalbert”Warsaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra/Krzysztof Penderecki (Warner Classics).

* Best Chamber/Small Ensemble Performance: Steve Reich: “Mallet Quartet,” Sextet, “Nagoya Marimbas,” “Music for Pieces of Wood”Third Coast Percussion (Çedille).

* Best Classical Solo Vocal Album (tie): Schumann: “Liederkreis,” “Frauenlieben und Leben;” Berg: “Seven Early Lieder” – soprano Dorothea Röschmann with pianist Mitsuko Uchida (Decca); Britten, Finzi, Korngold, Schubert, Stravinsky, Warlock, et al.: Shakespeare songs – tenor Ian Bostridge with pianist Anthony Pappano & others (Warner Classics).

* Best Surround Sound Album: Dutilleux: “Sur le même accord,” “Les Citations,” “Mystère de l’instant,” “Timbres, Espace, Mouvement”Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Ludovic Morlot (Seattle Symphony Media).

* Producer of the Year, Classical: David Frost, for nine recordings on various labels.
4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, performing on Feb. 12 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart:

4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

On Nov. 14, 1943, Leonard Bernstein, the 25-year-old assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was called on short notice and with no rehearsal to replace an ailing Bruno Walter in a philharmonic concert.

History repeated itself, sort of, on Feb. 9, when Joshua Gerson, the orchestra’s 32-year-old assistant conductor, replaced Semyon Bychov in a program of Tchaikovsky’s “Francesca da Rimini” and “Pathétique” Symphony
(No. 6). Bychkov, stricken by a stomach virus, left the podium halfway through a rehearsal; so Gerson was able to work with the musicians – in “Francesca,” but not the symphony – before taking over the concert, and a subsequent performance.

In Bernstein’s case, a star was born. His subbing date was broadcast nationally on CBS Radio, and was front-page news in The New York Times.

Gerson’s concert rescue earned a brief plaudit – “impassioned and incisive” – and this post-concert interview, from The Times’ Anthony Tommasini:

4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

In his book “The Rest Is Noise” and elsewhere, Alex Ross, The New Yorker’s music critic, has addressed the roles that artists play, often with unintended results, in times of social and political upheaval. He revisits that theme in an essay on artistic gestures of protest against the Trump administration.

He warns against engaging in “agitprop,” an old communist abbreviation for agitation propaganda by literary and artistic means. By taking that route, artists cede their only real power, free artistic expression, to politicians and political activists.

“To create a space of refuge, to enjoy a period of respite, is not necessarily an act of acquiescence,” Ross writes. In an environment that produces “an emergency of the soul,” artists’ most potent response may not be overt protest, but performance that “forbids the indifference of routine. Art becomes a model for the concerted action that can only happen outside its sphere.”


Ross’ advice is not likely to satisfy the resistance, but it’s artistically wise and tactically smart.

This president came to power by attacking “the elites.” The arts are by definition elite; artists are perfect foils for populists. (The long fight over the National Endowment for the Arts testifies to that.) When performers or poets or painters – especially those whose work is provocative – go after a populist leader, it serves as confirmation for his followers that he is hitting the right targets.

Ross’ prescription is to combat political and social toxicity by espousing compassionate humanity with a passion that can summon, in Abraham Lincoln’s memorable phrase, “the better angels of our nature.”

If the resistance succeeds, it will do so by persuading people that “this is not who we are.” Artists are best able to contribute to the cause by showing in their work who we can be.
4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

A season-opening performance featuring the Chinese piano star Lang Lang playing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (“Emperor”) on Sept. 14, and the premiere and recording of a new choral-orchestral work by the Richmond-bred composer Mason Bates in May, highlight the Richmond Symphony’s 2017-18 season, the orchestra’s 60th.

The symphony’s diamond-anniversary season also will revive another work by a composer from Central Virginia, “Scenes from the Life of a Martyr,” a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Undine Smith Moore (1904-89), a longtime professor at Virginia State University noted for her arrangements of African-American spirituals. Moore’s oratorio for soloists, chorus and orchestra, introduced in 1981, will be the climax of “Remembering 1968: a Tribute to MLK” on Feb. 3-4. The performances will feature members of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and choristers from Virginia
colleges and universities.

The as-yet untitled piece for chorus, orchestra and electronica by Bates, who has become one of the most widely performed living American composers, was commissioned by the symphony for the anniversary season. It will be performed by the orchestra and Symphony Chorus on May 11-12, with recording sessions following the concerts. A recording is tentatively scheduled for release in fall 2018. (The symphony’s last commercial recording was issued in 1989.)

While the orchestra’s 50th-anniversary season (2007-08) was largely retrospective, with a re-creation of its first concert and appearances by former music directors, the diamond-anniversary lineup is decidedly present- and future-tense.

Along with the Bates premiere, the season’s 12 classical programs will feature 10 other works written in the past 50 years, by composers ranging from Ulysses Kay and Arturo Marquez to Steven Stucky and Tobias Picker to Chris Brubeck, the jazz bandleader and composer (son of Dave Brubeck) whose “Travels in Time for Three” will be played by Time for Three, the classical-crossover string trio – violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer – for whom the piece was written. The group also will present its “Evening with Time for Three” program in the symphony’s Rush Hour casual-concert series and conduct a residency at Virginia Commonwealth University during its Richmond visit in October.

Other works in 2017-18 programs that emphasize the modern: Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem,” Honegger’s “Pacific 231,” Milhaud’s “Le Boeuf sur le toit,” a suite from William Walton’s “Façade,” and pieces by the pioneering female composers Rebecca Clarke and Ruth Crawford Seeger.

The symphony also will perform late-19th and early 20th-century works that heralded modernism in style or orchestration: selections from Mahler’s song cycle “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” Richard Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben,” Debussy’s “La Mer,” Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major (“Classical”), and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Piano Concerto in G major, the latter featuring the Canadian pianist Ian Parker as soloist.

Another 20th-century work on the schedule, which Steven Smith, the orchestra’s music director, says may be receiving its American orchestral premiere, is “Suita Rustica” written in 1938, originally for piano, by the short-lived Czech composer Vítezslava Kaprálová.

In addition to the Beethoven “Emperor” Concerto, classical and romantic repertory for the Masterworks and Metro Collection series includes Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor (“From the New World”), Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D major (“Prague”) Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 in G minor (“The Hen”), Wagner’s Prelude to “Tristan und Isolde” and “Siegfried Idyll,” Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy-Overture, and Brahms’ Concerto in A minor for violin and cello, the latter featuring the orchestra’s concertmaster, Daisuke Yamamoto, and its principal cellist, Neal Cary.

Other symphony principals performing as soloists during the season are violist Molly Sharp, playing Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Concerto, and trombonist Zachary Guiles, playing Norman Boulter’s “IOURS,” both in Metro Collection and Rush Hour programs.

The Symphony Pops season will open on Sept. 23 with “The Broadberry Presents: RVA Live!” a showcase of key talents in Richmond’s pop/rock/folk/jazz indie-music scene – Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass, Clair Morgan, Tim Barry and Bio Ritmo – performing with the orchestra at the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Arts Center, with an after-concert party at The Broadberry, a popular nightspot near Richmond’s Fan and Museum districts.

Other pops programs include the “Let It Snow!” holiday concerts by the symphony, Symphony Chorus and another popular Richmond performer, vocalist-guitarist Susan Greenbaum; a tribute to Billy Joel, starring Michael Cavanaugh; and “Motown’s Greatest Hits,” featuring the Motortown All-Stars, a male vocal quartet of members and alumni of the Miracles, Temptations and Capitols.

The symphony’s two casual-concert series will continue, with four Casual Fridays mini-concerts with talks previewing works and artists on subsequent Masterworks programs, at Dominion Arts Center; and four Rush Hour mini-concerts, excerpting Metro Collection programs, on Thursday evenings at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

Smith will conduct most of the classical concerts, with Danail Rachev guest-conducting a Masterworks program in March and Chia-Hsuan Lin, the symphony’s associate conductor, leading the final Rush Hour and Metro Collection concerts in May. Lin also will conduct next season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” and Symphony Pops and LolliPops programs, except for “Let It Snow!” which will be led by Erin Freeman, director of the Symphony Chorus and director of choral activities at VCU.

The Symphony Chorus also will be featured in performances of Mozart’s “Great” Mass in C minor and Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy,” with a piano soloist
to be announced, and will participate in “New Year in Vienna,” all in the Masterworks series.

The symphony’s 2017-18 plans for performances under its Big Tent outdoor concert stage will be announced later this month.

Subscriptions for 2017-18 concert series are now available, with single tickets scheduled to go on sale on Aug. 1.

Discount subscription packages are offered for youths (ages 3-17) and for college students. Discounts for seniors (65 and older) and members of the military will be offered when single tickets go on sale.

To obtain a season brochure or more information, call the symphony’s patron services office at (804) 788-1212, or visit http://www.richmondsymphony.com

The coming season’s series, programs and adult ticket prices:

8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Arts Center, Sixth and Grace streets
Subscriptions: $180-$562 (8 Saturday concerts), $90-$270 (4 Sunday concerts)
Single tickets: $30-$125 (Sept. 14), $10-$80 (other dates)

SEPT. 14
Steven Smith conducting
Ulysses Kay: “Theater Set” (Overture)
Richard Strauss: “Ein Heldenleben”
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (“Emperor”)
Lang Lang, piano

OCT. 28
Steven Smith conducting
Steven Stucky: “Jeu de timbres”
Chris Brubeck: “Travels in Time for Three”
Time for Three, string trio
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra

NOV. 11-12
Steven Smith conducting
Wagner: “Tristan und Isolde” Prelude
Tchaikovsky: “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy-Overture
Mozart: Mass in C minor, K. 427 (“Great”)
soloists TBA
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing

JAN. 13-14
Steven Smith conducting
“New Year in Vienna”
Suppé: “Poet and Peasant” Overture
Mahler: “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” (selections)
Virginia Opera Emerging Artists
Johann Strauss II: “The Gypsy Baron” Overture
Johann Strauss II: “Voices of Spring”
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing
Johann Strauss II: “Pleasure Train” Polka
Johann Strauss II: “On the Beautiful Blue Danube”

FEB. 3-4
Steven Smith conducting
“Remembering 1968: a Tribute to MLK”
Mary Watkins: “Five Movements in Color” (excerpts)
Jonathan Bailey Holland: “Equality”
Beethoven: “Choral Fantasy”
pianist TBA
Undine Smith Moore: “Scenes from the Life of a Martyr” (excerpts)
soloists TBA
Richmond Symphony Chorus members
choristers from Virginia colleges and universities
Erin Freeman directing

Danail Rachev conducting
Britten: “Sinfonia da Requiem”
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major
Ian Parker, piano
Mussorgsky-Ravel: “Pictures at an Exhibition”

APRIL 21-22
Steven Smith conducting
Vítezslava Kaprálová: “Suita Rustica”
Brahms: Double Concerto in A minor
Daisuke Yamamoto, violin
Neal Cary, cello
Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor (“From the New World”)

MAY 12
Steven Smith conducting
Honegger: “Pacific 231”
Mason Bates: work TBA (premiere)
Mason Bates, electronica
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing
Tobias Picker: “Old and Lost Rivers”
Debussy: “La Mer”

* * * 

3 p.m. Sundays, Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, 205 Henry St., Ashland
Subscriptions: $70
Single tickets: $22

OCT. 8
Steven Smith conducting
Beethoven: “Coriolan” Overture
Rebecca Clarke: Viola Concerto
Molly Sharp, viola
Peter Maxwell Davies: “Carolisima”
Haydn: Symphony No. 83 in G minor (“The Hen”)

JAN. 21
Steven Smith conducting
Antonio Salieri: “Sinfonia Veneziana” in D major
Norman Boulter: “IOURS”
Zachary Guiles, trombone
Ruth Crawford Seeger: Andante for strings
Ruth Crawford Seeger: “Rissolty Rossolty”
Mozart: Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504 (“Prague”)

FEB. 25
Steven Smith conducting
Schubert: “Overture in the Italian Style”
Roussel: Concerto for small orchestra
Handel: Water Music” Suite No. 2
Walton: “Façade” Suite No. 2
Arturo Marquez: Danzon No. 4
Milhaud: “Le Boeuf sur le toit”

Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting
J.C. Bach: Sinfonia in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 2
Wagner: “Siegfried Idyll”
J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 in D major (“Classical”)

* * * 

8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 3), Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Arts Center
Subscriptions: $90-$270
Single tickets: $10-$80

SEPT. 23
Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting
“The Broadberry Presents: RVA Live!”
Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass, Tim Barry, Clair Morgan & Bio Ritmo, guest stars

DEC. 2-3
Erin Freeman conducting
“Let It Snow!”
Susan Greenbaum, guest star
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing

JAN. 27
Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting
“Music of Billy Joel”
Michael Cavanaugh, guest star

Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting
“Motown’s Greatest Hits”
Motortown All-Stars, guest stars

* * *

11 a.m. Saturdays, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Arts Center
Subscriptions: $45 (adult), $34 (child)
Single tickets: $20 (adult), $10 (child)

Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting

OCT. 21
“A Superhero Halloween”

NOV. 25
“The Snowman,” animated film with orchestral accompaniment

JAN. 20
“An American in Paris”
School of the Richmond Ballet

“Peter and the Wolf”
Really Inventive Stuff’s Michael Boudewyns

* * * 

6:30 p.m. Fridays, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Arts Center
Subscriptions: $36-$180
Single tickets: $10-$50

SEPT. 15
Steven Smith conducting & speaking
Richard Strauss: “Ein Heldenleben”

OCT. 27
“An Evening with Time for Three”
Time for Three, string trio

Danail Rachev conducting & speaking
Mussorgsky-Ravel: “Pictures at an Exhibition”

MAY 11
Steven Smith conducting & speaking
Mason Bates performing & speaking
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing
Mason Bates: work TBA (premiere)

* * * 

6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Overbrook Road at Ownby Lane
Single tickets: $15

OCT. 5
Steven Smith conducting
Molly Sharp, viola
music by Beethoven, Haydn, Rebecca Clarke, Peter Maxwell Davies

JAN. 18
Steven Smith conducting
Zachary Guiles, trombone
music by Mozart, Salieri, Norman Boulter, Ruth Crawford Seeger

FEB. 22
Steven Smith conducting
music by Schubert, Roussel, Handel, Walton, Milhaud, Arturo Marquez

Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting
music by J.S. and J.C. Bach, Wagner, Prokofiev

* * *


DEC. 1

7:30 p.m., Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Arts Center
Single tickets: $20-$50

Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting

Handel: “Messiah”
soloists TBA
Richmond Symphony Chorus
Erin Freeman directing
4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story
Feb. 8
noon-3 p.m. EST
1700-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Wagner: “The Flying Dutchman” Overture
MET Orchestra/
James Levine
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Mozart: Horn Quintet
in E flat major, K. 407
Berlin Soloists

“Francesca da Rimini”
Royal Philharmonic/
Yuri Temirkanov
(RCA Red Seal)

“Karelia” Suite
Raumo Laukka, baritone
Lahti Symphony Orchestra/
Osmo Vänskä

Past Masters:
Symphony No. 7 in A major
Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig/
Franz Konwitschny
(recorded 1959)
(Berlin Classics)
John Adams: “Harmonium”
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/
John Adams

Fantasy in C major, D. 934
Jennifer Koh, violin
Reiko Uchida, piano
4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of the Richmond Symphony’s Masterworks program, featuring guitarist Jason Vieaux playing Dan Visconti’s new concerto, “Living Language,” Feb. 5 at the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Arts Center:

4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of Philip Glass and colleagues, playing the composer’s piano etudes on Feb. 4 at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Arts Center:

4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story

One of the most enticing and durable mysteries in classical music is theme of Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.” (Hardly anyone refers to the piece using Elgar’s title, “Variations on an Original Theme.”) The composer, writing at the time of the premiere in 1899, called his theme a “dark saying” that “must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the [connection] between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes’, but is not played . . . ”

Bob Padgett, a violinist and teacher in Plano, Texas, believes he has cracked the code. Elgar scholars doubt it. Daniel Estrin, writing for The New Republic, chronicles the sleuth’s hunt for the enigma:

4 months ago | |
| Read Full Story
71 - 80  | prev 456789101112 next