By Charles T. Downey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – What goes on in the minds of those diagnosed with autism? Penny, with a tonal score by Douglas Pew and libretto by Dara Weinberg, attempts to delve into this mystery through the medium of music.
By Rebecca Schmid
SALZBURG – Conductor Mark Minkowski and horseman-impresario Bartabas staged Davide penitente and other late works as equestrian ballet. The sight was mesmerizing at times, but some movements lacked dramatic orientation.
By Richard S. Ginell
DIGITAL REVIEW – Dudamel’s recording from Caracas, with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, has many of the qualities that made their Los Angeles performance something to savor, but not the same electrifying intensity.
By Jeff Dunn
PALO ALTO – Introducing his high energy new opus with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, John Adams spoke colorfully about his attempt to “caress” one of Beethoven’s motives, only to have it “get away like a misbehaving dog.”
By George Loomis
LONDON – For Monteverdi’s 17th-century masterwork, the London opera company left its Covent Garden home for an old railroad turntable-cum-theater in the round, under the engrossing direction of Shakespearean Michael Boyd.
By Richard S. Ginell
LOS ANGELES – Composer Henryk Górecki spent four years on a Fourth Symphony but died leaving only a piano short score and some details of orchestration. The LA Phil helped bring it to life, yet it still came off as unfinished.
By Diane Windeler
SAN ANTONIO – In her first staged portrayal of Strauss’ young femme fatale, Patricia Racette delivered ringing high notes and lower phrases of mahogany hue, weaving a tapestry of increasing madness that was downright chilling.
By Robert Battey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – His music toys with antecedents and expectations; it is full of ideas and contrasts; there is often a dramatic arc. But when all is said and done, Wolfgang Rihm’s new piano concerto is much ado about very little.
By Leslie Kandell
NEW YORK – Gypsy Grushka (Kristina Kapustinskaya) meets wandering monk Ivan (Oleg Sychov) in Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer, on Mariinsky Theatre’s U.S. tour. The opera needed more enchantment, less wandering.
By Richard S. Ginell
LOS ANGELES – For his first act since reaching his eighth decade, Michael Tilson Thomas unveiled with the LA Phil his reimagined, tradition-defying, multimedia setting for one of the most formidable blocks of the choral literature.
By Richard Todd
OTTAWA – The Salzburg Marionette Theatre has toured North America with a playful show built around Schumann’s Papillons and Debussy’s Boîte à joujoux. Remarkably life-like puppets teamed with pianist Orion Weiss. Paris is next.
By Colin Eatock
TORONTO – Danish composer Carl Nielsen is still on the fringes of the canon, but his music has a chance to find a wider audience this concert season, with a mini Nielsen-fest in Toronto, and more to come in the U.S. and Europe.
By Bill Rankin
EDMONTON, Alberta – An eight-stop tour by the Quebec chamber orchestra has an early romantic flavor, with an arrangement of Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor (Death and the Maiden), plus Mendelssohn and Schumann.
By Paul E. Robinson
Helping to ring in the new for worldwide audiences will be Zubin Mehta, whose bond with the Vienna Philharmonic dates back to his student days. This will be the conductor’s fifth appearance at the orchestra’s New Year’s Day celebration.
By Susan Brodie
BRUSSELS – Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new X-rated production at La Monnaie explores the more lurid instincts unleashed by the Don’s uncontrollable urges, but manages only to confuse and distract from the music.
By James L. Paulk
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Chaos surrounds the Teatro Colón these days, the result of the country’s economic crisis. But great artistry often rises from the disorder, as it did with director Hugo De Ana’s ambitious Madama Butterfly.
By Rodney Punt
BOOK REVIEW – Graham Johnson’s definitive survey of Schubert’s lyric art is at one stroke the indispensable reference for singers, pianists, scholars, lovers of music in general, and Schubert fans in particular. It arrives Dec. 16.
By Mike Telin
SAN FRANCISCO – One budding writer chosen to train with the pros at the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism likened the experience to competing in a TV reality show like Top chef, complete with a $10,000 prize.
By John Fleming
How is classical music radio adapting to the digital world? Directors of enduring stations and programs in the U.S. paint a picture of an industry in flux. They pledge to compete by accenting on-air programs that are live – and lively.
By Paul E. Robinson
DIGITAL REVIEW – As part of the 150th Richard Strauss birthday celebrations in 2014, descendants selected seven of his operas captured on video from as early as 1965 for an impressive compilation that would enhance any collection.
By Lawrence B. Johnson
DIGITAL REVIEW – How could anyone be blasé about holding a substantial chunk of Brahms’ life’s work on one little disc? Yet these Leipzig Gewandhaus performances with Riccardo Chailly transcend by far the slim form of the medium.
By Robert Battey
DIGITAL REVIEW – Former Buenos Aires child prodigies Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim often collaborate as soloist and conductor, but before a concert caught on DG they had played duo pianos together only once.
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Last Saturday, on a wind-swept 81-degree winter’s day (ha!), I slipped behind the Orange Curtain to attend …
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Hallelujah! An opera update that works.
I am speaking of a romp called ¡Figaro! (90210), a surprisingly …
Ludovic Morlot, Chief Conductor of La Monnaie, resigns post midway through a poorly received run of Don Giovanni. Brussels’s loss is Seattle’s gain, but budget cuts make it a difficult time for La Monnaie to scramble for new talent.
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Welcome to Classical Voice North America (CVNA), an online journal of classical music criticism and commentary written by the expert members of the Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA), with occasional guest contributors. We aim to convey the richness of musical life in the U.S. and Canada at a time when traditional print media is shrinking, and to bring classical music to life via digital images, audio samples, video and more. Full Story →
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Stories We Like: Recommended by Members
Mozart’s Don Giovanni falls hard under COC’s heavy hand and curtain -- By Arthur Kaptainis at the National Post
Kent Nagano and Toronto's Tafelmusik deliver Beethoven at his best -- By Michael Vincent at the Toronto Star
Opera conductor Karen Keltner broke the gender barrier -- By John Patrick Ford at the San Diego Source
L.A. Opera tackles immigration with `Figaro 90210`-- By Josie Huang at Southern California Public Radio
National Symphony Orchestra hits the clubs, and scores -- By Anne Midgette at the Washington Post
New York's Prototype Festival offers a mix of opera and theater -- By Heidi Waleson at the Wall Street Journal
Carlos Kalmar nails American music plan for Grant Park Music Festival -- by Nancy Malitz at Chicago On the Aisle
Then and now, L.A. women get things done in classical music -- By Mark Swed at the Los Angeles Times
Lyric chief Anthony Freud plots new directions for Chicago opera -- By Mike Silverman at U.S. News
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein goes beyond Bach at the Met -- By James R. Oestreich at the New York Times
Excellent biography of composer Claude Vivier is long overdue -- By Arthur Kaptainis at the Montreal Gazette
Edmonton composers Alissa Cheung and Vivian Fung finding success on bigger stages -- By Mark Morris at the Edmonton Journal
Vocal Arts Ensemble Tells Compelling Christmas Story -- By Mary Ellyn Hutton at Music in Cincinnati
Orchestra London Canada's musicians sound alarm on leadership -- By Patrick Maloney at the London Free Press
New Orchestra of Washington embraces smaller-is-better movement -- By Joan Reinthaler at the Washington Post
Cleveland Orchestra is making money and beautiful music -- By the Editorial Board at the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Board chair gives Curtis Institute of Music $11.5 million -- By Peter Dobrin at the Philadelphia Inquirer
Ten pieces by living Canadian composers that you will love -- By Matthew Parsons at CBC Music
In With the New: It’s time we took more risk in new music programming -- By Barbara Jepson at the Wall Street Journal
Bid for New York City Opera's assets wins board support -- By Michael Cooper at the New York Times
Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov are Wunderkinds at work -- By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim at the New York Times
Laser light show goes highbrow at Walt Disney Concert Hall -- By Shaunacy Ferro at Fast Company
Noseda, Teatro Regio hit the mark with a thrill-packed 'William Tell' -- By John von Rhein at the Chicago Tribune
Dallas Symphony conductor Jaap van Zweden plays tough -- By Michael Granberrry at the Dallas News
Boston Symphony's Andris Nelsons: maestro of emotionality -- By Christopher Lydon at Radio Open Source (audio interview)
Finally, a Max Reger moment at the L.A. Philharmonic -- By Mark Swed at the L.A. Times
Alasdair Neal returns to New World Symphony for thrilling Dvořák -- By Lawrence Budmen at South Florida Classical Review
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra launches in Los Angeles -- Rodney Punt at Huffington Post
The shape of opera to come: 'The Fool' at issue project room -- By John Chiaverina at ArtNews
Atlanta Symphony returns to applause and criticism -- By Mark Gresham at ArtsATL.com
LA Opera's double-bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Dido and Aeneas frustrates -- By Timothy Mangan at the Orange County Register
Atlanta Symphony musicians agree to a four-year contract -- By Howard Pousner at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Pianist asks the Washington Post to remove concert review -- By Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post
Vienna Aisle: Inside reeling mind of Tannhäuser via a bold psychological thriller at the Staatsoper -- By Lawrence B. Johnson at Chicago On the Aisle
Dido & Aeneas , Bluebeard’s Castle in a Duo at LA Opera -- By Rodney Punt at LA Opus
Why failing orchestras are the problem of every American -- By David Donnelly at the Huffington Post
Four New Yorkers offer different perspectives on 'Klingoffer' -- By Moustafa Bayoumi, Kayla Epstein, Alan Yuhas and Eli Valley at the Guardian
Newly created Pennsylvania Philharmonic launches season -- By David Patrick Stearns at the Philadelphia Inquirer
Has veneration of Beethoven stifled his successors? -- By Alex Ross at the New Yorker
United focus, local talent, help Utah Opera find success -- By Whitney Butters at the Deseret News
Boston's Handel and Haydn Society celebrates 200 years -- By Andrea Shea at the Artery (WBUR)
Does classical music sound better when you're high? -- By Chris Walker at OC Weekly
Stop sanitizing, and show the great works as they were created -- By Philip Kennicott at the Washington Post
Protesters disrupt St. Louis Symphony with song for Michael Brown -- By Ed Mazza at the Huffington Post
Gustavo Dudamel leads Mahler's Fifth in Los Angeles -- By Mark Swed at the Los Angeles Times
Dark, funny, musically vibrant ‘Don Giovanni’ raises the curtain on new Lyric Opera season -- By Lawrence B. Johnson at Chicago On the Aisle
Toronto's $32-million Integral House was built for music -- By Robert Everett-Green at the Globe and Mail
Alan Gilbert nears completion of his Carl Nielsen cycle with the New York Philharmonic -- By Anthony Tommasini at the New York Times
Robert Spano and Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed urge ASO and musicians to resolve conflict -- By Jenny Jarvie at ArtsATL