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Critics' Picks

Aspen Festival To Mark 75 Years As Wellspring Of Musical Nourishment

ASPEN – More than 250 performances, master classes, lectures, and other events are planned for this celebratory season. Founded in 1949, the festival will offer special reminiscence concerts to welcome alumni spanning more than 50 years.

Tennstedt Bio Reveals Great Maestro At Odds With World and Himself

BOOK REVIEW – In his vivid book Klaus Tennstedt: Possessed by Music, author Georg Wübbolt describes how the celebrated conductor, born in East Germany, was his own worst enemy, wracked with self-doubt and given to extreme stage fright.

35 Years On, Adams’ ‘Nixon In China’ Gets New Looks In Europe

PERSPECTIVE – Much like the characters it depicts, Nixon in China has seen its stock repeatedly rise and fall since its Houston premiere in 1987. In recent months, the opera has been revisited in no fewer than five productions on the Continent.

Amid Flourish Of Horns, Maestro Extends Chase Of Haydn’s Symphonies

DIGITAL REVIEW – There are big recording projects, and then there’s Giovanni Antonini's plan to record all 107 of Haydn’s symphonies, and to complete the project by the composer’s 300th birthday in 2032. Volume 13 abounds with horns.

American Opera, Voices Flavor Creative Mix On Stages Across Europe

PERSPECTIVE – John Adams' Nixon in China, with Thomas Hampson in the title role and Renée Fleming as the First Lady, triumphed at Paris' Opéra Bastille while other Americans dotted casts encountered on a continental opera sojourn.

A Conductor’s Practical Book On Making A Life Of Waving One’s Arms

BOOK REVIEW – Maestro and author Carl Topilow offers advice that is specifically practical in the world of community or student orchestras, one path sometimes taken by young conductors. Topilow created the Cleveland Pops Orchestra.

Berliners Conjure Gold From Musical Pantheon Of Weimar Twenties

DIGITAL REVIEW – Now available for streaming is a well-produced series of concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic titled The Golden Twenties. Works by composers from Weill and Strauss to Sibelius bespeak an era of exceptional creativity.

Pärt’s New Voice Emerges On Disc Of Recent Works

DIGITAL REVIEW – Religious fervor and near-operatic passion resound across a CD of six works, four of them written in the 21st Century, performed by the Massachusetts-based choir Gloriae Dei Cantores directed by Richard K. Pugsley.

‘Dido’ In COVID: Intimacy On Film, At A Safe Distance

BOSTON – The early-music ensemble Boston Camerata, innovators in performance practice since 1954, planned a Purcell party. Then came COVID. And necessity sparked a film: Dido and Aeneas, An Opera for Distanced Lovers.

Obscure Telemann Opera ‘Miriways’ Sparkles On Disc

DIGITAL REVIEW – Conductor Bernard Labadie, founder of Quebec's Les Violons du Roy, leads a stylish Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and a strong cast through this attractive score framing a tale of the exotic ancient Middle East.

Blaze Of Fanfares, With A Solo Twist, Recaptures Legacy

CINCINNATI – Recalling its World War II fanfare project, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops commissioned solo fanfares from 13 composers, including Tyshawn Sorey's terse flourish for trumpet, to air online.

Critics’ Choice: Video Treasures Historic And Novel

DIGITAL REVIEW – From concert broadcasts at the mid-century's cutting edge to musical bio-pics and fledgling livestream efforts by today's entrepreneurs (of necessity), the internet remains a source of discovery for our critics.

Of Special Interest

Classical Voice North America