Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winterreise Review

Posted by: sjacobsohn

Many thanks to Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith for this review of the performance of Winterreise by baritone Wolfgang Holzmair and pianist Russell Ryan. Now it’s your turn – tell us what you thought of the performance!

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/2012/02/wolfgang_holzmair_offers_inten.html

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shout-out in today's Sun

Posted by: sjacobsohn

In the Friday, February 17th Baltimore Sun op-ed column Shriver Hall Concert Series gets a terrific 'shout-out' by New York-based commentator Eileen Pollock. You can read the whole article here and the excerpt is below. Tell us what you think!

"The New York Philharmonic is sublime, but the high prices mean I listen to it on classical radio. In Baltimore, I could subscribe to the symphony and actually attend performances.

Shriver Hall produces a top-notch classical series, with many of the legendary performers who are playing this season at Carnegie Hall. And the prices — I have sticker shock in reverse. Les Violons du Roy, the renowned Quebec baroque ensemble, is discounted for $25. Les Violons du Roy is playing Carnegie Hall this March for $63 to $85. The brilliant pianist Richard Goode is playing Shriver Hall (Mozart and Chopin) for a modest $38. Richard Goode will play at Carnegie Hall in April, and comparable tickets range from $67 to $99. This season, Angela Hewitt, the marvelous interpreter of early music, is playing Rameau at Shriver in May. I'm tempted to take the train to Baltimore to hear her. She is not scheduled to play in New York this season."

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

More Praise for Les Violons du Roy

Posted by: sjacobsohn

Ionarts

Something other than politics in Washington, D.C.

Les Violons du Roy in Charm City

available at amazon
Mr. Corelli in London, M. Steger, English Concert, L. Cummings
(2010)

available at amazon
Handel, Water Music, Les Violons du Roy, B. Labadie
(2008)

Our last chance to hear Les Violons du Roy in the area was in 2005, so we were not going to miss the chance to hear the Canadian early music group when they played on Sunday afternoon at Baltimore's Shriver Hall. The group plays on modern instruments, so they produce a plush sound, but with reproductions of 18th-century bows that changes the nature and precision of the attack, which produces a refined unity in spite of relatively small numbers of players. While music director Bernard Labadie does favor the crisp, fleet approach to Allegro movements, typical of historically informed performance (HIP) conductors, he also approaches the music with considerable liberty of phrasing, heard in the Largo introduction to Handel's B? major concerto grosso (op. 6/7, "Hornpipe"), a piece last heard from the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2009. Placement of the archlutenist, Sylvain Bergeron, in the front row, helped his decorations of the exquisitely soft third movement come to the fore. Labadie guided the players through expertly pointed phrases in the the fast movements, especially the folksy vigor of the "Hornpipe" last movement, where harpsichordist Richard Paré, the instrument wisely placed at the back to reduce its tendency to dominate, shone in his inventive continuo realization.

Recorder player Maurice Steger lived up to his reputation as a daredevil virtuoso in a Telemann suite (A minor, TWV 55:a2), featuring alto recorder, that is well worth a listen. Steger was up to all of the composer's many virtuosic challenges, giving clean, precise articulation to the many cascading runs, ear-piercing clarity on the high notes, and astounding breath support and finger work. The only deficit, if it should even be called that, is the lack of a truly luxurious legato, heard in the somewhat impatiently rendered Largo movement. Much the same effect was produced by an inferior piece of music, Giuseppe Sammartini's F major concerto for soprano recorder. The soloist dazzled in many sparkling runs, and the archlute had another pleasing turn decorating empty spaces in the middle movement, but it was not a piece that warranted its resurrection.


Other Reviews:

Tim Smith, Les Violons du Roy, recorder soloist Maurice Steger light up Shriver Hall (Baltimore Sun, January 30)

Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Maurice Steger, Violons du Roy offer thrilling baroque playing at Rackham (Ann Arbor.com, January 29)

Of greater interest on the second half were two pieces drawn from Steger's recent album, a blockbuster, of music by Arcangelo Corelli, adapted and made even more brilliant by his student, Francesco Geminiani, who packaged many of Corelli's works for English audiences during his time in London. Although Steger made that disc with a different ensemble, the English Concert, Les Violons du Roy took Geminiani's version of Corelli's famous variations on the Follia tune and ran with it, with lead violinist Nicole Trotier and the other musicians each getting virtuosic moments in the spotlight. The rhythmic verve of this performance was spirited and ferocious, especially in the fastest sections, taking on the spirit of dances like the fandango. Steger returned for a final solo turn in Geminiani's amped-up version of a Corelli recorder concerto (op. 5, no. 10), incorporating extremely ornate ornamentation dreamed up by leading recorder virtuosos in London at the time. Such written-out embellishments are an invaluable resource for HIP musicians, giving precious evidence of just how florid the process of ornamentation could be. As rewarding as the recording is to listen, to hear that level of virtuosity in live performance was an overwhelming experience.

The next Shriver Hall event is a free concert by 15-year-old pianist George Li, at the Baltimore Museum of Art (February 11, 3 pm).

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The President

Stephen Jacobsohn was appointed Executive Director of SHCS in May 2009 and became the President in 2014. A conservatory trained cellist, he has performed across the globe and, before joining the Series, served in a variety of administrative roles for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 2005-2009 .

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