mezzo-soprano Emma Sorenson

Emma Sorenson


New this season, Cincinnati Opera is offering a trio of recitals featuring Young Artists at The Mercantile Library. Each 40-minute concert will include select art song and operatic repertoire inspired by characters from Cincinnati Opera’s 2017 Summer Festival. For more information, visit cincinnatiopera.org.

Frida Kahlo, Frida Fiercely independent, Frida Kahlo was revolutionary in both her politics and her art. Mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal, tenor Pedro André Arroyo, and accompanist Carol Walker will perform selections of repertoire focused on independent women, revolutionaries, Mexican and Hispanic composers, and those who find their own path to freedom through art. When: Wednesday, June 28, 6:00 p.m. Where: Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut Street, 11th floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Admission: Free & open to the public. Reservations requested: call (513) 621-0717 to reserve. 

Isabelle Eberhardt, Song from the Uproar An explorer and a writer, Isabelle Eberhardt defied convention at the turn of the 20th century as she dressed as a man, converted to Islam, joined a Sufi order, roamed the desert on horseback, and fell in love with an Algerian solider. Get a taste of her inspiring adventures as mezzo-soprano Emma Sorenson, tenor Benjamin Lee, and accompanist Elena Kholodova perform captivating repertoire centered on explorers, mavericks, vagabonds, and female librettists and composers.  When: Tuesday, July 11, 6:00 p.m. Where: Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut Street, 11th floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 Admission: Free & open to the public. Reservations requested: call (513) 621-0717 to reserve.

Rafael de Acha










Franz Schubert – The Complete Original Piano Duets – Goldstone & Clemmow

From his Fantasie in G Major, D 1, published in 1822 when he was twenty-five years old, through the Andante in A minor, D 968, composed in 1831, the final year of his short life, Franz Schubert wrote many piano duets. These compositions, meant to be played on one piano, four hands were among the most beloved of Schubert’s compositions, ranking in popularity with his songs in the salons of Vienna of the composer’s time.

During the years they were active as a concert piano duo, starting in 1984 and continuing through Golddstone’s passing in 2017, Caroline Clemmow and Anthony Goldstone  concertized widely in the UK, in Europe, and in the United States. They also recorded in addition to this set of the complete piano duos of Franz Schubert , eighteen other CD’s of music for piano duo by composers ranging from Mozart to contemporary English ones all under the creative supervision of Stephen Sutton, of Divine Art.

The boxed set,  Franz Schubert – The Complete Original Piano Duets – Goldstone & Clemmow (dda21701) is nicely produced and annotated by the artists themselves.  The total playing time of close to nine hours requires the listener to set aside quality time to devote to the enjoyment of this set of seven CD’s. I did, over the course of a week and came away from the experience with very positive feelings and a sense of accomplishment.

Because the selections are not played in any particular order other than that determined by the choice of the artists, it would be unnecessary to list all the selections, and nearly impossible to give a critical commentary on each of the several dozen compositions. Suffice then for one to share overall impressions, starting with that of being awestruck by the undertaking itself.

We listened with admiration to the youthful  Sonata in C ‘Grand Duo’, D. 81 and to the mature Fantasie in F minor, D. 940, the Allegro in A minor (‘Lebensstürme’), D. 947, and the Sonata in C ‘Grand Duo’, D. 812. The playing of Goldstone & Clemmow is assured at all times, idiomatic, quite often virtuosic, and always unfailingly imaginative. The musicianship, the accuracy, the inventiveness are there, and throughout all seven of these recitals on CD one senses from this invaluable duo an abiding love for this music.

The artists recorded the set over two years – 1998 and 1999, and the acoustically friendly environment of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Alkborough, North Lincolnshire in the artists’ native England gives the set an up close sonic quality that is most satisfying.

As is the case here and with title after title in the Divine Art catalogue (www.divineartrecords.com) this boxed set is an indispensable treasure trove of musical rarities played by two remarkable artists.

Rafael de Acha



With program notes as insightful as the ones written by Stewart Goodyear for Stewart Goodyear Ravel, a new CD from Orchid Classics (www.orchidclassics.com) not much is left for the reviewer to add, other than raves.

Goodyear takes the listener on a 68 minute journey that spans Jeux d’eau, Sonatine, Miroirs, Gaspard de la Nuit and Pavane four une Infante defuncte. Throughout he keeps the listener enthralled with his technical wizardry, his elegance, his ability to color the sound in a myriad of ways. All the while one senses that the artist is ever at the service of the composer, not as an obliging servant but as a knowing collaborator who understands the quirky twists and turns of Ravel’s music.

Ravel, half Basque, half Swiss, French by birth but Iberian by temperament, finds much to mine for inspiration in the music of the Peninsula and never more than in Miroirs. Goodyear one would dare say, feels the Spanish mix of ice and fire that colors Noctuelles, Oiseaux tristes, Une barque sur l’ocean, Alborada del Gracioso and La vallee des cloches. His playing of this work is as memorable as I have ever heard.

The album is handsomely packaged in a (thank goodness!) 10 millimeter case and accompanied by insightful program notes.

Rafael de Acha





Just on the outside chance that you may have not heard of François-André Philidor, Michel Blavet, or Jean Pierre Guignon – all three of the same generation (more or less) that reigned musically during the reign of Louis XIV and a bit into the troubled years of Louis XV – allow this superb group of Baroque specialists that call themselves Les Délices (www.lesdelices.org )to introduce you to the delectable music of these three French masters.

In the CD, Age of Indulgence, Messieurs Philidor, Blavet and Guignon keep comfortable company with Jean Philippe Rameau, the giant who literally wrote The Book that pretty much defined the tenets of 18th music for France and beyond.

But lest all this musicological babble send you running for the nearest exit into the easy listening Gallic land of Debussy and Ravel, let me entreat you to seek out this treasure and purchase it from www.NavonaRecords.com, whether digitally or in hard copy.

I obtained a sample reviewer’s copy but, rest assured, I would drive all the 284 miles between the Queen City and the Mistake by the Lake, playing this CD on my car radio just so I could hear oboist Debra Nagy, violinists Julie Andrijeski and Karina Schmitz, violoncellist Emily Wallhout and harpsichordist Michael Sponseller dispense their musical delights in concert.

Baroque music does not sound…well…Baroque (!) unless it is played with period instruments: violins and cellos with gut strings, wooden oboes and, most importantly, with the flair and muscularity that this Cleveland-based five-person ensemble elicits. They play almost without vibrato, which in simple terms means that they have to be dead-on pitch or else. They are. No matter how intricate the divisions and ornamentations, no matter how long the phrases, they individually and as an ensemble land on the musical bull’s eye time and again. Lucas Paquette, the engineer of record does a superb job keeping the sound up front and intimate.

The music-making of Les Délices is lively and elegant and mercifully never ever pedantic, all the time reminding us that Baroque music – whether for the stage or the salon of the King – was and is entertainment.

 Merci beaucoup!

 Rafael de Acha





Our overseas friends at the BBC Music Magazine (www.classical-music.com) continue to supply all of us lovers of classical music with subscriptions to the magazine with CD’s that are included in every issue. The most recent one reached my hands just now; it includes a CD of Mahler’s Symphony no. 4, with the BBC Scottish Symphony, Donald Runnicles leading the Scotts and soprano Carolyn Sampson pouring out ethereal singing the fourth movement’s Das himmlische Leben. The results are musically inspiring and the engineering sonically perfect.

The album, Mahler Symphony no. 4 is no. 8 in the 25th volume of the BBC Music Magazine Collection.


ONE FOR FOUR features the New Third Stream Quartet in its first CD, featuring jazz pieces by Kim Pensyl, Will Campbell, Wit Swindler, Brent Gallaher, Tyler Gillmore and Dan Martinez.

Rick van Matre, James Bunte, Peter Sommer and James Romain are the quartet’s members. They focus on commissioned works that straddle the worlds of jazz and chamber music. One looks forward to the opportunity to hear this invaluable ensemble live. For the moment, though, we will have to content ourselves with listening to this terrific CD, available on Amazon or iTunes, and on CD Baby.

Homage to Béla Bartók: https://youtu.be/zYHD-orQsxg


Faster, Higher, Stronger is the Latin motto behind the creation of the Altius Quartet. Formed in 2011 at Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts, the Altius currently holds the position of Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado-Boulder. These days, ensembles of the caliber of this one find a welcoming home in academia, where they can continue to play, have time for touring and enjoy the security of a teaching position.

We missed their Cincinnati appearance for Chamber Music Cincinnati last November, and we were glad and grateful to Navona Records, which sent us this CD. Titled DRESS CODE, the quartet’s members, Joshua Ulrich and Andrew Giordano, first and second violin respectively, violist Andrew Krimm and cellist Zachary Reeves don’t take themselves too seriously, but thankfully play their music with utter seriousness tempered by a mercurial lightness of touch whether essaying Franz Joseph Haydn or Dave Brubeck’s Take It, William Bolcom’s Three Rags, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Ben E. King’s Stand by Me and Take on Me by a-ha.

When it’s time for four different movements from Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 74, No. 1, the quartet’s maverick members bring out their classical chops, elegantly playing the Allegro, Andantino, Menuetto and Vivace that intersperse the CD’ pop/jazz/rock tracks. Inspired conceit!

DRESS CODE, available from http://navonarecords.com is a one of a kind musical treat and well worth a listen.

Rafael de Acha





Several compositions by Czech composer Jan Jirasek are featured in Parallel Worlds, a just released new entry in the catalogue of the eclectically inventive Navona Records. The album (nv6101) includes compositions for choral ensemble that feature the Jitro Czech Girls Choir.

Based on the Bohemian town of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic, the all girls, thirty-strong, touring choir, delivers under the direction of Jiri Skopal a crystalline sound in Jirasek’s Missa Propria, then transitions to an earthier sound appropriate to the worldly Latin poetry of Si, Vis Amari, Ama, and finally shifts once more to a supple sound suitable to the a capella intricacies of Mondi Paralleli. Throughout, the Jitro singers are stunningly accurate in pitch and malleable in their technical ability. Beyond that, they and their maestro are utterly musical.

The album concludes with the humorous Lavvriksnipxcygrynch (King Lavra), an inventive narrative ballad for choir and percussion featuring pianist Michal Chrobák,  percussionist, Pavel Plašil, and the composer himself on the scissors that finally revealed that the hapless King of the tale had donkey’s ears.

Jirasek’s largely tonal writing evidences influences as disparate as Catholic Church music and Bohemian folk song, both these and others homogenously unified by Jirasek’s own sensibility in this impressive album much worthy of the attention who loves the human voice treated imaginatively by a resourceful composer.

Parallel Worlds is available directly from http://www.navonarecords.com

Rafael de Acha




Over the next few weeks we will be catching up with some  of these artists in a new series, WHAT ARE THEY UP TO NOW?

2013-2014 Series

October 15, 2013 – All’Italiana  Songs by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bellini, and Donizetti. With Molly Hanes, soprano; Valerie Pool, piano; Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano and William Willits, guitar.

December 15, 2013 – Happy Holidays with Kimberly Daniel and Friends  American and International songs and poetry of the season. With Aubrey Berg, speaker; Steve Goers, piano; Karen Lykes, mezzo-soprano; Pamela Myers, vocalist; Stephanie Jae Park, vocalist; Noah J. Ricketts, vocalist; Kenneth Shaw, bass-baritone; Kimber Elayne Sprawl, vocalist; Frank Weinstock, piano; Jacob Yates, cello.

April 20, 2014 – The Voice of Spain  Songs and airs by Fuenllana, Encina, Obradors, Campos, de Falla, Literes, Montsalvatge, Guerrero, Serrano, Luna, Barbieri, Moreno-Torroba and Llorens-Torres. Poetry by Quevedo, Guillen and Neruda. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Cindy Candelaria, soprano; Sakinah Davis, soprano; Rafael de Acha, speaker; Valerie Pool, piano; Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano; William Willits, guitar.

June 1, 2014 – I Hear America Singing

Songs by George Gershwin, Stephen Foster, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. With Simon Barrad, baritone; Alan Palacios Chan, tenor; Kimberly Daniel, vocalist; Fotina Naumenko, soprano; Noah J. Ricketts, vocalist; Ryan Sigurdson, piano; Kimber Elayne Sprawl, vocalist; and Paulina Villareal, mezzo-soprano.

2014-2015 Series

October 12, 2014 – Songs from Austria and Germany Mozart – Arias and Songs; Schubert – Der Hirt auf dem Felsen; Brahms – Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano, op. 91; Duets by Schumann and Mendelssohn; Strauss – Four Songs, opus 27;  Flotow – Arias from Martha. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Cindy Candelaria, soprano; Anneliese Dzwonczyk, soprano; Jeff O’Flynn, clarinet; Althea Kearney, viola; Carmine Miranda, cello; Paulina Villareal, mezzo-soprano; Frank Weinstock, piano; Rachel Kay Zapata, piano.

December 7, 2014 – Happy Holidays with Kimberly Daniel and Friends  American and International songs and poetry of the season. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Tomas Baresel, tenor; Ben Biggers, vocalist; Vince Degeorge, speaker; R. Terrell Finney, speaker; Kenneth Griffiths, piano; Carmine Miranda, cello; Jeff O’Flynn, clarinet; D.J. Plunkett, vocalist; Kenneth Shaw, baritone; Paulina Villareal, mezzo-soprano; Danny White, piano; Lawson Young, vocalist.

February 15, 2015 – Bewitched… Songs by Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers and Hart. With Ben Biggers, Eric William Geil, Tyler Huckstepp, Gina Santare and Lawson Young, vocalists. Danny White, music director.

April 12, 2015 – Songs from the British Isles – Dowland, Morley – Songs; When I am laid in earth…(Dido and Aeneas) – Purcell; Handel – Arias from Joshua and Solomon; Lo! Hear the Gentle Lark – Bishop; Beethoven – Irish and Scottish Songs for voices and piano trio; Britten – Songs for tenor and guitar; Ganon – Shakespeare Songs for voices, flute, cello and violin; Coward – Operetta Songs. With Suzanne Bona, flute; Paola Ines Gonzalez, soprano; Ryu Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Kim, cello; Shawn Mlynek, tenor; Danny White, piano; Manami White, violin

2015-2016  Series

October 4, 2015 – Mozart for the Voice Mozart – Six Notturni for voices with piano, K. 346, 436, 437, 438, 439, 549; Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo, concert aria for bass, K. 584; Ch’io mi scordi di te, concert aria for soprano, K. 505; Per pieta, non ricercate, concert aria for tenor, K. 420; Vorrei spiegarti, o Dio, concert aria for soprano, K. 418; Der Schauspieldirektor (The Opera Impresario), a Singspiel in one act, K. 486. With Andrew Manea, baritone; Heidi Middendorf, soprano; Fotina Naumenko, soprano; Allan Palacios Chan, tenor; and Danny White, piano.

December 6, 2015 – Kimberly Daniel and Friends Celebrate the Holidays American and International songs and poetry of the season. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Aubrey Berg, speaker; Ben Biggers, vocalist; Allan Palacios Chan, tenor; Michelle Coben, vocalist; Eric Hernandez, vocalist; Vernon Hartman, baritone; Amy Johnson, soprano; Tyler Johnson-Campion, vocalist; Nick Pelaccio, vocalist; Kimberly Pine, vocalist; Nathaniel Riccio, vocalist; Jennifer Roig-Francoli, violin; Gabriella Sam, soprano; Paul Schwensen, vocalist; Tyler Sodoma, vocalist; Danny White, piano; Adam Zeph, vocalist.

February 14, 2016 – Speak Love Schubert – Auf der Strom, D943; Brahms – Liebeslieder (Love Songs), op. 52 ; Kurt Weill – Songs from Love Life, The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday, Street Scene, One Touch of Venus and Lady  in the Dark. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Caitlin Gotimer, soprano; Kayleigh Decker, mezzo-soprano; Christopher Morales, bass-baritone; Frank Weinstock. piano; Danny White, piano

April 17, 2016 – Paris, City of Light Saint-Saens – The Carnival of the Animals; Ravel – Cinq Melodies Grecques (Five Greek Folk Songs); Debussy – Three Songs; Duets by Paladilhe, Berlioz, Faure and Saint Saens; Opera excerpts from Mignon, Manon, Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Lakme. With Anneliese Dzwonczyk, soprano; Kimberly Daniel, narrato; Ryu Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; Samuel Martin, piano; Elizabeth Motter, harp.

2016-2017  Series

October 2, 2016 –Sins of Old Age Vocal and Instrumental music by Rossini and his contemporaries. With Suzanne Bona, flute; Ashley Fabian, soprano; Allan Palacios Chan, tenor; Kayleigh Decker, mezzo-soprano; Sarak Kim, cello; Jesse Leong, piano; Jennifer Roig , violin

December 4, 2016 Happy Holidays with Kimberly Daniel and Friends

February 12, 2017 – Wagner – Wesendonk Songs; Strauss – Last Four Songs; Schoenberg – Brettl Songs; Haydn – Emperor Quartet With Shareese Arnold, soprano; 4-Way String Quartet; Chistina Lalog Seal, piano.

April 23, 2017 Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare! Music and poetry by Shakespeare, Morley, Dowland, Cole Porter, Bernstein, Rodgers and Hart, Gounod, Rossini and Verdi. With Pedro Arroyo, tenor; Kimberly Daniel, speaker; Claire Lopatka, soprano; Samuel Martin, piano; Annelise Dzwonczyk, mezzo-soprano; William Willits, guitar and lute.