Music for All Seasons: 2018-2019

 

Our opening concert of our Season 2018-2019 is on Sunday October 14th at 2 pm at Historic Peterloon, 8605 Hopewell Road in Indian Hill.

You will be introduced to the talents of four musical artists whose names may not yet be familiar to you: Yaoyue Huang (piano), Joseph Rebman (harp), Scott Sherman (piano) and Miriam Smith (cello) and again enjoy the return of James Meade (guitar). We will also present the 2018 Outstanding Young Artist Award to Hayden Smith, baritone, and our Co-founding Artistic Director Kimberly Daniel de Acha will narrate the event.

We have assembled a program of French, Spanish and American music by Maurice Ravel, Eric Satie, Marcel Grandjany, Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Joaquin Rodrigo and Leonard Bernstein that will delight you. As traditional with us, the concert will be followed by an informal get-together with the artists, with coffee, tea and pastries.

Please confirm your attendance at musicseasons@zoomtown.com and if by chance you are not a four-seat flexpass holder or have not renewed yours yet, please do so by sending us a check ($120) to PO Box 43172, Cincinnati, OH 45243 and take advantage of the 15% discount over the single seat prices ($35).

You might also like to know that we are offering a complimentary ticket to our flexpass holders to bring a guest to our December 9 Holiday Reception, Silent Auction and Concert.

We look forward to welcoming you at Peterloon.

Rafael de Acha and Kimberly Daniel de Acha, Artistic Directors
http://www.MusicSeasonsCincinnati.com

Memory Eternal

Clarion-Choir-photo-credit-Isabelle-Provost

Before receiving the NAXOS recording of Alexander Kastalsky’s 1917 choral composition Vechnaya Pamiat Geroyam (Memory Eternal) I had never heard the name of this composer nor had I had many opportunities to listen to any Russian Orthodox Liturgical music. Now, thanks to the exquisite work of The Clarion Choir, led by its conductor Steven Fox I have instantly become a convert not to the Eastern Orthodox Faith itself but to its mesmerizingly beautiful music.

Alexander Kastalsky wrote the music comprised in tracks 1 through 11 of this CD as a posthumous homage to the more than 16 million military and civilian fallen during the terrible years of what then came to be termed “The war to end all wars.” Kastalsky got the Soviets to allow this music to be performed in a memorial concert in Petrograd not long after the end of the war. His intention in renaming the streamlined version of his original was to avoid possible objections from both the Orthodox and Communist Party Hierarchies. He combined chorus and organ in an unusual pairing and Bratskoye Pominoveniye (The Fraternal Commemoration) went off without a hitch.

But the composer wanted to return to his original setting of these religious texts and thus he reworked his composition by doing away with the organ, an instrument never heard in the Orthodox Church. Using a refined compositional technique he had acquired as a student of Tchaikovsky, Kastalsky deftly juxtaposed the chanting of a Deacon – Bass Leonid Roschko in this recording – to choral polyphony – The Clarion Choir here – to create a hauntingly beautiful musical tapestry.

The choir is astounding. Inky-voiced basses anchor the fluctuating harmonies pitted against a ringing lyrical tenor section. A sterling fifteen-strong alto and soprano grouping capable of comfortably switching from vibrato-less hushed singing to throbbing outbursts in the upper range collectively delivers a cohesive sound in flawlessly pronounced Slavonic.

Three choral works augment this priceless collection recorded in New York in 2018, impeccably produced and engineered by Martha de Francisco and enhanced with liner notes by Vladimir Morossan. Steven Fox is the music director of The Clarion Choir, as well as The Clarion Orchestra and the Cathedral Choral Society of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Heartfelt thanks go to him for his enterprising leadership and to Naxos Records for continued contributions from obscure though rich pockets of the classical music canon.

The choral/orchestral version given in 1917 was not the final version of Vechnaya Pamiat Geroyam. The Clarion Choir, in collaboration with D.C.’s Cathedral Choir Society and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s led by Leonard Slatkin will give the World Premiere of the choral/orchestral version in D.C. on Sunday, October 21 at the National Cathedral.

Rafael de Acha

Stewart Goodyear tackles the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas

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Stewart Goodyear tackles the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas

Hans von Bülow famously called the Piano Sonatas of Beethoven The New Testament. Few pianists have conquered this Mount Everest of piano music. Fewer yet have recorded all 32 of them. Others have even attempted to play all 32 over the course of a few days – even a few hours, turning the whole affair into an endurance test for both player and public.

Like the finest of wines, these works must be enjoyed slowly – ideally over several listening sessions. The extraordinarily gifted Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear, equal to the task of taking on all of these works has just released a ten-CD collection of three sonatas per disc, except for a couple into which he and his producer manage to fit as many as five onto a single CD.

Having previously reviewed his work and heard him in person, I can vouch for Goodyear’s total devotion to the task before him anywhere at any time. Here he sails into Beethoven’s 1795 Sonatas Nos. 1, 2 and 3 all from the early opus 2 with the freshness of a curious young man discovering a new music world.

More like Mozart than Mozart in their inventiveness, more Haydn-like than Haydn in their elegance, yet utterly Beethovenian in their capricious changes of mood, dynamics and tempi these are seemingly simple sonatas that nonetheless demand of their interpreter assuredness and clarity, which Goodyear abundantly provides.

The tempo of the opening Allegro con brio of the C Major Sonata number 3, for example is taken at such a speed than at its onset one wonders if it will be much too fast to allow for a clean execution of the cascading scales at its halfway point. But Goodyear neither plays it safe nor is he ever reckless for the sake of showing his titanic technique, and so he sails triumphantly through the perilous moments that Beethoven sets up for his pianist.

And so it goes, through each and every movement of the three sonatas that comprise the opus number 2 from the year 1795, a happy and productive one for the young Beethoven. Even the second movements of each of the three works, all marked Adagio are expressive, at times melancholy, but never do they approach the depths of profound sadness present in the works from the year 1799 onwards, at which time the still young composer was beginning to experience the first symptoms of the deafness that plagued him for the remainder of his life.

The ten-CD collection, simply titled Beethoven/Stewart Goodyear – The Complete Piano Sonatas is available from Marquis Recordings (www.MarquisClassics.com) and nicely packaged and engineered. Yet another plus are the insightful and at times irreverently humorous liner notes by Goodyear himself.

I will endeavor to leisurely listen to the remaining 29 sonatas included in this set and make further comments in upcoming posts. For now I simply say that I am thrilled to have this collector’s treasure in my CD library.

Rafael de Acha