Reviews in the New Year

I’m ,thinking how fitting it was to hear “Winter” from “The Four Seasons” this weekend, and then wake up to this. I meaasured 9 inches on my patio.

In case you missed the CSO reviews of the first two concerts of 2019, here are the links. Remember that you can sign up for a FREE subscription to the Arts Front at bizjournals.com/cincinnati.

Fireworks at Rach 3 in first concert of year. It’s amazing to think that Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor was the composer’s own calling card to play on an American tour in 1909. Like his more famous Second Concerto (which he played in Cincinnati on that tour), it is lushly scored and features one great romantic tune after another. But technically, the Third goes a step further with nonstop fireworks for the pianist.

Benjamin Beilman in his debut with the CSO, conducted from the harpsichord by Richard Egarr. Photo by Lee Snow

Beilman wows in Four Seasons with CSO. I don’t think I’ve heard Baroque music played with such atmosphere and emotion while maintaining the “historically informed” performance style of clear textures and brisk tempos.

 

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Year in review: Great performances of 2018

It’s always revealing to look back at the best things I saw – and heard — over the year. Cincinnati audiences heard memorable performances, musical rarities and world premieres. There were also some musical milestones, such as the Cincinnati May Festival’s first concert conducted by a woman. Here are a few of my personal favorites from 2018.

Jamie Barton red dress sm
The incomparable Jamie Barton

In January, a rare recital: Jamie Barton and pianist Kathleen Kelly launched their road tour in the Queen City with the recital that they performed in December at Carnegie Hall. The recital tour was part of a big season for the mezzo-soprano, who was honored with the 2017 Beverly Sills Artist Award by the Metropolitan Opera. Her program was a journey of discovery — with many unexpectedly delicious moments. That was partly because, in a rare occurrence on concert stages today, fully half of her program consisted of music by women: Elinor Remick Warren, Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Amy Beach and Libby Larsen.

Presented by the venerable, 105-year-old music club Matinée Musicale, the event was held at the beautifully-restored, circa-1908 Memorial Hall in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine historic district.  Its 550-seat theater was packed to the rafters.Read More »

André Watts cancels Linton appearance

André Watts

The Linton Chamber Music series has announced that piano legend André Watts has had to cancel his January 20 and 21 appearances due to a temporary hand injury.The dates were to mark Watts’ second-ever performance on the chamber music series, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season.

Pianist Anna Polonsky is stepping in to perform on the program, which has been revised.
Artistic directors Sharon Robinson (cello) and Jaime Laredo (violin), as well as violinist Bella Hristova and violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama will join Polonsky in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet, one of the most treasured works of the chamber music repertoire. Music by Mozart and Beethoven will round out the program.
Concerts are at 4 p.m. Jan. 20, First Unitarian Church in Avondale; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Congregation Beth Adam, Loveland.
Tickets and information at lintonmusic.org; 513-381-6868 or email info@lintonmusic.org.

‘Tis the season…. for sing-along Messiahs

Butler Philharmonic and Chorus, Paul John Stanbery, music director

Performances of Handel’s Messiah are among the best-loved traditions of the holiday season. This year, there are several to choose from, for singers and listeners alike.

The Majesty of Christmas — The sing-along Messiah by the Butler Philharmonic and Chorus on Friday, Dec. 7, might be the region’s largest. Music director Paul John Stanbery says their first Messiah last year drew 1,000. It’s so popular, “we might need to do it twice,” he says.

Stanbery has assembled a fine cast of soloists: Soprano Jennifer Cherest, mezzo Kaylee Nichols, baritone Tom Dreeze and tenor Scott Wyatt. They’ll be performing the Christmas portion, plus selected arias and of course, the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Oh, and you won’t need to bring your own score, unless you want to. The chorus parts will be shown on two giant video screens. There will be designated areas for singers by type: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.Read More »

Salonen to lead SF Symphony; Bryce Dessner to have role

Esa-Pekka Salonen has been named as the next music director of the San Francisco Symphony, succeeding Michael Tilson Thomas. And in what seems to be a trend, the orchestra will take on the new approach of having an artistic leadership team with a group of eight collaborative members, who will “reimagine” the role of the orchestra.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner performed Bryce Dessner’s “St. Carolyn by the Sea” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of CSO

One of those is Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner, of the band The National. Of course, most of us know that he is also an excellent classical composer and curator, whose music has been premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony.

The Finnish conductor Salonen will serve as Music Director Designate for the next year and half, and will become the 12th Music Director in the illustrious 107-year history of the San Francisco Symphony.

His tenure as Music Director will begin in September 2020 following the conclusion of Thomas’ remarkable 25-year tenure.

In a statement, the orchestra says that “Esa-Pekka values a collaborative approach to artistic leadership and music making. Together, the SFS and Esa-Pekka Salonen will reimagine the role of a symphony orchestra in our community and in today’s world.”

The new partners come from a variety of cultural disciplines. They are pianist, film producer, and composer of award-winning film scores Nicholas Britell; soprano and curator Julia Bullock, who has made social consciousness and activism fundamental to her work; flutist, educator, and advocate for new and experimental music Claire Chase; composer, new music curator, and member of The National Bryce Dessner; violinist, musical director, and artistic trailblazer Pekka Kuusisto; composer and genre-breaking collaborator Nico Muhly; artificial intelligence entrepreneur and roboticist Carol Reiley; and jazz bassist, vocalist, and undefinable artist Esperanza Spalding.

Salonen will lead the orchestra in concerts on January, 18, 19, and 20, 2019.

A father’s meaningful memorial to his son

Jordan McFaull

Rod McFaull, of Ft. Mitchell, wanted to make a lasting memorial to his son, Jordan, who died tragically at age 26 in 2015 of complications from diabetes. Jordan, who had just finished his first year practicing maritime law in New Orleans, loved classical music. He studied viola with Dorotea Vismara Hoffman at CCM Prep, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. McFaull decided that a fitting tribute to his son would be to commission a new string quartet in his memory.

On Nov. 15, Kyle Werner’s String Quartet No. 2, “In Memory,” was given its world premiere at CCM.Read More »

In memoriam: Don Siekmann

Don Siekmann, immediate past president of the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, had a big smile and a booming voice. A champion of Music Hall, he was most enthusiastic about the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ, and established a concert series in the Ballroom, a popular series still sells out quickly.

Mr. Siekmann died on Nov. 14.

Born in 1938 in St. Louis, Mr. Siekmann was the longtime managing partner of Arthur Anderson & Co.. His involvement with Cincinnati arts and civic groups was widespread. Besides, SPMH, Mr. Siekmann served as president of the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center (the organization led by Erich Kunzel that spearheaded the new School for Creative and Performing Arts) and was a Cincinnati United Way Campaign chair.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda, and son Brian, as well as a sister, Ruth Ann Yorg and two grandchildren.

Visitation is 5 pm to 8 pm Nov. 19 at Spring Grove Funeral Homes, 4389 Spring Grove Ave. Services are at 10:30 am Nov. 20 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Milford, preceded by visitation at 9 am.

To read more, visit bizjournals.com/cincinnati.