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by Daniel Hathaway

CityMusic-Schubert-RehearsalCityMusic Cleveland will present four programs during 2014-2015 in multiple venues around metropolitan Cleveland, three of them conducted by the chamber orchestra’s artistic director and composer Avner Dorman, one by CWRU’s Peter Bennett.

Dorman will be featured as a composer in concerts from October 15 through October 19, when his Saxophone Concerto will be played by Timothy McAllister in performances in Lakewood, Cleveland, Willoughby Hills and University Heights, along with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”) and Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 (“Farewell”).

The late Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez’s Misa Criolla (1964) will be at the center of the second series of concerts. Incorporating South American folk instruments, the piece will be sung by the choir of Sagrada Familia Church on Cleveland’s west side in performances in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Willoughby Hills and Lakewood from December 3-7 conducted by Peter Bennett. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius

Well before the more pietistic style of Lutheran church music that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote at Leipzig in the second quarter of the eighteenth century came the Italian-influenced, Renaissance style of Michael Praetorius, the subject of Jeannette Sorrell’s well-crafted and expertly performed Christmas Vespers with Apollo’s Fire, which began a four-concert run at Trinity Cathedral on Friday evening before moving on to three different venues around town.

You could hear the difference in approach in Philip Nicolai’s Wachet auf! Everyone knows the glorious, equal-note setting that ends Bach’s cantata of the same name. Not so familiar is the early form of the chorale tune with its dancelike, uneven rhythms, nor its delightful and ornate elaboration by Praetorius from his 1619 collection Polyhymnia caduceatrix. The latter, already bursting at its seams with exuberance, was decorated even further by Apollo’s Fire’s violinists and cornetto players (Olivier Brault, Johanna Novom, Kiri Tollaksen and Nathaniel Cox), who could barely force themselves to arrive at the final chord at several cadences. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

DORMAN-Avner2CityMusic Cleveland celebrated the beginning of its tenth season with the debut of its new music director, Avner Dorman, on Wednesday evening, October 23 at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights. Dorman skillfully led the 40-piece chamber orchestra in nuanced and nearly flawless performances of his own Concerto Grosso, Vivaldi’s Concerto for two oboes and two clarinets, Schubert’s Symphony No. 3, and the first of five different Mozart concertos with guest violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

Dorman noted both in written and oral notes that he intended to show off the talents of members of the orchestra as much as possible in his first concert, and that principally meant the ensemble’s wind section, whose excellence runs both deep and wide. The Vivaldi concerto boasted pairs of soloists — oboists Rebecca Schweigert Mayhew and Daniel Rios and clarinetists Daniel Gilbert and Ellen Breakfield Glick — who matched each other’s elegant tone perfectly, yet each pair provided cheerful sonic contrasts as oboes tossed phrases off to clarinets. As always, Vivaldi was infinitely resourceful within his time-honored formulas, and he snuck in a strangely arresting rhythmic pattern at the beginning of the last Allegro. Harpsichordist Peter Bennett added stylish decorations to the keyboard accompaniment. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Michael Praetorius

Jeannette Sorrell brought the alternately dazzling and charming music of Michael Praetorius to life once again at Trinity Cathedral on Thursday evening, in her compilation program, “Christmas Vespers” — with a little help from Apollo’s Fire’s 20 instrumentalists, 27 adult singers and the 15 young vocalists who make up Apollo’s Musettes. And a near-capacity crowd of happy listeners.

Her sidespeople comprised six string players, including viola da gamba, a wind band of ten (recorders, cornetti, Trumpets, three sackbuts and percussionist) a continuo group of four (count them: three long-necked lutes or theorbos! — in addition to organ and harpsichord (Sorrell herself) and seven soloists who moved in and out of the choir during the complicated choreography that brought the right people to the right place for each variously scored piece.

Mostly drawn from the collection called Polyhymnia caduceatrix, compiled in 1619, two years before the composer’s death at the age of 50, but also using material from his Musica Sionae, Puericinium and the dance collection Terpsichore, the program ranged from the simple (chant and liturgical snippets, stark, early Lutheran chorales sung in unison and M.P.’s greatest hit, Lo, how a rose) to the fascinating polychoral complexity of works in the Venetian ceremonial style (Gloria sei Gott, and In Dulci Jubilo). Read the rest of this entry »

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