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Cincinnati's "New Nutcracker" Flies

    Posted: Dec 24, 2011 - 8:24:06 PM in: reviews_2011
Costume design by Carrie Robbins
Cincinnati Ballet's "New Nutcracker" is exactly that.  New sets, new costumes, new choreography, new characters,  Produced and choreographed by Ballet artistic director and CEO Victoria Morgan, the $2 million production, ten years in the making, is spectacular, no less.  Helping put it over the top during its world premiere run, Dec. 15-24 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, was the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. (first published at www.ConcertoNet.com)
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Messiah in Season

    Posted: Dec 20, 2011 - 12:19:35 AM in: reviews_2011
George Frideric Handel
Handel's "Messiah" is a hardy perennial, both at Christmas time and Easter, when parts of the oratorio tend to be heard instead of the entire three-hour work. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus led by James Bagwell joined forces Dec. 18 at Music Hall to present "Messiah" complete.
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Patty, the Voice at Music Hall

    Posted: Dec 12, 2011 - 9:03:16 PM in: reviews_2011
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, John Morris Russell conducting, with guest artist Sandi Patty
Gospel diva Sandi Patty filled the hall at Music Hall Dec. 9, in more ways than one.  Singing with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra led by conductor John Morris Russell, she drew a near capacity crowd. And in selections from "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child to "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee," she filled every crevice with sound, too.  Appearing with Patty, Russell and the Pops were the May Festival Chorus and Winton Woods High School Varsity Ensemble. (first published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 11, 2011)
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Nally, VAE Provide Musical Respite for the Season

    Posted: Dec 12, 2011 - 7:14:47 PM in: reviews_2011
Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble led by music director Donald Nally knows how to conjure Christmas without familiar carols in familiar settings.  Their holiday show, "A Candlelit Christmas," Dec. 11 at Summit Country Day Chapel in Hyde Park, did it with selections representing the music of our time. 
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concert:nova, dancers, actors in searing theater piece

    Posted: Dec 7, 2011 - 10:25:42 PM in: reviews_2011
Sergei Prokofiev
The chamber ensemble concert:nova presented the third in its series of theater pieces illustrating the lives of the great composers with Prokofiev and Shostakovich, "Pieces in the Key of Silence," Dec. 5 at the Know Theater in Cincinnati.  Dancer/choreographers Stephen Jacobsen and Jimmy Cunningham were riveting as Prokofiev and Shostakovich, respectively.  The music ranged from Prokofiev's early "Sarcasms" for piano to Shostakovich's autobiographical String Quartet No. 8.
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Ray Chen Rocks Music Hall with CSO Debut

    Posted: Dec 3, 2011 - 1:08:26 PM in: reviews_2011
Ray Chen
There were three debuts on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's Dec. 3 concert at Music Hall.  One was guest conductor Andrew Grams, who led a program of Rimsky-KKorsakov, Dvořák and Tchaikovsky.  Another was violinist Ray Chen, who bowed in with Dvořák's Violin Concerto.  The third was Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from "The Snow Maiden." Rounding out the program was the Suite from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" Ballet, Op. 20a.
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Abbado Impresses in Return Visit

    Posted: Nov 23, 2011 - 3:42:46 PM in: reviews_2011
Roberto Abbado (photo courtesy of the CSO)
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's pension fund concert Nov. 21 at Music Hall provided an opportunity to hear guest conductor Roberto Abbado in a return visit to the CSO.  Abbado, who impressed on his first visit in April, 2011, cemented that impression in a program of Mozart, Schumann and to end the concert, the Overture to Rossini's "William Tell."  It was only fitting.
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CCM's Staged "St. Matthew Passion" Monumental, Moving

    Posted: Nov 21, 2011 - 11:12:38 AM in: reviews_2011
Bsch, "St. Matthew Passion," St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (William McGraw, Jesus, center in white)
  The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's staged "St. Matthew Passion," premiered Nov. 20 in St. Peter in Chains Cathedral was proof positive that even the most sublime music can be visually enhanced.  The cast included CCM faculty artist William McGraw as a powerful Jesus and two fine young tenors from the graduate program in voice at CCM sharing the role of the Evangelist.  Conducting with great sensibility, including adherence to baroque performance practice, was Earl Rivers, director of choral studies at CCM.
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Steinberg Leads Thrilling Russian Fest

    Posted: Nov 18, 2011 - 2:07:15 AM in: reviews_2011
Pinchas Steinberg
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra welcomed one of its own, as it were, Nov. 17 at Music Hall.  Guest conductor Pinchas Steinberg was principal second violinist of the orchestra in 1968.  Six years later he made his debut as a conductor with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in Berlin.  Steinberg concluded the CSO's Russian Festival with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 ("Winter Daydreams") and Prokofiev's cantata "Alexander Nevsky."
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Mei-Ann Chen Excels in Romantic Program

    Posted: Nov 11, 2011 - 10:17:03 PM in: reviews_2011
Mei-Ann Chen
With creative director Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos on medical leave, guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen led the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Nov. 11 at Music Hall.  Guest artist was pianist Terrence-Wilson in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. Chen also led Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade."  It was a finely-executed showpiece that put the spotlight squarely on the orchestra.
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Disco and More on Pops' 70s Remix

    Posted: Nov 11, 2011 - 3:32:43 PM in: reviews_2011
The New York Voices Back: Damon Meader, Lauren Kenhan, Front: Kim Nazarian, Peter Eldridge
Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell (JMR) led a classy Pops "Remix" concert featuring the New York Voices Nov. 6 in Music Hall.  The prodigious quartet was heard in arrangements (many by NYV member Damon Meader) from Chicago. The Who, Earth, Wind and Fire, singer songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchells to Stevie Wonder and of course, the Bee Gees.  The concert repeats at 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at Music Hall. (first published in The Cincinnati Enquirer Nov. 8, 2011)
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Joshua Bell Closes Inaugural Constella Festival on a High Note

    Posted: Nov 9, 2011 - 4:54:53 PM in: reviews_2011
Joshua Bell
Cincinnati's new Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts came to a resounding conclusion Nov. 8 at Memorial Hall with a recital by violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood.  Bell's program of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Eugène Ysaÿe and Franck brought to mind legendary Belgian violinist (Ysaÿe) who was also music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.   - [Read more]

Keep Kristjan Järvi Coming

    Posted: Nov 4, 2011 - 11:22:21 PM in: reviews_2011
Kristjan Järvi conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
November 4, 2011 is likely to be remembered as the day guest conductor Kristjan Järvi led the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" without a score.  Also on the program, repeated Nov. 5 at Music Hall, were Haydn's Symphony No. 86 and the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with guest artist Mikhail Simonyan (all without a score).  It was a remarkable demonstration of conducting prowess.  Simonyan's performance was also a reminder that Khachaturian's Violin Concerto should be heard more often.
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Chamber Orchestra Conjures Jefferson's Time

    Posted: Oct 31, 2011 - 4:01:47 PM in: reviews_2011
Philippe Quint
The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra led by music director Mischa Santora opened its 2011-12 season Oct. 30 in Mayerson Theater at the Erich Kunzel Center for Arts and Education. Guest artist was violinist Philippe Quint in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5.  The program, "Jefferson in Paris," comprised music that would have been known by America's third president, himself a fine violinist. The concert was presented under the aegis of Cincinnati's new Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts.
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Nash/Constella Fill Blue Wisp

    Posted: Oct 31, 2011 - 11:12:07 AM in: reviews_2011
Ted Nash (saxophone) at the Blue Wisp. Rusty Burge in background.
The Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts showed its commitment to new music by commissioning a work for its inaugural season, jazz saxophonist Ted Nash's "
Suite Ivette" for jazz and string quartet.  The premiere, Oct. 29 at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, was a sellout, with Nash, Rusty Burge (vibraphone and percussion), Dan Karlsberg (piano), Jim Leslie (drums), Michael Sharf (acoustic bass), Tatiana Berman (violin), Suzanna Barnes (electric violin), Yael Senamaud-Cohen (viola) and Susan Marshall-Petersen (cello.  And a good time was had by all.
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