I have been writing music reviews for a blog of music performances in the Boston area sponsored by the Harvard Musical Association.

My reviews try to find a balance between aspects of the music, the performances, and the sound of the venues. Several of them are however primarily dedicated to the reasons that the venues sound the way they do, and they may be the most interesting for readers of this blog. I have put them at the top of the list. The first two in the list were my attempt to put the best possible light on what I consider to be a disaster – the new Calderwood Hall at the Gardner Museum in Boston. Perhaps I was a lot too gentle. A good friend and well known acoustician commented about the review that “I did not know you could be so kind”.  I offered to send a copy of the review to Yasuhisa Toyota. He was grateful for my “Acoustican’s Report”, which I wrote before I had heard the hall in concert. But I was told by the local Nagata representative that it would not be a good idea to forward the second review to Nagata.


January 24, 2012

Acoustics Vs Performance: Claremont Trio at ISGM

Last Sunday afternoon a sold-out crowd eagerly listened as Claremont Trio played in the new Calderwood Hall at the Gardner Museum. This article relates my experience listening to the performance from the first balcony in front of the musicians. My experience there was good – not great. Listeners in other areas of the first balcony had a much more variable experience, and on the whole they were disappointed.     [continued]


January 11, 2012

Calderwood Hall at ISGM: An Acoustician’s Report

This report is my preview of the eagerly awaited new music hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The new Calderwood Hall is replacing the Tapestry Gallery as the site for concerts. My observations are based partly on a guided tour a few weeks ago during which we heard no music, and partly on my […]


February 1, 2014

New Music, New Sound in the Brooks Hall

Last Friday the Holy Cross music department celebrated the new Brooks Concert Hall with an eclectic combination of new and old music. The concert highlighted the strengths of the music faculty, as well as the acoustics of the newly renovated space.     [continued]

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May 13, 2011

Rockport Revisited

Ed: The Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, MA, is set to open its second season in its sumptuous Shalin Liu Performance Center on June 9, and concerts will run through July 17. In honor of the first anniversary of the dedication of Rockport Music’s new home, BMInt is pleased to publish a very interesting […]



February 18, 2014

Spaces Speak, and Now a Master’s Voice

Sound in an enclosed space is subject to myriad variables, not just the source’s output pattern—how the tonal balance changes with angle—but its reflections, how far away they come from, and how their own tonal balance gets changed by the reflecting surfaces. And finally, how where we listeners sit affects everything further. The successful and […]

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January 24, 2012

Death and Wonder from Masaaki Suzuki

In some ways Harvard’s Memorial Church was the ideal setting for Friday’s brilliant performance by Masaaki Suzuki and Yale’s renowned Schola Cantorum of three Bach cantatas. Although the concert was a delight almost anywhere in the church, when the words are not completely clear, something that Bach and Suzuki found of supreme value is missing.     [continued]

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October 11, 2011

Recording Versus Marketing at BSO and Elsewhere

Asked to comment on John Newton’s recent Intelligencer article on recording and archiving at the BSO and to the comments therein here, BMInt writer David Griesinger responded in extraordinary detail (for a comment). We publish his response as an article. A reply to the comments after John Newton’s article would have to be book length […]



February 4, 2014

Beethoven Visits Cambridge

Violinist Susanna Ogata and keyboardist Ian Watson inaugurated their Beethoven Project Monday for Cambridge Society for Early Music’s at Christ Church Cambridge, set to include over time,  the composer’s entire sonata literature for violin and piano and solo piano. I felt the master vividly before me, as if  playing his music his way on his own instrument.     [continued]

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November 11, 2013

Brilliant Duo, Dubious Piano

A over-capacity audience flocked to the Hammond Performing Arts’ concert in Old South Church Sunday to hear two outstanding artists: Jan Müller-Szeraws, cello, and Ya-Fei Chuang, piano.     [continued]

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October 28, 2013

Camerata Musics Carmina Burana Poetry

The Boston Camerata (joined by the Amherst Madrigal Singers) opened its season Sunday at the First Church of Boston with “Carmina Burana,” but certainly not the well known version by Carl Orff.     [continued]

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August 25, 2013

Three German Romantics—One a Master

Cellist Ronald Thomas of the Boston Chamber Music Society opened BCMS’s Saturday night concert at Watertown’s Mosesian Theater with an aside: “I hope everybody’s going to be having fun with Voříšek’s Rondo, because I’m not going to be.”     [continued]

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January 28, 2013

Songs of Sorrow, Songs of Delight

The British/German tenor Rufus Müller, along with Stephen Hammer, oboe, Phoebe Carrai, cello, and Libor Dudas, keyboards, gave an unusually moving faculty artist recital at Longy School of Music of Bard College Sunday night. Müller has a gift for projecting music and text with amazing vocal technique and emotional power.     [continued]

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October 7, 2012

Bartok’s, Beethoven’s Last-Minute Changes Shown

At the Wellfleet Congregational Church on Saturday, Borromeo Quartet’s Nicholas Kitchen projected manuscripts on a large screen and described how the composers’ last-minute changes in Bartók’s String Quartet No. 6 and Beethoven’s F-Major Razumovsky Quartet dramatically changed structures and meanings. The Borromeo then played the original upbeat ending of the Bartók sixth and the Beethoven quartet as he altered it.     [continued]

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August 15, 2012

The Borromeo With The Strange and Beautiful

Monday night the Borromeo String Quartet treated us to a seldom-heard Stravinsky quartet, a near-premier of a quartet by Daniel Brewbaker, and an old favorite, Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” all dedicated to the memory of Francesca Rullman. The venue, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, is a new and beautiful space, fortunately designed for concerts as well as art.     [continued]


August 11, 2012

Precision, Intensity from Jupiter in Wellfleet

The Jupiter String Quartet, one of the finest of today’s rising ensembles, performed in Wellfleet last evening. The group demonstrated precision and enthusiasm in Haydn’s “The Joke” Quartet, but Bartók’s emotional String Quartet No. 1 was the high point for me. Balance was a problem, though, in the Franck Quintet in F Minor for Piano and Strings.     [continued]

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August 10, 2012

Claremont Shines with Shepherd’s Trio in Cotuit

The Claremont Trio offered three fine performances on August 7th  at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. This was my second opportunity to hear Sean Shepherd’s Trio (2012), commissioned for the opening of the new Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The sound in Cotuit was dry, crisp and clear. And the fine playing brought new insights.    [continued]

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April 10, 2012

The Mighty Fisk Speaks at Harvard

The new Fisk organ (opus 139) in The Memorial Church in Harvard Yard gave its first public performance on Sunday as a lengthy prelude to the Easter Service. Christian Lane, Assistant University Organist and Choirmaster at Harvard University, played a one-hour program selected to show off the many voices of this fabulous instrument.      [continued]   


April 9, 2012

Many Curtain Calls for Charles Strouse

The honored guest artist at the Nadia Boulanger Memorial Concert at Longy was Charles Strouse, one of America’s most well known composers for musical theater, who serenaded us with his favorite songs, after participating in a delightful conversation with Longy Dean Wayman Chin. After intermission we were treated by Longy students to some of Strouse’s early classical chamber works.     [continued]

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March 23, 2012

Brentano’s Clarity, Balance at Concord CMS

The Brentano String Quartet performs throughout the world, garnering prizes and prestigious positions. So it was with some anticipation that we heard their concert at Concord Academy last Sunday, at the Concord Chamber Music series. They did not disappoint. They presented three works by youthful composers whose names began with a “B”: Beethoven, Busoni, and Bartók.        [continued]

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March 22, 2012

Run to See Lowell House Snow Maiden

Run to Harvard for Rimski-Korsakov’s Snegurouchka, (“The Snow Maiden), receiving its premier American performance as a fully staged opera by Lowell House Opera Society. The music is gorgeous — Russian folk melodies, Wagnerian leitmotifs, orchestration worthy of Ravel. Lidiya Yankovskaya conducted a remarkably capable orchestra with authority and sensitivity; the singers uniformly delivered both excellent Russian and acting in a production beyond reproach.     [continued]

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March 10, 2012

Pellicano and Chin in Ravel, Mozart at Longy

Jullian Pellicano and Longy Conservatory Orchestra presented a thoroughly enjoyable concert of Ravel and Mozart to a capacity audience in Pickman Hall last evening. The highlight was Wayman Chin’s performance of Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 17 in G major. The evening opened with a lovely performance of Le Tombeau de Couperin of Maurice Ravel with an outstanding performance by oboist Asako Furuoya.     [continued]

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March 5, 2012

Joyous Bach, Delight in Music-making

Harvard University Choir under Edward Jones and Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra under Phoebe Carrai joined forces to present the music of Bach in Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. Their delight in music-making shone through the whole concert — Brandenburg concertos nos. 1 and 3, the motet Singet den Herrn ein neues Lied and the cantata, Gott, der Herr, ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79.     [continued]

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March 4, 2012

Radius Ensemble Connects

Radius Ensemble gave us a brilliant combination of music and performances last night at the Longy School of Music. The goal was to bring unfamiliar music to a wider audience. Radius succeeded in spades, and the sequence of the pieces was just as important as the choice of music, particularly for the first two pieces on the program.     [continued]

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February 27, 2012

BCMS plays Dahl and Fibich

Sunday night in Sanders Theatre the Boston Chamber Music Society regulars treated us to Beethoven and two seldom performed works. Harumi Rhodes, violin; Ronald Thomas, cello; and Mihae Lee, piano opened with Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D major.     [continued]

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