Classical Music

Reviews and previews of classical music performances and players. For a list of upcoming classical performances, visit our events section.

Immediate masterpiece at San Diego Symphony

Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony was an instant classic at release

"There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for this treachery." I'm going to switch up that Tolkien quote and say, "There is no sufficient honor in Elvish, Entish, or the ...

I am the very model of modern major composer

Arthur Sullivan gets all serious on us

What if Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a symphony? What would it be like? First off, I suppose Gilbert wouldn’t have much to do, so I should say, “What if Sullivan wrote a symphony”? We’re in ...

Mainly Mozart starts its engine

Two chamber concerts and a big ol' symphony this weekend.

Mainly Mozart is giving two Spotlight Series concerts this weekend in two enticing locations. The music is a transcription of Bach's Goldberg Variations for string trio. The concert is at the Scripps Research Institute on ...

Difficult man, difficult plot, masterful work

The esoteric, and acerbic, pick of the week.

The esoteric pick of the week is Palestrina. Not the composer, Palestrina, himself, but the opera based on events late in his life by German anti-modernist Hans Pfitzner. Hans Pfitzner was born in Russia to ...

The maturity we need

An exegesis: understanding the ballet in Nixon in China

People I’ve talked to about the ballet scene from the end of Act II of Nixon in China have been a little confused. Why is Henry Kissinger writhing on stage and whipping peasant girls to ...

The fist of God

Only the locals do work on the Berlioz Requiem at La Jolla Symphony

We could say, for comparison's sake, that Mozart's Dies Irae is something like an 18th Century cavalry charge and Verdi's Dies Irae is like a choreographed shock and awe campaign. Berlioz's Dies Irae? Berlioz is ...

People must hate the Swiss

Joachim Raff, esotericist

Joachim Raff was one of the most popular and influential composers of the Romantic era. Sadly, he is also the esoteric pick of the week. Raff "balled out" during the 19th Century with eleven symphonies, ...

Not quite Don Pasquale, but certainly not Iago

The conclusion of our interview with Nixon in China's Kissinger, baritone Patrick Carfizzi

Nixon in China opens on Saturday, March 14 at the Civic Theater. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 and part 2 of this interview are also available. San Diego Reader: ...

"Kissinger" keeps it to a low rumble

The Reader's interview with Patrick Carfizzi continues in part 2 of 3

Nixon in China opens on Saturday March 14th at the Civic Theater. The showtime is 7 p.m. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 of this interview is also available. San ...

Backroom operator

Patrick Carfizzi, Nixon in China's man behind the "Secretary of State," grants an interview

I got the rare chance to interview Henry Kissinger. Henry doesn’t do many interviews these days, but since he’s in San Diego for a few weeks, he relented. Okay, in truth, Patrick Carfizzi, who is ...

Schubeeeeeert!

After a week of listening to Schubert, it's time to vent

My colleague in the opera chorus was aghast when I mentioned that I think Schubert is a third- or fourth-rate composer. In the past this type of encounter was full of loud talking/shouting and expletives. ...

Three Bs in the Jewel

March 6 is a busy night for classical music in La Jolla

La Jolla is keeping the classical music going on Friday, March 6, with three quality concerts covering all of “The Three Bs”. Of course, “The Three Bs” are Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but we’re also ...

The Great? Not at all!

Schubert's Ninth is bad, bad music and the San Diego Symphony is in a slump.

I'm renaming Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as The Great Symphony. I'm going to call it The Great Tediousness. This symphony goes nowhere, and for what feels like an eternity. I must admit that when ...

The Dream of... who?

The esoteric pick of the week is a scrappy poem about the afterlife.

I present Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius as the esoteric pick of the week. The Dream of Gerontius is a "Divine Comedy-esque" poem by John Henry Newman. Newman was a complex and controversial figure. ...

Greatness abounds

Two excellent and celebrated pieces will be played at two major venues this weekend

The Great Symphony — it's not the title that Schubert chose, or would have chosen, but it has stuck. The nickname was intended to differentiate this C major symphony from the Little C major Symphony ...

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