Classical Music

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

Identity politics and classical music need to stay out of bed with each other.

The new music director of the San Francisco Symphony, Esa-Pekka Salonen, has created a collaborative council to do, uh, something.

The San Francisco Examiner reports on Feb 18, 2020: A striking aspect of the programming is Salonen’s Collaborative Partners project, announced last year, featuring contributions by: pianist, film producer and composer Nicholas Britell; soprano, curator ...

Mirella Freni was irresistible

Garrett Harris names five favorite roles

Mirella Freni, one of the greatest singers of all time, has died at the age of 84. Freni was a singer I returned to time and time again. By the time I was getting into ...

Hansel and Gretel reminds us that hunger was common

Search for food part of San Diego Opera's story

Hansel and Gretel is a story based on hunger. The opera version of this tale of the tummy is being produced by San Diego Opera at the San Diego Civic Theater on February 8 - ...

San Diego Symphony dominates the Beethoven

I started to lean forward in my seat

I entered Symphony Hall on Saturday, January 25, as the crustiest of all curmudgeons. I left as a young adventurer just returned from an invigorating sojourn through the Austrian countryside full of hope and optimism. ...

San Diego Symphony gives us messy Beethoven

Those unsustained phrases

I take no pleasure in what follows. The San Diego Symphony has now given two perplexing performances of a Beethoven symphony in as many weeks. The fourth symphony was played on the weekend of January ...

Emmanuel Ax’s hands were 100 percent water

San Diego Symphony shines with Beethoven Piano Concerto

The San Diego Symphony has been holding a January festival for the past several years. This year, the topic is Beethoven at 250. The festival started with performances of Beethoven’s Leonora Overture No. 3, Piano ...

Beethoven is gravity

A few of the best San Diego Beethovens I recall

We are now in the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth and there will be content created like never before. The internet is already dripping with articles about the grim master of the human condition. ...

Music composers of 1920 vs. 2020

So much for Philip Glass, John Adams, Thomas Adès, Jake Heggie, Matthew Aucoin, Mason Bates, Aaron Schoenberg, David Bruce

As we enter the 2020s, I thought it would be interesting to look back to 1920 and get a feel for what was going on in classical music at the start of that notorious decade. ...

My kids liked Rosenkavalier at the Met

One singer chewing air

As a member of the San Diego Opera Chorus, I don’t often have a chance to review an opera but I’ve got one now. I went to see Der Rosenkavalier, by Richard Strauss, at The ...

Jahja Ling and Dvorak surprised me

Even without San Diego Symphony's Raphael Payare

Never, ever, trust a critic. Always take any review with a grain of salt. Case in point. I thought I didn’t like Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. I found it lacking the drama of his Seventh ...

San Diego's three top classical music concerts of 2019

La Jolla Music Society, San Diego Symphony, Mainly Mozart

Since we are at the end of a decade, I’m feeling an obligation to name the top concerts I’ve experienced in the past 10 years. That’s a lot of pressure so I’ve decided to ease ...

The long line of Puccinis

Watch father, grandfather, great-grandfather on videos here

I’ve been posting daily music history tidbits on my social media and discovered that Michele Puccini was born on Wednesday, November 27 in 1813. Michele was the father of the much more famous Giacomo Puccini. ...

"We shine a beam of light" on Beethoven quartets

Danish String Quartet in La Jolla this month

The Danish String Quartet is in residency at The La Jolla Music Society from November 16 through November 23. They are presenting five concerts as a part of their Prism project. The players in the ...

San Diego Symphony in midst of transition

Will it jettison the overture?

The San Diego Symphony is benefitting from a six-week installment of music director Rafael Payare to start the 2019-2020 season. While the orchestra has not accomplished a complete transformation, and we should not expect such ...

Sold-out Fidelio a problem in London

Royal Opera House members objects of envy

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden has a huge problem. They’ve sold out six performances of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio next March and people are angry! The problem appears to be that the vast majority of ...