Classical Music

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

June 8's Mainly Mozart: Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn

Jeremy Denk was quick but did not hurry

On Saturday, June 8, The Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra exploded into the Balboa Theatre with a performance of Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, thereby opening their five-concert series with music director Michael Francis. Full disclosure: I ...

What about the LA PHIL's audience for new music?

Brahms is no longer for the middle class

There was a new piece of music at the closing concert of the Jacobs Masterworks Series at the San Diego Symphony. I didn’t review it because, in my opinion, it wasn’t worth reviewing. I spent ...

San Diego Symphony's Rachmaninoff: the heavens opened

Final movement of Beethoven's Eighth needs speed

The San Diego Symphony concluded its Jacobs Masterworks Series with a weekend of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. I attended the Saturday, May 25 concert. This was the third time I’d heard the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. ...

Garrett Harris goes crazy for Mainly Mozart

Platonic plane of pure potential

As an employee of the San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival, I’m not allowed to be as exuberant about the festival in these pages as I once was. It might appear as if I’m a propagandist ...

Where four-handed piano music led to

Very few U.S. orchestras in U.S. until 1966

On April 27 and 28 the San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival presented a concert of, Two Pianos, Eight Hands. The format harkened back to the golden of age of the piano. Before the invention of ...

Berlioz almost upstaged Saint-Saens

San Diego's Symphony Hall shaken to its foundations

I’ve been waiting for Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony at The San Diego Symphony ever since it was announced last spring. The day came, Friday, May 3, and Saint-Saëns was darn near upstaged by a plucky ...

Notre Dame – more modern than you think

It's not just the polyphony

The fire which consumed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been out for a few weeks now. What many of us may not have realized at the time is the Notre Dame ...

SD Symphony musicians slower than conductor Jahja Ling

Jan Lisiecki piano in Chopin’s concerto could have stood alone

The San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, April 12 felt slow and unsettled. I was surprised. In years gone by, the combination of conductor Jahja Ling, the San Diego Symphony, and Johannes Brahms, has been ...

Classical music not for dummies

Neither is physics

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin. I came across this quote recently and came to an uncomfortable realization. I only say ...

Guilty pleasures: 1812 Overture, Messiah, Ave Maria

My go-to Christmas selection is now Vaughan Williams’ Hodie

What’s your classical music “guilty pleasure”? This is a question all classical music devotees must answer at some point. Let’s define what a “guilty pleasure” is. A guilty pleasure has little artistic merit but has ...

San Diego Symphony: rambunctious list for next season

Lotsa Beethoven, but why not Dvorak 7 or 9?

The San Diego Symphony has announced its 2019-2020 season and it is a rambunctious list of symphonic music. For the past few seasons, I’ve felt as though the San Diego Symphony has been getting away ...

Robert Spanos personality, Vaughn Williams' glory show up at San Diego Symphony

Beethoven not great before 3rd Piano Concerto, 3rd Symphony

We are having a proper winter in San Diego and on Saturday, March 9, we had a proper symphony performed by the San Diego Symphony at the Jacobs Music Center. Before we received the proper ...

James Agee and Joélle Harvey made me like Samuel Barber

San Diego Symphony's A Village Romeo and Julietand Knoxville Summer of 1915

Soprano Joélle Harvey was my favorite part of the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, March 1, at Symphony Hall. Over the years I’ve been critical and disappointed with the vocal experience at the symphony ...

10 Best lists for classical music

The Marriage of Figaro, Carmen, Otello, Trout Quintet – everyone would agree

In speaking with a friend the other day, the topic of “10 pieces of classical music everyone should hear before they die” came up. We came up with three pieces before the parameters of the ...

The peerless Augustin Hadelich and the bourgie Brahms

I reveled in the easy listening of the Hungarian Dances

I was pleasantly surprised by the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, February 15. Why so? Because it was one of those concerts with four pieces of music none of which could be considered the ...

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