Symphony names six music director finalists

The Richmond Symphony has announced six candidates to become the sixth music director of the Richmond Symphony, succeeding Steven Smith, whose 10-year tenure with the orchestra concludes at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Selected from a field of more than 200 applicants, each candidate will spend two weeks here in the 2019-20 season, conducting several concerts including one Masterworks program, speaking with city leaders and participating in the orchestra’s educational and community engagement activities.

The candidates, in order of their appearances in Richmond next season:

* Roderick Cox, winner of the 2018 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award of the US Solti Foundation, formerly associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra.

* Paolo Bortolameolli, born in Chile, a pianist now serving as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, formerly principal conductor of the New Haven (CN) Chamber Orchestra and a participant in a number of new-music ventures.

* Ankush Kumar Bahl, an American of Indian descent, formerly assistant conductor of Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, assistant to the late conductor Kurt Masur at several orchestras and a sometime collaborator with jazz artists and groups.

* Laura Jackson, a violinist as well as a conductor, currently in her 10th season as music director of the Reno (NV) Philharmonic, formerly assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

* Valentina Peleggi, the Italian-born, London-schooled resident conductor of the OSESP São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil and principal conductor of its chorus and guest music director of São Paulo’s Theatro São Pedro.

* Farkhad Khudyev, who studied violin, piano and composition in his native Turkmenistan in Central Asia, a winner of the German Solti Conducting Competition, formerly assistant conductor of the London Philharmonic and music director of the New Haven Chamber Orchestra, currently music director of the Hidden Valley Orchestra Institute and Youth Music Monterey County in California.

Letter V Classical Radio Sept. 26

noon-3 p.m. EDT
1700-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

John Adams: “Short Ride in a Fast Machine”
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle
(EMI Classics)

Past Masters:
Richard Strauss: Burleske in D minor
Byron Janis, piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
(RCA Red Seal)
(recorded 1957)

Haydn: Symphony No. 60 in C major (“Il Distratto”)
Il Giardano Armonico/Giovanni Antonini

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia: Piano Quartet in F minor, Op. 6
Chia Chou, piano
Yamei Yu, violin
Thomas Seiditz, viola
Michael Gross, cello

Beethoven: Quartet in F minor, Op. 95 (“Serioso”)
Cypress String Quartet

Past Masters:
Schubert: “Rosamunde” (“Die Zauberharfe”) Overture
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam/George Szell
(recorded 1964)

Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor
Andrew Wan, violin
Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano

Dvořák: “Scherzo capriccioso”
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop

Baltimore too

Katherine Needleman, onetime principal oboist of the Richmond Symphony, currently holding the same post at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, related to a 2005 incident in which she alleges an unwanted sexual advance by Jonathan Carney, the Baltimore Symphony’s concertmaster.

Subsequently, Needleman claims, Carney has subjected her to lewd and suggestive comments and has belittled her professionally, charges that Carney has denied, saying, “There were no physical or verbal altercations. . . . I have done everything I can to be professional.”

The oboist’s EEOC complaint charges that the Baltimore Symphony “has allowed a hostile work environment caused by Carney’s retaliation against her,” The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith reports. Smith notes that an internal investigation conducted for the orchestra earlier this year “found some behavioral incidents Needleman raised that also surfaced in the EEOC complaint,” and that Carney was advised to undergo sensitivity training:

Letter V Classical Radio Sept. 12

noon-3 p.m. EDT
1700-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Mason Bates: “Mothership”
Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose

Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A minor
Pamela Frank, violin
Czech Philharmonic/Charles Mackerras

Mahler: Piano Quartet in A minor
Wu Han, piano
Daniel Hope, violin
Paul Neubauer, viola
David Finckel, cello
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Baldasarre Galuppi: Sonata in C major, Lily 27
Aleksandar Serdar, piano
(EMI Classics)

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major (“Italian”)
Vienna Philharmonic/John Eliot Gardiner
(Deutsche Grammophon)

J.S. Bach: Lute Suite in C minor, BWV 997
(arrangement by Jean Rondeau)
Jean Rondeau, harpsichord

Past Masters:
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
Clifford Curzon, piano
London Symphony Orchestra/George Szell
(recorded 1962)

Suppé: “Light Cavalry” Overture
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
(Warner Classics)

Review: Paley Music Festival

Alexander Paley & Peiwen Chen, pianos
June 8, St. Luke Lutheran Church

This fall’s Paley Music Festival, devoted to Russian music for two pianos, concluded with Alexander Paley and Peiwen Chen, Paley’s wife and performing partner, delivering a blistering rendition of the most familiar work of all on their three programs, Shostakovich’s Concertino, Op. 94.

Written for the composer’s son, Maxim (who went on to become better-known as a conductor than as a pianist), the Concertino melds deep, rather dark Russian melodies with bumptious rhythms associated with circus music, producing a weird balance of lightness and darkness, extroversion and introspection.

Paley and Chen negotiated this shifting soundscape without missteps and with keen sensitivity to expression, tone color and balances between their two instruments.

Their work was no less impressive – maybe more so – in two suites by Anton Arensky. His Suite No. 3, Op. 26 (“Variations”) is a miniature marathon of nine different takes on a somber, nostalgic theme that recalls Schumann (Clara more than Robert), which Arensky runs through forms and moods as varied as a scherzo, a nocturne, both a minuet and a waltz, triumphal and funeral marches and, finally, an emphatically voiced Polonaise.

The two pianists managed the suite’s sharp contrasts, between the thunderous sonics of the triumphal march and Polonaise and the quicksilver rhythms and intricate instrumental exchanges in the suite’s “Dialogue” and scherzo, and the Chopinesque reveries of the nocturne.

The duo also were reliable explorers of the quasi-Lisztian harmonic explorations of Arensky’s more modestly scaled Suite No. 4, Op. 62.

In both suites, they leaned into the melodies of a composer who was almost as tuneful as Tchaikovsky, although not as gifted in developing those melodies.

The festival’s finale also featured an obscure bit of over-the-top weirdness, Vladimir Rebikov’s “Cauchemar” (“Nightmare”), a “psychological tableaux” that lays ominous, insistent, often elaborate keyboard figures atop a heavy, relentless bass line. If the sorcerer’s apprentice had a very bad dream, it might sound like this.