Angela Allen

CMNW: The Orion takes on Schubert and Beethoven

The Orion Quartet passes the challenges of "Death and the Maiden" and a late Beethoven quartet

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Orion is among the sky’s brightest constellations. You can see it with the naked eye, especially when the stars shine on its belt. In its 12th year at Chamber Music Northwest Festival, the Orion Quartet chose a good name for its consistently lauded 30-year-old group, comprised of brother violinists… Read More

The soulful Zorá Quartet deserved a bigger audience

A free Chamber Music Northwest community concert was sparsely attended, but the Zorá Quartet came to play

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Sunday evening’s Zorá Quartet concert at Clackamas Community College was refreshingly short (about an hour) and delightfully performed. Unfortunately, the free concert was deplorably attended. About 50 people heard this high-spirited soulful presentation of Beethoven and Debussy string quartets at Niemeyer Center. The concert was Chamber Music Northwest’s… Read More

Chamber Music Northwest: All hands on the grands

Chamber Music Northwest put the piano front and center for “Six Hands”, Two Grands"

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Who says classical music isn’t a hoot and a holler? At Tuesday evening’s “Two Grands, Six Hands” concert in Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, part of Chamber Music Northwest’s summer festival, eight hands played Romantic composer Albert Lavignac’s “Galop-marche.” Read More

At CMNW, great musicians handled Andrew Norman’s ‘Gran Turismo’

String pyrotechnics lit up the Fourth of July for Chamber Music Northwest‘s Summer Festival

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch

“Higher! Louder! Faster!” That’s how 36-year-old composer Andrew Norman describes the “emphatic trajectory” of his 2004 “Gran Turismo.” Eight violinists played this violins-on-speed piece as part of Chamber Music Northwest’s “The Power of Strings” concert Fourth of July weekend (July 3 and 4) at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Read More

Portland Opera preview: Rebuilding a magical world

Portland‘s ‘re-premiere‘ reincarnates Maurice Sendak‘s destroyed design for Mozart's ‘The Magic Flute‘

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2016

To imagine that The Magic Flute is merely beguiling child’s play is to sell W. A. Mozart’s masterpiece short. His last staged opera’s enchanted world, clear-cut good vs. evil themes, lyrical music, and fanciful characters like Queen of the Night, Papageno and Tamino appeal to children of all ages. Read More

Darrell Grant

“Sting: The Jazz Remix”: New look at a past master

Portland jazz musicians revisit the music of the Police singer and solo star

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2016

“Sting is one of the seminal artists of my generation,” says Portland pianist/composer Darrell Grant. As the leader of The Police (1977-1984) and as a solo artist, the former Gordon Sumner sold more than 100 million records, and his eclectic genre-crossing solo career exerted a huge influence on both Grant and fellow Portland singer and Sting-lover Marilyn Keller when each was shaping a musical career in the ‘80s. Read More

Portland Jazz Festival review: Pianists prevail

Though the spotlight shone on saxophones, keyboard masters tickled heartstrings and ivories at the 2016 festival

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2016

Virtuoso saxophonists were the Coltrane-centric Portland Jazz Festival’s backbone Feb. 18-28: Joe Lovano, Gary Bartz, Nicole Glover, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Fortune, Renato Caranto, Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane — not in that order.

The keyboardists, though, stole my heart — not only the soloists but the sidemen who played in trios and quartets, duos and big bands, alongside the headliners. Read More

Vivacious Figaro

Seattle Opera’s Figaro is full of vim and vigor, like new SO director Aidan Lang.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2016

At last we see a full-fledged production led by Seattle Opera’s new general director Aidan Lang. Hired 18 months ago to fill Speight Jenkins’ large shoes, Lang shows with this Marriage of Figaro that he can put together the pieces of a production with genius and charm. What a vibrant Figaro it is! Its sets, singing, timing, costumes and supra-titles make this production, which continues through January 30, as far from ho-hum as one of the 10 most often performed operas could be. Read More

Ton Koopman & Tini Mathot preview: Playing together

Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra director returns with his companion in life and on keyboard

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2016

Imagine a balmy June afternoon in Riberac, one of southwest France’s charming hilly villages. There you are – there I was with my Dutch-born husband – in a sun-filled church renovated for performances rather than worship. In strides Dutch world-renowned baroque conductor and keyboardist Ton Koopman wearing a bright red tie (and black suit) and his signature irrepressible bring-it-on smile. Read More

European street musicians: Classical music on the corners

A Portland writer/photographer follows her ears to find singers and buskers bringing life to central squares

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2015

Telemann? Fasch? The notes pave a route, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. We keep walking, ears wide open.

After twists and turns, we locate the source. The melody resonates under an arch near the Zwinger, one of Dresden’s opulent Baroque buildings. A brass quartet is blowing in baseball hats and rain parkas. Read More