Music Critics Association of NorthAmerica

An association of music critics in the USA and Canada who review for newspapers, magazines and broadcast media. An outgrowth of discussions between critics and conductors during an American Symphony Orchestra League symposium in 1952, the association was inaugurated by a three-year series of workshops funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and sponsored by the New York Music Critics Circle, the New York PO and the ASOL. Since its incorporation in 1957 it has sponsored annual courses for younger professionals and senior critics in an effort to promote high standards of music criticism, encourage educational opportunities and increase general interest in music. 

Early members included leading critics such as Paul Hume of the Washington Post, Irving Lowens of the Saturday Review, Miles Kastendieck of the New York Herald Tribune and Harold C. Schoenberg of the New York Times. Current members include critics at the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dallas Morning-News, San Francisco Chronicle, regular contributors to the Wall Street Journal, as well as leading online publications like Musicalamerica.com, NewMusicBox, program annotators and radio producers.

We are publishing an online journal article from this association called Classical Voice North America to understand the seriousness, courage and competence of published articles:

ITALIAN MASTERWORKS. Music by Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, and Boito. Riccardo Zanellato, bass. Chicago Children’s Choir. Chicago Symphony Chorus. Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Riccardo Muti, conductor. CSO Resound CSOR 9011801. Total Time: 68:37.

By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Conductor Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continue a musical tradition that has produced some excellent results over the years. I am not sure, however, that this new CD, taken from concerts recorded in June 2017, fits into that category.

Muti, who was music director of La Scala for 19 years, has had a distinguished history as an opera conductor, and all the music on this CD is from the operatic repertoire. But “masterworks”? Verdi’s Nabucco Overture is second-rate music by any standard, and the chorus “Gli Arredi Festivi” from the same opera is not much better. Surprisingly, for an album of popular favorites such as this one, Nabucco’s beloved “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” was not included. Admittedly, this music may have become overly familiar with constant repetition. Perhaps Muti himself has tired of it. The performance of the Nabucco Overture, like everything else on this CD, is conducted and played with authority and precision, but little else.

The Chicago Symphony Chorus sounds surprisingly sleepy and uninvolved in “Gli arredi festivi.” The performance of Verdi’s Overture to I Vespri Siciliani, a more substantial piece than the Nabucco Overture, sounds like a run-through on this CD, rather than what is billed as a “live” performance. And in “Patria oppressa” from Macbeth, the last Verdi item on this CD, I don’t sense much involvement from the members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in their roles as Scottish refugees.

Arguably, the best music here is the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. While the Chicago Symphony plays beautifully, especially the solo string players, Muti doesn’t bring much passion to this Puccini gem. The same could be said for the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

Enough of these lines to understand what we would like to underline: the seriousness, professionalism, freedom of thought, and professionalism of Music Critics Association of North America.

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