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Another selection of readers' letters

This includes correspondence relating to recently published articles and news items, plus a review of the Berlin version of Nicholas Maw's opera Sophie's Choice.

If you would like to write to Music & Vision about any of the issues expressed here, write back to any of the people whose letters are shown below, or comment on any other musical subject, please complete our contact form and tick the box asking editor Basil Ramsey to consider your comments for publication.

From: Elizabeth Puscasu, USA

The students, parents and staff of Public School 166 Queens extend their thanks to Music & Vision for all the assistance provided in the school's quest for a new piano. On 21 October 2005 the school received not one but two pianos from Frank & Camille. We thank everybody involved for their time and generosity.

From: (name not supplied)

This article hosted on your website is nothing but a bunch of lies. Nothing was stolen. The items are in storage, paid for by the church, and waiting to be collected by the owners.

From: Pia Siirala, Finland

Those people responsible for the above anonymous letter to Music & Vision must be using another dictionary when it comes to the meaning of the words 'stealing' and 'lying'. The actions by officials at St Andrew's, Moscow's Anglican Church, would have resulted in injunctions and court proceedings in their own countries (Britain and the US) but these were avoided in Russia.

In the removal inventory my name was stated as the owner of the property. The church secretary, Sara Harris, falsified and signed the removal papers purporting to be an authorized agent on my behalf for the property. Most of the property however does not belong to me but belongs to Ensemble XXI and our conductor Lygia O'Riordan. None of us ever authorised Sara Harris to handle or remove our property.

This theft was just one incident in an ongoing attack of bullying and abuse against Ensemble XXI members, beginning with the arrival of Canon Simon Stephens as Chaplain in Moscow, with its clear aim -- to evict the orchestra.

Yours faithfully,
Pia Siirala
Concert Master
Ensemble XXI Moscow

From: opera lovers, Switzerland

We were greatly disappointed with the direction of the Berlin version of Nicholas Maw's opera Sophie's Choice, compared to the London 2002 version, of which we have both VHS and DVD recordings, which we again reviewed after Berlin. In sum, Berlin Sophie director Markus Bothe's comments on the Volksoper site clearly indicate why we believe he didn't have a clue what he was doing. Or perhaps he had a different, diluting political agenda in presenting his version in Berlin. He wrote: 'We are told a love story which takes a tragic path -- similar to La Bohème.' (!!) So Sophie becomes Mimi!!

With only one intermission, rather than London's two, the Berlin version already was half an hour shorter than London (London critics in 2002 had not liked the length), so there was no need for the cuts Bothe made in the action and the music: no Wanda/Sophie confrontation with the children present, replaced with Sophie and Wanda cleaning boots (?!); no train to the camp with the children present as they had been in London; Sophie/camp doctor/choice scene much less dramatic and shortened (see photo at; Camp commander's uniform totally incorrect; Sophie's camp dress and hair also unbelievable and incorrect. (Pictures on and the Volksoper site clearly show these problems of dress and appearance as do our own curtain call photos, compared to London.)

Although Ms Kirchschlager was -- as expected -- excellent, the dumbing down / softening / lightening / diluting so evident in the Berlin version was most unfortunate. Bothe produced a bilingual version, Brooklyn scenes in English, Warsaw and camp scenes in German, to make the drama more realistic he said, which was fine. For us, however, Bothe ruined the opera with his unnecessary cuts and bad costuming and the production overall was much less realistic.

The 'choice' is about Sophie and her children; Bothe practically eliminated the children (brief run on and off only when the camp doctor present)! One can only hope that the Vienna version will be truthful to the original drama!

Disappointed opera-goers -- but still devoted fans of Ms Kirchschlager ...

From: Krasi Borisova, Executive Director, BVA, Bulgaria

Thank you very much for the fantastic review of Roumi Petrova's CD Bacillus Bulgaricus. We are very honored to have our artists and the CD on the review spotlight. Also please send our greetings to the reviewer -- Howard Smith. I have a question. Did you receive also the CD of Kalin Ivanov, cellist and Emily White, pianist, with music of Barber, Vivaldi, Brahms and Schumann? If the answer is yes, is there a chance to get a review for our cellist Kalin Ivanov? More info about him you can find at:

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,
Krasi Borisova, Exacutive Director

Please visit our new website at:

From: Keith Bramich, technical editor, M&V

Yes, we've received this CD. It's been allocated to a reviewer and will be sent out shortly. For general information about sending CDs to Music & Vision for review, please visit our new page, Sending review material to M&V.

From: Carl Vigeland

Terrific review of 'all rise' -- clear, informative, and driven by real feeling.

From: Togarepi, Zimbabwe

I wish to link up with various musical evangelists. I am based in Zimbabwe.

From: Cecilie Rosenmeier, Dacapo Records, Denmark

Thanks for a wonderful 'Antikrist' review. Just a quick note to let you know that Dacapo Records offers direct online sales too from our own website: I can see that two out of three retailers that you recommend do not (yet?) have it.

From: Stan Purcell

Lorenzo Molajoli is nobody. He was either Serafin, de Sabata or Toscanini -- that's the rumor. It is opera's greatest mystery. He lives only in the print on the CD. Maybe this will help you. You won't find anything about him and the singers he worked with are all dead. They knew who he was, but nobody was talking about it, then or now.

From: Cynthia Tosatto Harris

This is in response to Philip Hyman's request for info on Lorenzo Molajoli. Lorenzo was my great-uncle, having been married to my grandfather's sister, an opera singer. We have a picture of her but not him. I have a letter from Italy from the 1940s saying that he died in 1939 -- my aunt was still alive. I was not born until the 1950s and never knew any of my grandparents or their generation.

I would like to know more about my grandfather's family and hope that with some info on Lorenzo and his wife, I may get some clues. My understanding is that Lorenzo Molajoli and Carlo Sabajno were workhorses under Toscanini and were his two primary choices to make Victor recordings when he himself did not choose to do so. I would be very interested in any other info that may have come in response to the posting on your website regarding Molajoli.




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