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March 2019

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Classical Music Concerts in New York City, NYC

March Like a Lion

Gail Wein
February 27, 2019

This month we’ll shine a spotlight on some notable chamber music venues and series.

The 92nd Street Y has an especially rich bundle of classical offerings this month, with several of the Upper East Side institution’s favorite artists. On March 9, it’s the Brentano String Quartet in a music-and-poetry program, featuring Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 132, a recent work by the American composer Martin Bresnick, and the poetry of Wallace Stevens. March 12 sees the return of Gidon Kremer & his Kremerata Baltica ensemble. The program features Schumann’s Pictures from the East accompanied by an animated film displaying the striking stone sculptures by the Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, plus a set of works by Mieczyslaw Weinberg. On March 17, I predict that baritone Mattias Goerne and pianist Daniil Trifonov are going to knock one out of the park with a super set of lieder by Schubert in arrangements that include several members of the New York Philharmonic string section.

The Morgan Library and Museum’s concert spaces including a jewel box of a recital hall and a cozy library. The Morgan has just announced a major renovation project on the exterior of the building, but the museum will remain open while work is happening. On March 8, Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, comprised of members of the Berlin Philharmonic play Brahms Clarinet Quintet, the Beethoven Septet, and a recent work by Sean Shephard. In a weekday noontime series that showcases musicians on the Young Concert Artists roster, flutist Anthony Trionfo and pianist Albert Cano Smit perform Bach, Copland and Weber on March 13. March 24 brings the annual George London Foundation Recital to The Morgan, with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and soprano Amy Owens performing works by Richard Strauss, Darius Milhaud, Charles Ives, Jerome Kern and Eric Idle(!), among others. In the cozy environs of Mr. Morgan’s Library, members of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia perform a rush hour concert on March 19, beginning at 6:30 pm. They’ll perform works by David Baker, Jeffrey Mumford, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Ulysses Kay, all African American composers.

People’s Symphony, a tradition in New York City that predates both pizza and bagels (it’s in its 119th season), presents fantastic artists at, well, pizza and bagels prices. Concerts are at Town Hall and in the auditorium at the historic Washington Irving High School near Union Square. The month of March is chock-full of fantastic performers. The Skride Piano Quartet performs Mozart, Brahms and Mahler on March 10; the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman performs Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata and Franz Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock with soprano Sara Shafer and pianist Anna Polonsky on March 16; and Los Angeles Guitar Quartet plays Rossini, Liszt, Pat Metheny and more on March 24. Winding up the month on March 30 is the Argus Quartet with a wide-ranging program that includes music by Claude Debussy and Christopher Theofanidis.

See you at the concert hall!

I Love Lucy, and a Double Dutch Treat

Gail Wein
January 31, 2019

Once in a great while, a performer comes along and proves her talent across a wide range of repertoire, inspires composers to create, and collaborators to collaborate. Soprano Lucy Shelton is such an artist, and on February 24 at Merkin Concert Hall, she’ll celebrate 40 years since her breakthrough Naumberg Competition win, and her debut recital in New York. Through the years she’s become renowned for her performances of early music, contemporary compositions, dramatic works, chamber music collaborations and a slew of recordings. The program includes selections from Rossini to Carter, and features guest artists The Westerlies, pianist Gilbert Kalish and others. Tickets available through Merkin Hall.

If reading about Lucy Shelton’s artistry has whetted your appetite for vocal music, you may be interested in the Brooklyn Art Song Society. All this season, BASS has been presenting music by “American Iconoclasts”, with excellent singers and superb programs. On February 1, Aaron Copland is the focus, with his Old American Songs and 12 Poems of Emily Dickenson on the program. On March 1, it’s George Gershwin, including his Porgy & Bess Suite. Performances are at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Two Dutch treats come our way in February. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – one of the finest orchestras in the world - comes to Carnegie on February 14 and 15. Daniel Harding conducts two classic programs: Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 on the 14th, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard on the 15th. Another fine ensemble from the Netherlands, Calefax, performs at the Frick Collection on February 3. When this quintet of oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone and bassoon launched in the 1980’s, it was the only one of its type. A number of similar ensembles have since popped up, and repertoire for this unusual instrumentation has grown exponentially, solidifying a new genre of chamber music. Two other programs of note are coming to the Frick in the next few weeks: the New York debut of the string quartet Quatuor Voce with the harpist Emmanuel Ceysson on February 24, and the lively early music group Ensemble Caprice on March 10.

Concert Artists Guild – an organization whose mission is to discover and nurture young talent – presents “Prevailing Winds” at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie on February 12. The program features both new and established artists, including Imani Winds, PUBLIQuartet and bassoonist Peter Kolkay.

On February 2 at St. Ann and Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn presents two terrific works that are hardly ever performed, and will complement each other beautifully: Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto with the phenomenal young violinist Paul Huang, and Duke Ellington’s rarity, The River Suite. Tickets at SOB’s website or at the door.

A New Year’s Resolution

Gail Wein
December 27, 2018

This year, I’m making a resolution to hear as much live music as possible. I like to make resolutions that are easy to keep.

New Yorkers can get a jump on 2019 concert-going with Clarion Choir’s performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers) at Church of the Resurrection on East 74th Street. Performances are at 5 pm on both December 31 and January 1, and include ancient Slavonic chants interspersed between Rachmaninoff's settings.

January is a good time to pay tribute to the old and the new. Brooklyn Art Song Society celebrates composer Ned Rorem’s 95th birthday on January 4 at Brooklyn Historical Society. Soprano Sarah Brailey, baritone Steven Eddy, bass-baritone Dashon Burton and others perform the American composer’s tuneful music. Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 and Piano Concerto No. 27 (Javier Perianes, piano) are on Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s January 12 concert at Carnegie Hall, along with a new work by James Matheson.

Met Museum artist-in-residence Julia Bullock embodies the singer, activist and cultural icon Joséphine Baker at the Met Museum’s Great Hall on January 16 and 17. Poet Claudia Rankine and composer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey created Perle Noire for Bullock. Theater director Peter Sellars staged the work, which will be performed by Bullock, Sorey and the new music collective International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

My Favorite New York Philharmonic Musician, Anthony McGill, is featured soloist with the Philharmonic. He performs Copland’s Clarinet Concerto on January 24, 25 and 26; Jaap van Zweden conducts. Julia Wolfe’s multi-media Fire in My Mouth, co-commissioned by the NY Philharmonic, receives its world premiere on this program. The tale of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which killed over 100 young immigrant factory workers in New York City, is enhanced by video projections and the chamber choir The Crossing along with the Philharmonic.

Slightly less intense programs this month: The award-winning Argus String Quartet performs 21st century works in the beautiful environs of Wave Hill in Riverdale on January 13, and the young firebrands Stefan Jackiw, violin, and Conrad Tao, piano perform at 92Y on January 25.

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