March is a month to hear amazing pianists—Jeremy Denk, George Li, Charlie Albright, Jeffrey Swann, Wu Han, and Lydia Artymiw—as well as inspiring choruses and unusual chamber music
By Jonathan Blumhofer and Susan Miron.
Chiara String Quartet. March 8.
The Chiara’s present a survey of the three great, French string quartets (Debussy’s, Ravel’s, and Dutilleux’s)—all played from memory. That last point might sound like a gimmick, but it’s not: they’ve been doing this for some time and recently committed the Brahms quartets to disc by heart.
London Philharmonic. March 8.
Vladimir Jurowski, who made a smashing BSO debut in October, returns to town with his own orchestra and violinist Vadim Repin. The program features two pieces (Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Fifth) that the BSO has played in the last month, but Jurowski may have something fresh to say about both (to judge from recent interview he gave the Boston Phoenix).
Boston Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra. March 10.
The area’s newest youth orchestra presents an ambitious and substantial program for its March offering. In the first half, wunderking George Li is the featured soloist in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, and the second consists of Mahler’s gargantuan Symphony no. 2. Benjamin Zander conducts.
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Christoph Eschenbach. March 14–16.
The BSO returns to the type of programming that made the fall half of the current season so enticing, namely a happy mix of old and new from familiar and unfamiliar composers alike. These concerts feature the season’s only world premiere (Augusta Read Thomas’s Cello Concerto no. 3) sandwiched between two of the great C major symphonies: Mozart’s Jupiter and Saint-Saëns’s Organ (the latter of which showcases Olivier Latry on Symphony Hall’s King of Instruments).
Handel and Haydn Society. March 15 and 17.
H&H continues a brilliant season with music by Mozart and Beethoven: the former’s luminous Masonic Funeral Music and Clarinet Concerto and the latter’s best symphony (no. 7). Richard Egarr conducts.
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Daniele Gatti. March 21–23.
Mr. Gatti returns for the second of his three residencies this season, this time to celebrate the year’s other compositional bicentenary, Wagner’s. The BSO hardly ever plays Wagner these days, but when they do, the results tend to be spectacular (remember Levine’s Flying Dutchman—even sans Deborah Voigt—in ’05?). Michelle DeYoung is the soloist, and the excerpts include music from Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Götterdämmerung, and Parsifal.
Boston Musica Viva. March 24.
BMV returns with a program focusing on unexpected instrumental combinations. There’s a world premiere by Judith Weir, the first Boston performance of Elliott Carter’s Double Trio, and selections by Sebastian Currier and Peter Child.
Chamber Music/ Early Music
Wednesday Concert Series. At the Church of St. John Evangelist, 35 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA, every Wednesday, 5:30 p.m, free.
March 6: “Verdi and Wagner, A Centennial Celebration,” performed by Von Bringhurst (soprano), James Dargan (baritone), Yakov Zamir (contralto), and Matthew Auerbach (piano).
March 13: Judith Conrad (clavichord) will perform “The Musikalisches Sterbens-Gedanken” (pub.1683), by Johannes Pachelbel (1653–1706)
March 20 : Lori Chang and Margaret Felice (sopranos), Letitia Stevens (mezzo-soprano), and Bonnie Donham (piano) will perform British and American music by Barber, Britten, Gurney, Purcell, and Vaughan Williams.
March 27: Davron Monroe (tenor) and Catherine Stornetta (piano) will perform arias by Donizetti and Verdi and spirituals by Moses Hogan and Undine Smith Moore.
Istanbul Sokaklari/ Streets of Istanbul. At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, March 2, 8 p.m.
A program of Turkish instrumental and vocal music of three centuries with Robert Labaree and his Dunya Ensemble. Special guests include Brenna MacCrimmon and Phaedon Sinis. Other March appearances are at Salem State University, Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Harvard University. (See website for information.)
Blue Heron. Conducted by Scott Metcalfe. At First Church Cambridge, MA, March 2, 8 p.m., lecture/demo at 7:15 p.m.
An evening of “Divine Songs” featuring the music of Johannes Ockegham. The wonderful singers of Blue Heron are always worth hearing. (Blue Heron will also perform on March 24 at Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA.)
Jeremy Denk. At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, March 2, 8 p.m.
Celebrity Series of Boston presents admired pianist Jeremy Denk performing works of Bartok, Bach, Liszt, and Beethoven.
First Monday at Jordan Hall. At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, March 4, 8 p.m., free.
A terrific program featuring Mozart’s Duo in B-flat Major with Nicholas Kitchen (first violinist of the Borromeo Quartet) and violist Roger Tapping (soon to be violist of the Julliard Quartet). Also performed will be Béla Bartók’s String quartet No. 5 with the Borromeo Quartet and Antonin Dvorák’s Quintet in E-Flat Major with the Borromeo String Quartet and Roger Tapping, viola.
Ensemble 451. At Kiliam Hall, MIT, 160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, March 5, 8 p.m., free.
The Boston Composers’ Coalition, founded and directed by MIT lecturer Justin Casinghino, kicks off its third season featuring members of Ensemble 451: Orlando Cela, flute; Annegret Klaua, violin; Franziska Huhn, harp. Seven world premieres are on the program: Brett Abigaña, Lullaby; Justin Casinghino, A Place I’ve Never Been; Ramon Castillo, Artifice; Heather Gilligan, Mourning Dew; Andrew Smith, Instigator; PoChun Wang, Yellow in Gray.
George Li. At the Concord Free Public Library, 129 Main St., Concord, MA, March 9, 7:30 p.m., free but advance online reservations required.
Brilliant young pianist George Li performs works of Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt.
“Baltic Inspirations” performed by Musica Sacra. At First Church, Cambridge, MA, March 9, 8 p.m.
The highly recommended Musica Sacra performs “Baltic Inspirations,” a program of choral music from Northern Europe.
“Four Wedding and a Funeral” performed by Chorus Pro Musica. At the Old South Church, Copley Square, Boston, MA, March 10, 3 p.m.
Chorus Pro Musica presents “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” a program of music by J.S. Bach, Brahms, Daniel Pinkham, and Eric Whitacre.
“Wagner: Before and After” performed by Jeffrey Swann. At Seully Hall, Boston Conservatory, Boston, MA, March 12, 8 p.m.
Boston Conservatory’s Piano Master Series presents pianist Jeffrey Swann performing an unusually interesting program entitled “Wagner: Before and After.” The evening will include works by Liszt, Chopin, Wagner, Fauré, and Berg.
Pamela Dellal. At Lindsey Chapel, Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St. Boston, MA.March 14, 12 p.m., free.
The superb mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal performs with Olav Chris Hendriksen (theorbo) and Heidi Braun-Hill (violin). The program includes Monteverdi’s Il Pianto della Madonna and Hildegard von Bingen’s Antiphons and Responsories.
“Verdi @ 200″ presented by Masterworks Chorale. At Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA, March 15, 8 p.m.
Masterworks Chorale presents “Verdi @ 200,” which includes highlights from La Traviata and choruses from other Verdi operas.
“a little phrase of eternal song” presented by Chameleon Arts Ensemble. At First Church Boston, 66 Marlboro St., Boston, MA, March 16, 8 p.m.
Chameleon Arts Ensemble presents another of its always excellent and unusually interesting programs. This one, entitled “a little phrase of eternal song,” features music of Robert Schumann, Helen Grime, Dvorák, Webern, and Hindemith.
(March 17 @ 3p.m. Same program at Goethe Institute, 170 Beacon St., Boston, MA.)
“Schumann Under the Influence” presented by Jonathan Biss. At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, March 22, 8 p.m.
Celebrity Series presents the highly respected pianist Jonathan Biss in a program entitled “Schumann Under the Influence” featuring two major works of Schumann, Janacek (“On an Overgrown Path”), and Berg (Piano Sonata, Op. 1).
“Fiesta Latina” presented by Spectrum Singers. At First Church Congregational, 11 Garden St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, March 23, 8 p.m.
Spectrum Singers presents “Fiesta Latina,” a program of “Secular and Sacred Works from Latin America.” Music by Astor Piazzolla (Porteños and Tangos), Villa-Lobos’s “Bachianas Brasileras No. 5″ (with Kristen Watson, soprano), “Bachianas Brasileras No. 9 for an Orchestra of Voices,” “Mass in Honor of St. Sebastian,” and Ginestera’s “Lamentations of Jeremiah.” Special guest artists include Tango Dancers Fernanda Chi and Guillermo Merlo.
David Finckel and Wu Han. Presented by Concord Chamber Music Society. At the Concord Academy Performing Arts Center, Concord, MA, March 24, 3 p.m.
Concord Chamber Music Society presents cellist extraordinaire David Finckel and pianist Wu Han. Mr. Finckel is finishing up his last season as cellist of the great Emerson String Quartet. He and Wu Han are, among other things, directors of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society and Music @ Menlo and two thirds of a trio with Emerson Quartet violinist Philip Setzer. They play exquisitely and will perform sonatas of Richard Strauss, Brahms, and Chopin.
Charlie Albright. At the Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, March 24, 1:30 p.m.
The brilliant, young pianist Charlie Albright performs Schubert’s great Sonata in B Flat Major and Impromptus.
Kim Kashkashian. At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, March 28, 8 p.m., free.
Kim Kashkashian, viola (a 2013 Grammy winner for Best Instrumental Performance), gives a faculty recital with pianist Lydia Artymiw. The program includes works of Shoshtokovich (Viola Sonata) and Schumann. FREE and highly recommended.