I had always thought of January as a musically quiet month, but looking over the concerts I wanted to see, I realized how it is at least as great a month for concertgoing as any other in Boston. I am betting each of the concerts I listed here will be superb.
By Susan Miron.
January 6–8: The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Maestro James Levine presents a compelling program of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
January 8: The extraordinary Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin performs a fascinating program of music by Bach (Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903), Brahms (6 pieces of Op. 118), Schubert/Liszt, and Liszt. At the Kalliroscope Gallery, Groton, MA, at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
January 14: The Cantata Singers continue their year long exploration of the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and composers who influenced him. The program includes the rarely heard Riders to the Sea, a one-act “music drama” by Vaughan Williams based on the eponymous play by the Irish author John Millington Synge. The concert also includes songs of Gustav Holst, Edward Elgar, Gerald Finzi, and the season’s star, Ralph Vaughan Williams. At New England Conservatory’s (NEC’s) Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA, at 8 p.m. on Friday.
January 20: Harpsichordist Charles Sherman plays seven sonatas (K. 268, 109, 496, 201, 89, 119, 120) by the ever-inventive Domenico Scarlatti. At the First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough St., Boston, MA, at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. Donations accepted.
January 22: The Boston Chamber Music Society presents its Winter Festival 2011, an afternoon of music for four hands/ two pianos (Randall Hodginson and Mihae Lee) along with the superb baritone David Kravitz. There will be music by Satie, Ravel, Poulenc, and Stravinky, including the wonderfully savage Le Sacre de Printemps. At MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, MA, at 4 p.m. on Saturday. There will be a forum at 1:30 p.m. featuring Jonathan McPhee, Music Director of the Boston Ballet, and Ann Allen, a lecturer at the Museum of Fine Arts.
January 23: Pianist Jeremy Denk (known to many for his intellectually probing website, think denk) performs as part of the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum Sunday Concert Series. Denk is playing a fascinating and immensely difficult program, J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 and George Ligeti’s Etudes, Book One and Two. This will no doubt be among the most intellectually challenging concerts of the season. His performance, as well as others in the Gardner’s spring series, will be at the Pozen Center at MassArt, Tetlow Street, Boston, MA, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
January 23: Boston Symphony Chamber Players perform with guest pianist Jonathan Bass. A great program that includes music by Peter Liebermann (Sonata for flute and piano, Op. 23) and Mozart (Quintet in E-flat for piano and winds, K.452), as well as Stravinsky’s L’Historie du Soldat (complete with narration). At NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
January 27–29: The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), under conductor Christoph von Dohnányi presents more Ligeti—the Double Concerto for Flute and Oboe, played by BSO flutist Elizabeth Rowe and hugely admired oboist John Ferrillo. The program features another beautiful concerto as well, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, K. 218 with violin soloist Arabella Steinbacher, and finally, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony #7. At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday and at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
January 28: The Boston debut of the Philhamonia Quartett Berlin, which will perform quartets by Shostakovich, Beethoven, and Schubert (the gorgeous “Death and The Maiden”). Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, at 8 p.m. on Friday.
January 30: The Gardner Sunday Concert Series presents the Borromeo String Quartet in Part III of their traversal of the Complete Beethoven String Quartets. For this concert they are playing the three glorious Op. 59 Quartets, often referred to as the Razumovsky Quartets. If you’ve never heard Beethoven quartets before, try to hear these; there’s no better introduction to Beethoven or his quartets. This performance, as well as others in the Gardner’s spring series, will be at the Pozen Center at MassArt, Tetlow Street, Boston, MA, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.