Classical Music Sampler: June 2011

June is not a month that lends itself to an easy gathering of concert recommendations, mostly because it presents an an embarrassment of riches. Many festivals are in full swing, others just beginning.

By Susan Miron.

The Boston Early Music Festival is the 800-pound gorilla for serious music lovers, but there are plenty of other rewarding gatherings worth checking out, including Tanglewood, Rockport, Music Mountain in Falls Village, CT, Music at Eden’s Edge, Aston Magna (at Brandeis University and in Great Barrington, MA), and the Bowdoin (Maine) International Music Festival.

Soprano Amanda Forsythe sings the title role in the opera Niobe, Queen of Thebes, part of the line-up in this year

Wednesday Concert Series offers free classical music each Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Church of St. John Evangelist, 35 Bowdoin Street Boston, MA. June 1: Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar) will perform “Dance, Bach, Sleep,” featuring the Boston premieres of works by Schuttenhelm and Veloso; June 8: Klaritas Ensemble (clarinet, piano, and violin) will perform the music of Bartok, Khatchaturian, and Milhaud; June 15: Laura Hansen (soprano), Ashley Episcopo (mezzo-soprano), Michelle Vachon (mezzo-soprano), and Daniel Padgett (piano) will present “These Three Are One: Sacred Music for Three Voices,” featuring works by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, et al; June 22: Benjamin Warsaw (piano) will perform works by J. S. Bach, Brahms, and Warsaw; June 29: Duo Orfeo (guitars) will present “Subtle Lure of Earthly Things,” featuring the music of Couperin, Duphly, Poulenc, and Satie.

Thursday June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Steinart Hall, 162 Boylston St. Boston, MA. Classicopia presents the terrific pianist duo, Philip Liston-Kraft and David Weiser, in a piano recital featuring music of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and Arensky. This excellent pair of musicians has been a well-kept secret, but I have decided to spread the word. They will also be appearing in other locations in New England this month, so check Classicopia’s website for details.

Saturday, June 11 at 7 p.m. at Carey Memorial Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, MA. The Lexington Symphony presents a lovely program featuring Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto, Dvorak’s Wind Serenade, and Ibert’s Divertissement.

June 12–19 at various times and locations (check the Boston Early Music Festival website for details). For most serious music lovers the Boston Early Music Festival needs no introduction. One of the foremost festivals of its kind in the world, it features performances of opera as well as concerts by outstanding vocal and chamber music groups.

Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout

Many of the biggest names in Early Music will be here: The Boston Camerata, The Tallis Scholars, Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout. Of course, “the premier early music trade show in North America and among the largest in the world” will take place at the Radisson Hotel in Boston, (June 15–18). Among the highlights are an organ Mini-Festival on Thursday, June 16 (at Wellesley College and from 2 to 4:40 p.m. at The First Church of Boston) and a keyboard Mini-Festival on June 17 at the First Church in Boston.

Along with the music there will be lectures galore, along with demonstrations and dance workshops—truly something for everyone’s musical taste. The headliner opera this year (June 12–18) is Agostino Steffani’s 1688 Niobe, Regine de Tebe, (Niobe, Queen of Thebes), based on an episode from Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses, along with a revival of Handel’s lovely Acis and Galatea on June 18. On June 24 and 25th Niobe, Queen of Thebes will be performed at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.

June 9 through July 17 at various times (check the website for details) at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA. The Rockport Chamber Music Festival celebrates its second season in the gorgeous, acoustically stunning home. This is a consistently worth-the-trip-out-of-town event to catch—many concerts are already sold out to loyal subscribers, so move fast.This year’s season opens with an evening featuring the Ikarus Chamber Players, including David Alpher, composer and pianist (co-founder of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival), Anne Akiko Myers, violin, Andres Diaz, cello, David Deveau, piano, Nna Elashvili, violin, and Margaret Dyer, viola.

June 25 at 8 p.m. at the Second Church, 60 Highland St. West Newton, MA. Exultemus, a wonderful a capella group, whom I heard last month and enjoyed very much, is performing along with Newton Baroque as part of their examination of Telemann’s complete 72 Cantata cycle.

Pianist Roberto Poli

June 17–19 at various times (check the website) at The Rivers School Conservatory, 333 Winter Street, Weston, MA. The superb pianist and Chopin expert Roberto Poli, who knows how to run a three-day festival better than just about anyone, presents a smaller round-up than last year but interesting all the same. The concerts are part of a three-day Chopin Symposium—here are some highlights.

On June 17 at 8 p.m., legendary teacher and pianist Russell Sherman plays Robert Schumann’s Arabesque and Fanatasie and the popular (at least during this Liszt anniversary year) Sonata in B minor. On June 18 at 8 p.m., A Winter in Majorca presents music of Bach and Chopin, played by Roberto Poli with narration by Cathy Fuller and Richard Knisely that focuses on the affair between Fryderyk Chopin and and George Sand. On June 19 at 8 p.m., Lisztomania, a fascinating program that dramatizes “an evening at the palace of Princess Christina di Belgiojoso. A re-enactment of the duel between Franz Liszt and Sigismund Thalberg—Edward Cohen, piano, with the participation of mezzo-soprano Colleen Palmer, baritone Antov Belov, violinist Piotr Buczek, violist Gillian Rogell, cellist Ronald Lowry, and pianist Roberto Poli.”

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