Classical Music Sampler: August 2012

August is a rich month for festival finales around New England. The 75th anniversary season at Tanglewood concludes on August 26th with a premiere by John Harbison (“Koussevitzky said:”) and the traditional performance of Beethoven Ninth.

Before then, though, there is the annual Festival of Contemporary Music (August 9–13), as well as some interesting-looking programs with top-notch soloists and conductors to round out the summer in typical, high caliber fashion.

By Jonathan Blumhofer & Susan Miron.

At Tanglewood, Lenox, MA

One of the world’s great baritones, Gerald Finley, performs at Tanglewood. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke

August 3 (8:30 p.m.)Gerald Finley, one of the world’s great baritones, sings works for voice and orchestra by Mozart and Ravel. Lorin Maazel conducts the BSO in the “Prague” Symphony of the former as well as Alborada del gracioso and the second suite from Daphnis et Chloé by the latter. If you can, catch Mr. Finley on the evening of the 2nd in a recital with pianist Julian Drake at Ozawa Hall—you won’t regret it.

August 4 (8:30 p.m.)Yefim Bronfman is slated to perform Brahms’s Piano Concerto no. 2. Christoph von Dohnányi also conducts Schumann’s Fourth Symphony.

August 11 (6 and 8:30 p.m.): In one of the most interesting programs on this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music, Gunther Schuller leads an all-Ives concert in Seiji Ozawa Hall. Then stick around for Stéphane Denève conducting Yo-Yo Ma and the BSO in Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and a world premiere by Andre Previn (Music for Boston) round out the evening.

August 12 (10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.): Contemporary music for breakfast and core classics for lunch—it must be August in Lenox! This summer’s Fromm Concert at Tanglewood features a sampling of just about everything going on during the contemporary music festival: music by Harrison Birtwistle, George Benjamin, Nicolo Castiglioni, David del Tredici, Helen Grime, Sean Shepherd, and a premiere from Marti Epstein. Afterwards, Christoph von Dohnányi conducts the BSO in a program of repertoire staples: Beethoven’s Fourth, Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23, and Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel.

August 17 (8:30 p.m.): Bramwell Tovey, who made a smashing debut at Symphony Hall in January and returns in September to lead the BSO in Porgy and Bess, here conducts a series of favorites: the suite from Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Barber’s Violin Concerto (with Augustin Hadelich), and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7.

August 18 (8:30 p.m.): John Williams, who, it turns out, is five years older than Tanglewood, gets his 80th birthday celebration courtesy of the Boston Pops and guests that include Gil Shaham, Jessye Norman, and the aforementioned Mr. Ma (who seems to be just about everywhere this summer).

August 19 (2:30 p.m.): This year the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert falls on both the date and day of the week that Bernstein conducted what turned out to be his final concert 22 years ago. Instead of the BSO playing Britten and Beethoven’s Seventh (as in 1990), this afternoon features the TMCO and conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos in music by Bartok and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (with Mr. Shaham).

Monadnock Music. At various locations in New Hampshire.

Monadnock Music concludes its 2012 season in various locales around New Hampshire. There is an impressive array of programs to choose from:

August 1 (7:30 p.m.): The Monadnock Players and Krista River present a widely varied program of twentieth and twenty-first-century chamber music. Featured composers include Virgil Thomson, Luciano Berio, Frank Martin, Claude Debussy, and MacDowell Colony Fellow Kate Moore. The performance takes place at Hancock Congregational Church, 47 Main Street, Hancock, NH.

August 4 (7:30 p.m.): Pianist David Breitman accompanies the extraordinary Sanford Sylvan in a performance of Schubert’s Winterreise in Peterborough (NH) Town House.

August 10 (7:30 p.m.): The Lorelei Ensemble performs music for unaccompanied female voices, including scores by David Lang, Mary Montgomery Koppel, and Carson Cooman at All Saints’ Church in Peterborough.

The Lorelei Ensemble for Women will perform at Monadnock Music.

August 11 (3 p.m.): The Monadnock Quartet performs music by Mozart, Arthur Shepherd, Virgil Thomson, and Ravel at Dublin Emmanuel Church, 18 Lehmann Way, Dublin, NH.

The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. At various locations on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival features a number of performances all around the Cape.

August 1 ( 7:30 p.m.)Frank Almond, Julian Schwarz, and Brian Zeger perform pieces for various combinations of violin, cello, and piano: Ravel’s Duo for Violin and Cello is bracketed by Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces (op. 73) and Beethoven’s op. 11 piano trio. At First Congregational Church, Chatham, MA.

August 13 and 14 (7:30 p.m.): The Borromeo String Quartet premieres a newly-commissioned work by Daniel Brewbaker and performs Stravinsky’s rarely-heard Three Pieces for String Quartet along with Schubert’s Quartet in D minor (“Death and the Maiden”). Performances are at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum on the 13th and the Cotuit Center for the Arts on the 14th.

Pianist Jon Nakamatsu has to do some heavy lifting when he performs at the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.

August 24 (7:30 p.m.): The Festival draws to its close with Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata, Ernst von Dohnányi’s Sextet in C, and Brahms’s gypsy-inflected Piano Quartet no. 1. Pianist Jon Nakamatsu has his work cut out for him: he appears in all three pieces. Performance location is the First Congregational Church in Wellfleet, MA.

Yellow Barn’s Summer Season. Putney, VT.

In Putney, Vermont, the Yellow Barn’s summer season draws to its close with concerts focusing on the music of Australian composer/violist Brett Dean alongside traditional and wholly unexpected chamber music repertoire.

August 2 (8 p.m.): Dean’s Short Stories and Eclipse are framed by pieces by Britten (the canticle “Still Falls the Rain” and String Quartet no. 1), Webern (Six Bagatelles), and Finzi (the Introduction and Aria from Farewell to Arms).

August 4 (12:30 and 8 p.m.): A matinee concert at 12:30 (consisting of Korngold’s String Quartet no. 3, Bartok’s Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion, Stefano Gervasoni’s Godspell, and Schumann’s E-flat major Piano Quartet), is followed by the season finale in the evening. In it, Seth Knopp plays Chopin’s Nocturnes, Mr. Dean appears as violist in his 2010 string quintet Epitaphs, and all hands are on deck for Arnold Schoenberg’s arrangement of Mahler’s epic song cycle, Das Lied von der Erde.

Meanwhile, back in the Boston area…

Boston Lyric Opera. At the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston, MA, August 8, 7 p.m.

Boston Lyric Opera gives a partial preview of its upcoming season with a free concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. Music by Wagner, Bizet, Puccini, Mozart, and Bernstein (among others) will feature singers from the BLO led by music director David Angus.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra. August 22, 7 p.m.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra musicians star as soloists in Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns and Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante. Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 4 (Italian) completes the program.

Music inspired by Shakespeare. Presented by Boston Landmarks Orchestra. August 29, 7 p.m.

Music inspired by Shakespeare brings the Landmarks Orchestra’s 2012 summer season to a close: Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture and Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream are performed alongside Shostakovich’s rarely-heard film score for Hamlet and William Walton’s magnificent music for Laurence Olivier’s directorial debut, Henry V.

The Boston Chamber Music Society performing at MIT.

The Boston Chamber Music Society. At the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, August 4, 11, 18, and 25, 8 p.m.

The Boston Chamber Music Society celebrates Debussy’s 150th brithday on four Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. The theme is Debussy and his Countrymen.

August 4: Features Debussy piano works and his rarely performed Piano Trio in G major and Franck’s famous Violin Sonata in A major. Performers include Sheryl Staples, violin; Julie Albers, cello; and Jon Klibonoff, piano

August 11: Highlights are Debussy’s cello sonata, Faure Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 45. Performers are Steven Copes, violin; Marcus Thompson, viola; Ronald Thomas, cello; and Randall Hodgkinson, Piano

August 18: If I were to chose only one to attend, this would be it. Debussy Violin Sonata, Ravel Violin Sonata, Ravel String Quartet in F Major, Debussy String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10. Performers are Jennifer Frautschi, violin; Xiao-Dong Wang, violin; Dmitri Murrath, viola; and Mihae Lee, piano

August 25: Fauré’s Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 108, Debussy’s “iberia” arranged for Piano Four Hands, and Ravel’s gorgeous Piano Trio in A minor. Performers are Harumi Rhodes, violin; Ronald Thomas, cello; Mihae Lee, piano; and Benjamin Hochman, piano

IBERICA 2012 Festival of Early Music. At various locations in Boston, August 18–29.

The IBERICA festival presents four intriguing programs of early music from Spain, Portugal, and the New World at churches and synagogues in Boston between August 18 and 29.

August 18 kicks off the series, and features performances of Spanish opera and Zarzuela scenes at the St. Johns Episcopal Church, Roanoke and Revere, Jamaica Plain, MA at 5:30 and 8 p.m. All of the three other concerts look quite exciting. The upcoming programs include Spanish oratorios and Sephardic cantatas.

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