Classical Music Sampler: May 2010

By Caldwell Titcomb

Hugo Wolf

May Concerts: The New England Conservatory celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer and music critic Hugo Wolf.

May 1: The month kicks off with an unusual concert celebrating the noted tuba player Kenneth Amis, who joins the MIT Wind Ensemble. Amis will play his own “Concerto for Tuba” (2007), along with the premiere of his “Bell-Tone’s Ring,” and pieces by famous European composers. At MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 8 p.m.

May 2: The Celebrity Series presents the acclaimed German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff in a recital of lieder, partnered by pianist Justus Zeyen. A group of four Schubert songs will be followed by “Six Monologues from Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s ‘Jedermann’” (1943), composed by Swiss musician Frank Martin (1890-1974). Quasthoff will also offer five Brahms songs from Op. 94 and the same composer’s late and unsurpassed “Four Serious Songs,” Op. 121. At Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 3 p.m.

May 3: The New England Conservatory ends its free “First Monday” series with a concert honoring Hugo Wolf’s 150th anniversary of birth via his “Italian Serenade.” The program also contains Beethoven’s Octet, Op. 103, and the Octet by the Conservatory’s former president Gunther Schuller. The performers include the Borromeo String Quartet. At Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 8 p.m.

May 3: Assistant Harvard University Organist Christian Lane plays the premiere of a work by composer-in-residence Carson Cooman ’04 along with works from the dedicatory recitals of 1967-68. This free concert will be the last time that the celebrated Fisk organ will be heard at Harvard prior to a major restoration project. At Memorial Church, One Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA, 7:30 p.m.

May 5: The Boston Early Music Festival presents a concert entitled “Jerusalem: A City of Two Peaces,” under the direction of noted viola da gambist Jordi Savall. The repertory consists of music and texts drawn from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths spanning two millennia. At Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 8 p.m. (Savall will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.)

May 9: The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, under guest conductor Joel Smirnoff, offers a program celebrating the arrival of summer. Featured is Samuel Barber’s lovely “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” to a text by James Agee, which had its premiere by the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky in 1948. Also on the program are George Gershwin’s “Summertime”; Zoltán Kodály’s “Summer Evening” (1906, revised 1929-30); and Haydn’s rarely heard “Sinfonia Concertante,” Op. 84, for solo violin, cello, oboe, and bassoon, plus a full orchestra. At Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 3 p.m.

May 14: The Cantata Singers, under David Hoose, have been featuring music by Heinrich Schütz in all its concerts this season. The final program is devoted entirely to this composer, Germany’s greatest prior to J. S. Bach. To be heard are the “Opus Ultimum – Schwanengesang,” Psalms 119 and 100, and the “Deutsches Magnificat.” At Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 8 p.m.

Noted baritone Sanford Sylvan performs with

Noted baritone Sanford Sylvan performs with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

May 15: The 30th anniversary season of the Spectrum Singers, led by John W. Ehrlich, concludes with the premiere of Joshua Hummel’s “Novum Decus Oritur,” winner of the organization’s Young Composers Choral Competition. The concert also presents works written by famous composers when they were young: Bach, Brahms, Bartók, Ives, Ligeti, Schütz, and Schubert. At First Church Congregational, 11 Garden Street (near Harvard Square), Cambridge, MA, 8 p.m.

May 16: The Masterworks Chorale, conducted by Steven Karidoyanes in its 70th season, presents a concert entitled “The American Five.” The quintet of composers are Barber, Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, and Ives. But each is here represented by relatively unfamiliar fare. To be heard are Barber’s “Sure on This Shining Night (1938) and “Reincarnation” (1940); Bernstein’s incidental music to Anouilh’s “The Lark” (premiered in Boston in 1955); choruses from the beautiful Copland opera “The Tender Land” (1954); Gershwin’s music for the film “A Damsel in Distress” (1937); and Ives’ “Psalm 67″ (1898). At Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 3 p.m.

May 16: The Boston Chamber Music Society (Marcus Thompson, Artistic Director), ends its season with works that are not often played. Haydn’s learned String Quartet in D-minor, Hob.III:76, subtitled “The Fifths,” will be followed by Villa-Lobos’s 1946 “Duo for Violin and Viola,” and Ernest Chausson’s Concerto in D-major for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21 (1889-91). At Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 7:30 p.m.

May 22 and 23: The Chameleon Arts Ensemble ends its 12th season with music by two famous masters and two up-and-coming Americans. The program starts with Fauré’s “La Chanson d’Ève,” for soprano and piano (Op. 95), and ends with Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” for string sextet (Op. 70). In between come Pierre Jalbert’s “Visual Abstract,” for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, and the Boston premiere of Gareth Farr’s “Taheke” (“Waterfalls”), for flute and harp. At Goethe-Institute, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, MA, Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

May 28: The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose, finishes its season with works by five composers. Joining the orchestra is the noted baritone Sanford Sylvan, who will perform in Steven Stucky’s “American Muse,” and Martin Boykan’s “Symphony for Baritone and Orchestra.” Rose will also lead Anthony DeRitis’s “Ledgerdemain,” Kati Agócs’s “Requiem Fragments,” and an orchestra piece by the late Harvard professor Leon Kirchner. At Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 8 p.m. (There will be discussion of the music at 7 p.m.)

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