Classical Music Sampler: November 2012

November features a number of visits from celebrated performers, from Kelley O’Connor and Thomas Adés to the Takács Quartet. Music for Food also presents its second concert/benefit of the season.

By Jonathan Blumhofer and Susan Miron.

Gil Shaham and the Boston Symphony/Juanjo Mena. November 1–3 and 6.

Shaham returns to Symphony Hall with Benjamin Britten’s moody, introspective Violin Concerto. Juanjo Mena conducts the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Circle Map (a BSO co-commission) and Dvorak’s Symphony no. 7.

Mezzo-Soprano Kelley O’Connor makes her Boston Lyric Opera premiere in MADAME BUTTERFLY

Madame Butterfly by Puccini. Performed by Boston Lyric Opera. November 2, 4, 7, 9, and 11.

Boston Lyric Opera’s season opens with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. The excellent Kelley O’Connor makes her BLO debut as Suzuki.

Midori. Presented by the Celebrity Series. November 4.

Violinist Midori commemorates her 30 years performing with a recital courtesy of the Celebrity Series. Her program alternates three sonatas by Beethoven with pieces by Anton Webern and George Crumb.

Handel and Haydn Society. November 9 and 11.

The Handel and Haydn Society’s second program of the 2012-13 seasons features four eighteenth-century symphonies, culminating in Mozart’s greatest, the Jupiter.

The Midsummer Marriage by Michael Tippett. Performed by Boston Modern Orchestra Project. November 10.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project plays the first of its four annual programs: this a performance of Michael Tippett’s opera The Midsummer Marriage.

Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Adés. November 15–17.

Thomas Adés returns to Symphony Hall for the first time following his triumphant BSO debut in 2011. His program features his own piano concerto, In Seven Days, two pieces by Sibelius, and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 1. Dawn Upshaw and Kirill Gerstein are the featured soloists.

Boston Music Viva. November 16.

Boston Music Viva marks the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (the exact anniversary was October 16) with a program of pieces by William Kraft, Curtis Hughes, and Schoenberg (but not Pierrot—rather, his op. 29 Suite is featured).

Thomas Ades returns to Symphony Hall to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Stu Rosner

Sound Icon. November 17.

Sound Icon presents its second program of the season at the Fenway Center. This one consists of pieces by Philippe Leroux and Georg Friedrich Haas.

Stéphane Denève, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the BSO. November 29 through December 1.

Stéphane Denève and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet join forces with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a French-heavy program that includes Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto no. 5, Berlioz’s Overture to Les francs juges, and the second suite from Albert Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane.

— JB

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.

November 7: Ars Vocalis Ensemble will present “Music Builds Character” and feature cabaret songs by Holby, Laitman, Heggie, Bolcom, et al.

November 14: Loop 2.4.3 New York Percussion Duo will present “American Dreamland” and showcase the marimba, steel drum, Native American flute, plus two original instruments.

November 21 : Thanksgiving Eve, no concert

November 28: Sarah K. Orlovsky (soprano) and Mark McNeill (piano) will perform works by Castel, Barber, Menotti, and Strauss.


Musical Europe: The Golden Age of Consort Viol Music (1500-1750). Performed by Hesprion XXI. At Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, November 2,  8 p.m. (Preconcert talk at 7 p.m.)

Early music rock star Jordi Savalle leads his ensemble Hesperion XXI.

The Belcea Quartet. Photo: Sheila Rock

Beethoven Quartets. Performed by the Belcea Quartet. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, November 4, 1:30 p.m.

The Belcea Quartet plays three great Beethoven quartets. Some people (like this critic) think life—or music—doesn’t get better than this. Quartets in F minor Op. 95 (“Serioso”), Quartet in F Major, Op. 135, and Quartet in A minor, Op. 132.

First Monday Series. At New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, November 5, 8 p.m., free.

NEC’s popular First Monday series features music by Debussy, (String Quartet in g minor), Villa Lobos, and Brahms (Sextet in b-flat major).

Masterworks Chorale. At Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA, November 9, 8 p.m.

Masterworks Chorale perform the sublime Brahms Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs.

Boston Chamber Music Society. At Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA, November 11, 7:30 p.m.

Boston Chamber Music Society presents another of its customarily interesting programs: the rarely-heard chamber version of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with pianist David Deveau, the Piano Trio in E major by Haydn, and Mozart’s beautiful C-major String Quintet.

Music for Food series. At Brown Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, November 12, 8 p.m.

The consistently wonderful series, Music for Food, led by violist Kim Kashkashian, presents its second concert of the season. All the proceeds go directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank: checks, cash, or canned donations are most welcome. The program includes the Dvorak Sextet in A Major, Op. 48 and Dvorak’s Terzetto as well as songs from Vaughn Williams’s House of Life with David McFerrin (voice) and Brian Moll (pianist). The performers are Miriam Fried and Tessa Lark (violin); Paul Biss and Kim Kashkashian (viola); and Marcy Rosen and Zhous Yi, (cello).

Muir String Quartet. At the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, November 13, 8 p.m., free.

Muir String Quartet (in residence at Boston University) perform the Quartet no. 4 by Bela Bartók and Ravel’s luscious string quartet.

Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin. Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston. November 16, 8 p.m.

Courtesy of the Celebrity Series in Boston, the excellent Takács Quartet joins up with local luminary, pianist Marc-André Hamelin, to perform Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57. The Quartet will also be playing Haydn’s String Quartet in D Major, Opus 76, no. 5 and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804, “Rosamunde.”

Charles Fisk. At Wellesley College’s Jewett Auditorium, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA, November 18, 7 p.m.

Pianist Charles Fisk plays music by and inspired by Bach, including a new work by Martin Brody based on Bach’s “Sheep will Safely Graze.”

Pianist Cecile Licad

Cecile Licad. Presented by the Gardner Museum Sunday Concert Series. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, November 25, 1:30 p.m.

The highly respected pianist Cecile Licad plays her third program of Liszt and Chopin, including Chopin’s wondrous Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35.

Orfeo by Monteverdi. Presented by the Boston Early Music Festival. At Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, November 24 at8 p.m. and November 25 at 3 p.m.

The annual Thanksgiving weekend opera presented by the Boston Early Music Festival is always worth hearing and seeing. This year’s offering is Orfeo by Monteverdi, featuring Aaron Sheehan in the title role.

St. Lawrence String Quartet. Presented by Concord Chamber Music Society. At the Concord Academy Performing Arts Center, Concord, MA, November 25, 3 p.m. (Preconcert talk at 2 p.m.)

St. Lawrence String Quartet plays Haydn, Beethoven (#59, No. 1 “Razumovsky”) and “Kohelet” (2011) by the always-interesting Osvaldo Golijov. Preconcert talk at 2 p.m. by Steven Ledbetter.

— SM

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