Classical Music Sampler: April 2013

A busy month that includes a pair of appearances by composer/conductor Oliver Knussen and turns by stellar pianists Evgeny Kissin and Lars Vogt. Also, the final concert this season in the admirable Music for Food Series.

By Jonathan Blumhofer and Susan Miron.

British composer/conductor Oliver Knussen showcases two of his own pieces with the Boston Symphony Orchestra this month.

Lowell House Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. April 3, 5, and 6.

This production actually commences on March 27th but continues into April. Britten, who would have turned 100 in November, wrote lots of great music, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream—his marriage of extraordinary musical invention and Shakespeare’s own text (judiciously cut down by the composer)—occupies a place all by itself.

Handel and Haydn Society’s “Vivaldi Virtuosi.” April 5 and 7.

Ian Watson directs H&H in a program of Baroque works (mainly concerti) framed by three pieces by the Italian master.

Boston Symphony Orchestra and Oliver Knussen. At Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, April 12 and 13.

British composer/conductor Knussen—no stranger to BSO audiences at Tanglewood—gets an abbreviated Symphony Hall series that showcases two of his own pieces, Whitman Settings and Violin Concerto (with Claire Booth and Pinchas Zuckerman as soloists, respectively), and two real rarities: Nikolai Miaskovsky’s Symphony no. 10 and Leopold Stokowski’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Oliver Knussen. April 14.

BMOP gives Knussen his third concert in as many nights with a free program across the street. Two more Knussen scores (Music for a Puppet Court and Symphony no. 2) share the bill with Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto and NEC composition department chair Michael Gandolfi’s The Nature of Light.

Discovery Ensemble. April 14.

The city’s most exciting orchestra to watch wraps up a stellar season with music by Schoenberg, Beethoven, and Schumann. Pianist Michael McHale joins the group in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4.

Boston Symphony Orchestra. April 18-20 and 23.

One of last season’s best BSO concerts was the result of making the best of an unfortunate cancellation: when Riccardo Chailly pulled out of his BSO debut, the orchestra opted to showcase its individual members sans conductor for half of a program. Now it’s grown to an entire program. Music by Benjamin Britten, Mozart, Dvorak, and Michael Tippett is on the docket.

Pianist Michael McHale joins the Discovery Ensemble this month

Boston Baroque. April 19 and 20.

The city’s other premiere period ensemble concludes its season with a program that can’t miss: Haydn’s “Lord Nelson” Mass and Symphony no. 102. Martin Pearlman conducts and is joined by soloists Mary Wilson, Abigail Fischer, Keith Jameson, and Kevin Deas.

New England Philharmonic. April 27.

Richard Pittman conducts the NEP in its season finale that focuses on “Form and Variations.” The program consists of music by Gunther Schuller, Britten’s mercurial Piano Concerto, the first Boston performance of Steven Stucky’s Rhapsodies, and Sibelius’s valedictory Symphony no. 7.

— JB

Chamber Music/ Early Music

First Monday at Jordan Hall. April 1, 8 p.m.

This terrific series outdoes itself this month—this is a concert that should not be missed. Beethoven Folk Songs with the great mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato along with the Gandolfi Plain Song, Fantastic Dances, and Smetana Piano Trio in G minor with a large cast of musical luminaries. And it’s free.

Stile Antico. April 5, 8 p.m.

Presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, this highly respected, young, British, early music ensemble sings “Treasures of the Renaissance: Masterpieces from the Golden Age of Chorale Music.”

Soprano Jennifer Ashe celebrates 60 years of the Fromm Music Foundation.

Chameleon Arts Ensemble. April 6, 8 p.m. (Same program on April 7 at 4 p.m. at the Goethe Institute, Boston, MA).

The delightful group presents a program of chamber music by Earl Kim (Illuminations for soprano and piano, 1998) Mozart (Quintet in E Flat for Piano and Winds, K. 452), Zemlinsky (Piano Trio in d minor, Op. 3), Arnold Schoenberg (String Trio, Op. 45), John Cage (Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs for voice and closed piano lid), and Lou Harrison (First Concerto for flute and percussion, 1939).

Fromm Players at Harvard with Sound Icon. April 12 and 13, 8 p.m.

These programs celebrate 60 years of the Fromm Music Foundation: the music includes includes Berio’s Circles with soprano Jennifer Ashe and harpist Franziska Huhn, along with works by Leon Kirchner, Bruno Maderna, Liza Lim (Shimmering Songs), and Barbara White (Third Rule of Thumb). Free and free parking at the Broadway Garage.

Jonathan Biss, piano, with the Elias String Quartet. April 12, 8 p.m.

Presented by The Celebrity Series of Boston, the Schumann: Under the Influence project has the musicians playing Schumann’s Piano Quintet and quartets by Schumann, Timothy Andres (a commissioned new work), and Purcell.

Borromeo String Quartet. April 14, 1:30 p.m.

The excellent quartet teams up with Paul Katz, cello, and Yura Lee in a program of music that includes Dvorák’s String Quartet Nol 13 in G Major, Op 106 and Dvorák’s String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48.

Irina Muresanu. April 14, 5 p.m.

As part of the popular String Masters at Boston Conservatory series, the superb Romanian violinist will perform a solo recital entitled “Four Strings Around the World.” She will play works of Bach (the magnificent Chaconne), Piazzola, Sheng, Kreisler, Enescu, and Mark O’Connor.

Music for Food. April 15, 8 p.m. CANCELLED

The organization’s last of four concerts for this season. Chamber works of Dvořák are the focus along with “Songs from Spain and Argentina.” The approach is inspirational: high class musicians perform for a great cause—ending hunger in Massachusetts. Free but donations in cash, check, or canned goods are extremely welcome. All proceeds go directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank, in more need now than ever.

Chiara String Quartet with pianist Robert Levin. April 19, 8 p.m.

Presented by Harvard Department of Music, the program includes quartets by Haydn (C Major, Op. 20, No. 32) and Edgar Barroso (“Endgrama”), as well as the lovely Dvorák Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major. Free tickets are available at the Harvard Box Office starting April 5.

A Far Cry. April 20, 4 p.m. (Same program April 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Gardner Museum)

The highly acclaimed, conductor-free chamber orchestra presents a program entitled After Dark: the program includes Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in G Minor with Paula Robison, flute; Saariaho’s Nymphéa Reflection, and Borodin’s String Quartet, No. 2, Nocturne.

Pianist Lars Vogt performs at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport. Photo: Felix Broede

Evgeny Kissin. April 21, 5 p.m.

The amazing, Russian piano virtuoso makes his fifth Celebrity Series of Boston appearance, and it is definitely worth seeing Kissin every time he’s in town. His program includes Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E Flat Major, Op. 59, Beethoven’s radical and wondrous last piano sonata, No. 111, Four Schubert Impromptus, and the Hungarian Rhapsodie No. 12 in C# minor.

Lars Vogt. April 26, 8 p.m.

Rockport Music presents the pianist (in the beautiful Shalin Liu Performance Center) performing Bartók, Schubert, and Brahms.

Thomas Hampson with the Jupiter String Quartet. April 26, 8 p.m.

The superb baritone appears via the Celebrity Series of Boston. The program will include Schubert’s String Quartet No 10 in E Flat Major, D. 87, and new work for Baritone and String Quartet by Mark Adamo, Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade for String Quartet and Wolf’s Selected Lieder for Voice and String Quartet.

Cappella Clausura. April 27 and 28, 8 p.m.

Known and highly respected for its concerts and recordings of music by women composers from the ninth century to the present, Cappella Clausura (under the direction of Amelia Le Clair and with a full orchestra) will perform works by Fanny Hensel (Felix Mendelssohn’s lesser known sister), Marianna von Martines, Erna Woll, and Rebecca Clarke (known for her famous viola sonata).

— SM

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