Classical Music Sampler: May 2013

By Jonathan Blumhofer and Susan Miron.

John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby gets its long-overdue Boston premiere, as does Jan Dismas Zelenka’s 1739 Missa Votiva. Handel’s Jephtha returns to the Handel and Haydn Society after a century and a half, and the Walden Chamber Players explore music from Cuba.

Conductor Bernard Haitink

Conductor Bernard Haitink returns to the BSO. Photo by Matthias Creutziger.

Violinist Nikolai Znaider and the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink. May 2-4.

The BSO caps off its 2012-13 season with Bernard Haitink on the podium. The repertoire is familiar—Brahms and Schubert—but Haitink usually draws some of the best playing of the year from the orchestra.

Handel and Haydn Society present Handel’s Jephtha. May 3 and 5.

The last time H&H performed Handel’s Jephtha was during the Johnson administration—Andrew’s, that is. Artistic director Harry Christophers leads an all-star cast along with the H&H Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus.

Cantata Singers/David Hoose. May 10.

David Hoose conducts the last concert of his 30th season with the Cantata Singers, a program that goes backwards, chronologically, from late Mozart to Haydn and ends with a Boston premiere (!): Jan Dismas Zelenka’s 1739 Missa votiva.

George Li and the Longwood Symphony Orchestra/Ronald Feldman. May 11.

Local wunderkind Li has been all over the Boston concert scene this season and this month finds him playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Longwood Symphony. Music by Lukas Foss, Stravinsky, and Ravel is also on the program, the proceeds of which benefit the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence; the concert is dedicated to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing.

John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. At Jordan Hall, May 12.

John Harbison’s 1999 opera gets its belated Boston premiere, courtesy of Emmanuel Music. Gordon Gietz sings the title role, and Devon Guthrie is Daisy Buchanan; Ryan Turner conducts the chorus and orchestra of Emmanuel Music.

Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s Gen OrcXstrated. May 17.

BMOP’s 2012-13 season concludes with a program by composers born since 1976: Mason Bates, Huang Ruo, and Andrew Norman.

A Far Cry. May 24.

The Crier’s sixth season closes with one of the ensemble’s more old-fashioned-looking programs, consisting of music by Mozart, Bruckner, and Schubert. But it’s an invigorating line-up: the great (late) G minor symphony of Mozart, Schubert’s sunny Fifth, and an orchestral arrangement of the slow movement from Bruckner’s rarely heard String Quartet tucked in the middle.


Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe. At First Church Congregational, Cambridge, MA, May 4, 8 p.m., with guests Parthenia.

Parthenia, a consort of viols, join with the voices of Blue Heron for a program titled “Chansons de Printemps,” featuring sixteenth-century French songs for spring by Le Jeune, Sermisy, Sweelinck, and others.

Walden Chamber Players. In the Wilson Chapel at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, MA, May 5, 4 p.m. (pre-concert lecture at 2:30 p.m.)

The Walden Chamber Players close out their season with a most unusual afternoon, “Cuba! Music and Images from the Forbidden Island.” Chamber works by White, Nin, Lecuona, Cervantes, Martin, Brouwer, and Peramo will be preceded by a photographic exhibition and a lecture on the music, history and culture of Cuba by speaker and musician Benjamin Willis. Stick around to sample Cuban delicacies at the post-concert reception.

Musica Sacra. At the First Church Congregational, Cambridge, MA, May 11, 8 p.m.

The evocative piano accompanying Ken Burns’ series, The Civil War, was provided by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, and she’ll revisit that era as Musica Sacra’s guest soloist. Titled “A New Birth of Freedom”, the program will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

Radius Ensemble. At Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall, May 11, 8 p.m.

Alchemy, indeed, from Mozart’s String Duo in B Flat Major to John Harbison’s Woodwind Quintet to the solo flute of John Howell Morrison’s Lonesome Whistle, all leading to a spectacular meeting of East and West in Christine Southworth’s Jamu, with Radius teaming up with a Balinese gamelan ensemble for a world premiere.

Boston Chamber Music Society. At Sanders Theatre, May 12, 7:30 p.m.

Two magnificent quintets, Shostakovich’s for piano and string quartet, and Schubert’s for two violins, viola, and two cellos, are preceded by Menotti’s Suite for Two Cellos and Piano.

Masterworks Chorale. At Sanders Theatre, May 17, 8 p.m.

Pianists Randall Hodgkinson and Leslie Amper join the chorale for a concert titled “Love Songs Re-Inspired,” featuring Liszt’s Liebeslied (a solo piano reworking of Schumann’s song Widmung), Brahms’ familiar Neue Liebeslieder Walzer and Hungarian Dances, John Corigliano’s 1996 Liebeslied, and the inimitable P.D.Q. Bach’s Liebeslieder Polkas (for piano five hands).

Composer Lili Boulanger

Composer Lili Boulanger

Spectrum Singers. At First Church Congregational, Cambridge, MA, May 18, 8 p.m. (with a pre-concert lecture by Steven Ledbetter)

Une rapport français” features works by Gabriel Fauré (his sublime Requiem plus the rarely-heard Les Djinns, Le Ruisseau, and Madrigal) and by Nadia Boulanger’s tragically short-lived younger sister, Lili (Pie Jesu, La Source, Les Sirènes, and Hymne au Soleil).

Sergey Schepkin and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra/Cynthia Woods. At Sanders Theatre, May 18, 8 p.m.

Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin tackles Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in a must-hear concert.

Chameleon Arts Ensemble. At First Church, Boston, MA, May 18 at 8 p.m., May 19 at 4 p.m. (with a pre-concert talk by Joseph Auner at 7:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.).

The ensemble wraps up its fifteenth season with “Mystic Moons and Dream Music,” bringing together a four-hand adaptation of Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemp and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, as well as Schoenberg’s intriguing arrangement of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.



  1. Dan Malis, President, Masterworks Chorale on May 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

    And don’t forget Masterworks’ explorations of all sides of love, “Liebeslied”, including Brahms’ Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes; Corigliano’s witty response, “Liebeslied”; and PDQ Bach’s look at the funny side, the “Liebeslieder Polkas for Chorus and Five Hand Piano.” Featuring pianists Leslie Amper and Randall Hodgkinson, husband and wife, who have their own answers: Liszt’s “Liebeslied” and the Brahms “Hungarian Dances”. Friday, May 17th, 8 pm, Sanders Theatre. Tickets at

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