Here’s the final installment of my must-see programs for the current classical music season:
Kravis Center: As usual with the Kravis, a lot to choose from, most of it mainstream and not much on the innovatory side. The most interesting program could be that of the violinist Midori, who has scheduled music by Cage and Enescu along with Schumann and Beethoven on her April 12 recital. Spanish tenor Jose Carreras offers a recital March 9, and two titans of the piano — Andre Watts and Murray Perahia — offer back-to-back programs March 23 and 24.
I’m also interested in the wide variety of interesting orchestras scheduled for this year: Valery Gergiev and the Kirov are in town for two performances on Election Day and the Wednesday after, with programs mostly of Prokofiev, including the Left-Hand Concerto (No. 4), played by Alexei Volodin. The Dublin Philharmonic (Jan. 14), the Munich Symphony with French pianist Philippe Entremont playing and conducting two of the Beethoven concerti (Nos. 1 and 5) on Feb. 1 and 2; the Estonian National offering music by their countryman Arvo Part on March 8 with pianist Joyce Yang in the Rachmaninov Second Concerto; Pinchas Zukerman and the Dallas Symphony, featuring Zukerman and his wife, cellist Amanda Forsyth, in the Brahms Double Concerto on March 10; and Vladimir Spivakov leads the National Philharmonic of Russia in an all-Russian program of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky on April 7.
I’ll pass on Itzhak Perlman (I’m not a big fan, and there’s no indication of the program as yet), the Guarneri Quartet (they’re playing in the Dreyfoos Hall, which eats up their sound; put them in the Rinker and I’ll go), the New York Philharmonic (back after an absence of about five years, and once again bringing Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, this time on a program with the Schumann Fourth and the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures), and the Budapest Festival Orchestra (I admire Ivan Fischer, but I’m not a fan of gypsy music, which will be on the first half, and the second holds second- and third-rate Liszt, Sarasate and Brahms, except for the Brahms First).
But I will have to check out the Naples Philharmonic to see how they sound away from Pelican Bay. The program is so-so — the tacky Grieg Piano Concerto with Jodie DeSalvo, Weber’s Die Freischutz overture, and the Sibelius Second — but curiosity will bring me there Jan. 18.
Other things look interesting: A talk with Stephen Sondheim (Feb. 4), a Johnny Mercer centenary retrospective (Feb. 2) and Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors (Jan. 24-25), along with all five of the Young Artists concerts. They include Di Wu, a fine Chinese pianist I heard in Boca last year (Dec. 9); the Sung Trio, featuring noted music-and-tech blogger Hugh Sung, on Jan. 5, and violinist Christina Castelli on April 6. I’m likely to be at all five of the shows.
Last but not least, I have to see Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on Jan. 28, having just read his book.
Society of the Four Arts: At least two of the concerts this venerable Palm Beach group has scheduled look like absolute musts. The great Romanian pianist Radu Lupu (pictured at top) is in recital Feb. 4 in a program of Beethoven (the Pathetique, and the two Op. 14 sonatas) and Schubert (the huge B-flat Sonata, D. 960), and the young American violinist Jennifer Frautschi comes to the Society the week before playing the early Mendelssohn D minor Concerto with the Czech Symphony.
Good quartets are scheduled as well: the St. Lawrence (with clarinetist Todd Palmer) on Feb. 22; the Fine Arts on March 8 (playing the First Quartet of Juan Arriaga, the Shostakovich Seventh, and the Grieg G minor quartet), and the Ysaye Quartet of France on March 29, which has scheduled the Ravel Quartet (one of my all-time favorites), the A minor quartet, Op. 132, of Beethoven, and the Langsamer Satz of Anton Webern. Also worth mentioning are the American Chamber Players, annual guests here; in addition to a concert Feb. 14 of early Beethoven (including the Septet, Op. 20), their Jan. 7 concert includes the First Piano Quartet of Gabriel Faure, plus works by Ravel, Bloch and Sancan.
I’m also interested in the Male Choir of St. Petersburg singing Russian Orhodox music on Feb. 9; that same afternoon, the Concertante string soloist group presents three sextets: the Brahms G major, Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht, and the sextet from Richard Strauss’ Capriccio.
Palm Beach Symphony: Some well-thought-out programming from this group, which is giving five concerts this season. The Feb. 17 concert features organist Hal Pysher in a program of music for organ and orchestra. Those pieces include concerti by the American composer Stephen Paulus, and one each by Handel and Rheinberger. The other piece is by another American, Craig Phillips, and you can hear his attractive Concertino here on his Website.
More American music is in store on the symphony’s April 7 concert, when the fine area flutist Karen Dixon will join the orchestra for the lovely Poem for flute and orchestra by the short-lived Charles Griffes, still an underappreciated composer. I’m also interested to see the Jan. 30 concert, which will feature Philippe Entremont, though I don’t have program details at this juncture.
Florida Atlantic University: The university makes another mark for new American music this spring as it welcomes composer Libby Larsen for the second half of her residency. I spoke to her at length last year about what she’s planning, which at the time included a wind ensemble piece, a choral work with didgeridoo, a string ensemble piece, and a chamber work for three pianos, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, electric bass and percussion. All four are on tap for April 17, and I’ll be happy to see her again (she’s a terrific interview) and hear this new music.
Movies on HD: Peter Gelb did a very smart thing when he decided to offer simulcasts of Metropolitan Opera shows at movie theaters around the country. There have been complaints about picture quailty and intermission features, but these matter not a whit compared to what it really means: Seats far better than any in the actual house, for a fraction of the cost, plus excellent camera work, interesting backstage video — and where else in the opera houses of the country can you watch Tristan with a big pile of nachos?
This is a deal that simply cannot be beat, and these performances are on my list: Dr. Atomic (Nov. 8), John Adams’ take on Oppenheimer; La Damnation de Faust (Nov. 22), to see whether Berlioz’ oratorio-style piece works on stage; La Rondine on Jan. 10, because this Puccini work deserves to be heard more often; Lucia de Lammermoor on Feb. 7, because it’s hard to resist Anna Netrebko; and La Sonnambula on March 21, because I haven’t seen this one live yet.