If it is September, it must be time to give you a sneak preview of some of the good music on our plate this fall here in Washington. I cannot possibly mention everything here, only those things that really strike me as extraordinary.
"Gianni Schicchi after Duke Bluebeard's Castle? That's much too vulgar a combination, Karras."
Jens and I have both remarked on the strong points of this year's season at Washington National Opera (the latter with one of the most interesting comment threads we have ever had at Ionarts). Things get rolling this month with one of my favorite 20th-century operas, Béla Bartók's nationalist horror story Duke Bluebeard's Castle (opening on September 16). What promises to be even stranger is that this production is being directed by William Friedkin, who directed one of my favorite horror films of all time, The Exorcist. (Here would be Bluebeard and The Exorcist mashed together: "And I am the devil! Now kindly open those doors!") The Bartók is being paired with something: I forget what. Intentionally. (No, damn it, not Erwartung.) The other high point at WNO this fall: the American premiere of Nicholas Maw's Sophie's Choice (opening on September 21).
Also worth seeing: Rossini's little-known L’Assedio di Corinto (The Siege of Corinth), starring Elizabeth Futral at Baltimore Opera (opening on October 14); Washington Concert Opera's performance of Handel's Orlando, with countertenors Bejun Mehta and David Walker (November 5); Massenet's Werther with University of Maryland Opera Studio (November 17 to 20, Clarice Smith Center); and Virginia Opera's staging of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah (December 1 and 3, George Mason).
Mozart, Complete Violin Sonatas, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (release on September 19, 2006)
Let's not forget the players, beginning with a recital by pianist Ivo Pogorelich at George Mason (October 22). That is followed shortly by a much-anticipated (by me) recital from pianist Hélène Grimaud at Shriver Hall in Baltimore (November 5). Fresh from her latest divorce, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter will give a recital of Mozart sonatas for Washington Performing Arts Society (November 20), timed with the release of her recording of the complete Mozart violin sonatas, scheduled for later this month. Just after Thanksiving, pianist Vanessa Pérez will give a recital at the Embassy of Venezuela (November 30).
Dmitri Shostakovich would be 100 years old on September 25 this year, and some fine performances are lined up to celebrate. (An interesting recital by François-Frédéric Guy on that date has no Shostakovich listed.) The only Shostakovich tribute I have seen listed close to the actual birthday is by the Monument Piano Trio (September 27) at the Peabody Institute's Friedberg Hall in Baltimore. The group will play Shostakovich's second piano trio and a trio arrangement of his Symphony No. 15, as well as the Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok for Soprano and Piano Trio, with guest soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme.
In a free concert at the Library of Congress, the Beaux Arts Trio will play DSCH's Trio No. 2 in E Minor, op. 67, among other things (October 11). Later that month, Valery Gergiev and his Kirov Orchestra will perform the composer's eleventh symphony ("The Year 1905") at the Kennedy Center (October 25). The most worthy tribute for the Shostakovich centenary is a series of performances offered by the National Symphony, with music director emeritus Mstislav Rostropovich. First, violinist Maxim Vengerov will be featured on an all-Shostakovich program (November 2 to 4). The lineup of superstars playing Shostakovich continues with legendary pianist Martha Argerich (November 9 and 10) and cellist Yo-Yo Ma (November 11). Works on the NSO playlist are the violin concerto, first piano concerto (with trumpet), second cello concerto, the eighth and tenth symphonies, and the Festive Overture.
There is lots more to look forward to hearing: James Galway with the National Symphony (October 5 to 7), the Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst at the Kennedy Center (October 8), Emanuel Ax with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Strathmore (October 15), the Emerson Quartet with Menahem Pressler at Shriver Hall (also October 15), András Schiff with Cappella Andrea Barca at the Kennedy Center (October 21), Chanticleer singing works by Ezequiel Viñao and other American composers in the free Founder's Day Concert at the Library of Congress (October 30), the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment also at the Library of Congress (December 7), and the Tallis Scholars at the Kennedy Center (December 10).