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31.1.12

Les Violons du Roy in Charm City

available at Amazon
Mr. Corelli in London, M. Steger, English Concert, L. Cummings
(2010)

available at Amazon
Handel, Water Music, Les Violons du Roy, B. Labadie
(2008)
Our last chance to hear Les Violons du Roy in the area was in 2005, so we were not going to miss the chance to hear the Canadian early music group when they played on Sunday afternoon at Baltimore's Shriver Hall. The group plays on modern instruments, so they produce a plush sound, but with reproductions of 18th-century bows that changes the nature and precision of the attack, which produces a refined unity in spite of relatively small numbers of players. While music director Bernard Labadie does favor the crisp, fleet approach to Allegro movements, typical of historically informed performance (HIP) conductors, he also approaches the music with considerable liberty of phrasing, heard in the Largo introduction to Handel's B♭ major concerto grosso (op. 6/7, "Hornpipe"), a piece last heard from the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2009. Placement of the archlutenist, Sylvain Bergeron, in the front row, helped his decorations of the exquisitely soft third movement come to the fore. Labadie guided the players through expertly pointed phrases in the the fast movements, especially the folksy vigor of the "Hornpipe" last movement, where harpsichordist Richard Paré, the instrument wisely placed at the back to reduce its tendency to dominate, shone in his inventive continuo realization.

Recorder player Maurice Steger lived up to his reputation as a daredevil virtuoso in a Telemann suite (A minor, TWV 55:a2), featuring alto recorder, that is well worth a listen. Steger was up to all of the composer's many virtuosic challenges, giving clean, precise articulation to the many cascading runs, ear-piercing clarity on the high notes, and astounding breath support and finger work. The only deficit, if it should even be called that, is the lack of a truly luxurious legato, heard in the somewhat impatiently rendered Largo movement. Much the same effect was produced by an inferior piece of music, Giuseppe Sammartini's F major concerto for soprano recorder. The soloist dazzled in many sparkling runs, and the archlute had another pleasing turn decorating empty spaces in the middle movement, but it was not a piece that warranted its resurrection.


Other Reviews:

Tim Smith, Les Violons du Roy, recorder soloist Maurice Steger light up Shriver Hall (Baltimore Sun, January 30)

Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Maurice Steger, Violons du Roy offer thrilling baroque playing at Rackham (Ann Arbor.com, January 29)
Of greater interest on the second half were two pieces drawn from Steger's recent album, a blockbuster, of music by Arcangelo Corelli, adapted and made even more brilliant by his student, Francesco Geminiani, who packaged many of Corelli's works for English audiences during his time in London. Although Steger made that disc with a different ensemble, the English Concert, Les Violons du Roy took Geminiani's version of Corelli's famous variations on the Follia tune and ran with it, with lead violinist Nicole Trotier and the other musicians each getting virtuosic moments in the spotlight. The rhythmic verve of this performance was spirited and ferocious, especially in the fastest sections, taking on the spirit of dances like the fandango. Steger returned for a final solo turn in Geminiani's amped-up version of a Corelli recorder concerto (op. 5, no. 10), incorporating extremely ornate ornamentation dreamed up by leading recorder virtuosos in London at the time. Such written-out embellishments are an invaluable resource for HIP musicians, giving precious evidence of just how florid the process of ornamentation could be. As rewarding as the recording is to listen, to hear that level of virtuosity in live performance was an overwhelming experience.

The next Shriver Hall event is a free concert by 15-year-old pianist George Li, at the Baltimore Museum of Art (February 11, 3 pm).

30.1.12

Widmann Shy of the Mark

Christoph Eschenbach has many tricks up his sleeve, concert ideas that he brings to new cities as music director or guest conductor. Washington is benefiting from the best of those ideas, in the second season of Eschenbach's tenure at the helm of the National Symphony Orchestra. The invitation he gave to German Wunderkind Jörg Widmann, who offered both his skills as clarinetist and a recent composition on this weekend's concerts with the NSO, heard on Saturday night, could have been among them but did not quite make the cut, in spite of being generally pleasing.

The bizarre appeal of the glass armonica, Benjamin Franklin's nutty invention to systematize the humming sound of glasses filled with water, may have been enough to draw people in to Widmann's piece Armonica, premiered in 2007 by Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic, but not to sustain it. Widmann could not quite decide if the piece was a sort of concerto for glass armonica, played nondescriptly here by Christa Schönfeldinger, or an orchestral evocation of the ethereal sound of the instrument. It failed in the former, since the glass armonica was mostly inaudible except in a few places where it was basically playing by itself. In the latter the piece had greater success, a shifting color exercise with all sorts of evocative sounds -- groans of brass glissandi, tidal rushes of air blown pitchlessly through the wind instruments, percussive clips from the strumming of the harp strings above the pegs, the bloom of accordion (basically a second soloist, seated in the front row) and bowed vibraphone, plus a host of exotic percussion. It would make a nice textbook explanation of several orchestral effects, but ingenious orchestration is not worth much without equally ingenious melodic, harmonic, and formal qualities. It is so important for the NSO to be playing new music, and like most new pieces heard throughout music history, this is likely the first and last time one will hear the work.


Other Reviews:

Anne Midgette, Clarinetist Joerg Widmann shows off his composing skills with National Symphony (Washington Post, January 27)

Roger Catlin, Austrian violinist to play glass armonica with National Symphony Orchestra (Washington Post, January 28)

Tim Smith, Austro-German feast from Eschenbach, NSO; Jorg Widmann dazzles in debut (Baltimore Sun, January 30)
Surprisingly, the NSO had not played Mozart's clarinet concerto, K. 622 -- complete and with clarinet as soloist -- since 1993, and the piece was represented admirably with Widmann on the solo part. Little complaints about his playing came to mind: an unpredictable sense of tempo that was more willful than fluid, some stickiness in the runs, the highest notes a little forced. Add this to the pile of Eschenbach's Mozart, idiosyncratic and possibly off-putting. The best part of the evening was saved for the second half, Schubert's ninth symphony, D. 944, last heard this past fall from Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Eschenbach, as expected, gave the work a broad emotional scope, following a soft rendition of the Andante introduction with an exciting ramp-up to the Allegro in the first movement.

Unusual melodies, like the mysterious trombone theme in the exposition, were drawn out, with plenty of wallop for the big heroic conclusion. The gargantuan second-movement funeral march had a heavy-footed solemnity, with a lush string serenade in the middle. There was an awkward clarinet squeak in this movement, but a nice soft horn call to signal the return to the march. The third movement was an intoxicated, whirling, fluttering dance, a little more stately in the trio, while the fourth movement had a percolating energy, slowed down a bit for the allusions to Beethoven's ninth symphony theme. Not the best Schubert ninth one could imagine, but one with some unexpected turns.

Eschenbach and the NSO go back to Beethoven this week, pairing the third symphony ("Eroica") with Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen, for twenty-three strings (February 2 to 4).

Dip Your Ears, No. 112 (Weinberg's Requiem)

available at AmazonM.Weinberg, Requiem op.96,
V.Fedoseyev / VSO, Prague Philharmonic Chorus, Vienna Boys' Choir et al.
NEOS SACD 11127

Weinberg Edition No.3:




Mieczysław Weinberg, Requiem, "And then..." [F.G.Lorca] (excerpt), Fedoseyev et al., NEOS

Weinberg’s 1967 Requiem, an empathetic response to Britten’s War Requiem, is a secular death mass in that line of Berlioz-Verdi-Britten-Shostakovich (13th Symphony). Weinberg assimilates his own “Hiroshima Cantata” in a greater pan-national anti-war statement, but the result makes obvious that music, not politics, were Weinberg’s primary concern. The polystylistic work was never performed during Weinberg’s lifetime and got its premiere only in 2009, under Thomas Sanderling in Liverpool. The mood is Weinberg at his most typical: appropriately grim and dark, with airs of shrugged shoulders and tortured resignation… eased by morbid calm. It’s an easy work to be in awe of, but not always an easy work to immediately like.



Mieczysław Weinberg, Requiem, "People walked..." [F.G.Lorca] (excerpt), Fedoseyev et al., NEOS


All the NEOS Weinberg releases are on SACD. Either expensive or unavailable on ArkivMusic and Amazon.com, they are most easily and inexpensively gotten via Amazon.co.uk

Viola da Gamba Ascendens

available at Amazon
J. S. Bach, Suites for Solo Cello, P. Pandolfo (viola da gamba)
(2001)

available at Amazon
C. F. Abel, Music from the Drexel Manuscript, P. Pandolfo (viola da gamba)
(2009)
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote music for the viola da gamba retrospectively -- museologically, one could say, Bach's encyclopedic tendencies being an irresistible compulsion -- but also affectionately. Bach's beloved employer, the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen, played the instrument and employed a gamba virtuoso, Christian Ferdinand Abel, in his orchestra. Abel and Bach became close friends in Cöthen, often standing as godfather to each other's children. Abel's son Carl Friedrich later studied with Bach and went on to a brilliant career as a gamba virtuoso and composer, later even partnering with Bach's son Johann Christian to present a concert series in London.

Paolo Pandolfo, a leading performer on the viola da gamba in our time, reunited the two composers by playing some of their music -- both featured on recordings he has released on the Glossa label -- at the Library of Congress free concert series on Saturday afternoon. I have been keenly following Pandolfo's visits to the Washington era since a 2006 concert at Dumbarton Oaks, where I was sitting so close to the performer that I could read the music on his stand. There is no better way to appreciate this most intimate of instruments, an experience that the warm acoustic of the Coolidge Auditorium also afforded. Pandolfo's recording of his viola da gamba adaptation of Bach's solo cello suites is not as far-fetched as one might suspect, since Bach may have written the pieces for Abel the elder, who played both cello and viola da gamba.

Truth be told, some of the suites work better on the gamba than others. The G major suite (No. 1, BWV 1007), played first, did not always sit easy, with uncomfortable high notes at the end of the Allemande and some technical struggles in the complex Gigue. Still, the gamba's flexibility and greater number of strings allow a player like Pandolfo to give a sense of improvisatory freedom to the work, keeping the pulse of the Prelude and the Allemande very free and even improvising a brief intonatio to the suite. The second suite was the C minor (No. 5, BWV 1011), which concluded the recital, and it worked much better on the viol. Pandolfo made good use of the bold, resonating strings for the low notes that punctuate the prelude, with a crisp, well-delineated articulation of the tangle of voices in the fugal section. The spidery runs, very soft, possible on the instrument served the chipper gavottes well, taken here in strict meter, especially the flowing triplets of Gavotte II.


Other Reviews:

Joan Reinthaler, Viola da gambist Paolo Pandolfo at the Library of Congress (Washington Post, January 30)
While he played on his regular instrument, a mostly unaltered 17th-century bass viol, for the Bach pieces, staff at the Library of Congress convinced him to play a selection of Abel's music from the Drexel Manuscript (recorded by Pandolfo a couple years ago), on an instrument from the library's collection, a 1708 viola da gamba made by Pieter Rombouts in Amsterdam. It was striking how much more comfortable music actually written for the bass viol sounded, with virtuosic demands suited to the idiosyncrasies of the instrument. The slow movement, in particular, much like the sarabandes of the Bach suites, with their spectrally soft mixture of pizzicato and bowed passages, was affecting. In response to rousing ovations, Pandolfo offered three encores, beginning with a lovely, sad chaconne by Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe le fils (announced in French) and ending with a reprise of the slow movement by Carl Friedrich Abel. In the middle was one of the performer's always diverting and beautiful improvisations, indicated by Pandolfo moving his music stand aside. He introduced the piece with a sly reference to the obituary published in the London Morning Post when Carl Friedrich Abel died in London, to the effect that Abel's instrument, the viola da gamba, would likely die with him. As Pandolfo's wry shrug at that remark indicated, the jury is still out on that one, as long as musicians like Paolo Pandolfo are around.

Paolo Pandolfo joins members of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society -- Marc Destrube (violin) and Kenneth Slowik (harpsichord) -- for a concert this Sunday (February 5, 7:30 pm) at the National Museum of American History, a program of music by Rameau with a lecture introduction beginning at 6:30 pm.

29.1.12

In Brief: All-Star Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • From the Grosser Saal of Vienna's Musikverein, violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Valentina Lisitsa play a recital of music by Tartini, Antheil, Ives, and others. [France Musique]

  • Listen to performances of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Persephone from the Teatro Real in Madrid. [France Musique]

  • Christian Tetzlaff joins the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen for music by Bartók and Debussy, from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. [France Musique]

  • The new director of the Château de Versailles, appointed last August, is Catherine Pégard, a former journalist and editor-in-chief of Le Point and also counselor of Nicolas Sarkozy. There were complaints about the appointment, which she spoke about in a recent interview with Harry Bellet and Florence Evin, saying among other things, "I have observed politics and power for twenty-five years as a journalist, I was at the heart of power for five years, and here I am in the symbolic seat of power." Pégard also announced that she would be writing a blog during her tenure, to be called Les Carnets de Versailles. We'll let you know if that actually happens. [Le Monde]

  • Mme Pégard also spoke to Claire Bommelaer, giving the impression that she had plans to distance herself from the predilection of her predecessor, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, for hosting contemporary artists and their work at Versailles. [Le Figaro]

  • Daniele Gatti conducts the Orchestre National de France in music of Schubert and Berg, with soprano Chen Reiss and clarinetist Patrick Messina, from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. [France Musique]

  • From the Présences Festival, Oscar Strasnoy leads the Ensemble Zellig in new music by Strasnoy, Masakazu Natsuda, and Vincent Manac’h. [France Musique]

  • More with Argentinian composer Oscar Strasnoy (b. 1970), from the Présences Festival. [France Musique]

  • Yeah, about the Présences Festival and Oscar Strasnoy, Pierre Gervasoni was not exactly impressed, citing the festival's focus on Strasnoy, "a guest of honor of the least notoriety," as the reason for the festival's mediocrity this year. [Le Monde]

  • Violist Antoine Tamestit and pianist Nicholas Angelich offer a recital of Brahms and Schumann, from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. [France Musique]

  • Hear some of the rising musicians of tomorrow, with the concert of winners at the Révélations des Victoires de la Musique Classique earlier this month. [France Musique]

  • Watch a performance of the Fauré Requiem, with the Orchestre National de Lyon, and Patricia Petibon and Matthias Goerne, under the baton of Josep Pons. [Medici.tv]

  • Listen to a Puccini Festival from the Opéra de Lyon. [France Musique]

  • The Quatuor Voce plays string quartets by Wolfgang Rihm and Maurice Ravel, at the 5ème Biennale de quatuors à cordes, in Paris. [France Musique]

28.1.12

Mark Morris's Fête Galante


Orpheus torn to pieces by the Maenads, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso,
ed il Moderato
, Mark Morris Dance Group
We try to catch every visit by the Mark Morris Dance Group, as we have done in 2010, 2009, and 2008, but there were few of the American choreographer's works we more wanted to see than L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, experienced last night at the Kennedy Center Opera House. An exuberant translation into movement of Handel's oratorio L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, the work was one of the first successes of Morris's sometimes rocky tenure at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Handel's music, heard in concert from Opera Lafayette two years ago, is set to a libretto by Charles Jennens. Quite similar to his Messiah, it is a mash-up of existing poetry, bringing together two opposing poems by Milton, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, opposing the two characters of happiness and melancholy and reconciling them with a third allegorical voice, that of moderation, Il Moderato, with poetry written by Jennens.

The oratorio is strikingly beautiful on its own, but Morris has choreographed it with such effervescent joy that it becomes something new and different and even more rewarding to experience. As in so many of Morris's choreographies, Handel's musical motifs and formal structures are revealed by the dancers, not as some dull analytical exercise but with an enlightening visual pop. The sense of dance and movement underlying Baroque music -- heightened here by the addition of an introductory overture, Handel's G major concerto grosso (op. 6/1) -- is nowhere so clear as in the way Morris shows it. Morris tilts the scales obviously to the side of L'Allegro, making joy and happiness, rather than moderation as Jennens saw it, carry the day. There are little vignettes that illustrate the melancholy side, loves thwarted into tragedy, but this is not soul-crushing melancholy but the gloom of imagination that inspires artistic creativity (the role of that humor in Renaissance philosophy).

Morris's movement ideas often come directly from the text, sometimes naive like the udder-pulling movement that goes with the bucolic image of milkmaids singing, but still charming. The pastel colors of the costumes (designed by Christine Van Loon) and the moving scrims of the abstract set (Adrianne Lobel), that move and rearrange into different patterns and color schemes, the sense of leisure and fantasy, pastoral escapism reminded me of nothing more than a Rococo painting, a series of Watteau pastels come to life, part theater, part dream. Lifted dancers made some of the most memorable images, especially in bird-like flights in the arias Mirth, admit me of thy crew and Sweet bird, in imitation of the avian twitters of violin and flute solos. In one unforgettable tableau, a troupe of dancers flitted about like the flock of starlings in Dante's second circle. The horn calls of To listen how the hounds inspired a hunting scene, with dancers forming groves of trees and shrubs, while a hilarious group of dogs pursued its quarry. Courtly dance, like that of an English masque, and its assimilation of country folk dance pervaded many of Morris's gestures, as in the grand roundel that ends the first half.


Other Reviews:

Sarah Kaufman, Under Mark Morris, Handel oratorio becomes a visual feast (Washington Post, January 28)

---, Mark Morris’s “L’Allegro”: Imagination Unbound (Washington Post, January 21)
The second half has the more enigmatic moments. A feisty and whimsical male ensemble number -- all violence and sports-like butt-slapping, followed by dainty kisses and paired prancing -- is followed by an all-graceful female ensemble. The one tragic moment came from the mention of Orpheus, to which Morris responded with an episode from the legend of that hero. Not the more famous episode with the death of Eurydice, but Orpheus's death as told by Ovid, in which, despondent at the loss of his wife, Orpheus turns his attention to youths. In jealous anger the band of his female followers, the Maenads who practice the Orphic cult, tear him to shreds. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, under the baton of Morris regular Jane Glover, played admirably, with Joseph Gascho (on organ and the slightly hokey celesta for the bell aria) and Adam Pearl (on harpsichord) rounding out the continuo. The fine chorus of the Washington Bach Consort, expertly prepared by J. Reilly Lewis (who was in the house), sang from the left side of the pit, with an able quartet of vocal soloists (sopranos Christine Brandes and Lisa Saffer, tenor John McVeigh, and baritone Thomas Meglioranza) on the right. The performance makes for a perfect cure for the winter doldrums.

This performance repeats tonight (January 28, 8 pm), in the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Ionarts-at-Large: Alex Ross' Belmont Prize and an Evening of Americana

When Douglas Boyd spoke passionately—in his beautiful melodic Scottish—about Charles Ives as one of the most enigmatic 20th century composer to the audience of the Munich Chamber Orchestra’s audience, the introductory excerpts of the hymn tunes took on a slight melancholic Scottish twang. His preparatory remarks fell on fertile ground, as a good part of the audience had already been readied to appreciate an evening exploring a century of American (East-Coast) music by the preceding prize ceremony where Alex Ross received the Forberg-Schneider Foundation’s Belmont Prize and chatted with the MKO artistic director Alexander Liebreich about music in general and “The Rest is Noise” in particular: A charming, if none-too profound conversation, spiced-up and in turn defused by Liebreich’s narcissism and Ross’ near-diffident modesty.

Programming American music (with the possible exception of Carter who appeals to European modernist-seeking audiences) is usually a recipe for empty halls. It speaks to the intelligent programming and meticulous audience-building of the MKO that the beautiful Prinzregententheater was full. And once audiences turn out to hear it, whether prepared to accept the music or not, they do embrace American classics.


available at Amazon
C.Ives, Symphonies 2 & 3,
A.Litton / Dallas SO
Hyperion


available at Amazon
E.Carter, Sound Fields etc.,
O.Knussen / BBC SO
Bridge


available at Amazon
A.Copland, Clarinet Concerto et al.,
S.Drucker / L.Bernstein / NYPhil
DG
They certainly appreciated Aaron Copland’s snappy Clarinet Concerto and particularly the snake-charming contortions of Martin Fröst. The Swedish instrumentalist appreciates the physicality of playing the clarinet to the point of distraction, but never at the expense of unrivaled gorgeous playing. The bold white borders of his black suit (with equal hints of Wild West, Pan Am 70s revival, and Barnum & Bailey’s) picked up the Americana-theme of the evening. It also enhanced how Fröst associates every phrase with a motion or position. That, in turn, suited the stereotype that Copland created; a kind of resounding Americanism that never was, but that hit—literally—a chord with its audiences. It reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse’s characters that created a world of their own; real shadows of an invented reality. Until the cadenza finally penetrates this soppy world of would-be concord, it is a simple, calm beauty that pervades the Copland concerto. Especially compared to Ives’ Third Symphony which preceded it.

Charles Ives begins his Symphony with deceptively harmonious pleasantries that glide upward with the grace of imaginary young ladies on their way from Sunday school to the debutant ball. The honest, sturdy chorales and hymns seem innocent on their arrival in the brass. But Ives gently breaks each tune’s spine and bends them into a new construction of his own—a fluid musical cubism that reminds superficially of Mahler-episodes, except without the vulgarity. Humorous sometimes, sometimes clamorous, but the original grace—morphed manifold—remains the red thread that leads through it. When chords of Ives’ don’t go into the conventional direction they don’t melt subversively or rebelliously as they are prone to do in, say, Schnittke. Instead they strike as a wholly novel, brilliant solution to a new kind of beautiful. A marvelous composition that rewards keen ears on every new listening.

Listening to Elliot Carter, two things usually come to mind: “Boulez, but with a smile” and “Haydn”. Not that Carter and Haydn have any cursory commonalities, but the geniality of Carter, his humor (not in the ‘comic’ sense, but the mood and its underlying wit) seems to rhyme with Haydn. It is as if Carter was so secure in his pared-down, formally sound sophistication that he doesn’t also need to be unnecessarily serious about it. In that spirit, I found that the ears seemed to nod as they listened to his 2007 “Sound Fields”, as though the offering were optional, not didactic. The underlying pulse is undeniable—all the way to its stolen last sentence in B-flat-major.

Fitting, that the finale was a Haydn Symphony: The peckish Symphony N0.83 (‘La Poule’), which got a terrific performance that underlined the violent surprised and boldness throughout and kept the Minuet from becoming sonic duty with a jazzy bend. Avant-guard from 1785.


Picture © David Michalek

Side Notes: Paavo Berglund & Sibelius Meet Again



Paavo Allan Engelbert Berglund was the vanguard of a virtual army of Finnish conductors that would follow him. Unlike the his younger colleagues, he was not yet a product of Jorma Panula’s conducting school but started out as a violinist at the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. To see if he couldn’t conduct better than the maestros he played under, he founded his own chamber orchestra. Seven years later he became its Associate Conductor of the Finnish RSO and another six years later, in 1962, their chief conductor—a post he held for nine years. He was what would now be euphemized as an ‘old school’ conductor; a ‘rigidtarian’ to whom detail, accuracy, and excellence came decidedly ahead of airs of happy-family or team-building.

The foundation of his lasting fame was achieved during his time at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which he headed from 1972 until 1979 and which saw a good amount of recording activity, including his first of three cycles of Sibelius’ Symphonies (Royal Classics). Sibelius had encouraged Berglund early in his conducting career and it was to this composer that Berglund would always return in his life. Berglund was instrumental in a corrected new edition of the Sibelius Seventh Symphony being published.

The Bournemouth recordings of Sibelius’ tone poems—Kullervo, Tapiola, Finlandia, Karelia, and the Oceanides—have become a staple in record collections around the world. Just as many LP and CD collectors must have grown up with his Sibelius Symphonies on EMI which he re-recorded in the 80s with the Helsinki Philharmonic, returning to the orchestra of which he was Music Director from 1975 until 1979. From 1987-91 he was the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic’s Principal Conductor. And, making his working-tour of the Nordic countries nearly complete, he became the Chief Conductor of the Royal Danish Orchestra (1993-98) shortly after recording a Nielsen Symphony cycle (RCA) with them.

Berglund’s recorded output is not vast, but studded with gems beyond his Sibelius. His Má vlast with the Dresden Staatskapelle is uncommonly gorgeous (EMI). Strauss’ Oboe Concerto with Douglas Boyd and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is, like the Mozart coupling, one of unhurried, polished beauty (COE Records). Shostakovich was another constant in his conducting life; from early, excellent recordings of the 6th, 7th, 10th, and 11th with Bournemouth (EMI) to his participation in the multi-conductor cycle of the Russian National Orchestra (Pentatone), a deliberate-then-overwhelming 8th. Berglund recorded Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto early in the career of Leif Ove Andsnes (Virgin/EMI) and accompanied the marvelous Ida Handel in the Britten and Walton Violin Concertos (EMI). In 1996 he set out to record the Sibelius Symphonies for a third and last time – with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Finlandia). A different take on Sibelius emerged in these recordings: Sparse and clear, disembodied to a degree, and lacking—superficially—the “gravy” that Sibelius once recommended a conductor to “swim in”. The somber, touching quality of the performances make them especially worth seeking out.

Paavo Berglund died at his home in Helsinki on January 25th, at the age of 82.


Select CD recommendations after the break:


27.1.12

Cunning Little Vixen at the Kennedy Center


Monument of Bystrouška, from Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, in Hukvaldy, the composer's hometown
Sharp-Ears, otherwise known as the Cunning Little Vixen, has taken up residence with her mate at the Kennedy Center. Not, unfortunately, because Washington National Opera is staging Janáček's brilliant, loveable opera of that title (last produced there in 1993), but because an actual pair of foxes has set up house somewhere near the north end of the Kennedy Center in the last few weeks. On Saturday night, on my walk from the Terrace Theater toward Virginia Avenue, the female of the pair was running about in the gardens around the statue of Don Quixote. She came directly toward me, apparently looking for the right time to cross the street and head down into the man-made canyon where I-66 joins with the Whitehurst Freeway in front of the Kennedy Center. There was a brief moment of panic, between determining that the animal was not a stray dog and watching her cross the street, when it was very clear that the fox had no fear about coming right up to me.

On most nights a security guard is standing in or near the little station at the corner of F and 25th Streets NW. When I pointed out the vixen to the man there on Saturday night, he told me about the other fox, a much larger male, who has also been spotted in the area. He reported having had a close run-in with the male fox, which came up onto the steps and terrace around the north end of the Kennedy Center. Some families with teenagers and younger children came dangerously close to the fox, who was not at all afraid of humans, reportedly almost causing the guard's lieutenant, who carries a sidearm, to take aim at the fox and shoot. Fortunately, the fox decided to move along on its own. The guard also reported that Animal Control had been called to the Kennedy Center to assess the situation, but that the foxes -- true to their reputation in folklore -- were too sly to be seen, let alone get caught. D.C. Animal Control would not confirm any complaints having been received about foxes near the Kennedy Center.

Urban foxes are posing a problem in cities in many countries, including right here in Washington, because the animals flourish -- and grow to sizes larger than their counterparts in the wild -- on left-over scraps from humans and have no predators or dangers other than being hit by cars. Reached for comment this week, officials at the Kennedy Center were surprised to learn of the foxes, as there had been no complaints from patrons yet about the animals. John Dow, Vice President of Press, said that no one in patron services and facilities at the Kennedy Center had seen a fox. "We are inspecting the grounds for any signs of a fox den," Dow stated, joking that he would be "paying closer attention" when arriving at work in the morning.

26.1.12

For Your Consideration: 'The Artist'

One of my Christmas presents was Brian Kellow's biography of movie critic Pauline Kael, an enjoyable read. If Kael's critical voice represents the beginning of modern film reviewing, it is significant that she cut her critical teeth on the first talkies as a young woman in the 1930s. Kellow notes that
Pauline was most taken with the independent spirit of the smart, fast-talking heroines of screwball comedies and progressive dramas. She later observed that in the 1930s, "The girls we in the audience loved were delivering wisecracks. They were funny and lovely because they were funny. A whole group of them with wonderful frogs in their throats. They could be serious, too. There was a period in the early 30s when Claudette Colbert, Ann Harding, Irene Dunne, and other actresses were running prisons, campaigning for governor, or being doctors and lawyers." Many of these were made prior to the 1934 establishment of the Production Code, devised by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America to ensure that the screen presented a safe and sanitized view of American life (p. 12).
This is the period re-imagined in the sentimental, somewhat sappy story of The Artist, the new French film written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius. It begins with a star of the silent movies, George Valentin, in the 1920s -- the prehistoric era of cinema -- played by Jean Dujardin with the slicked-back hair and broad, toothy smile of Gene Kelly. He runs across a young woman, played by Bérénice Bejo (the Argentinian-born actress who has two young children with Hazanavicius), whom he helps to become Peppy Miller, a sassy star of the new talking movies, exactly the type that Pauline Kael would have admired.

The first part of The Artist is a hokey, tongue-in-cheek evocation of the silent era, cribbed quite intentionally from Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain, down to Valentin's platinum-haired dingbat co-star (the crab-faced Missi Pyle, a spot-on simulacrum of Jean Hagen's Lina Lamont, just without the voice, mercifully), and full of references to Sunset Boulevard and A Star Is Born. The conceit of silence, and the fear of or inability to talk, is spoofed in sometimes glib ways, as The Artist is a (mostly) silent film, shot in black and white. The Gene Kelly aping is not the movie's only borrowing, not least in a score that is one long, clever bit of mimicry: Kim Novak took out a full-page advertisement in Variety accusing The Artist of "rape" for its use of some of Bernard Herrmann's music for Vertigo. (Herrmann's widow, for her part, confirmed that the film's creators did not even seek her approval for the borrowing, but she feels that her husband would have approved.) Not that there is anything wrong with such tributes, whether you think of it as borrowing or stealing, but both Singin' in the Rain and Vertigo are vastly superior movies compared to The Artist. If the rumors that The Artist is the front-runner for the Academy's Best Picture award are true -- it did receive a nomination, as expected -- it must have been a lean year for movies, indeed.


Other Reviews:

Roger Ebert | NPR | Wall Street Journal | Washington Post | Maureen Dowd
TIME | New York Magazine | New York Times | Los Angeles Times
Christian Science Monitor | Village Voice | The New Yorker | Movie Review Intelligence

Both Dujardin and Bejo give glowing performances as the leads, a mismatched pair who help one another to weather the cruelties of Hollywood. The streets of that city are paved with the trampled dreams of countless actors, those crushed by the ever-turning Fortunae Rota in their fall from stardom, the fate that befalls George Valentin as talkies displace silent films, as well as the unnumbered masses who never made it to the top. There are numerous admirable supporting turns, from John Goodman's cigar-smoking producer, Malcolm MacDowell's cameo as a butler, James Cromwell (Babe, The Queen) as Valentin's devoted chauffeur, and Penelope Ann Miller (The Freshman, Carlito's Way) as his disaffected wife, but it is unfortunately the case in The Artist that the entire show is stolen by a dog. The adorable Jack Russell terrier named Uggie is irrepressibly cute as Valentin's canine sidekick, a performance so beloved that it has inaugurated an award called the Golden Collar. It all adds up to a film that is certainly likeable but also far from being a great or even particularly original contribution.

25.1.12

Joshua Bell Does It Again

available at Amazon
French Impressions, J. Bell, J. Denk

(released on January 10, 2012)
Sony 88697820262 | 66'58"
Joshua Bell is one of the regulars on the Washington Performing Arts Society roster, a celebrity performer virtually guaranteed to fill the hall every other year. The American violinist's popularity with Washington audiences continues unabated, even though his recitals here are remarkably similar from year to year. This recital, on Monday night in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, followed the same basic formula as his WPAS appearances in 2008 and 2009: lots of ardent Romantic music from the 19th century, with some forays into the early 20th century and perhaps backward into the 18th. In my recent interview with Bell, he took issue with a question about whether he ever tired of playing the same kind of music all the time, but Bell has made a career out of his lyrical tone, as well as astounding technique. He may be interested in studying historically informed performance practice or even composing his own music, but he obviously knows on which side his bread is buttered.

The highlight of the evening was an extraordinary reading of Eugène Ysaÿe's "Sonata-Ballada," or D minor solo violin sonata (op. 27/3). Bell gave the piece a compelling narrative scope, telling a melancholy story while he mastered the daunting double-stops with flawless intonation and sure-fingered speed in the fast passages. Ysaÿe dedicated the third sonata in the set of six to violinist and composer George Enescu, but it was Bell's teacher at Indiana University, Josef Gingold, who gave the first performance, and Bell clearly understands the piece so well because of that connection. One hopes that Bell has plans to record the entire set soon.

Ravel's G major violin sonata, last admired in these pages from Dmitry Sitkovetsky in 2004, has found a fine champion in Bell, who has recorded it on his new CD with pianist Jeremy Denk. It is an aimless, enigmatic piece in many ways, the first movement content to wander through a smoky atmosphere, with a few blue notes here and there and long melodies for Bell to spin out his silvery thread of soft legato, ending on a seemingly eternal held high note that in Bell's hands took one's breath away. The second movement was a nod to the story, too good to be anything but apocryphal but repeated by Bell with good reason, that Ravel, learning of how much money Gershwin made, said perhaps he should be studying with Gershwin and not the reverse. Ravel called the second movemnt "Blues," but it is little more than a slightly bland mimicking of the jazz sounds that Gershwin used to much greater effect (although harder to appreciate in Heifetz's arrangement of Gershwin's preludes for piano, given a somewhat clunky performance by Bell after the Ravel). The third movement's "Perpetuum mobile" was a constant, buzzing stream of notes. In the piano part of this piece, completed in 1927, are the building blocks of Olivier Messiaen's mature vocabulary, in complex harmonic clusters made of extended-triad structures and even in hints of birdsong.


Other Reviews:

Stephen Brookes, Music review: Joshua Bell at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post, January 25)

Olivia Flores, Joshua Bell Was Great; Houston's Audience Not So Much (Houston Press, January 23)

Violinist Joshua Bell: 'French Impressions,' Yesterday And Today (All Things Considered, January 16)

Julie Amacher, Why Is Ravel's Violin Sonata like a Croissandwich? (Minnesota Public Radio, January 11)
The rest of the program was well played and all of it beautiful listening, but one often felt that Bell was not quite getting to the bottom of it. Mendelssohn's F major violin sonata had more of Bell's plush legato, especially in the slow movement, and there was no lack of pizzazz in the outrageous third movement's many cascades of notes, but one had the sense that the piece did not always engage Bell's attention. In the ferocious piano part, one wished for a fuller partnership from pianist Sam Haywood, who was not always able to keep up with Bell's sometimes capricious movement. (More than once through the evening, one regretted the absence of Bell's regular partner, Jeremy Denk, who can be even more mercurial than the violinist.) The third violin sonata of Brahms (op. 108) had smoldering intensity, that Brahmsian sense of emotion being held inside, and plenty more of Bell's radiant tone, but the memory of the exquisite Brahms first sonata played by Augustin Hadelich last month kept coming to mind. So did Hadelich's just as virtuosic but much more poetic rendering of the piece Bell offered as an encore, Pablo de Sarasate's blistering showpiece Zigeunerweisen.

The next concert in the WPAS series is a recital by pianist Simone Dinnerstein (January 29, 7 pm), in the Music Center at Strathmore.

24.1.12

Reviving Monsigny

available at Amazon
P.-A. Monsigny, Le Déserteur, Opera Lafayette, R. Brown
(Naxos, 2010)
Charles T. Downey, Monsigny’s “Le Roi” receives admirable revival from Opera Lafayette (The Classical Review, January 24)
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (1729-1817) was a primary force in creating the genre of the opéra comique, in partnership with librettist Michel-Jean Sedaine. Monsigny did this in spite of deficits in his musical education and compositional technique. Critics of the 18th century often found his harmonic and contrapuntal skills wanting while generally admiring the freshness of his melodic imagination. After enjoying world-wide success, including export to the newly constructed stages of the New World, Monsigny’s operas were eclipsed by works in other styles and almost completely forgotten.

Almost, were it not (in part) for the work of Opera Lafayette, the historically informed performance ensemble based in Washington, D.C. The group revived Monsigny’s Le Déserteur in 2009, with a recording of the work joining the live series released by Opera Lafayette on the Naxos label. Director Ryan Brown has now turned to another of this neglected composer’s most successful works, Le Roi et le Fermier, heard Sunday night in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.
[Continue reading]

SEE ALSO:

More Than Just Bassoonery

available at Amazon
Mozart / Rossini / Kreutzer / Crusell, K. Geoghegan, BBC Philharmonic, G. Noseda
(Chandos, 2010)

available at Amazon
French Bassoon Works, K. Geoghegan, P. Fisher
(Chandos, 2009)

available at Amazon
Wolf-Ferrari, Orchestral Works, K. Geoghegan, BBC Philharmonic, G. Noseda
(Chandos, 2009)
This review is an Ionarts exclusive.

Scottish bassoonist Karen Geoghegan had quite a time just getting to the Music Room of the Phillips Collection, for her recital on Sunday afternoon. Problems obtaining a U.S. visa and flight cancellations almost scuttled the event, but she eventually made it to Washington earlier that morning. It is not an easy thing for a bassoonist to make a career as a soloist, and Geoghegan owes her notoriety to an uneasy association. When she appeared, in 2007, on the BBC reality show Classical Star, someone at Chandos Records took notice and signed her to a recording deal. The intersection of popular culture and classical music may raise some eyebrows at first, but as this innovative, well-played recital showed, there is no question that Geoghegan has chops. The mechanisms that launch a talented musician into a larger career are almost always fickle, so what makes a showcase competition that much more legitimate than a trashy television show? Well, besides the obvious.

You might think that not much has been written for the solo bassoon, and in a way you would be right. Bassoonists have to be more resourceful when selecting repertoire for a recital than, say, a violinist. Bassoonists likely know all or most of the works on this recital -- and there are more on Geoghegan's recent CD of French bassoon works -- but the general listener may be surprised just how well some recent composers have written for the instrument. Interferences, by Roger Boutry, is an ingenious but also fun piece that sets the piano and bassoon in opposition, with some sections in different tempos, but also with jazzy extended harmony and some Stravinsky-esque barbaric passages. The longest piece was a full-fledged sonata by Gustav Schreck (E♭ major, op. 9), with a first movement shot through Romantic yearning and a flexible sense of rubato. In the second movement Geoghegan spun out a lovely legato line, with British pianist Timothy End, playing sensitive accompaniment, providing a tango-like background for some sections.

Schreck's third movement plays on the comic nature often ascribed to the bassoon, also featured in an even more virtuosic light in the Introduction and Polonaise, op. 9, by bassoonist and composer Carl Jacobi. While that piece impressed more by its fireworks than anything else, a few other miniatures showed the bassoon's tuneful, exotic, and even sensuous side. Elgar's Romance, op. 62, originally accompanied by orchestra but played here in a piano reduction, was a moody little bonbon, with turbulent and soaring writing for the bassoon and whiffs of cocktail piano. Henri Dutilleux has disowned his Sarabande et Cortège for bassoon and piano, from 1942, because its early style is too tonal: its delightful melodies and the absurd grotesquerie of the conclusion could be Poulenc and no less enjoyable for their lack of modernist rigor. Most surprising of all was the success of a new arrangement of Gershwin's song Summertime, published by David Arnold in 2008. Most of the tune was set in the bassoon's dulcet high register, with a surprise modulation into the middle section in which the piano takes the melody and the bassoon is given freedom to riff. The bassoon is much more than just a clown.

23.1.12

Fretwork's Anachronistic Goldberg Variations

This article was first published at The Classical Review on January 23, 2012.

available at Amazon
J. S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Fretwork

(released on November 8, 2011)
HMU 907560 | 1h30
The sheer ingenuity of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations has led to an incalculable number of adaptations of the work for other instruments. Music this good can certainly withstand the pulling and bending
of transcription, something that Bach himself did with the music of other composers.

The best of these transcriptions -- the re-thinking for two pianos by Joseph Rheinberger adapted by Max Reger (recorded by Tal and Groethuysen for Sony); Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s pioneering version for string trio (Julian Rachlin, Mischa Maisky, and Nobuko Imai, Deutsche Grammophon), later enlarged, even more strikingly, for chamber orchestra (NES Chamber Orchestra, Nonesuch); the expansion for full Romantic organ by Wilhelm Middelschulte (Jürgen Sonnentheil, cpo); and even the cool-cat reworking for jazz trio by Jacques Loussier (Telarc) -- update the work for more recent instrumental possibilities.

This new recording by the viol consort Fretwork, an ensemble of six viola da gamba players, does the reverse by arranging the piece for instruments that antedate the score. Bach was, of course, familiar with the viola da gamba -- he wrote three sonatas for the instrument with harpsichord accompaniment (BWV 1027-1029) -- but his treatment of it in the Sixth Brandenburg Concerto shows that he regarded it as an antique curiosity, one primarily included for the enjoyment of his princely employer in Köthen, who played it.

The seemingly anachronistic choice to transcribe Bach for viola da gamba is not unprecedented. Paolo Pandolfo has made a beautiful recording of the cello suites on the instrument (Glossa), and like that version, while Fretwork’s transcription of the Goldberg Variations is not convincing at all times, there is still much to enjoy.

The best parts of this recording are strangely compelling because of the appealing qualities of the instrument: its round, sweet tone; eerily human cantabile quality; dance-like agility; and range of dynamic possibilities. That last quality makes for a moody, almost whispered ‘Variation 25’, that most enigmatic slow movement cast by Bach in a heavily chromatic minor mode.

The advantage of having multiple instruments is not only the independence that can be attained with contrapuntal textures, allowing the listener to unravel the score’s imitative complexities -- one of the failings of the virtuosic but ultimately monochromatic transcription for harp by Catrin Finch (Deutsche Grammophon) -- but the variations that are possible on repetitions.

The beautiful ‘Aria’ that opens the piece is set at a very slow tempo, not quite as glacial as that taken by Glenn Gould in his second recording of the work, with the melody given to one dulcet treble viol (occasionally a second treble viol takes up Bach’s intermittent alto part). The first time the group plays the ‘Aria’, the accompaniment is all set in pizzicato on lower instruments, and it is a nice touch to alter the arrangement in its reprise at the end with a mixture of arco and pizzicato accompaniment.

The tempos are not always as fast as they could be, as in the leisurely first variation with two viols splitting the texture. The most virtuosic variations required some clever rewriting, pushing the players and their instruments (tuned to A=392) to the edge, as with the pulsating triplets of Variation 26, producing some unpleasant results. Richard Boothby’s arrangement shares the wealth among his three pairs of different-sized viols, giving some of the variations, like the somber Variation 3, to the lower instruments. In the most successful variations, the contrast of timbre and articulation, such as the short accompaniment notes of Variation 5 being played pizzicato, is especially pleasing.

While probably not a ‘must-have’ recording, fans of the Goldberg Variations or of the sound of the viola da gamba will likely be tickled.

22.1.12

In Brief: Taste of Snow Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • Tune in today for the live Internet streaming of Verdi's Don Carlo, from Munich, with René Pape, Jonas Kaufmann, and Anja Harteros in the cast. [Bayerische Staatsoper]

  • One of the greats, Gustav Leonhardt, passed away this week. Listen to a compilation of some of his performances as harpsichordist and conductor, mostly music by Bach but also by Francisco Valls, put together by France Musique. [Part 1 | Part 2]

  • Listen to William Christie conduct Les Arts Florissants in Handel's oratorio Jephtha, from the Salle Pleyel in Paris. [France Musique]

  • Watch Andris Nelsons takes the helm of the Orchestre de Paris, performing Strauss and Beethoven's violin concerto with Sergey Khachatryan as soloist. [Cité de la Musique Live]

  • Have a listen to the winners of the 2011 ARD Competition in Munich and the Révélations Lyriques des Victoires musique classique 2012. [France Musique]

  • As mentioned last week, it is time for the 5e Biennale du quatuor à cordes in Paris. Watch the Takàcs Quartet, joined by cellist Marc Coppey, in a concert with music by Haydn, Britten, and Schubert. [Cité de la Musique Live]

  • More from the Biennale, with the Quatuor Ysaÿe playing Robert Schumann, Wolfgang Rihm, and Beethoven. [Cité de la Musique Live]

  • Susanna Mälkki conducts the Chœur de Radio France and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in a concert of contemporary music by Oscar Strasnoy, Berio, and Bartók from the Festival Présences 2012 at the Théâtre du Châtelet. [France Musique]

  • Also from the Festival Présences 2012, a performance of Oscar Strasnoy's Ecos, 14 pièces solos, from 2009, with the Ensemble 2e2m. [France Musique]

  • More music by Oscar Strasnoy (b. 1970), from the Festival Pr, with Dima Slobodeniouk conducting the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. [France Musique]

  • Conductor Igor Markevitch celebrates a centenary this year, observed by France Musique with some classic performances, including Haydn's Creation and music by Dallapiccola, Milhaud, and others. [Part 1 | Part 2]

  • More string quartet goodness from Paris, with the Pražák Quartet playing more Beethoven and Rihm, with violist Vladimir Bukač. [Cité de la Musique Live]

  • From Prague last spring, hear Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in music by Beethoven and Brahms, plus Henry Cowell's Synchrony, from 1929-1930, and Berg's violin concerto with Christian Tetzlaff as soloist. [France Musique]

  • Listen to Paul Lewis's Schubert recital from last summer's Festival des Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg. [France Musique]

  • Hear some highlights from the centennial tribute disc to French high baritone Camille Maurane. [France Musique]

21.1.12

Classical Month in Washington (February)

Last month | Next month

Classical Month in Washington is a monthly feature. If there are concerts you would like to see included on our schedule, send your suggestions by e-mail (ionarts at gmail dot com). Happy listening!

February 1, 2012 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Rebecca Smith (harp) and Michael Lodico (organ) [FREE]
St. John's Church, Lafayette Square

February 1, 2012 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Various ballet excerpts
American Ballet Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 2, 2012 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Music by Beethoven, Strauss
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 2, 2012 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Minkus, La Bayadère
American Ballet Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 2, 2012 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Mozart, Der Schauspieldirektor / Offenbach, Monsieur Choufleuri restera chez lui le...
Opera Bel Cantanti
Embassy of Austria

February 2, 2012 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Music Center at Strathmore

February 3, 2012 (Fri)
7 pm
Screening of Casablanca
National Museum of American History

February 3, 2012 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Minkus, La Bayadère
American Ballet Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 3, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Music by Beethoven, Strauss
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 3, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Cygnus Ensemble and Friends [FREE]
Library of Congress

February 3, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
East Coast Chamber Orchestra
Barns at Wolf Trap

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
Minkus, La Bayadère
American Ballet Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
3 pm
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano (with Malcolm Martineau, piano)
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
7 pm
From Darkness to Light
Countertop Quartet
St. Mary, Mother of God

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
7:30 pm
National Chamber Ensemble
Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake (excerpts with Ballet Nova)
Spectrum Theater at Artisphere (Rosslyn, Va.)

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Music by Beethoven, Strauss
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Jonathan Biss, piano
Sixth and I Historic Synagogue

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 4, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
Music by Tchaikovsky
Music Center at Strathmore

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
1:30 pm
Minkus, La Bayadère
American Ballet Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
National Philharmonic
Music by Tchaikovsky
Music Center at Strathmore

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
AGMA Relief Benefit Concert
Washington National Opera Chorus (Steven Gathman, director)
St. Ann Catholic Church (4001 Yuma St. NW)

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
Konstantin Soukhovetski, piano
Phillips Collection

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
7 pm
From Darkness to Light
Countertop Quartet
St. Matthew's Cathedral

February 5, 2012 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Marc Destrube (violin), Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba), and Kenneth Slowik (harpsichord)
Music by Rameau
National Museum of American History

February 6, 2012 (Mon)
7:30 pm
St. Olaf Choir
Music Center at Strathmore

February 7, 2012 (Tue)
7 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 8, 2012 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 9, 2012 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Music by Bruckner, Shostakovich
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 9, 2012 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 10, 2012 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 10, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Philip Glass, Orphée
Virginia Opera
GMU Center for the Arts

February 10, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Music by Bruckner, Shostakovich
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 10, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
With Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Clarice Smith Center

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
2 pm
Sol Gabetta (cello) and Mihaela Ursuleasa (piano)
WPAS
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
3 pm
George Li, piano [FREE]
Baltimore Museum of Art

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
5 pm
21st Century Consort
Music by Nancarrow et al.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Nordic Voices: Lamentations
Dumbarton Concerts

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Music by Bruckner, Shostakovich
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 11, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Brian Ganz, piano
Music by Chopin
Music Center at Strathmore

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
1:30 pm
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
2 pm
Philip Glass, Orphée
Virginia Opera
GMU Center for the Arts

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
Songs of CUA
Catholic University School of Music
Pryzbla Center, Catholic University

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
Symphony of the Potomac
Music by Haydn, Beethoven
Cultural Arts Center, Montgomery College (Silver Spring, Md.)

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
Voxare String Quartet
Phillips Collection

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
6 pm
Lawrence Dutton (viola) and Friends
Jazz and classical music
National Museum of Natural History

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
7 pm
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

February 12, 2012 (Sun)
7 pm
Cuarteto Latinoamericano, with Daniel Binelli (bandoneón)
Dumbarton Oaks

February 13, 2012 (Mon)
8 pm
Cuarteto Latinoamericano, with Daniel Binelli (bandoneón)
Dumbarton Oaks

February 14, 2012 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

February 15, 2012 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Florian Boesch (baritone) and Roger Vignoles (piano)
Vocal Arts D.C.
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

February 15, 2012 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Donatienne Michel-Dansac (soprano) and Vincent Leterme (piano)
Music by Debussy, Pesson, Crumb
La Maison Française

February 15, 2012 (Wed)
8 pm
Emerson String Quartet and Wu Han (piano)
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

February 15, 2012 (Wed)
8 pm
John Cage, Sonatas and Interludes
Adam Tendler, piano
Mobtown Modern
2640 Space (Baltimore, Md.)

February 16, 2012 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Herbert Blomstedt, conductor
Music by Strauss, Beethoven
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 16, 2012 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Benjamin Beilman (violin) and Yekwon Sunwoo (piano)
Young Concert Artists
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

February 16, 2012 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Lise de la Salle, piano
Music Center at Strathmore

February 17, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
Music by Debussy, Ginastera, Brahms
Maryland Hall (Annapolis, Md.)

February 17, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Lise de la Salle, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Julia Fischer (violin) and Milana Chernyavska (piano)
WPAS
Sixth and I Historic Synagogue

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
Music by Debussy, Ginastera, Brahms
Maryland Hall (Annapolis, Md.)

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Leipzig String Quartet
Châteauville Foundation (Castleton, Va.)

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Herbert Blomstedt, conductor
Music by Strauss, Beethoven
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Kronos Quartet and Alim Qasimov Ensemble
Clarice Smith Center

February 18, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Gryphon Piano Trio
Candlelight Concert Society
Smith Theater, Howard Community College (Columbia, Md.)

February 19, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Herbert Blomstedt, conductor
Music by Strauss, Beethoven
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 19, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
ArcoVoce
Phillips Collection

February 20, 2012 (Mon)
2 pm
National Presidents Day Choral Festival
(Warning: includes music by John Rutter)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 22, 2012 (Wed)
5 to 9 pm
Fragile
Eiko and Koma, with Kronos Quartet
Clarice Smith Center

February 22, 2012 (Wed)
8 pm
Twyla Tharp: All-American
Washington Ballet
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

February 23, 2012 (Thu)
5 to 9 pm
Fragile
Eiko and Koma, with Kronos Quartet
Clarice Smith Center

February 23, 2012 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Narek Hakhnazaryan (cello) and Noreen Cassidy-Polera (piano)
Mansion at Strathmore

February 23, 2012 (Thu)
8 pm
Twyla Tharp: All-American
Washington Ballet
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

February 23, 2012 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Music by Sarasate, Prokofiev, MacMillan
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 24, 2012 (Fri)
7 pm
Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra
Music by Grieg, Bach, Mendelssohn
Dumbarton House, Georgetown

February 24, 2012 (Fri)
8 pm
Twyla Tharp: All-American
Washington Ballet
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

February 24, 2012 (Fri)
8:15 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Off the Cuff: Prokofiev, 5th Symphony
Music Center at Strathmore

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
2:30 and 8 pm
Twyla Tharp: All-American
Washington Ballet
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
7 pm
Mozart, Così fan tutte
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
7 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Prokofiev, 5th symphony
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Brooklyn Rider (string quartet)
Music by Beethoven, Glass, Ljova
Dumbarton Concerts

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
Left Bank String Quartet
Music by Brahms, Webern, Bruch
Katzen Center, American University

February 25, 2012 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
Music by Bach
Music Center at Strathmore

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
1:30 and 6:30 pm
Twyla Tharp: All-American
Washington Ballet
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
Eclipse Chamber Orchestra
Music by Honegger, Vaughan Williams, Françaix, Harris
George Washington Masonic Memorial (Alexandria, Va.)

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Music by Sarasate, Prokofiev, MacMillan
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
Cathedral Choral Society
Music by Mozart
Washington National Cathedral

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
Jonah Kim (cello) and Claire Huangci (piano)
Phillips Collection

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
4 pm
Music from the Movies (singers with piano)
Amadeus Concerts
Temple Rodef Shalom (Falls Church, Va.)

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
5:30 pm
Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone) and Russell Ryan (piano)
Shriver Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Charlie Albright, piano
JCCGW (Rockville, Md.)

February 26, 2012 (Sun)
8 pm
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
With Wynton Marsalis, trumpet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

February 28, 2012 (Tue)
7 pm
Arias and duets, Verdi and Puccini
CUA School of Music
Embassy of Italy/Italian Cultural Institute

February 28, 2012 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Mozart, Così fan tutte
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

February 28, 2012 (Tue)
7:30 pm
CUA Chamber Choir, Winter Concert [FREE]
St. Vincent’s Chapel, Catholic University

February 29, 2012 (Wed)
8 pm
Vienna Philharmonic
With Lorin Maazel, conductor
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall