There is no shortage of concerts to hear in March. The Nordic festival at the Kennedy Center continues, Washington National Opera begins its spring season, and a number of visiting musicians will share the city's stages with local ones. We could easily have chosen twice as many performances, but here are our Top Ten picks for the month, with a couple extras.
Schubert, Piano Sonata, D. 845, Wanderer Fantasy (inter alia), P. Lewis (2012)
We lead with two extraordinary concerts devoted to the music of Schubert, all the more extraordinary because they are free. The first will feature English pianist Paul Lewis, who has been working his way through the complete piano works of Schubert on disc, with generally fine results. He will get to put the relatively new piano in the Library of Congress's auditorium through its paces (March 2, 2 pm). Tickets: FREE. If you cannot secure a reserved ticket, show up early to wait on line for an unclaimed seat.
The other free concert, sponsored by Shriver Hall at the Baltimore Museum of Art, will feature violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien (March 16, 3 pm) playing violin/piano music by Schubert. You can hear some of the same program that they will play, recorded on January 20 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Tickets: FREE.
Schubert, Lieder, A. S. von Otter, B. Forsberg
After a year-long Mahler-free diet, I was ready for the binge that began with this week's first symphony from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. It continues next month, beginning with Christoph Eschenbach leading the National Symphony Orchestra in the Blumine movement, excised by the composer from the first symphony (March 7 to 9). The program also includes mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in Schubert songs, plus a performance of Mozart's Requiem Mass (ed. Franz Beyer). Bonus: von Otter begins the week with a recital, partnering with pianist Bengt Forsberg, consisting of songs by Scandinavian and French composers, in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets: $10 to $85 (NSO); $45 (recital).
The Mahler binge really gets under way when the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra performs the seventh symphony, paired with Britten's Arthur Rimbaud song cycle Les Illuminations (March 9, 8 pm), at the Clarice Smith Center in College Park. Tickets: $25.
Washington Performing Arts Society provides the final part of the Mahler binge, when they present the San Francisco Symphony performing the ninth symphony (March 23, 8 pm) in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts. Tickets: $35 to $105.
J. Widmann, String Quartets, Leipziger Streichquartett, J. Banse
For some more recent music, there is the excellent Leipzig String Quartet, presented by the Candlelight Concert Society in Columbia, Md. (March 2, 8 pm). The program, in addition to Brahms, includes music by Philip Glass, Tan Dun, and Jörg Widmann. Tickets: $30.
Ilan Volkov leads the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in an appearance at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall next month (March 4, 7:30 pm). It will feature U.S. premieres of pieces by Vilmarsson (bd) and Thorvaldsdottir (Aeriality), as well as Sibelius's Four Legends from the Kalevala and Garrick Ohlsson in Grieg's piano concerto. Tickets: $10 to $64.
We are fairly sure that you will want to hear the pairing of Angela Meade's Norma and Dolora Zajick's Adalgisa in the new production of Bellini's Norma next month (March 9 to 24), mounted by Washington National Opera. We will have more to report on it after it opens. Tickets: $25 to $300.
The Beethoven Orchestra Bonn will tour through the area next month, with a stop at George Mason University's Center for the Arts (March 9, 8 pm). In addition to Beethoven's seventh symphony, the orchestra will play the composer's fourth piano concerto, with Louis Lortie as soloist. Tickets: $30 to $60.
Also on the WPAS series is a recital by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (March 12, 8 pm) at Strathmore. She will play music by Mozart, Schubert, and Saint-Saëns, plus Lutoslawski's Partita. Tickets: $40 to $105.
This month's lagniappe is the visit of the New York City Ballet to the Kennedy Center Opera House (March 26 to 31), performing two mixed-repertory programs with live music by the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Both the company and the orchestra, if some recent reviews are to be believed, are experiencing problems these days, so we want to see what that is all about. Tickets: $25 to $95.