Tintoretto, Tancredi Baptizes Clorinda
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Leading the picks of the ten concerts I most want to hear in October are several free performances of early music. It is the month when the Washington Bach Consort's noontime cantata series gets under way, one of the best musical offerings in the city. On the first Tuesday of most months, WBC members perform one of the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, at a free concert at the Church of the Epiphany. This month it will be Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht, BWV 186 (October 1, 12:10 pm).
On the free concert series of the National Gallery of Art is a performance of Claudio Monteverdi's Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (October 13, 6:30 pm). This concert is in the better acoustic of the East Building's auditorium and will feature the National Gallery of Art Vocal Ensemble and Chamber Players, as well as lectures by Laura Benedetti and Peter Lukehart.
Add to those a free performance of music by Renaissance composers at the Library of Congress (October 30, 7 pm) featuring the vocal ensemble Blue Heron, the wind band Piffaro, and the U.S. Navy Band Brass Choirs. When the names on the program are Gabrieli, Gesualdo, Agricola, Obrecht, Dufay, Ockeghem, Sweelinck, and Clemens non Papa, we will be there.
You cannot have everything for free, but I have already recommended the concert by Les Violons du Roy among my Top 25 picks of the season. It will feature the Canadian early music ensemble in orchestral suites by Telemann and Bach, with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe in vocal selections by Haydn and Handel, in the Music Center at Strathmore (October 15, 8 pm).
The Young Concert Artists honored a young string quartet I have been wanting to hear live, the Quatuor Hermès. The foursome from Lyon will open the YCA series at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (October 8, 7:30 pm), with a program of music by Debussy, Dutilleux, Schubert, and Verdi.
Also among my Top 25 picks of the season was Christoph Eschenbach's concert performance of the third act of Wagner's Parsifal (October 10 to 12). The National Symphony Orchestra is joined by tenor Nikolai Schukoff, baritone Thomas Hampson, and bass Yuri Vorobiev in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
Organist Cameron Carpenter
When Valentina Lisitsa played in Washington in 2009, I found her playing not quite fully developed, more boom than subtlety. She also impressed me as someone who was likely to mature and improve, so I look forward to her free concert at the Library of Congress (October 17, 7 pm). Her program includes Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Liszt, and a piece that can stand some forceful playing, Prokofiev's blockbuster seventh sonata. Try out the Library of Congress's new lecture format and join the artist for a post-concert discussion (note the starting time).
In any battle of the flying fingers, though, my money would still be on the tiny dynamo Yuja Wang, whom Washington Performing Arts Society will again present in concert, this time in the Music Center at Strathmore (October 25, 8 pm). She will play her own Prokofiev sonata (no. 3 -- this after her rendition of no. 6 in 2010 was a knockout), plus music by Chopin, Kapustin, and Stravinsky's scorching Three Movements from Petrushka.
It's true that I may not think much of the sound of the Kronos Quartet, but I do enjoy their often audacious choice of programming, which may annoy me just as much as it pleases me. Whatever else they play at the first concert of their ongoing residency at the Clarice Smith Center (October 24, 8 pm), it will be the first chance on the East Coast to hear the new sixth string quartet by Philip Glass.
See the complete calendar after the jump.