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Classical Autumn in Washington

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.

Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin
"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).

available at Amazon
Mozart, Complete Violin Sonatas, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (release on September 19, 2006)
Shortly after singing in that Handel opera, Bejun Mehta will give his first recital in the Washington area, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, out in Rockville (November 11 and 12). Christine Brewer so impressed me with her last recital here that I am thrilled she will sing again this fall, although this year it is through Vocal Arts Society (November 28). If you want to hear a big voice, go to the free recital by Alessandra Marc at the National Gallery of Art next month (October 15): she will sing a program of 19th–century French music. First of all, however, I am looking forward to hearing tenor Lawrence Brownlee again, after he won this year's Marian Anderson Award (September 10). Soprano Irina Mataeva and tenor Daniil Shtoda will join Joshua Bell for an all-Tchaikovsky program at the NSO's Opening Ball Concert (September 24). Last but not least, favorite tenor Ian Bostridge will sing a Schubertabend with Julius Drake at Shriver Hall (December 10).

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, Happy 100th!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).


Brian said...

Having seen the 2002 Bluebeard production in its original LA run, I can also attest that the Schicchi pairing is a bit odd. I believe this decision was less about the style or content of the works and more about providing two vehicles for Ramey to show off his dramatic and comic side. Graves also appeared in LA and I recall thinking kindly of her performance at the time. How well the intervening four years have treated them and these productions remains to be seen.

P.S. One cast member for 2002 who apparently won't be showing up to reprise his role in Schicchi is the now much more internationally famous Rolando Villazon.

Charles T. Downey said...

Brian, thanks for the informative comments. I am just happy to get to hear and see Bluebeard, so I had better stop complaining.