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January Concert Planner

Some readers have been asking for more advice on concerts to attend before they happen. I write a weekly Classical Music Agenda for DCist, and the Calendar column on the right indicates recommended concerts with an eye icon. This monthly feature will preview the concerts of the month to come -- Jens already writes a monthly column of this sort for WETA, and we are likely to agree on most recommendations.

>> Every January the Folger Consort leaves its regular home at the Folger Shakespeare Library to give a New Year's concert at Washington National Cathedral. If the concerts in 2008, 2007, and 2006 are any indication, this year's program of Baroque sacred music, including Vivaldi's famous setting of the Gloria, will be well worth hearing. January 9 and 10

>> For star power this month it is hard to beat the exclusive appearance of Anne-Sophie Mutter (pictured at right) with her ex-husband André Previn on the podium, with the National Symphony Orchestra. Most importantly, it will offer a chance to hear Previn's Double Concerto for Violin and Contrabass, with Mutter and the Slovakian bassist Roman Patkoló, who premiered the work together in 2007. Mutter will also play Mozart's third violin concerto, and there will be Haydn's "London" Symphony to kick off the Haydn Year. January 31 (one performance only)

>> The operatic event of the month is the latest production from American Opera Theater, the daredevil company brave enough to stage Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox. Anyone with an interest in contemporary opera should attend one of the performances at Georgetown University's Davis Performing Arts Center. January 16 to 18

>> For chamber music, top pick goes to the latest concert by the Emerson Quartet in their Smithsonian Resident Associates series at the National Museum of Natural History. Start the Haydn Year off right with this ingenious program that alternates the three string quartets of Haydn's op. 74 with Dvořák's Cypřiše (Cypresses), divided into three parts. January 31

Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist (photo courtesy of NRK)
Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist (photo courtesy of NRK)
>> This month features one of the best concerts in a rather lackluster season from the National Symphony Orchestra, when Ilan Volkov takes the revolving helm with Ionarts favorite Leif Ove Andsnes at the piano. Volkov struck me as a possible option if the NSO wanted to gamble on hiring a young conductor as its new music director (now a moot point after the appointment of Christoph Eschenbach), and his daring programming of Stravinsky's Jeu de cartes and George Crumb's A Haunted Landscape, featuring every exotic instrument in the bag of tricks, makes me wish they had. Andsnes can surely even make Rachmaninov's third piano concerto interesting. January 15 to 17

>> The Mark Morris Dance Group will bring its production of Mozart Dances to the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. The KC Opera House Orchestra will provide the music, two Mozart piano concertos (K. 413 and 595), with -- notably -- pianists Ursula Oppens (who released a winning Elliott Carter disc this year) and Amy Dissanayake Briggs, who will also perform the D major sonata for two pianos (K. 448). January 29 to 31

>> There may be no major names on the roster of piano recitals in January, but there will be several recitals that promise to be rewarding: the American debut of Jens Elvekjaer (Dumbarton Oaks, January 11 and), Ingrid Fliter (Shriver Hall, January 18), François-Frédéric Guy (La Maison Française, January 22), and Yevgeny Sudbin (sponsored by WPAS in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, January 24).

>> Give an ear to some of the voices we might be hearing more of in the future, at the Middle Atlantic Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions, in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (January 17); Rick Davis and Joel Lazar direct a production of Offenbach's absurd operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, with new dialogue and lyrics in English by Kelley Rourke, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (January 17 and 18, 24 and 25); Cantate Chamber Singers offer a program called A Choral Bestiary, with music by Menotti, Hindemith, and others, at Bethesda's Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church (January 18); Plácido Domingo will lead a concert with members of the Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists program, in the Music Center at Strathmore (January 25); Opera Lafayette takes up the opéra-comique with a mostly concert performance of Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny's Le Déserteur in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (January 29); and soprano Sarah Coburn and tenor Lawrence Brownlee will give a recital with pianist Martin Katz, sponsored by Vocal Arts Society at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (January 31).

>> The NSO concerts continue to be strong later in the month, at a concert that will pair off guest conductor Emmanuel Krivine and pianist Yundi Li. The piano concerto, by Ravel, is a gorgeous work already recorded by Li, and the rest of the programming -- Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique and Pascal Dusapin's Apex -- is equally of interest. January 22 to 24

>> Also worth hearing is the guest appearance of Stéphane Denève with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It also features Rachmaninov (Symphonic Dances), paired with Ravel's La Valse, and the French pianist Frank Braley playing Franck's Symphonic Variations. January 15 and 16 (Meyerhoff), January 17 (Strathmore)

>> Katherine Needleman will be the soloist in a rare performance of Martinů's oboe concerto with the BSO the following week. These concerts will be led by guest conductor Carlos Kalmar, who has also programmed Haydn's "Military" Symphony and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. January 22 (Strathmore), January 23 and 24 (Meyerhoff).

>> We are always glad to hear the Shostakovich symphonies, so put a check by the concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with guest conductor Vasily Petrenko leading the 8th symphony. Stephen Hough will likely do good things with that old warhorse, Tchaikvosky's first piano concerto, too -- only in Baltimore. January 29 and 31

>> If that is not enough, how about the Shostakovich tenth symphony, too? Hajime Teri Murai will conduct the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in an excellent program that also features Christopher Rouse's Bump and cellist Amit Peled playing Ernest Bloch's Schelomo, at the Peabody Institute's Friedberg Hall. January 31

>> As is so often the case, you can hear some fine chamber music this month, including recitals by pianist Menahem Pressler with National Gallery of Art String Quartet on the free series at the National Gallery of Art (January 4), a recital of Renaissance music for viol consort by the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society at the Renwick Gallery (January 11), the Kennedy Center Chamber Players in a program including Britten's Phantasy Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello at the Terrace Theater (January 18), the Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio on the free series at the National Academy of Sciences (January 18), an alluring 20th-century program from the Triple Helix Piano Trio and violist Roger Tapping at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (January 25), violinist Augustin Hadelich will give a concert with pianist Rohan De Silva at the Terrace Theater (January 25), the latest concert of contemporary music in the Mobtown Modern series at Baltimore's Contemporary Museum (January 28), the Miró Quartet in the Barns at Wolf Trap (January 30).

>> Cellist Amit Peled will give solo concerts on the free Sunday series at the Phillips Collection over three consecutive weeks. January 4, 11, and 18

>> Felix Mendelssohn was born on February 3, 1809. Get a head start on the bicentenary with concerts devoted to his music by the Fine Arts Quartet at the National Gallery of Art (January 25), the National Chamber Ensemble at Arlington's Rosslyn Spectrum Theater (January 25), or the Mendelssohn Piano Trio at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. January 30

>> The Post-Classical Ensemble offers an intriguing program called Copland and the Cold War at Georgetown University's Davis Performing Arts Center. Copland's music will be framed by a re-enactment of Copland’s testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Subcommittee on Special Investigations. January 31

>> The Mariinsky Ballet comes to Washington for performances of Don Quixote at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Alexander Gorsky's choreography, based on the original production by Marius Petipa, will be accompanied by the music of Ludwig Minkus. January 13 to 18

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