CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Washington Concert Preview, Fall 2009

Readers often suggest that Ionarts needs to offer more recommendations for listening in advance. We keep a detailed calendar, updated in the right column, and offer regular previews, here (monthly) and at DCist (more or less weekly). The goal of this Fall Preview is not to list every concert, or even every concert we look forward to in the next four months. As summer draws to an end, what are the biggest tickets coming up this fall that you should put on your calendar immediately? Where possible, links to previous reviews of the artists recommended are included; the links on dates will take you to the place to buy a ticket.

available at Amazon
Chopin, Piano Concertos, E. Kissin, Moscow Philharmonic, D. Kitayenko
(recorded live in 1984, when Kissin was 12 years old)
>> From the National Symphony Orchestra this fall, put us down for Evgeny Kissin playing the second Chopin concerto, even if it is in the context of a gala concert (September 26), Nelson Freire trying to recreate his award-winning recording of the first Brahms concerto (October 8 to 11), Vadim Repin playing the Brahms violin concerto (November 5 to 7), and Yuja Wang finally premiering the new piano concerto that Jennifer Higdon intended to write for Lang Lang (December 3 to 5).

>> From the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, we will take Leila Josefowicz playing the John Adams violin concerto (October 29 and 30, only in Baltimore). Maybe Simone Dinnerstein's Mozart (concerto K. 488) will be worth it (October 22 to 25), and we want to hear Jennifer Higdon's Concerto 4-3 even if Marin Alsop's Brahms and Tchaikovsky are not our cup of tea (September 24 to 26), but not much else is high on our list of priorities.

>> As for visiting orchestras, we would hate to miss the latest visit of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (two different programs on September 29 and 30), as well as the chance to watch Riccardo Muti at work with the New York Philharmonic (November 21). Finally, for a chance to hear Stravinsky's Dumbarton Concerto, written and named for the Bliss home at Dumbarton Oaks, don't miss the first concert of the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra at the Renwick Gallery (October 11).

>> The best part of Washington National Opera's fall season will likely be another chance to hear Iréne Theorin (pictured at right) -- who was reportedly much better than she was when I heard her in Siegfried last season -- this time in the title role of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (October 24 to November 13). Lyubov Petrova's Zerbinetta, Kristine Jepson's Komponist, and Gidon Saks's Musiklehrer will also be good, if it is a shame that Heinz Fricke had to withdraw (nothing against his replacement, Andreas Delfs). Yes, Theorin will bring back her Brünnhilde in the company's Götterdämmerung, but with the American Ring Cycle postponed indefinitely (sob!), it will be only in two concert performances (November 7 and 15).

>> For more unusual opera, there is the collegiate company also reliable for at least some adventurous productions, Maryland Opera Studio, with Mozart's La finta giardiniera (November 19 to 23). Opera Bel Cantanti opens one of its more unusual seasons with Handel's Giulio Cesare, which will feature the orchestral part rendered by harpsichord and a small group of string players (October 10 to 17).

Pianist Till Fellner returns for fourth installment of his complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle at the National Gallery of Art (photo by Francesco Carrozzini)
>> Cédric Tiberghien (September 26), Murray Perahia (October 17), Leif Ove Andsnes (November 20), and Angela Hewitt (December 3), all from WPAS, are obvious choices. However, don't forget the chance to hear Christopher Taylor play the Goldberg Variations, on a special instrument that somehow combines the harpsichord and piano (October 14), Malcolm Bilson on the Broadwood piano in the Strathmore Mansion (November 19), or Danish pianist Jens Elvekjær at the National Gallery of Art (December 6).

>> Two complete Beethoven piano sonata cycles are happening this fall. Austrian pianist Till Fellner returns for the fourth installment of his Beethoven cycle, spread over a couple years, this time at the National Gallery of Art (November 1). Around the same time, François-Frédéric Guy's barn-storming Beethoven sonata cycle will take place at La Maison Française (November 13 to 22).

>> Alfred Brendel may not be playing in public anymore, but we would hate to miss one of our favorite pianists giving his first lecture on music in the area (November 16), sponsored by WPAS at the Austrian Embassy.

>> The chance to hear two nonets, by Martinů and Spohr, will likely take us to one of the concerts of the Fessenden Ensemble this fall (September 29), and we certainly want to catch the Shanghai Quartet giving the Washington premiere of Penderecki's third string quartet at the Freer Gallery of Art (December 9), as well as the Ensō String Quartet at the National Gallery of Art (November 25). For other string quartets, a trip to Baltimore may be in order for concerts by the Belcea Quartet at Shriver Hall (October 18) and the Pavel Haas Quartet at the Baltimore Museum of Art (November 14).

>> Opera Lafayette's performance of Charpentier's Les Arts Florissants (October 19) should be worthwhile among the local groups, and as always the free noontime cantata series of the Washington Bach Consort, on the first Tuesday of the month, will be a golden lunch opportunity for those who can make it to the Church of the Epiphany downtown (October 6, November 3, and December 1).

>> Her voice may not be what it used to be, but we have to hear the celebrated English soprano Emma Kirkby, in concert with lutenist Jakob Lindberg (both pictured at right), either at Columbia's Candlelight Concerts (October 24) or at the National Gallery of Art (October 25, a free concert). Other visiting artists at the top of our list are Jeannette Sorel and Apollo's Fire (November 8 and 9) and, just to see what they sound like now, the women's a cappella quartet Anonymous 4, although the program is not related to their upcoming chant compilation (November 29 and 30), both at Dumbarton Oaks.

>> Lastly, a few eclectic programs that caught our interest, but that we will not really be able to recommend until we hear them for ourselves: the always adventurous American Opera Theater will feature soprano Sylvia McNair in a one-woman show called Songspiel, which will spin together music by Kurt Weill (November 6 to 14, Baltimore Theater Project); the 21st Century Consort opens its season with a tribute to composer Nicholas Maw, who died this past spring, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (October 24); one of our favorite local groups, the Post-Classical Ensemble, will open its season with an unusual program featuring eclectic bass trombonist David Taylor and an intriguing combination of Schubert and Stravinsky, at the Harman Center (October 1).


Anonymous said...

Great list, with lots of interesting stuff.

Did you look at the Library of Congress schedule? I would think that Alicia Weilerstein's trio (Oct 9), the St Lawrence Quartet (Dec 4 -- including DC premier for John Adams' quartet), and the chance to hear the Zemlinsky and Szymanowski quartets (Nov 3 and 6) might be worthy additions to anyone's list...

Charles T. Downey said...

Yes, I looked through the LoC schedule. The second half of the season looked of greater interest.