Too much too soon?

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  January 31, 2008

This year’s extensive Bach offerings by EMMANUEL MUSIC include Michael Beattie conducting the St. John Passion (Emmanuel Church, March 8), Russell Sherman and some of his most gifted friends in three Bach keyboard concerts (January 26; February 2 + 9), and, Thursdays at noon, six stellar violinists taking turns with Bach solo sonatas or partitas (free, February 20–March 13; 617.536.3356).

OPERA BOSTON presents a rare staging of Handel’s gorgeous Semele, with singers Lisa Saffer and Margaret Lattimore, conducted by Boston Baroque’s Martin Pearlman and directed by the talented Sam Helfrich (Cutler Majestic, February 1, 3, 5; 617.451.3388). For BOSTON BAROQUE, Pearlman leads Purcell’s enchanting masques for Dryden’s King Arthur (Jordan Hall, February 29 + March 1; 617.484.9200). BOSTON LYRIC OPERA revives Donizetti’s familiar comedy L’elisir d’amore (with the tenor aria “Una furtiva lagrima”), with Stephen Lord conducting (Shubert Theatre, March 14-25; 617.542.4913). And the touring Teatro Lirico d’Europa breezes through with old-fashioned productions and juicy singing at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Tosca (January 18-20), La traviata (February 29–March 2), and Die lustige Witwe|The Merry Widow (March 1; 617.824.8000).

The HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY offers masterpieces of English Baroque opera by Purcell and Handel led by Philip Pickett and directed by Nicholas Martin (Jordan Hall, January 11 + 13), Sir Roger Norrington conducting Handel, Bach, Purcell, and Rameau (Symphony Hall, January 25 + 27), John Nelson doing the Mozart Requiem (Symphony Hall, February 15-17), Christopher Hogwood with BSO principal horn James Sommerville in Mozart and Haydn (Symphony Hall, March 7 + 9), and violinist Daniel Stepner conducting a Handel cantata with soprano Dominique Labelle and other Italian gems (Jordan Hall, March 21 + 23; 617.262.1815).

Highlights of the ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM’s concert schedule include the latest entries in the Borromeo Quartet’s magnificent Shostakovich cycle (March 2), the Clarement Quartet’s Schumann and Brahms series (January 13 + March 16), and Paavali Jumppanen’s Beethoven-sonata series (February 10; 617.566.1401).

And at the MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, I’d hate to miss the Valentine’s Day Prelude, a delicious program of American love songs with soprano Nancy Armstrong, baritone Robert Honeysucker, violinist Daniel Stepner, and gambist Laura Jeppesen (February 10; 617.369.3306). AMERICAN CLASSICS, a/k/a Benjamin Sears and Bradford Conner, presents American songs inspired by poet Carl Sandburg (Follen Church, March 7; Longy School, March 9; 617.254.1125).

The BOSTON CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY has evenings of Messiaen and Schubert (February 8 + 10) and Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms (March 28 + 30), Fridays at Jordan Hall, Sundays at Sanders Theatre (617.349.0086).

Benjamin Zander, a legend himself, welcomes back to the BOSTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA the legendary Russian cellist Natalia Gutman in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, on a bill with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony (Sanders Theatre, February 21 + 24; Jordan Hall, February 23; 617.236.0999). David Feltner’s excellent CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF BOSTON brings us violinist Heidi Braun-Hill in a concert called “Who Loves Dances” (First Church, Boston, January 19; 617.266.1626).

COLLAGE NEW MUSIC continues its tribute to Luciano Berio with the exciting mezzo-soprano Janna Baty (Longy School, January 28; 617.325.5200). The FROMMPLAYERS at Harvard are offering “60 Years of Electronic Music,” in two free programs, with music by, among others, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Davidovsky, and some outstanding live musicians and Scott Wheeler’s DINOSAUR ANNEX (Paine Hall, March 7-8; 617.496.6013). Gil Rose’s BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project) has a Boston-composer concert (January 25) and “Double Entendre,” an evening of “inspired collaborations” (March 29), both at Jordan Hall (617.363.0396).

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