8:17 am Sep. 8, 2010
There is no better sign that (Le) Poisson Rouge, the intimate, slightly dingy basement in Greenwich Village that plays host to a wide variety of music, has made it as a venue for classical performance than a recital by the dazzling pianist Marc-André Hamelin.
A few years ago, an artist of Hamelin's stature would have used Alice Tully Hall to celebrate the release of his newest album, a recording of his own fiendishly difficult etudes, but in 2010, L.P.R. is on the radar for everyone. There are other fine classical events there coming up—particularly a celebration of Julia Wolfe on Oct. 3 and a two-night stand by Kronos Quartet on Oct. 8 and 9—but the Hamelin recital will be one of the memorable events of the fall.
It is a season that classical music programmers have decided is a time for reflection. Lincoln Center is starting what it says will be an annual fall event, the White Light Festival, which will "present the overtly spiritual dimension of music as revealed in different cultural traditions and expressions." Starting on Oct. 31 with a performance of Brahms' German Requiem featuring the Dresden Staatskapelle, the festival continues for three weeks with eighteen performances featuring, among others, the work of Belgian/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Croatian vocalist Katarina Livljanic, and, on Nov. 13, the tantalizing juxtaposition of Bach and Arvo Päaut;rt. The festival has long been a dream of Jane Moss, Lincoln Center's vice president for programming, and it's been lovingly curated. I'm particularly looking forward to three late-night concerts in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, two of them featuring the Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov exploring short, idiosyncratic pieces by a wide range of composers, past and present.
Two weeks before the White Light Festival, on Oct. 15, the adventurous American Composers Orchestra, under its new music director, George Manahan (who also has that post at New York City Opera), gets this fall's spiritual theme underway with a concert at Carnegie Hall entitled "Mystics and Magic." In addition to pieces by Alvin Singleton, Claude Vivier, and Jacob Druckman, there will be two world premieres: a newly orchestrated version of John Luther Adams’s The Light Within and Wang Jie’s From the Other Sky. The A.C.O. returns to Carnegie on Dec. 3 with a program featuring another world premiere: Douglas Cuomo’s Black Diamond Express to Hell, featuring the excellent cellist Maya Beiser.
Overlapping with the A.C.O.'s "Mystics and Magic" concert will be the New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music of Evan Ziporyn's opera A House in Bali, a true story based on the writings of composer Colin McPhee that tells a story of a westerner's cultural awakening in South Asia. It's a tried-and-true narrative, but the music should be interesting: the Bang on a Can All-Stars will collaborate on Ziporyn's post-minimalist score with a 16-member Balinese gamelan orchestra.
Speaking of B.A.M., Robert Spano, the former music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, will bring his current orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, to Carnegie on Oct. 30 with an exciting program of 20th-century masters: Ligeti, Bartok, and Janacek. That's a few days after Carnegie hosts the brilliant pianist András Schiff, who will perform an all-Schumann program on Oct. 26. Another great pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, appears in the same hall on Dec. 8, playing Messaien, Ravel, and Chopin.
John Cage may have been more abstract and conceptual than a lot of composers who will be heard this spirituality-focused fall, but he was no less concerned with religion and belief. There will be a rare performance of Cage's Song Books and his "Lecture on Nothing" on Oct. 7 at Issue Project Room. Song Books uses chance—the patterns of the I Ching—to arrange texts by Thoreau, Marshall McLuhan, Norman O. Brown, Buckminster Fuller and Marcel Duchamp. It's a mesmerizing mixture of past and present, spoken and sung.
The New York Philharmonic performs Mendelssohn's majestic oratorio Elijah for three performances starting Nov. 10. On Nov. 13, the orchestra makes one of its occasional trips to midtown to play a blessedly simple program at Carnegie: Beethoven's Violin Concerto (with no less than Midori as soloist) and John Adams' Harmonielehre. As ticket prices have crept up in recent years, programs have ballooned: It's not unusual for a concert to have four or five different pieces. It can be fun to have lots of pieces and lots of variety, but the elegance of this Beethoven/Adams pairing can't really be beat.
The Phil's 2010-11 artist-in-residence, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, will be busy this fall, but the must-, must-see program is her take on three (!) Mozart concertos, topped off with the world premiere of a new work by Wolfgang Rihm. If anyone can make such a program make effortless sense, it is an instrumentalist with Mutter's passion and fierce intelligence.
More by this author:
- Marilyn Horne, who ruled American opera in the 1970s, trains a new generation for a very different art
- Model citizen: Composer Eric Whitacre, dashing star of high-school choruses worldwide, makes the big bucks