Critic Picks for 2023-24

Mon Sep 11, 2023 at 1:22 pm
By George Grella, David Wright & Rick Perdian
Jonas Kaufmann will perform “Doppleganger,” a theatrical version of Schubert’s Schwanengesang at the Park Avenue Armory September 22-28. Photo: Gregor Hohenberg

Dopplegánger.” Jonas Kaufmann and Claus Guth. Park Avenue Armory. September 22-28.

This event is more than the great tenor Jonas Kaufmann singing Schubert’s Schwanengesang for a week at the Park Avenue Armory—this is a fully staged performance in the massive Drill Hall space. Opera director Claus Guth will use sound design, lighting, and costumes to turn the set of songs (and additional ones by Schubert), into a theatrical narrative. Kaufmann will be accompanied by longtime musical partner Helmut Deutsch for what promises to be one of the most notable musical dramas of the season. (GG)

Music of Rameau. Juilliard415. Music Before 1800. October 1.

Under new artistic director Bill Barclay, the venerable Music Before 1800 series will continue presenting top ensembles from the U.S. and abroad in ancient European music, while zooming out to Africa and the Middle East, at Corpus Christi Church in Morningside Heights. The still-unfamiliar-to-many music of Jean-Philippe Rameau, with its biting wit and theatrical flair, would be a good place to start before sampling the season’s more exotic offerings. Violinist and early-music veteran Robert Mealy leads this accomplished student ensemble. (DW)

Reich: Jacob’s Ladder. New York Philharmonic & Jaap van Zweden. October 5-7.

Steve Reich’s unique style as a composer has meant that his music is rarely presented by orchestras; he’s only written a small handful of pieces for full orchestra, and few orchestras play minimalist music with any regularity. Now the Philharmonic gives the premiere performances of Jacob’s Ladder, for a large ensemble plus four singers, a work they took part in commissioning. Jaap van Zweden conducts the program, which also has Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. (GG)

Music of Šerkšnytė, Schumann, and Sibelius. New York Philharmonic & Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla with Daniil Trifonov. October 11-14.

Philharmonic audiences will at last get to see and hear the exceptionally expressive conducting of Lithuania’s Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as she leads performances of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto, bookended with works by two kindred spirits from the Baltic region: Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite and De Profundis by the conductor’s countrywoman, Raminta Šerkšnytė. (DW)

St. Thomas at 200: A Musical Legacy. St. Thomas Church. October 13.

St. Thomas Fifth Avenue is renowned for its men and boys choir and the excellence of its music program. As part of its bicentennial weekend festivities, Concerts at Saint Thomas is offering a free concert exploring the music written for Saint Thomas and its choir. On the program will be the Te Deum in A by T. Tertius Noble, who came to the US from England to serve as Saint Thomas’s organist and choirmaster, as well as recent commissions by Daniel Castellanos and Nico (RP)

Music of Hersch and Haas. Talea Ensemble with Ah Young Hong. October 29

Known for her intensely expressive singing in music from Baroque to contemporary—and lately as muse to the equally intense composer Michael Hersch—soprano Ah Young Hong will perform two recent Hersch pieces imbued with the emotions of the pandemic era: one step to the next, worlds ending (U.S. premiere) and anonymous beneath the lemon trees. Her rendition of Georg Friedrich Haas’s 2009 masterpiece …wie stille brannte das Licht will provide a tender and desolate postlude at Manhattan’s Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. (DW)

Ensemble Connect. Carnegie Hall. October 30.

Ensemble Connect returns to Weill Recital Hall with a new cohort of some of the finest young chamber musicians anywhere. Through their innovative programing and community outreach, Ensemble Connect is redefining chamber music and opening up the genre to new audiences. The first concert of its 2023-24 season will feature works by Missy Mazzoli, Samuel Barber and Franz Schubert. (RP)

Lise Davidsen stars in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino February 26-March 29, 2024.

“The Minnesota Connection.” Brooklyn Art Song Society. February 2, 2024

This season the always stimulating, finely performed, thematically organized programs of BASS will explore some familiar composer associations in their “Circles” series: the Schumanns and Brahms, The Second Viennese School, Les Six, et al. (DW)

Less heralded but of great interest to fans of American music is a group from the northern plains led by Dominick Argento, whose ambitious cycle The Andrée Expedition headlines a program including songs by Michael Djupstrom, Libby Larsen and Reinaldo Moya at Brooklyn’s First Unitarian Church and online. (DW)

Verdi: La Forza del Destino. Metropolitan Opera, February 26 – March 29.

Verdi is a staple of every Metropolitan Opera season, yet some of the composer’s masterpieces are presented less frequently than others. A case in point is the thrilling La Forza del Destino, which hasn’t been seen on the Met stage in almost 30 years. This season features a new Mariusz Treliński production, and a cast led by Lise Davidsen as Leonora, Brian Jagde as Don Alvaro and Igor Golovatenko as Don Carlo. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. (GG)

Berg and Bruckner. Vienna Philharmonic & Franz Welser-Möst at Carnegie Hall. March 1.

Carnegie Hall’s “Fall of the Weimar Republic” series begins in late winter and runs through most of the spring, covering broad and deep territory. Every performance could be marked as a highlight of the season, yet the choice here is Franz Welser-Möst conducting a program that pairs two of the most emotionally and expressively rich and complex works in the classical repertoire: Alban Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6, and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony  No. 9. (GG)

“Mali Before 1800.” Music Before 1800. March 24.

The world of early music is still full of forgotten music waiting to be rediscovered, and this concert—a collaboration with the World Music Institute—offers just that. The program offers early classical music from Mali,  a country with one of the great music traditions. Kora player Ballaké Sissoko and guitarist Derek Gripper will explore early music from their country, as it survived through colonialism, passed down through generations from musician to musician. (GG)

Schumann and Brahms lieder. Matthias Goerne, baritone & Evgeny Kissin, piano. Carnegie Hall. April 25.

Baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Evgeny Kissin are hardly strangers to Carnegie Hall, but this is the first time that they will appear together there in a joint recital. On tap are songs by Schumann and Brahms in this recital which takes them to the concert halls of Vienna, Paris, and Carnegie Hall. (RP)

La Morra performs works of the medieval courts for Music Before 1800 on May 5.

Music of medieval courts. La Morra at Music Before 1800. May 5

The Swiss vocal-instrumental ensemble La Morra, in its New York debut, presents a program that aims to illuminate the courtly passions and intrigues behind the music of Jacopo da Bologna, Guillaume de Machaut, and others. (DW)

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