March Classical Music Preview
Our picks for the best concerts, opera, and classical performances this month.
Violinist Vadim Repin will perform at the Strathmore on March 16. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user MITO SettembreMusica.
The venerable Takács Quartet brings a physically taxing and musically demanding program to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on March 13 as part of the Fortas Chamber Music series. The group performs Franz Schubert’s Quartettsatz and Béla Bartòk’s visceral, hard-driving, and percussive Quartet No. 4; its chromatic style is a departure from the composer’s more conservative, French-influenced early quartets. Closing the program is Beethoven’s Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, one of the titans of the string quartet literature and arguably the towering summation of Beethoven’s body of chamber music.
Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, describes the plight of Leonore, who must disguise herself as a prison guard in order to rescue her husband, the political prisoner Florestan. The work is one great anthem for dignity, liberty, and the triumph of the human spirit, though as a piece of drama, it isn’t all that convincing. The music, however, is sublime, and that’s the focus of the National Symphony Orchestra’s concert version, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach March 15 through 17. Soprano Melanie Diener sings the role of Leonore, tenor Simon O’Neill is Florestan, bass Eric Halfvarson is Rocco, and soprano Jegyung Yang is Marzelline.
Violinist Vadim Repin gets less attention than his fellow Siberian Maxim Vengerov, but Repin’s technique is every bit as dazzling, and his interpretations of the Romantic literature are governed by a keen intelligence and thoughtfulness. For his Washington Performing Arts Society recital at Strathmore March 16, Repin plays violin sonatas by Leoš Janácek, Maurice Ravel, and Edvard Grieg, along with two great showpieces of the literature: Ravel’s “Tzigane” and the haunting “Poème” of Ernest Chausson.
The legendary pianist Murray Perahia has enjoyed a long career, though a spate of injuries to his right hand has seen him curtail his performances, off and on, in recent years. Still, few artists can rival his interpretations of the classical and early romantic repertoire. For his March 18 Washington Performing Arts Society recital at Strathmore, Perahia performs Bach’s French Suite No. 5, Beethoven’s charming two-movement Sonata Op. 90, No. 27, Johannes Brahms’s Klavierstücke Op. 119, Schubert’s Sonata D. 664, and various works by Frederic Chopin.
Russian virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman performs sonatas by Franz Joseph Haydn (the C Major), Johannes Brahms (the F Minor, Op. 5), and Serge Prokofiev (the Eighth) at Strathmore March 2.
Superstar Romanian soprano Angela Gheorgiu, accompanied by conductor Eugene Kohn and the Washington National Opera orchestra, appears in a concert of operatic arias, part of the Plácido Domingo Celebrity Series, at the Kennedy Center March 3.
Husband-and-wife duo pianists Pascal and Ami Rogé perform the music of Claude Debussy at the National Gallery of Art March 4.
Also on March 4, Russian pianist Liudmila Georgievskaya performs two large-scale works at the Phillips Collection: Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes and Beethoven’s Eroica Variations. Presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain and the Joaquín Achúcarro Foundation.
Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach, teaming up on March 5 for Schubert’s Winterreise, are joined March 8 through 10 at the Kennedy Center by mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung and the National Symphony Orchestra for a concert performance of Béla Bartòk’s hallucinatory one-act opera Bluebeard’s Castle. Also on the program: Bartòk’s suite from The Miraculous Mandarin.
Pianist Leon Fleisher appears with his wife, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, and musicians from the Peabody Institute March 8 at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium to perform works by Brahms, Gyorgy Ligeti, and Dina Koston.
Soprano Julianne Baird and harpsichordist Preethi de Silva perform works by Bach, Haydn, and Georg Friedrich Handel March 9 at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium.
Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, a prolific recording artist and winner of the 2009 Gramophone Award for a disc of Benjamin Britten’s music, appears at the Phillips Collection March 11 to play works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Soprano Yulia van Doren and harpsichordist Joseph Gascho present music by Baroque composer Francesca Caccini—the first woman to compose an opera, La Liberazione di Ruggiero—at the Folger Consort March 16 through 18.
Guest conductor Jirí Belohlávek leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore March 17 in a program featuring Dvorak’s Carnival Overture, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (with pianist Shai Wosner), Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galánta, and Janácek’s Taras Bulba.
Fairfax Symphony conductor Chris Zimmerman is joined by piano soloist Rick Rowley March 17 and 18 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts for a performance of Franz Liszt’s virtuoso Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program: Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Sibelius’s Finlandia, and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 7. At George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.
The Verdehr Trio—violinist Walter Verdehr, clarinetist Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and pianist Silvia Roederer—perform pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, and Dvorak at the Phillips Collection March 18.
Christoph Eschenbach leads the National Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Dvorak’s magnificent Stabat Mater at the Kennedy Center March 22 through 24, with vocal soloists Anne Schwanewilms, Nathalie Stutzmann, Steve Davislim, and Robert Holl.
Baltimore Symphony music director Marin Alsop is joined by dynamic percussionist Colin Currie March 22 for a performance of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto. Also on the program: Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
Conductor Steven White leads the Virginia Opera March 23 and 25 in a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, at George Mason’s Center for the Arts. The cast includes Matthew Plenk, Kevin Burdette, Dorothy Byrne, and Jeffrey Tucker.
Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova, winner of the 2008–2009 Young Concert Artists Auditions, performs with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute at the Bulgarian Embassy March 23, as part of the Embassy Concerts series.
Young Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich, winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, appears at the Phillips Collection March 25 in a recital of works by Prokofiev, Ravel, Domenico Scarlatti, and Igor Stravinsky.
Soprano Jessica Jones is accompanied by pianist Danielle Hahn March 25 at the National Gallery of Art in a program honoring Women’s History Month, with music by Nadia Boulanger, Lori Laitman, Clara Schumann, and others.
The young Elias String Quartet—violinists Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant, violist Martin Saving, and cellist Marie Bitlloch—are joined by pianist Jonathan Biss March 28 in a program of works by Josef Suk, Janácek, and Dvorak at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium.
Composer Dominick Argento gets a well-deserved tribute in a series of performances beginning with this one, March 30 at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall. Soprano Linda Mabbs, mezzo-soprano Delores Ziegler, tenor Gran Wilson, and others perform various works by this American master, including the Six Elizabethan Songs and a four-hand-piano setting of the Valentino Dances.
Violinist Mikhail Simonyan appears with pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine in a Washington Performing Arts Society recital March 31 at the Kennedy Center featuring Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, Brahms’s Sonata No. 3, Prokofiev Sonata No. 1, and Karol Szymanowski’s Nocturna and Tarantella.