Can’t-Miss Classical Concerts, Operas, and Other Shows in November

See the rarely performed “Missa Solemnis,” Midori celebrating 30 years of recitals, and Joshua Bell at Strathmore.

By: Sudip Bose

Can’t-Miss Performances

With the possible exception of Bach’s B Minor Mass, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis might be the most magnificent setting of the Latin Mass ever composed. The work—a testament to a composer’s faith as well as a plea for peace—is rarely heard, however, given the prodigious orchestral and vocal forces required. The National Symphony Orchestra—led by Christoph Eschenbach and featuring the Choral Arts Society of Washington and soloists Anne Schwanewilms, Iris Vermillion, Richard Croft, and Kwangchul Youn—performs this masterpiece of Beethoven’s final period November 1 and 3 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago when violinist Midori was bursting upon the scene, but her Fortas Chamber Music recital on November 1 (with pianist Özgür Aydin) marks her 30th anniversary on the concert stage. The program is excellent: three Beethoven sonatas (including the mighty “Kreutzer”), along with Anton Webern’s Vier Stücke and George Crumb’s Four Nocturnes. At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

On November 7, baritone Russell Braun appears with his wife, pianist Carolyn Maule, to perform one of the most haunting and poetic song cycles in the vocal repertoire: Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise, a melancholy depiction of loneliness and death based on 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. Braun has recorded the work to much acclaim, and he is as comfortable on the recital stage as he is in the big opera houses of the world. At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater and sponsored by Vocal Arts DC.


Other Highlights of the Month

On November 1, violinist Joshua Bell appears with pianist Sam Haywood in a Washington Performing Arts Society recital at the Music Center at Strathmore. On the program: Franz Schubert’s Rondo Brilliant, Richard Strauss’s Sonata in E-Flat Major, Antonin Dvořák’s Romantic Pieces, and Serge Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2.

Also on November 1, cellist Carter Brey, violinist Elena Urioste, and pianist Gabriela Martinez perform chamber music by Beethoven, Anton Arensky, and Maurice Ravel at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Anyone who’s been to the Bard Music Festival knows that conductor Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) are consistently thoughtful interpreters of both the standard repertoire and rarely heard works. On November 2, they appear at the George Mason Center for the Arts in a performance featuring Johannes Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica.”

In between performances of the Missa Solemnis, several principals of the National Symphony Orchestra (Nurit Bar-Josef, Marissa Regni, Daniel Foster, David Hardy, Nicholas Stovall, Loren Kitt, Sue Heineman, and Laurel Bennert Ohlson) join Christoph Eschenbach at the piano for a recital of Beethoven chamber works: the Violin Sonata No. 1, the String Trio in C minor, and the Quintet for Piano and Winds. November 2 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Pianist Lang Lang begins a weeklong residency at the Kennedy Center on November 4 with a recital of three Mozart piano sonatas and all four Chopin Ballades. On November 7, Christoph Eschenbach joins the pianist in a duo piano recital, performing Mozart and Schubert. Lang Lang then joins the National Symphony Orchestra November 8 through 10 in three Beethoven Piano Concertos (Nos. 2, 3, and 5). Christoph Eschenbach also leads the orchestra in Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.

Guest conductor Victoria Gau leads the National Philharmonic in an all-Prokofiev program on November 10 at the Music Center at Strathmore. Soloists Brian Ganz (piano) and Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano) join the orchestra in the Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Piano Concerto No. 3, and Alexander Nevsky Suite.

Violinist Sergey Khachatryan appears with the National Symphony Orchestra November 15 through 17 for performances of Tchaikovsky’s evergreen Violin Concerto. Guest conductor Vasily Petrenko also conducts the Symphony No. 4 by Dmitri Shostakovich.

The music of Antonin Dvořák and Johannes Brahms share many similarities, and the pairing of the former composer’s Symphony No. 8 and the latter’s Piano Concerto No. 2—the program chosen by conductor Marin Alsop for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performance on November 17—is intriguing. Pianist Denis Kozhukhin is the soloist in the Brahms. At the Music Center at Strathmore.

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra presents an all-Beethoven concert November 17 at the George Mason Center for the Arts. Guest conductor Ken Woods leads performances of the Overture to Coriolan and the Symphony No. 2, and violinist Benjamin Beilman is the soloist in the great Violin Concerto.

The a cappella vocal ensemble Anonymous 4 (composed of Marsha Genesky, Ruth Cunningham, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, and Susan Hellauer) performs David Lang’s “love fail,” a theater piece that draws on multiple sources: the short stories of Lydia Davis, medieval narratives of courtly love, and excerpts from Tristan und Isolde. Sponsored by the Fortas Chamber Music series; November 28 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

Conductor Mario Venzago leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Franz Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1, Edward Elgar’s searing Cello Concerto (with soloist Sol Gabetta), and Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D minor. At the Music Center at Strathmore, November 29.

Guest conductor Juraj Valcuha leads the National Symphony Orchestra, November 29 through December 1, in Karol Szymanowski’s Concert Overture, Ravel’s Ma Mère l’oye Suite, and Claude Debussy’s La Mer. Pianist Jonathan Biss performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13.

Die Fledermaus is most commonly associated with New Year’s Eve, but the Virginia Opera will put on its production of the operetta by Johann Strauss II about a month early—on November 30 and December 2 at the George Mason Center for the Arts. Gary Thor Wedow conducts, and Dorothy Danner directs. The cast consists of Christina Pier, Phillip Cutlip, Ryan MacPherson, Christopher Burchett, Sarah Jane McMahon, Abigail Nims, Neal Ferreira, Jake Gardener, and Grant Neale.