Classical / Musical riches in March
Rising stars are playing around town
Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Copland Meets Goodman
March 8–9, 10:30 a.m. March 8; 8 p.m. March 9 at Kleinhans Music Hall
(3 Symphony Circle)
On March 8–9, New York Philharmonic principal clarinet Anthony McGill is the guest soloist in a program featuring the Clarinet Concerto by Aaron Copland, along with two stalwarts of nineteenth century German Romantic repertoire, Franz Schubert’s ineffable Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished” and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 61. He plays under the baton of Leon Botstein, the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony since 1992, who has been a frequent guest conductor with the BPO. McGill, a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, had been the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and has collaborated with musicians throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida and Lang Lang, In 2009, he performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at President Obama’s inauguration.
Some might be surprised to learn that hugely popular jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman was responsible for commissioning some of the most important twentieth century works for classical music for clarinet, including Béla Bartók’s Contrasts and clarinet concertos by Paul Hindemith and Aaron Copland that have retained an important place in the repertory. Copland’s Clarinet Concerto is still the most frequently performed American clarinet concerto. Not only did Goodman commission the concerto by Copland, but he also was the soloist for its BPO premiere in 1952.
In 1923, after returning to the United States from studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, Copland composed a jazzy concerto for piano. When great Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky conducted the premiere—with the Boston Symphony, Copland as soloist—it created an uproar. As Copland later wrote in his autobiography, “It may be difficult to imagine today that the very idea of jazz in a concert hall was piquant in the twenties, but it seems that any piece based on jazz was assured of a mild succès de scandale.”
Though Copland continued to compose modernist music, by the mid-1930s, he found his greatest success with music inspired by Latin and American folk tunes, and created a style that has come to be identified as uniquely American. He claimed that he would not have thought of writing a concerto for clarinet if Goodman, whom he admired, had not asked him for one in 1947, and said that composing a concerto with him in mind gave him “a fresh point of view.” Composed for two movements played without pause, instead of the more usual three, the piece’s languid first movement, marked “slowly and expressively,” will immediately recall such Coplandesque earlier works as Appalachian Spring. While Copland finished this movement quickly, he then put the music aside for a while. He ended up writing a very virtuosic cadenza for the soloist to serve as a bridge between the two movements. The jazzy, rather severe final movement in free rondo form takes us on a wild ride that Copland tells us is “an unconscious fusion… of Charleston rhythm, boogie woogie, and Brazilian folk tunes” ending with a clarinet glissando, known in jazz terms as a “smear.”
Photo by cliff watt
Sarah Chang and Brahms
March 2, 2:30 pm and 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall
(3 Symphony Circle)
This month, child prodigy turned violin superstar Sarah Chang returns to the BPO for the first time in a decade to perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto. BPO music director JoAnn Falletta will lead the program, which includes three BPO premieres: Musique sur l’Eau and La Tragédie of Salomé by French composer Florent Schmitt along with Overture for Orchestra by Germaine Tailleferre. This marks the first time that the BPO has performed any work by the only female member of “Les Six” (the 1920s and 1930s-era informal group of composers, students of Fauré), Germaine Tailleferre, arguably the most important French woman composer of the twentieth century.
Brahms and Bidini
March 23 at 8 p.m. & March 24 at 2:30 at Kleinhans Music Hall
(3 Symphony Circle)
JoAnn Falletta is again on the podium March 23–24 when pianist Fabio Bidini, a favorite of BPO audiences, returns to perform a work many think is the Brahms masterpiece, his Piano Concerto No. 2, in a program that includes two popular Russian works: Alexander Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor and Serge Prokofiev’s music for the ballet Romeo and Juliet.
Beethoven is back at UB
March 8 & 9, 7:30–9:30 p.m. at Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall
(UB North Campus, Amherst)
The four members of the nationally touring Attacca Quartet—Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tokunaga, violins; Nathan Schram, viola; and Andrew Yee, cello—are performing all six programs this academic year in the annual Slee Cycle presentation of the entire Beethoven string quartet repertoire in Slee Hall. Their program includes the Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3, the “Grosse Fuge;” Op. 133; the Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No.1; the mighty Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 132; the Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6; and the Quartet in F minor, Op. 95 “Serioso.” They also offer a free master class that’s open to the public.
Faculty Chamber Recital: Degenerate Music: Weill, Eisler, and Schoenberg
March 28, 7:30–9:30 p.m. at Baird Hall
(UB North Campus, Amherst)
As part of a year-long celebration of the music of Kurt Weill, UB faculty members Tiffany Du Mouchelle, soprano; Jonathan Golove, cello; and Eric Huebner, piano are joined by special guest German violinist Kathrein Allenberg in a program of Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music), a label applied in the 1930s by the Nazi government to certain forms of music that it considered to be decadent and harmful. The program includes seven pieces from Weill’s Three Penny Opera, his cello sonata, and some of his cabaret songs, along with music by Hanns Eisler and Arnold Schoenberg.
Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s French flair
Horszowski Trio with Masumi Per Rostad, viola
March 12, 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall
(3 Symphony Cir.)
The members of the Horszowski Trio—Jesse Mills, violin; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; Rieko Aizawa, piano—are joined by violist Masumi Per Rostad for a program of all-French music. The trio takes its name and inspiration from the musicianship, integrity, and humanity of legendary Polish pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski (1892-1993), a long-time faculty member at the Curtis Institute; his final pupil was Aizawa. The program includes Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No.1 in C minor, Op.15; and piano trios by Maurice Ravel and Germaine Tailleferre. While Ravel’s ravishing Trio is often programmed, this performance of Tailleferre’s Trio, a work that she first composed in 1916 and to which she added two, entirely new movements in 1978, more than sixty years later, will mark the first performance ever, of any work by the only female member of “Les Six” in the ninety-six-year history of this series.
Gemütlichkeit, Viennese style
March 17, 3:30 p.m. at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Ave
The programs featured on the Friends of Vienna Sunday afternoon series can range from soothing Baroque music for Viols to edge of your seat late twentieth century works such as Berio’s Sequenza for violin solo, with stops along the way for piano pieces by forgotten Scandinavian female composers. But for the first program on its spring concert schedule in the Unity Church, the series returns to its roots with a pair of string trios by those quintessential Viennese composers, Mozart and Beethoven. University at Buffalo faculty members Leanne Darling, viola, and Jonathan Golove, cello, are joined by the Berlin-based violinist Katherein Allenberg in performances of Mozart’s monumental Divertimento in E-flat major, K.563 and Beethoven’s delightful, but all too rarely programmed, Serenade in D major for Violin, Viola, and Cello. Op. 8, a work composed in Vienna in 1797 when the young piano virtuoso was just beginning to establish himself as a composer. Information: friendsofvienna.org
See all music listings here.