Classically speaking / A fall harvest of classical music

American Chamber Players

Photo courtesy the American Chamber Players


Buffalo Chamber Music Society

On November 13, the BCMS hosts the American Chamber Players in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans. Formed in 1985 by violist Miles Hoffman from a core group of artists of the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival, the ensemble performs repertoire ranging from familiar masterpieces to neglected gems to newly commissioned American works; its fascinating and delightful programs with varied instrumental combinations have been as enthusiastically praised as its extraordinary, dynamic performances. Amazingly, every piece on their highly eclectic program is a BCMS premiere: Schubert’s Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F major for piano quartet, D. 48, Philippe Gaubert’s 1926 work Three Watercolors for flute, cello, and piano, Max Raimi’s Variations on “Hevenu shalom Aleichem” for flute and piano quartet, a work commissioned by the group this year, as well as Mozart’s beloved Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je maman” for flute, viola, and cello, arranged by Max Raimi, and Guillaume Lekeu’s 1894 Quartet in B minor for piano and strings.


The BCMS’s Gift to the Community Series concert in the Mary Seaton Room on Sunday, November 16, features the young Korean violinist SooBeen Lee and pianist Dina Vainshtein, in a program of Lassú, Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, and Bartók. This event is free.




The devil meets Dvorak

Austrian-born conductor Hans Graf, who stepped down as music director of the Houston Symphony after twelve years in 2013 is the BPO guest conductor for programs featuring the music of Paganini and Dvorak on November 10–11. Born on the Spanish island of Mallorca, the rising young violinist Francisco Fullana will be the soloist in the fiendishly difficult Violin Concerto no. 1 by the nineteenth century Italian violin virtuoso par excellence, Niccolò Paganini, who enjoyed cultivating the rumor that he had to be in league with the devil to be able to play as fantastically as only he could. Dvorak’s highly colorful Carneval Overture opens the program, which concludes with the composer’s Symphony no. 6 in D major, a work that captures elements of Czech national music within the German-Romantic symphonic form and was among the first of his large symphonic works to win international acclaim.


University at Buffalo

A very busy month begins at Slee Hall on the UB Amherst Campus on November 2 when organist Roland E. Martin will present a faculty recital with special guests Janz Castelo, viola; Amy Grable, soprano; and Robert Zimmerman, tenor, in a program featuring François Couperin’s Messe pour les Couvents (Mass for Convents) as well as Martin’s own song cycle, A Rose Beside the Water. On November 7, the Center for 21st Century Music presents the Ensemble HANATSU Miroir in a program featuring the music of Samuel Andreyev and others. The integration of mediums other than music has become the group’s trademark since its inception in 2010, allowing them to open new avenues for understanding and interpreting the contemporary music repertoire. On November 9, New York Philharmonic cellist Sumire Kudo is joined by UB faculty member Eric Huebner, who is also the staff pianist of the New York Philharmonic, for a recital featuring the music of Bach, Gaspar Cassadó, Rachmaninoff and Bunraku, a 1960 work for cello solo by Toshiro Mayuzumi. On November 30, clarinetist David Krakauer presents a program entitled Voyages that journeys from classical music to improvisational-infused world music and klezmer, with music by Brahms, Debussy, and Abraham Ellstein, among many others.




Friends of Vienna

BPO principal oboist Henry Ward makes his Friends of Vienna Sunday afternoon concert series debut on November 6 at 3:30 p.m. at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue. Ward, who is joined by associate concertmaster Amy Glidden and other BPO musicians is pairing Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370 along with Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy Quartet. Ward says “Both the Mozart and Britten, written 150 years apart, showcase the oboe very well in the quartet ensemble. “The same instruments are able to make the group sound so different, from a very proper classical sound in the Mozart, to what almost sounds like a full symphony orchestra in parts of the Britten. It should be a very interesting concert to experience.”


“I enjoy so much playing with the BPO for so many reasons,” says Ward. “The wonderful musicians, JoAnn Falletta, Kleinhans Music Hall, the wonderful support of the community, and the unique programming are just a few. Living in Buffalo has been amazing as I really see it as a city to set some roots in. The different neighborhoods and events and festivals are great to visit and experience, and the city is affordable and easily accessible.” Information:


Buffalo Chamber Players

On November 15, the Buffalo Chamber Players offer a program in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery auditorium keyed to the gallery’s current exhibition, Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s. The concert program explores the various musical trends of the 1960s, including Minimalism, phase music, recorded sounds, dance, mechanical works, and performance art. Works to be performed include Luciano Berio’s O King, a work for voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King, which Berio later rewrote for eight voices and orchestra; John Cage’s irresistible Music for Amplified Toy Pianos; Morton Feldman’s De Kooning; György Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes; and Steve Reich’s Violin Phase.




Mike Mills with the BPO

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra enjoys a long history of appearing on the stage of Kleinhans with rock musicians. So, you might ask, what’s different about the upcoming concerts on  November 16–17? It’s this: on all previous occasions whenever rock musicians played with the BPO, it was part of a Pops series. When former R.E.M. Bassist Mike Mills takes the stage along with band members and his friend, violin virtuoso Robert McDuffie, in a performance of his Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, it will mark only the second time that a rock musician has appeared in the Classics series. The first was in 2016 when Stewart Copeland, drummer for the British band The Police, was featured front and center as the drummer in his own composition, the dramatically vivid Tyrant’s Crush, a work that convinced this listener that, yes, rock music can be successfully combined with the sounds of a classical orchestra.


Writing about Mills’ work in the Wall Street Journal, Allan Kozinn says: “Melody is Mr. Mills’s strong suit, and he has filled his work with bluesy themes, propulsive figures and ear-catching riffs. Much of the work’s charm is in its virtuosic solo music, to which Mr. McDuffie brings the same energy, verve and warmth of tone that you hear on his recordings of concertos by Samuel Barber, Philip Glass and John Adams.”


This concert also celebrates the recent eightieth birthday of Joan Tower—widely regarded as the dean of American female composers—with the BPO premieres of two of her works: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, inspired by the Copeland work, and Tambor, which features the percussion section of the orchestra. About Tambor, the composer writes: “What happened while I was writing this piece was that the strong role of the percussion began to influence the behavior of the rest of the orchestra to the point that the other instruments began to act more and more like a percussion section themselves.”


The program concludes with Mussorgsky’s popular Pictures at an Exhibition. Originally composed for solo piano as a musical memorial to his artist friend, Viktor Hartmann, the work was later orchestrated by several composers, but when Maurice Ravel released his wildly successful version in 1922 on a commission from the Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky, all the previous versions became historical footnotes.


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