Classically Speaking / The classical music summer doldrums are over

Violin soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter

Photo by Monika Höfler


Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

The month of August and the beginning of September are the slowest times for classical music in Buffalo, but all that changes when the BPO opens its new season under the baton of music director JoAnn Falletta on Saturday, September 16, at 8 p.m. in Kleinhans Music Hall. The opening night gala concert will feature the long-overdue return engagement of superbly talented German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist in the ever-popular Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 by Tchaikovsky. Mutter’s only previous appearance on the stage of Kleinhans occurred in January 1988, with Semyon Bychkov on the podium, when she played a violin concerto by Mozart as part of a program that the BPO repeated to critical acclaim the next month in Carnegie Hall. Coincidentally, Mutter recorded the Tchaikovsky concerto that same year for the prestigious Deutstsche Grammophon label, and it has remained in its catalog ever since. The program also includes the Intermezzo from the opera Notre Dame by Franz Schmidt and the colorful Hungarian Folk Dance Suite by Leó Weiner, a BPO premiere.


Maestro Falletta conducts a pair of concerts on Friday, September 29, at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, October 1, at 2:30 p.m. featuring the BPO debut of the exciting young pianist Charlie Albright in George Gershwin’s irresistibly jazzy Rhapsody in Blue. Buffalo music lovers might remember Albright from his memorable solo recital on the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s Gift to the Community series several years ago. Albright earned that recital experience as first prize winner of the 2009 Young Concert Artist Competition. A frequent award-winner, in 2014, he was named an Avery Fisher Career Grant Recipient. The program also includes the rollicking Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams, Duke Ellington’s hopeful New World A-Comin’, and Ferde Grofé’s masterly pictorial tone poem, the Grand Canyon Suite.


Charlie Albright


Chamber Music

The Friends of Vienna open their forty-first season at their longtime home in the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue on Sunday, September 16, at 3:30 p.m. with the welcome return engagement of pianist Stephan Manes, the former chairman and decades-long member of the music department of the University at Buffalo. Since moving to Los Angeles upon retirement, Manes has returned every fall to present a solo recital at UB, often also appearing either alone or with some of his former colleagues on the Friends of Vienna series. His Viennese Piano Music from Three Centuries program includes Haydn’s Fantasie in C Major, Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 101, Schubert’s Impromptus Opus 142, No. 3 and 4, Schoenberg’s 3 Pieces, Opus 11, and the Klavierstücke, Op. 119 by Brahms. On Sunday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m., Fredonia School of Music faculty violinist David Cowell is joined by Ithaca College School of Music pianist Dmitri Novgorodsky for a recital that includes Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 30, No. 3, and Grieg’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45. Of special interest is the area premiere of Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s Much Ado About Nothing Suite from his 1919 incidental music to the Shakespeare comedy.


The Buffalo Chamber Players begin their season at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Thursday, September 28, at 7:30 p.m. in a program TBA. Composed mainly of BPO musicians, the group has, under the leadership of artistic director Janz Castelo, expanded its audience since relocating to the A-K two seasons ago, due at least in part to innovative programming.


The Buffalo Chamber Music Society launches its Mary Seaton Room concert series on Tuesday, October 10, at 8 p.m. with the return engagement of the venerable Czech Takács Quartet. Recently praised by the New York Times for “revealing the familiar as unfamiliar, making the most traditional of works feel radical once more” the Takács Quartet, now entering its forty-second season, performs Haydn’s String Quartet in D minor, Op.76, No.2, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.11, F minor, Op.122 and Brahms’ String Quartet in Bb major, Op.67.


A Musical Feast kicks off its season in the Burchfield Penny Art Center on Friday, October 20, at 8 p.m. with the premiere of a multimedia work by Anne Colley, the recently retired SUNY Distinguished Professor of English at Buffalo State College. “Cantata for Coleridge originated in my recent research on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s descriptions of landscape,” says Colley. “As a young man, this eminent British writer took rough, difficult walks, sometimes traveling more than thirty miles a day. Oppressed by personal problems as well as his addiction to opium, Coleridge found sustenance in the topography of rivers, meadows, mountains, and the skies. When he hiked and climbed in Wales, the Lake District, and in Scotland, his practice was to carry a notebook, and on the spot, describe what he saw. Often, he also hurriedly sketched line drawings to capture the contours of the landscape.”


The resulting Cantata for Coleridge celebrates Coleridge’s beautiful way with words as well as his sensitivity to the nuances of light and movement in the natural world. Using passages from Coleridge’s notebooks, the piece combines a narrator, Anthony Chase, and a singer, UB faculty member Tiffany DuMouchelle, who voices passages from the notebooks. Images of Coleridge’s line drawings will be shown on a screen behind the performers.” The program also includes a film by Zahra Partovi and Chris Villars, Feldman Sings, a motion-picture vignette with the voice of the composer Morton Feldman, and Seek Water by Partovi, a short film dedicated to Nils Vigelund with Tiffany DuMouchelle, voice, and Steve Solook, bells.        


Jan Jezioro is a longtime classical music writer.


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