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Concert Roundup Cool

  • Hey, remember that bit in Amadeus where Salieri pretends to be Mozart’s dead father and Wolfie freaks the hell out and composes a requiem and then dies? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does! So they’re playing Mozart‘s Requiem, which even I, an inveterate Mozart skeptic, admit is pretty darn good. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society helps out with the singing; Part‘s Tabula Rasa rounds out the program. February 28 at Strathmore; March 2 & 3 at the Meyerhoff. It looks like they might also be doing some version of it at the Weinberg  Center in Frederick on March 1. [ See it! ] [ See it in Frederick! ]
  • Or! If you tend to feel jazzy in the morning, the BSO is offering a matinee performance on March 2 centered around the African American influence on music. Specifically mentioned: Duke Ellington, Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue, and a tap master. [ See it! ]
  • This week the National Symphony Orchestra gets glacial, chills out, cools it, and other puns about cold with an all-Nordic program, featuring SibeliusLindberg, and Saariaho. Even the solo violinist is Nordic – the awesomely named Pekka Kuusisto. February 28 – March 2. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreViolinist Jennifer Koh explores the farther reaches of Bach, Parisian jazz, a snazzy marching band. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Concert Roundup Breaks It Down

  • Hmmm. I dunno, guys. This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is performing Tchaikovsky‘s Francesca da Rimini – okay, I’m on board so far. Then Stephen Hough plays us Liszt‘s second piano concerto – that should be interesting. The closer? The second symphony of Sibelius… right. Like I said. I dunno. Oh, I kid, I kid, Jeannie. Should be good! February 7 at Strathmore; February 8 & 9 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • For those of who are an inexplicably rooming with small children and need to get them out of the house, the National Symphony Orchestra offers one of their Kindkonzerts, simply titled “Break It Down!” As far as I can tell, a percussionist and flutist are going to explain how instruments work. Musically, not mechanically. Although that would also be interesting. Who can tell? February 9. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreJazz violin, slam poetry and hip hop, electric cellist and composer Wytold. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match


  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*


  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*


  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms


Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

Continue reading

Concert Roundup: The Beginning

Hello and welcome to the first concert roundup of 2012! Are you seated comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

  • This week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, ITZHAK MOTHEREFFIN’ PERLMAN IN THE HOOOOOOOOOOOOOUSE! He’ll be conducting (and apparently playing, but I’m not sure on which pieces) the “Winter” and “Summer” portions of Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons plus Mozart‘s Symphony No. 25 and Brahms‘ Symphony No. 4. But who cares? It’s ITZHAK MOTHEREFFIN’ PERLMAN. January 12 & 15 at the Meyerhoff; January 14 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, over at the National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Hannu Lintu (remember him? Boy was he mad) leads violinist Leila Josefowicz and company in Debussy‘s Preludes, a piece by Mackey, and the Sibelius Symphony No. 5. Mm, Debussy. January 12 – 14. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you prefer to cater to your small children, ya weirdo, the NSO is offering two children’s concerts this weekend. One is about a bear who likes to wear hats while listening to Haydn, apparently (January 14), while the other features a cellist who likes linking music to language (January 15). My money’s on the dress-up teddy bear, but to each their own. [ See the bear! ] [ See the cellist! ]
  • Reader Pam Burovac informed me that the Seattle Philharmonc was performing on January 15. What she did not tell me was that the program includes Beethoven‘s sixth symphony. Also some stuff by Miller and Strauss and Handel‘s Music for the Royal Fireworks but let’s not lose sight of what’s important here: BEETHOVEN. [ See it! ]

Concert Roundup: The Revenge

Let’s see what the musicians are up to this week, shall we?

  • If you happen to be hopping about in D.C., the National Symphony Orchestra will be performing Mussourgsky‘s Night on Bald Mountain. So already you want to come. In addition, Gidon Kremer will perform the Sibelius violin concerto, plus Liadov‘s The Enchanted Lake and Nielsen‘s fifth symphony. That’s October 6 through 9. See it!
  • Alternatively, if you happen to be hopping about Trafalgar Square, London (and why not?), @LMAorchestra tells me that The Gershwin Family (yes, some relation) will be performing a program of classical music from the movies, including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Debussy, and a bunch more. It all goes down on October 6. See it!

Remember, if you have a concert coming up next week, you should let me know.

No wonder so many composers were alcoholics

And so we continue the theme of composers with distilled beverages in their names. Sibelius, however, has eschewed the blatant sponsorship of Chopin and Verdi, and has instead chosen to allude to himself with subtlety.

Youthful bias and Sibelius

This week’s BSO concert is entitled “Gomyo Plays Sibelius,” on account of because violinist Karen Gomyo will play the Sibelius violin concerto. To which I say: sigh.

I may have told this story already, but way back in eight grade my middle school county orchestra took a field trip to see a BSO concert wherein no less a luminary as Pinchas Zukerman played the Sibelius violin concerto. He did it beautifully — for a very very very very long time, with stops to retune. Boy did my mind wander. Why is it part of standard soloist repertory again? (I’m sure someone well tell me, in chastising tones. Stay tuned.)

In fairness, I was a mere eighth grader at the time. I may have even still counted Beethoven’s sixth symphony as my favorite, and I now know that the seventh is clearly superior. Tastes change. You should probably make up your own mind, and you can do so on Friday, May 27 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff or Saturday, May 28 at 8 pm at Strathmore.

Carlos Kalmar will conduct, and the program also includes Mahler’s What the Wild Flowers Tell Me (arr. by Britten, Bek!) and Walton’s first symphony. And then you can take a nice nap during the Sibelius, no?

Don’t forget — the Decorators’ Show House closes at the end of May. There are fancy things to buy, people.

Composer Cagematch!: Schumann vs. Brahms

Geez, guys, you really had me worried there for a bit. For awhile it looked like Sibelius might win against Grieg, people, Grieg, and that’s just wrong, okay? But it all turned out right! After trailing for a bit, Team Edvard ended up taking down Team Jean by a decisive if not excessive margin. Which is how it SHOULD be.

And now for the juiciest match up yet! Because in this corner, going quite mad, it’s


And in this corner, definitely NOT having an affair with anybody‘s wife…

wait for it… wait for it…


Not that I mean to suggest any kind of interesting May-December thing went on between Clara Schumann and Brahms. There’s no reason why I would even bring it up. I mean, he only lived with them for a time. And Wikipedia only describes their relationship as “emotionally passionate.” Which is perfectly innocent at the core. Clearly.

What were we talking about again? Oh, right, this is the bit where I mention some great accomplishments of the two composers in question. Let’s see… Carnaval. Faust. “Rhenish” symphony. Or, The Academic Festival Overture. Hungarian Dances. The iconic Lullaby.

This is the most Team Jennifer/Team Angelina matchup yet — shiz just got serious!

* I chose this picture because it makes Schumann look vaguely like the guy who played Mr. Collins in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

** Updated to add that I am starting to feel that this photo, by contrast, makes Brahms look kinda like Jesse Spencer from House. I might be going nuts.

Composer Cagematch!: Grieg vs. Sibelius

Ouch. I mean… ouch.

Team Nikolai pretty much creamed Team Modest, practically from the beginning. No back and forth, no nothing. I don’t even know what to say about it, except perhaps that you guys don’t seem to be very tolerant of those who dissipate their talents with alcohol. I’ll thank you to remember that when Mozart shows up.

So, Rimsky-Korsakov into the winners pile, Mussourgsky into the losers. Now let’s head even further north to ferret out some of the few Scandinavians anyone’s heard of. (I kid, I kid. Mostly.) You know the boys I mean.

In this corner, he once studied with a man whose name really was Ole Bull! It’s


And in this corner, he vants to be alone! It’s


On the one hand, Peer Gynt. The piano concerto. On the other hand, Finlandia. The violin concerto. But then, let us not discount the fact the Edvard is rockin’ the Einstein moptop. Of course, that’s a pretty sweet bouffant, Jean.

It’s here! It’s finally here! My day has come!

Pardon me for a moment while I jump up and down and flap my arms around like a crazy person, but the concert I have been waiting for ALL SEASON has arrived!

It’s on Thursday, April 8 and Friday, April 9 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff and Saturday, April 10 at Strathmore (that one’s pretty much sold out). Hannu Lintu (no Wikipedia page) will be conducting, and they’ve brought in Scottish percussionist Colin Currie (yet another Wikipedia entry-less orphan; what is wrong with these publicists?). The program starts with Sibelius‘s Finlandia, always a favorite, and then it’s the U. S. premiere of Incantations, a piece by a modern Finnish composer whose name I couldn’t pronounce properly if you held a gun to my head: Einojuhani Rautavaara.




Is there a more achingly perfect slow movement in the pantheon of classical music? Is there a more uplifting final movement? Do I sometimes play the last minute of the fourth movement four or five times in a row just to listen to that fantastic set of harmonies in the horn section? While waving my arms around conductor-style, assuming said conductor is having a grand maul mal seizure? (Answers: no, no, yes, afraid so.)

To whit: Beethoven is a bloody genius, and in his seventh symphony he covered the whole human experience, from lows to highs.

Perhaps you think I’m overselling. Perhaps you, too, consider it little more than a “joyful symphonic treat” per the brochure. You think what you like. I hope your snobbery gives you comfort. Meanwhile I will be at the Meyerhoff Thursday, practically jumping out of my skin for the sheer beauty of it all.