Bard, Bach, Borromeo: Boston's Spring classical music preview

Three B's and more this spring
By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  March 15, 2011

Thomas Ades
ROUGH MAGIC Composer Thomas Adès leads the BSO in his own and other composers’ takes on The Tempest.

The classical-music season continues at full throttle this spring. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Celebrity Series of Boston, and our local companies and schools have some of their most exciting offerings in store. Here are some of the events between March 24 and May 31 I'd be happiest to attend.

The exciting young British composer THOMAS ADÈS makes his local debut leading the BSO in the first Boston performances of scenes from his brilliant operatic version of Shakespeare's The Tempest (with impressive British baritone Christopher Maltman as Prospero), on a program including Tempest music by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius plus Adès's own Violin Concerto (March 25-26; he'll speak at the Friday-evening concert). Other BSO guest artists include pianist EVGENY KISSIN playing Chopin and Grieg under JOHN NELSON (March 31–April 2), and SIR COLIN DAVIS returning with a Haydn/Mozart program, with the BSO's WILLIAM R. HUDGINS in the sublime Mozart Clarinet Concerto (April 7-9 + 12), and a Sibelius/Beethoven program, with pianist JONATHAN BISS in the Emperor Concerto (April 14-16). Then legendary Japanese conductor MASAAKI SUZUKI will try to improve the BSO's spotty Bach record with the St. John Passion (April 21-23).

The Celebrity Series of Boston artists I can't wait to hear are the marvelous Slovenian pianist and local favorite DUBRAVKA TOMSIC playing Beethoven (the Tempest and Les adieux sonatas) and all four Chopin Ballades (Jordan Hall, April 15), and beloved soprano DAWN UPSHAW (Jordan Hall, April 29). I'm also eager to hear the distinguished Norwegian pianist LEIF OVE ANDSNES (Jordan Hall, April 1), and the ST. PETERSBURG PHILHARMONIC under charismatic YURI TEMIRKANOV in Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich (the Cello Concerto No. 1, with young Boston cellist ALISA WEILERSTEIN), and Brahms's Symphony No. 4 (Symphony Hall, April 10).

Shostakovich's other Cello Concerto will be played by the soulful Russian cellist NATALIA GUTMAN, with dynamic BENJAMIN ZANDER leading the BOSTON PHILHARMONIC, on a program with music from Prokofiev's glamorous Romeo and Juliet ballet score (Jordan Hall, April 30; Sanders Theatre, May 1-2).

More musical Shakespeare? Try BOSTON LYRIC OPERA in its own new production of Benjamin Britten's enchanting A Midsummer Night's Dream, with BLO music director DAVID ANGUS leading a cast largely new to Boston (Shubert Theatre, April 29–May 10).

Another great 20th-century opera comes to us from EMMANUEL MUSIC: Stravinsky & W.H. Auden's prismatic, moving, elegantly neo-classical take on Hogarth's celebrated series of paintings, The Rake's Progress (Emmanuel Church, April 16). RYAN TURNER conducts tenor Charles Blandy as Rakewell, baritone David Kravitz as Nick Shadow, soprano Kristen Watson as Anne Truelove, mezzo Mary Westbrook Geha as bearded Baba the Turk, and tenor Frank Kelley as the auctioneer, Sellem.

And the BORROMEO STRING QUARTET, my favorite, continues its Gardner Museum Beethoven series with an early, a middle (Harp), and a late (last) quartet (Mass College of Art's Pozen Center, April 24).

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  Topics: Classical , Boston, Music, classical,  More more >
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