Western Pa.’s classical offerings run the gamut | TribLIVE.com

Western Pa.’s classical offerings run the gamut

Mark Kanny
Courtesy of Chamber Music Pittsburgh
The Orion String Quartet opens the Chamber Music Pittsburgh’s season.
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Symphony
Yulianna Avdeeva
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Symphony
Osmo Vanska will conduct “Messiah.”
Courtesy of Chatham Baroque
Chatham Baroque

Classical music concerts in Pittsburgh this season will encompass an immense range of repertoire, from all the way back in the ninth century up to world and local premieres. Most of the performers will be local musicians, including the world-class Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, but many organizations including the symphony bring in touring artists and ensembles.

The Pittsburgh Symphony’s 20 weeks of BNY Mellon Grand Classics is the core of the season and offers the most concert variety in Western Pennsylvania. It also presents seven weeks of Pops concerts and will make a five-country, 11-concert European tour in October and November.

The symphony, like other major orchestras around the world, begins a two-season celebration of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth in 1770. Highlights this season include two big but rarely performed masterpieces with the Mendelssohn Choir — Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio” (Jan. 24 and 26, 2020) and the Missa solemnis (April 17 and 19). Music director Manfred Honeck will conduct both, as well as the composer’s Violin Concerto with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter at a special single concert (June 13).

Honeck’s repertoire this season includes the local premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “The Fountain of Youth,” a PSO co-commission first performed earlier this year by the New World Symphony in Miami. Other fall Honeck highlights include two weeks of tour repertoire including Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony (Oct. 11 and 13), Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (Oct. 18 and 19), Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 (Oct. 20). Pianist Igor Levit will play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini at these concerts.


Theater: ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Blithe Spirit,’ ‘A Few Good Men’ among season’s stage offerings
Concerts: Western Pa.’s fall concert lineup hits every genre
Opera: Pittsburgh Opera’s season lineup spans centuries
Dance: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Council mark 50 years

The highlights of the music director’s 2020 concerts include extended excerpts from Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet” (Jan. 17-19). which will be recorded, Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto with soloist Helene Grimaud and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 (April 24-26), and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Yefim Bronfman and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 (June 19-21), which will be recorded.

The other most notable symphony concerts this season include Osmo Vanska conducting Carl Nielsen and Jan Sibelius with violin soloist Augustin Hadelich playing Mozart and Thomas Ades (Dec. 6 and 8), Vanska conducting “Messiah” (Dec. 7), Vasily Petrenko conducting Edward Elgar and Maurice Ravel with Ray Chen playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto (Feb. 14-16), Sir Mark Elder leading Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 with soloist Yulianna Avdeeva playing Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto (March 6 and 8), and conductor Jakub Hrusa making his local debut with Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 (March 13 and 15).

The symphony’s Pops season includes tributes to Aretha Franklin (Oct. 4-6) and The Beatles (Nov. 15-17), Blockbuster Broadway (Feb. 7-9), Bugs Bunny at the Symphony (March 20-22), and The Doo Wop Project (June 5-7).

The Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra’s season begins with a Russian program featuring Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Alexi Kenney (Oct. 12), “Parisian Valentine” (Feb. 15), “Irish Rhapsody” with Pittsburgh Symphony principal flute Lorna McGhee as soloist (March 14), and Italian Opera Fest (April 25) — all conducted by music director Daniel Meyer.

Chamber music is sometimes overlooked by people who enjoy orchestral concerts, but generally composers who write great orchestral music also write chamber music of comparable scope, beauty and intensity. The Orion String Quartet opens Chamber Music Pittsburgh’s season with a program including Fritz Kreisler’s beautiful String Quartet and Beethoven’s only String Quintet (Oct. 7). The Brooklyn Rider String Quartet (Jan. 6) will offer a series of intriguing modern pieces before concluding with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, an amazing masterpiece written after recovering from a serious illness. Similarly, the Gryphon Trio will perform modern pieces with Nordic Voices before concluding with Beethoven’s biggest Piano Trio, known as the “Archduke” (Feb. 3).

Early music, including the popular Baroque era, is mainly carried by Chatham Baroque, a period-­instruments ensemble which merged in 2017 with Renaissance and Baroque, a presenting organization. Highlights of its season include “Foreign Accents,” featuring great composers such as Bach and Handel writing cantatas in other languages than their mother tongues, with soprano Pascale Beaudin, Chatham Baroque and The Four Nations Ensemble (Sept. 20-22), “Haydn in London” with Sylvia Berry playing on a restored 1806 Broadwood piano (Oct. 5), “Charms, Riddles and Elegies from the Middle Northlands” with Benjamin Bagley and Sequentia performing music from as early as the ninth century (Jan. 14), “Vivaldi and the Apotheosis of the Concerto in the 18th century” performed by the Venice Baroque Orchestra (Feb 20) and “Les Nations,” a program of French baroque music with guest artists including flutist Stephen Schultz (April 3-5).

Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: AandE | Music
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.