Classical music enthusiasts have a variety of choices
Classical music in Pittsburgh provides what a real city should offer culturally — more events than anyone could attend. Having to choose is a good burden to face.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is the biggest player and is supplemented by the Renaissance and Baroque Society, Chatham Baroque, Chamber Music Pittsburgh and numerous attractive concerts at universities. The symphony performs world premieres and other contemporary music, an area well served by Pitt’s Music on the Edge, Ion Sound Project, Alia Musica and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
Half of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s season will be led by music director Manfred Honeck, who will start the season with a piece by Mason Bates, composer of the year; popular pianist Valentina Lisitsa playing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody; and Hector Berlioz’ “Symphonie fantastique” (Sept. 19 to 21).
Symphony leaders suggest three podium debuts are likely to be impressive: James Gaffigan (Jan. 23 to 25), Krzysztof Ubariski (Jan. 30 to Feb. 1) and Andres Orozco-Estrada (March 27 to 29).
The symphony season will include a comedy concert with violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-Ki Joo (Nov. 28 to 30), and a screening of the Disney film “Fantasia” with live orchestra performance of its music (May 8 to 10).
Chatham Baroque, a period-instruments trio, is an important component of the classical-music scene — for its concerts and its collaborations. Its series of performance will cover a broad range of repertoire, usually with two to four guest artists.
In addition, Chatham Baroque will team with Shadyside Presbyterian Church for George Frideric Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 6); with Pittsburgh Opera for Handel’s “Rodelinda” (Jan. 24 to Feb. 1); and with Attack Theatre and the Ping vocal ensemble for madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi (April 30 to May 3).
Chamber Music Pittsburgh will bring in premiere touring ensembles and offer four string-quartet concerts plus a duo in the coming season.
No chamber-music enthusiast will want to miss the Takacs Quartet (Sept. 29). This group is second to none and will play a less-familiar quartet by Franz Joseph Haydn, Claude Debussy’s enchanting quartet and one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s late quartets — No. 13 with its original finale, the Grosse Fuge.
The Pacifica Quartet (Nov. 10) will bring Gyorgy Ligeti’s Quartet No. 1, Maurice Ravel’s Quartet and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s G minor String Quintet, with violist David Harding.
The duo concert (March 16), will include violin sonatas by Brahms and Cesar Franck, played by cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Awadagin Pratt.
The final concert, by the Brentano Quartet (April 27), will include James MacMillan’s String Quartet No. 3 and will be joined by Todd Palmer for Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet.
The Renaissance and Baroque Society will offer seven concerts spanning nine centuries of music. Its season will begin in the 12th century, when the popular Newberry Consort performs songs commissioned by a Spanish king after his recovery from illness (Sept. 27).
Two of the concerts will feature particular musical forms. Ensemble Caprice with celebrate the chaconne (Nov. 22), while the New Esterhazy Quartet will thrill to fugues (Jan. 17).
The society has a grand finale to offer when Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire will take a new look at Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” (April 18).
Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or [email protected].