The Big City Recommends: March 2010

I’m inaugurating a monthly list of selected, notable upcoming music events in New York City as well as intriguing recordings I expect to come out in the month ahead. These are entirely subjective recommendations, of course, but you trust me, I’m sure! This is what I’m looking forward to in March:

Events

February 28: Chamber Players of the League of Composers, Tenri Cultural Institute, 3PM. You’ll allow me to cheat, I hope. This concert opens the League’s performing season and has works old, new and experimental, featuring Eric Moe’s excellent Strange, Exclaiming Music and Ben Johnston’s astonishing, microtonal variations on Amazing Grace for string quartet. At $10 for the concert and $50 for the season (cheaper if you’re a student), this series is easily the best value in new classical music.

March 2: Existential Pilot, WMP Concert Hall, 8PM. I’m not sure what to expect from this young composer’s collective concert, and that’s why I’m excited about it. Be curious.

March 6: Homage to Bronzino, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 7PM. A companion concert to their exhibit of Bronzino drawings, this is a concert of both Early Music and a new piece by Bruce Adolphe written for ancient instruments (listen to a podcast here).

March 9-10: Les Troyens, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinksy Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, 8PM. Arguably the world’s leading conductor and his excellent orchestra presenting Berlioz’s enormous, astonishing opera across two nights. Hugely dramatic and Romantic, effervescently crazy as only Berlioz could be, while this is not for all tastes it’s self-recommending and promises to be one of the memorable events of 2010.

March 11: ETHEL plays Jacob TV, Merkin Concert Hall, 7:30PM. Under the auspices of New Sounds, music from one of the most interesting and still little-known contemporary composers. Jacob TV combines acoustic instruments and recorded media in pieces that are tough-minded and truly edgy. His works were the highlight of the PRISM sax quartets appearance at LPR.

March 11-14: Perspectives: Kronos Quartet, Zankel Hall 7:30PM. Their reputation precedes them and is deserved. This series demonstrates how important Kronos is; a Terry Riley retrospective, music with toys (including work from JG Thirlwell!), music from the Arctic Circle (!!) and music from across Asia. That last is connected to a CD coming out at the end of the month (which I’ll be reviewing) of their collaboration with musicians from central Asia, a fine recording.

March 13: Early Music Exposed, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10AM – 8PM. A series of lectures, readings and demonstrations, exploring Early Music and celebrating the welcome reopening of the museum’s Andreé Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments.

March 14: ACME, music of John Luther Adams and Kevin Volans, Le Poisson Rouge, 6:30PM. I can’t recall when there has ever been an opportunity to see a John Luther Adams performance in New York, until now. His work is about sound, stillness, space and is beautiful and important.

March 16: S.E.M Ensemble, Paula Cooper Gallery, 8PM.  As part of the excellent Interpretations series, Petr Kotik will lead a premiere of a work by Somei Satoh, featuring baritone Thomas Buckner.  Another event to expect the surprising and the wonderful.

March 20-27: Hot and Cool: 40 Years of Jazz at NEC, various venues and times (complete schedule here). A celebration of the important legacy of the New England Conservatory’s jazz program, featuring music from, by and about the musicians who have taught and/or trained there and a panel discussion on the work of the late and extremely great George Russell. There will be performances by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, George Garzone, Marty Ehrlich and more. There’s a companion CD that I will be reviewing soon.

March 21: Victoire, Brooklyn Public Library, 4PM. This is composer Missy Mazzoli’s new music/electronic pop ensemble, and they make lovely, rich, intriguing instrumental music. One of the more interesting groups and concepts out there, and it’s free.

March 26: Till Fellner, Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 7PM. After Fellner’s awesome recent performance in this series, I am almost quivering with excitement to hear him again. On the program are the composer’s first two sonatas, the Pathétique and the Les Adieux sonatas. After what Fellner did with the Waldstein earlier this month, I can’t wait to hear him play this profound work.

March 26:  Music At First, Kathleen Supové, First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, 7:30PM.  An intriguing new performance series in Brooklyn Heights, featuring new music and interesting musicians.  Local, a bargain, and Supové is a real star.

Recordings:

March 2: Abraham Inc., “Tweet Tweet.” What do you get when you combine classical/klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer and Fred Wesley from the JBs? Some serious and seriously hip, tough-minded funk. A more extensive review to come, but this is an amazing record. Their release party is a Le Poisson Rouge tonight! Tickets are going fast.

March 9: A new recording of Morton Feldman’s Trio, and a bargain collection of the Monteverdi operas.

March 23: A collection of JG Thirlwell’s Manorexia project. Also, the debut recording of the Dave Holland Octet, a must-have.

March 30: A cornucopia of beautiful, bargain boxes; John Eliot Gardiner leading period performances of the Beethoven symphonies, the cheapest set yet of Bernstein’s Mahler cycle on Deutsche Gramaphone, Gergiev’s great recordings of the Prokofiev operas, and the second volume of Robert Craft’s important re-recordings of Schoenberg on Naxos.

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