Some concert-and-opera recommendations for the coming months As the second half of the classical-music season begins-a "half" that is longer than the first one-let me forecast some highlights. Occasionally, the highlights turn out to be lowlights, but that is a risk one runs.
"Great Performers" is a conceited name, but this Lincoln Center series does indeed present some first-class musicians. On Feb. 13, Christian Zacharias will give a piano recital. He is especially good in Mozart, and his program includes none of that, but he should be good in Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann, too. On March 17, Yuja Wang will play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. This impossible piece should be child's play in her hands. On April 13, Stephen Hough will give a piano recital-one that includes a piece by, of all people, Bruckner (yes, the symphonist).
Carnegie Hall has so many highlights, or potential highlights, it's almost indecent. On Jan. 28, the great mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter will sing a recital-all Brahms, except for a Nico Muhly commission. On Jan. 30, another mezzo, Alice Coote, will sing a recital of her own-all French. On Feb. 4, Lang Lang will play a piano recital, and two days later, an even younger sensation, Daniil Trifonov, will do the same. On Feb. 15, Yuri Temirkanov will conduct his St. Petersburg Philharmonic. The program includes Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, and Temirkanov is probably the best conductor in the world of this piece (along with André Previn). On Feb. 20, Jonas Kaufmann will sing a recital. For reasons we could explore, one seldom hears a tenor in recital.
On Feb. 28, the Vienna State Opera will give an opera in concert: Berg's Wozzeck (conducted by Daniele Gatti). The next night, March 1-this is not a leap year-the company will offer another opera, Strauss's Salome (conducted by Andris Nelsons). On March 2, Leonidas Kavakos and his regular piano partner, Enrico Pace, will begin a cycle of the Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano (or piano and violin, as Beethoven himself indicated). Speaking of Beethoven, the Orchestra of St. Luke's will perform the Missa solemnis on March 6. Opportunities to hear this masterpiece of masterpieces should not be missed. They are oddly few. On March 10, Evgeny Kissin will give a piano recital-Schubert and Scriabin. Another piano recital comes from Leif Ove Andsnes on March 19-all Beethoven. Here's a name you may not know: Khatia Buniatishvili. She is a pianist to know, however, and she will give a recital on April 7. On May 2, another Georgian, another "vili," will play the Bartók Violin Concerto No. 1. That's Lisa Batiashvili, who will appear with the Philadelphia Orchestra. After the concerto, the conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will lead the orchestra in Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. Does this much-ballyhooed maestro have anything like the depth to conduct this piece? I have my doubts, but would be happy to be proved wrong.
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present an interesting program called "Romantic Transformations." The concert will take place on March 30 and will feature Dawn Upshaw, the soprano, and Gilbert Kalish, the pianist. They will perform songs of Bartók and Ives. On April 6, CMS will present a program called "Destination America," featuring works of, again, Bartók and Ives, and also Prokofiev and Korngold.
At the New York Philharmonic, Yefim Bronfman will play the Beethoven piano concertos-all five of them (plus the triple concerto, where a violin and a cello are called on, too). That begins on June 11. Someday soon, I hope, Carnegie Hall, or some other organization, will have Bronfman in the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas.
Last, the opera-the Metropolitan Opera. Starting on February 6, the company will stage Prince Igor, the opera by Borodin. This will be a chance to hear more than that opera's famous excerpt, the Polovetsian Dances. Starting on March 6, James Levine will conduct the aforementioned Berg opera, Wozzeck. There is no one better than he at the Second Viennese School-Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and some others. Then again, there are few as good at the First Viennese School-Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and the boys.
Starting on April 21, the Met will stage La cenerentola, Rossini's take on the Cinderella story. Headlining the cast are Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano, and Juan Diego Flórez, tenor. In other words, each evening should be a clinic in bel canto. If the Met's Cenerentola is a letdown, nothing's certain.