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Thrilling Music at Tanglewood, Music Mountain and Sevenars
By Stephen Dankner, Special to iBerkshires
02:05PM / Wednesday, August 02, 2017
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Singer and actors perform with Andris Nelsons and the BSO in Mendelssohn's 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in 2016. The performance comes to Tanglewood on Aug. 5. Photo courtesy of Winslow Townson

With the arrival of August, we are at the height of the classical music festival season. Programs this week at Tanglewood offer a diverse and intriguing mix of symphonic music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. The prodigious pianist Garrick Ohlsson has a busy week in store: He will perform Chopin's two piano concertos on successive evenings, and will offer a solo recital of works by Schubert and Scriabin on Tuesday evening in Ozawa Hall. Added to this, programs 4 and 5 in the special series "Schubert's Summer Journey," featuring Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and Mr. Ohlsson, will surely be not-to-be-missed musical high points.

Enhancing the offerings above, be sure to check out the Aeolus String Quartet with guest artist pianist Geoffrey Burleson at Music Mountain, located in Falls Village, Conn.; they will be performing masterworks by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Franck. And, for something completely different, consider Sevenars' program for Sunday, Aug. 6, featuring a versatile quintet of virtuoso artists equally gifted in performing both classical and jazz.


Yo-Yo Ma will be at Tanglewood.

• Thursday, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Tanglewood's "Schubert’s Summer Journey" series continues with a recital performance featuring pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen, and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, a former Tanglewood Music Center Fellow. Mr. Ax and Ms. Barton open the program with four songs from Schubert's teenage years: "Der König in Thule," D.367; "Gretchen am Spinnrade," D.118; "Schäfers Klagelied," D.121; and "Rastlose Liebe," D.138. Ms. Barton also joins Mr. Jacobsen, Mr. Ma, and Mr. Ax for the world premiere of "Head, Heart"” for mezzo soprano and piano trio, composed by Mr. Jacobson, and based upon the poetry of Lydia Davis. The program also includes Schubert's late Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 99 and the early Sonatina No. 3 in G minor for violin and piano.

• Friday, Aug. 4, 8 p.m. in the Shed: Koussevitzky Artist Garrick Ohlsson joins conductor Hans Graf and the Boston Symphony for performances featuring Chopin's two piano concertos. Mr. Ohlsson performs Chopin's First Piano Concerto, written when the composer was just 19 years old and barely finished with his formal training at the Warsaw Conservatory. His ability even at such a young age to suggest soaring operatic (bel canto) vocal techniques in his melodic lines, combined with his love for, and mastery of counterpoint, which he had learned from Bach and Mozart, together with his own unique genius, sets these piano concertos apart. Maestro Graf also leads the BSO in Rachmaninoff's rhapsodic Symphony No. 3 - the composer's final work in that genre.

• Saturday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m. in the Shed: Mr. Ohlsson returns to perform Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the BSO - a virtuosic composition and contemporaneous with the First Concerto. The second half of the program features one of the best-known musical works inspired by Shakespeare: Mendelssohn's incidental music to "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" — in a specially-designed production adapted by stage director Bill Barclay, and first performed with the BSO at Symphony Hall in Boston in early 2016 as part of the BSO's three-week Shakespeare celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. Soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, and singers from the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Chorus, as well as four actors, including Will Lyman as Oberon; Karen MacDonald as Titania; Caleb Mayo as Felix Mendelssohn; and Antonio Weissinger as Young Mendelssohn and Puck, join Mr. Graf and the orchestra for this performance. These costumed actors will perform various passages from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" interspersed throughout the performance, as prescribed in Mendelssohn's score, with costumes by Kathleen Doyle and sets by Cristina Todesco.

• Sunday, Aug. 6, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins maestro David Zinman in a program featuring two works by Robert Schumann — the late, rhapsodic Cello Concerto, featuring Mr. Ma, and the confident and heartfelt Symphony No. 2 in C Major. The concert opens with Mozart's energetic Symphony No. 25 ("Little G minor").

• Tuesday, Aug. 8, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, presents the fourth program in Tanglewood's "Schubert's Summer Journey" series. Opening and closing his Ozawa Hall recital are two of the composer's supreme sonatas, No. 14 in A Minor, D. 784, and No. 20 in A Major, D. 959. The former dates from early 1823. The late Sonata No. 20 displays some of the composer's most advanced structural, harmonic, and contrapuntal writing, as well as his unparalleled lyricism. These two Schubert sonatas are contrasted by several unusual and rarely heard works by Alexander Scriabin — a composer upon which Mr. Ohlsson is currently focusing; he recently finished recording Scriabin's complete piano works.

For tickets, call 888 266-1200, or go to the website. Music lovers can follow Tanglewood via its new social media accounts on Facebook, on Twitter @TanglewoodMA, and on Instagram @TanglewoodMusicFestival. The Boston Symphony is on Facebook, on Twitter @bostonsymphony, and on Instagram @bostonsymphony. The Boston Pops is on Facebook, on Twitter@thebostonpops, and on Instagram @thebostonpops.


Music Mountain

Located in Falls Village, Conn., Music Mountain, America's longest running chamber music festival, continues its 88th season this summer with the Aeolus String Quartet and special guest artist, pianist Geoffrey Burleson on Sunday, Aug. 6, at 3 p.m. They will perform a program of string quartets by Haydn (String Quartet in F Major, Opus 74, No. 2) and Mendelssohn (String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13), and will conclude with the great Piano Quintet in F Minor, by the 19th century Belgian composer Cesar Franck.

Praised by the Baltimore Sun for combining "smoothly meshed technique with a sense of spontaneity and discovery," the Aeolus Quartet is committed to presenting masterworks, and new cutting-edge works to widely diverse audiences with equal freshness, dedication, and fervor.

Equally active as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician, and jazz performer, pianist Geoffrey Burleson has performed to wide acclaim throughout Europe and North America. The New York Times has hailed Burleson's solo performances as "vibrant and compelling," praising his "rhythmic brio, projection of rhapsodic qualities, appropriate sense of spontaneity, and rich colorings." Mr. Burleson teaches piano at Princeton University and is professor of music and director of piano studies at Hunter College-City University of New York.

Chamber Music Concerts are $35. Twilight Series Concerts are $30. Children ages 5-18 are admitted free when accompanied by a ticket holder. For a complete summer schedule, special ticket prices, and to download a ticket order form visit the website or call 860-824-7126.

Music Mountain is located in Falls Village, Conn., on Music Mountain Road, off Route 7, where a short scenic drive will bring you to Gordon Hall atop Music Mountain. Free parking and picnic facilities are available.


Sevenars Music Festival

Internationally known pianist Robert Schrade and his composer/songwriter/pianist wife Rolande Young Schrade founded Sevenars Concerts in 1968. Concerts are held at the Academy, located at the junction of South Ireland Street and Route 112, in South Worthington, Mass.

Clifton 'Jerry' Noble Jr.

On Sunday, Aug. 6, at 4 p.m., Sevenars Music Festival will present "Jerry Noble and Friends." A favorite tradition at Sevenars, this concert features Clifton "Jerry" Noble Jr., the legendary jazz clarinetist Bob Sparkman and the dynamic young cellist Christopher James. Bridging styles and generations, this concert offers music in a diversity of styles that is certain to please all musical tastes.

Mr. Noble, nationally sought after as both composer and pianist, is uniquely gifted in both versatility and creativity. His more than twenty years of jazz collaborations with clarinet virtuoso Bob Sparkman have become legendary, resulting in five immensely popular CD recordings.

Mr. Sparkman developed his golden phrasing playing with such groups as The Jazzmen, The Bourbon Street Six, the Gotham Jazz Band, and Fats Waller's trumpeter Herman Autry.  

Christopher James, alumnus of the Tanglewood, Soundfest and Bard Music festivals, returns from a season playing with orchestras in New York, in performances at Symphony Space, Lincoln Center, and Weill Hall. He will perform as soloist in Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, Op. 85, in the composer's piano/cello transcription.

After a mostly classical first half, the second half of the program will break out into duos and trios, featuring bossa nova dance rhythms and improvisations on familiar tunes, performed by Messrs. Noble and Sparkman; they’ll be joined in several selections by bass guitarist Kara Noble.

As a bonus, his good friend, cellist Anup Kumar Biswas, will join Mr. Noble. Mr. Biswas is highly acknowledged in the United Kingdom both as a cellist and as founder and as Director of the Mathiesen Music School, in Kolkata, India. Together they will perform "Anondo Loke" by the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore, and also in Mr. Biswas's own composition, "Celebration." The group will be joined by Mr. Biswas' son, Satyajit on mridangam (an ancient Indian percussion instrument) in the Tagore work; his daughter, vocalist Geetanjali, will also accompany them.

For Sevenars tickets, and general information, call 413-238-5854 (please leave a message for return call), visit the website or email them. Admission is by donation at the door (suggested $20). Refreshments are included.

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