A No-Show, a Young Star, and a Mercurial Russian Maestro

09.17.08
Yefim Bronfman, Christoph Eschenbach, Alisa Weilerstein, Philadelphia Orchestra , Chanticleer
New York Sun

There will be many, many concerts and recitals from now till New Year's. Shall I try to pick some winners for you? I'll do my best — but we offer no money-back guarantees.

Begin at Carnegie Hall, that fabled home of music. October 2 will see "Leon Fleisher & Friends." Mr. Fleisher will be joined by three other pianists for duets and so forth, and one of those pianists will be Yefim Bronfman. Three days later, on October 5, the Met Orchestra will appear, under James Levine. Their soloist will be Christian Tetzlaff, who will play Brahms's Violin Concerto.

On October 7, the Philadelphia Orchestra will come in, under Charles Dutoit. Martha Argerich is scheduled to play two concertos: the Piano Concerto No. 1 of Prokofiev and the Piano Concerto No. 1 of Shostakovich. Will she show? Who knows? And, if she does, will she play well? Who knows? I heard her play these concertos on a program once before. The Shostakovich was bad (meaning bad). The Prokofiev was great (meaning great — unforgettably so).

On October 11, the young, rising pianist Yundi Li will play a recital. On October 20, Mr. Levine will bring in his other orchestra, the Boston Symphony, for a program that includes Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" symphony. On October 27, George Crumb will preside over an evening of his own music (and that includes a whale number, called "Vox Balaenae").

On December 3, Piotr Anderszewski will play a piano recital — he can be spellbinding. On December 9, Alisa Weilerstein will play a cello recital — she can be breathtaking. On December 16 (Beethoven's birthday), Deborah Voigt will sing a "holiday concert," which is actually a Christmas concert — if she's in good vocal shape, she will be delicious. And on December 18, Paul Groves, the well-known lyric tenor, will show what he can do in a recital.

Jump now to the New York Philharmonic. In a program that will first be performed tomorrow, Lorin Maazel will conduct and Mr. Bronfman will play the piano. They will collaborate in Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 — a piece that Mr. Bronfman plays better than anyone else living. And Mr. Maazel will conduct Bartók's colorful, wild "Miraculous Mandarin" suite.

Starting on November 5, Christoph Eschenbach will guest-conduct and Lang Lang will play the piano. The program consists of Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 and Bruckner's Symphony No. 9. With these two musicians — Mr. Eschenbach and Lang Lang — you never know. But it's worth a gamble.

Starting on November 20, Ms. Weilerstein will join Mr. Maazel for the Cello Concerto No. 2 by Penderecki. And Mr. Maazel will conduct Beethoven's Fifth. On December 8 (and that date only), Gilbert Kaplan will conduct the piece in which he specializes: Mahler's Second. On New Year's Eve, Mr. Maazel will do a Viennese program. And sprinkled throughout this season are Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (conducted by Mr. Maazel). Those should be very satisfying.

But the event I can most recommend? Mr. Maazel will conduct Strauss's opera "Elektra" in concert (starting December 4). When he is on, no one can do this better (although Mr. Levine is his equal). It should be hair-raising and searing.

Turn now to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. They are featuring two superb and interesting singers this year: Ewa Podles, the Polish contralto, in a program performed on October 26 and 28, and Christine Brewer, the American soprano, who will sing on December 19 and 21. Ms. Brewer is too little known and too little celebrated. Same with Ms. Podles, actually.

Great Performers at Lincoln Center will feature Valery Gergiev, the mercurial Russian maestro. And he in turn will feature the theater music of Prokofiev, in a series beginning on November 9. Unrelatedly, Johannes Moser, an interesting young cellist, will give a recital on November 23.

The Metropolitan Museum — good for more than art — gives us Rafal Blechacz, the phenomenal young Polish pianist, on October 4. On October 10, Heidi Grant Murphy (soprano), Menahem Pressler (piano), and Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) will perform Schubert's "Shepherd on the Rock." October 30 is Devil's Night, a good night for Marc-André Hamelin, the diabolical pianist who plays a lot of Liszt. He is not scheduled to play Liszt that evening. But he has other wonders up his sleeve.

On November 22, the trio of Nicholas Angelich (piano), Renaud Capuçon (violin), and Gautier Capuçon (brother of Renaud, and a cellist) will play a concert. And Chanticleer will continue its Christmas tradition. They will sing a concert six times, starting on December 3. They could probably sell out additional concerts, too.

So, those are some highlights from now till New Year's. We'll deal with the "second semester" later.