John Frayne: A look at the early part of the spring concert season
In the following preview of the coming season, the location of the concerts is the Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the starting times are 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
The spring concert season will open with the annual visit by the Moscow Festival Ballet. This company will offer three ballets, beginning with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1877 classic work, "Swan Lake," on Jan. 21. The next ballet, Jan. 22 is Adolphe Adam's 1841 ballet "Giselle," with a title part which one authority has called "the display piece par excellence for the ballerinas of all future generations." The company's run will conclude Jan. 23, with Sergei Prokofiev's 1945 ballet on the famous Charles Perrault fairy tale "Cinderella." Performances start at 7 p.m. in Krannert's Tryon Festival Theatre.
On Jan. 30, the Jupiter Quartet, the chamber ensemble in residence at the University of Illinois, will play Franz Schubert's best-known quartet, known as "Death and the Maiden," from the series of variations on Schubert's song of that name, in the second movement. Also on the program is a work commissioned by the Jupiter group: Dan Visconti's "Ramshackle Songs," a 2009 work inspired by the music of "Tin Pan Alley" (West 28th Street in New York, the center at one time of American popular music). Rounding out the program will be Benjamin Britten's 1975 Quartet No. 3, a work which the Jupiters' cellist, Daniel McDonough, has described to me as "a lovely, haunting and elegiac work, which pairs well with the Schubert quartet."
The first Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra concert of the spring season, Feb. 1, will feature Wolfgang Mozart's 1784 Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453, written for his pupil Barbara Ployer. Mozart said that he taught his pet starling the first five measures of the finale of this work. The solo pianist in this work is James Giles, a native of North Carolina, who studied in New York with distinguished pianists Byron Janis and Jerome Lowenthal. Giles, who has performed all over the world, is coordinator of the piano program at Northwestern University. Also on the program will be Walter Piston's 1956 work "Serenata," and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, famous for the variety and power of its dance rhythms.
Also Feb. 1, in Tryon, is the world premiere of Paola Prestini's "Labyrinth." According to the Krannert brochure, "audiences will discover two conjoined installation concertos for Maya Beiser, cello, and Cornelius Dufallo, violin. Intriguing technological elements (including an interactive LED cello and a violin bow that can affect sound, light, and projected film) and collaborative contributions by the University of Illinois' eDream (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media) Institute will create an immersive, multilayered maze environment."
On Feb. 7, Donald Schleicher will conduct the UI Symphony in a concert with percussionist Ricardo Flores as soloist in Roberto Sierra's "Bongo + for Solo Percussion and Chamber Orchestra." Also in the program is Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2.
The Sunday Salon series at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 will feature soprano Julia Bullock, a native of St. Louis and a student at the Juilliard School in New York. She won first prize in the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions.
On Feb. 14, the Sinfonia da Camera, conducted by Ian Hobson, will give a program of Russian music, including Sergei Prokofiev's loving parody of 18th century music in his "Classical Symphony," and Igor Stravinsky's 1919 "Firebird Suite," taken from the ballet which began his march to world fame. The solo part in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto will be played by Andres Cardenas, who appeared last spring in Hobson's Johnannes Brahms piano series.
The Prairie Ensemble, after a brief absence, will return Feb. 21 for a concert entitled "A String Thing," at the Orpheum Theatre, 346 North Neil St., C. Along with pleasant string works by Dag Wiren and Gerard Finzi, oboist John Dee, of the UI music faculty, will be soloist in Ralph Vaughan Williams "Concerto for Oboe." The longest work on the program will be Gustav Mahler's string orchestra arrangement of Schubert's "Death and the Maiden."
On Feb. 22, a visiting orchestra from Israel's port city Haifa will be featured. The Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel will play two of the most popular works of the concert repertory. Pianist Roman Rabinovitz will be soloist in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Rabinovitz was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1985. His family moved to Israel in 1994. He graduated from the Curtis Institute and has earned a Master's Degree from the Juilliard School. Rounding out the concert will be Antonin Dvorak's greatest symphony, his No. 9, "From the New World." The Haifa orchestra will be conducted by Boguslaw Dawidow, who appeared in 2011 at Krannert with the Opole National Philharmonic of Poland.
Part II coming next week.
John Frayne hosts "Classics of the Phonograph" on Saturdays at WILL-FM and, in retirement, teaches at the University of Illinois. He can be reached at email@example.com.