MusicWatch Weekly: solos and duos

Duo pianists and string players, a doomed love duet, and solo pianist, singer, and percussionist highlight this week's Oregon music

Portland Opera opens its season with Verdi’s Bohemian Parisian perennial La Traviata, which runs this Friday night and Sunday afternoon, and next Thursday and Saturday at Portland’s Keller Auditorium. Romanian soprano Aurelia Florian, tenor Jonathan Boyd and Weston Hurt star in this traditional production sung in Italian with projected English translations.

Jonathan Boyd as Alfredo and Aurelia Florian as Violetta in Portland Opera’s production of Verdi’s ‘La Traviata.’ Photo: Cory Weaver/Portland Opera.

• For opera music of more (sadly, in the wake of the latest right-wing gun- and bigotry-fueled massacre) immediate relevance, you’ll have to head up to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall for the powerful Music of Remembrance series, which remembers the Holocaust through music. Performed by Seattle Symphony members, this 20th anniversary concert, includes highlights from MOR’s varied repertoire of Holocaust-era music and new works its commissioned: excerpts from Tom Cipullo’s award-winning chamber opera After Life, imagining a confrontation between the ghosts of Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso; Jake Heggie’s opera Out of Darkness, Lori Laitman’s oratorio Vedem, Paul Schoenfield’s Camp Songs. Northwest Boychoir sings Yiddish songs that Viktor Ullmann arranged in Terezín death camp. Members of Spectrum Dance Theater reprise dances that choreographer Donald Byrd created for The Dybbuk.

Courtney Freed, cutting loose as Freddie Mercury.

• Just in time to piggyback on the new Queen movie (or is that the other way round?), Courtney Freed’s one-woman Freddie Mercury tribute concert Mercury Rising returns Friday to Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre. Aided by David Saffert on keys, Josh Gilbert on reeds, Bernardo Gomez on bass and Tom Goicochea on drums, she’ll sing Queen songs arranged by Reece Marshburn. “Freed thankfully didn’t try to embody the outsized rock star,” ArtsWatch’s Angela Allen wrote after the show’s brief April run at Coho Theater,” but “Mercury fans, who comprised most of the audience, were all over the songs—doing the Wave, cheering, singing and mouthing the words. She added some vamping and dancing (her singing is much better than either) and interspersed her songs with spicy narration…. The music leaned far more toward jazzy cabaret than ear-killing British rock. And even if you weren’t a diehard Queen fan, you couldn’t resist Mercury’s melodies.”

Orchestral Attractions

• The Oregon Symphony brings another musical/theatrical combo Saturday through Monday at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Petrushka tells the story of a puppet come to life, so it’s only appropriate that creative director Doug Fitch enhances Stravinsky’s sublime 1911 ballet score (in its 1946 revision) with puppets, dance, set design, audience participation and other visual touches designed to evoke the 1830s St. Petersburg fair that inspired the original. One of the season’s best classical programs also boasts Haydn’s stirring penultimate symphony, William Walton’s African music-influenced Johannesburg Festival Overture, and Swiss composer Arthur Honegger’s unseasonably sunny Summer Pastorale.

Doug Fitch’s puppetry enhances Oregon Symphony’s ‘Petrushka’ this weekend.

• On Saturday and Sunday at Newport Performing Arts Center, Newport Symphony plays Schubert’s Overture In the Italian Style, along with Ravel’s gravely beautiful At the Tomb of Couperin, and brings in trumpeter Katherine Evans to lead the way in Hertel’s third trumpet concerto and the late Seattle-based composer Alan Hovhaness’s haunting Prayer of Saint Gregory. The show closes with Mendelssohn’s ebullient “Italian” Symphony #4.

• Speaking of the peripatetic Mendelssohn, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra plays his “Scottish” Symphony No. 3, Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, and Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto, with soloist Dimitri Zhgenti on Saturday and Sunday at Skyview Concert Hall.

 Oregon East Symphony plays Beethoven’s pastoral sixth symphony and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with dueling Hannahs on violin (Hannah Leland) and viola (Hannah Burnett) Sunday at Pendleton’s Vert Auditorium.

• Oregon Sinfonietta plays Mahler’s fourth symphony, with Laura Beckel Thoreson as the vocal soloist Sunday afternoon at Portland’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, 10501 SE Market Street.

Choral Music

• Speaking of Schubert, Friday at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall, Eugene Vocal Arts & Eugene Concert Orchestra perform his moving penultimate Mass in A flat. The concert also features secular German romanticism by Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Schumann.

• In a free Celebration Works concert on Sunday at Portland’s First Presbyterian Church, soprano Vakarė Petroliūnaitė, baritone Kevin Walsh, and duo pianists Jennifer Hughes and Susan McDaniel perform another Romantic choral classic, Johannes Brahms’s A German Requiem.

Chamber Music

• The Northwest’s own Luanne Warner Katz has starred on marimba and other percussion with orchestras (including the Oregon Symphony) and ensembles, including Portland’s Third Angle New Music, which presents her in a solo setting on Thursday and Friday at New Expressive Works’ Studio 2. Using multiple instruments (including clay flower pots), voice (rapping) and electronics, she’ll play 20th century classics by minimalist pioneer Steve Reich and Frederic Rzewski, an improvisation of her own, contemporary works by one of today’s finest composers, Eve Beglarian (who’ll be there for the show), and more.

Third Angle presents Luanne Warner Katz Thursday and Friday.

• Pacifica Quartet’s complete cycle of Beethoven’s immortal string quartets continues through this weekend at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Read my ArtsWatch preview and Matthew Andrews’s ArtsWatch interview with violinist Austin Hartman.

• Classical piano fans have a double treat in store Sunday with a matched pair of Hsus: brothers Andrew Hsu and Daniel Hsu sharing a piano in Portland State University’s Lincoln Recital Hall in four-hand music by Mozart, Debussy, Schumann and Schubert’s great f minor Fantasy. It’s doubly presented, too, by Chamber Music Northwest (which named each brother one of its Protege players) and Portland Piano International.

• Also on Sunday afternoon at Corvallis’s LaSells Stewart Center,  Lukáš Vondráček plays more Schumann (including his famous Carnaval) plus music from the award winning pianist’s Czech homeland by Smetana, Suk, and Vítězslav Novák’s nostalgic 1894 suite Memories.

Jazz

PDX Jazz brings three strong concerts to Portland.

• On Friday at Jack London Revue, Harriet Tubman: The Band (drummer J.T. Lewis, guitarist Brandon Ross, and bassist Melvin Gibbs) channels the fiery, rebellious energy of 1960s jazz and pop musicians like Ornette Coleman, Jimi Hendrix, Derrick May, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Parliament-Funkadelic.

Vernon Reid celebrates Jimi Hendrix Saturday.

• Speaking of voodoo children like Hendrix and Coleman, former Coleman sideman Vernon Reid’s Band of Gypsys Revisited performs Saturday at Jack London Revue,  Best known as co-founder of Living Colour and the Black Rock Coalition, Reid here celebrates Hendrix’s 76th birthday with a quartet drawn mostly from the soul-jazz-hip-hop collective Burnt Sugar Arkestra.

• Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet’s Sunday show at Mission Theater temporarily eschews the pulsating electronic beats that have won the award-winning drummer-composer attention in favor of a traditional acoustic jazz quartet with sax, piano, bass and drums.

Streaming Links

• PSU Noon Concert Series: Borgh Trio. Thursday, November 1 at 12:00pm. The Borgh Trio, soprano Carolyn Coefield (oprano), clarinetist Laurel Linde and pianist Jennifer Bratz perform “From Schubert to Salazar.”

• Live from Beall Concert Hall: Madeline Krafve (saxophone) recital. 3 pm (PST) November 3.

• Live from Beall Concert Hall: Grammy award winning soprano Estelí Gomez performs nine original compositions written for her Eugene appearance at 4-6pm (PST) Sunday, November 4. 

Live from Beall Concert Hall: Li Tao doctoral composition recital, Monday, November 5 at 7:30pm. Concert features eight pieces composed during her time at the University of Oregon since 2015. Special surprise Grammy Award winning guest artist will perform.

If you got more Oregon music recommendations for the next week, we have plenty of room in the comments section for them.

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