Weekend MusicWatch: Arrivals and Departures

Helmuth Rilling takes his final bows as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival this weekend.

Helmuth Rilling takes his final bows as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival this weekend.

ArtsWatch recently noted how some of the state’s classical music institutions are beginning to look more to the future instead of almost entirely the past, and Chamber Music Northwest is a case in point, having staged the world premiere of Portland composer Darrell Grant’s “The Territory”  last week. The next in a line of 100+ CMNW commissions and premieres stretching over its four-plus-decade history happens Saturday and Sunday, when CMNW artistic director David Shifrin joins fellow clarinetist Chad Burrow and the Miro Quartet in the West Coast premiere of “Quasi una Fantasia” by one of today’s most popular classical composers, Dallas-born Christopher Theofanidis, who teaches at Yale. The concert includes a rarely heard septet by Johann Hummel (most famous for his trumpet concerto and piano concerto) and a similarly genial Divertimento by Hummel’s mentor, Amadeus Mozart, performed by a coterie of CMNW stalwarts including rising star pianist Alessio Bax, oboist Martin Hebert, flutist Tara Helen O’ Connor and other worthies.

Hummel was also a student of Haydn’s and friend of Beethoven, three of whose great Razumovsky quartets will be played by the Miro Quartet in Thursday and Friday’s recommended CMNW concerts. Monday and Tuesday’s CMNW concerts with starring ever-dynamic violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg are sold out, so we won’t even tease you by running one of her photos.

A Time to Celebrate: Oregon Bach Festival 2013 from Oregon Bach Festival on Vimeo.

That other major summer classical music festival also presents some chamber music when the next generation of Rilling musicians takes the stage at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall Saturday as half of the Hohenstafen Quartet, playing familiar fare by Dvorak and Schubert. The Oregon Bach Festival sends also sends a chamber ensemble of Portland Baroque Orchestra members (in various combinations of three to seven players) on the road to play a splendid concert of some of J.S. Bach’s greatest music in Florence tonight and Eugene on Friday. It’s worth seeing just for Halls’ spectacular performance of the solo in Bach’s fifth Brandenburg concerto, which I enjoyed along with the rest of the program in Tuesday’s Portland concert that had the ecstatic audience offering deserved standing ovations after each half.

Festival favorite Jeffrey Kahane gives a piano recital Thursday at Beall Hall featuring music of Bach, Schumann, Chopin, Kahane’s son Gabriel, and more. And the big concert sends retiring founder Helmuth Rilling and a cast of thousands (well, almost) up I5 Friday night to perform that apotheosis of Baroque music, Bach’s B Minor Mass, at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, before closing the festival – and Rilling’s four-decade long run as artistic director –with that masterpiece at Eugene’s Hult Center on Sunday.

As ArtsWatch noted earlier, just as one Oregon classical music institution, Rilling, is retiring, the state gains a new one. The kickoff concert for Oregon BRAVO Youth Orchestras happens Tuesday at Portland’s Old Church and features some generous Oregon Symphony musicians and many others performing tunes by Carlos Gardel, Paul Desenne, William Bolcom, Astor Piazzolla, Aaron Copland and others, for string quartet, gospel choir, and orchestra, conducted by Portland Youth Philharmonic music director David Hattner. The fundraiser is a good chance to learn more about a good cause that aims to use music to teach impoverished kids skills that will help them in their educational and later professional and vocational pursuits.

There probably won’t be too much classical music per se at the Portland Cello Project‘s annual summer dance parties this weekend at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, since it mostly features a squadron of cellos covering danceable pop tunes, but who cares? It’ll be a blast! Some of Portland pop music’s finest singers, drummer Janet Weiss, and others will guest star. And: cellos!


Speaking of celli, one of Oregon’s most prolific cellisti performs some of his newest moody, atmospheric original solo cello music tonight at Portland’s Old Church. Using electronics and organ pedals along with his main axe, Adam Hurst can conjure up a nearly orchestral ocean of sound.

Besides, with the classical music season entering its summer doldrums, it’s an excellent chance to check out some of Oregon’s other music. Portland composer Art Resnick is a member of Cascadia Composers and writes contemporary “classical” music, but he’s better known as a jazz pianist and composer who got his start in a psychedelic rock band in Summer of Love-era San Francisco, played in the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s band. He has a new album coming out this week, and a CD release party and concert Tuesday at Portland’s Ivories Jazz Lounge.

Also at Ivories, on July 12, the sweet-toned Bay Area flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny plays his jazz noir (film soundtrack classics and other standards), and does the same the following evening at Eugene’s Jazz Station. And on Monday at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s jazz club, the terrific Connecticut based saxophonist Jimmy Greene joins some Northwest jazz all stars in a benefit for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, which included Greene’s six year old daughter.

Both Portland harmonica master Joe Powers and koto virtuosa Mitsuki Dazai have performed in classical music contexts before, including at the Oregon Bach Festival. On Tuesday, they perform together in the lovely Tuesdays by Twilight Series at Portland’s Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden.

If you’ve been craving your opera fix since the end of Portland Opera’s season, Portland Summer Opera Workshop is presenting a production of Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel this weekend at Portland’s St. Michael and All Angels church. True operaholics can see the filmed version of Puccini’s “La Boheme” from from the Salzburg Festival beginning next week at Portland’s Living Room Theaters. You only have to hold out another week or so till   the most exciting operatic event of the summer, coming from Opera Theater Oregon. We’ll tell you all about it, and the rest of Oregon’s classical music happenings, next week.

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