Weekend MusicWatch: Baroque and Before


The Rastrelli Cello Quartet performs Sunday at Portland State University.

It’s a sign of the Oregon early music scene’s strength that even though Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival aren’t sponsoring them, we have several opportunities to hear ancient sounds this weekend. On Friday at Central Lutheran Church, Eugeneans can hear Vox Resonat, the vocal ensemble led by University of Oregon music prof Eric Mentzel, sing Renaissance and medieval songs about winter. That same night, Portlanders can experience the early music specialists from the Wildwood Consort accompanying the first-rate singers of The Ensemble (a quintet composed of veterans of Cappella Romana, Resonance Ensemble and other top Portland choirs) in Claudio Monteverdi’s great sacred music collection, “”Moral and Spiritual Forest.” And on Sunday, Eugene’s Cascade Consort (including PBO vets) performs English Baroque music by John Dowland and Shakespeare’s contemporaries at Eugene’s First Methodist Church.

Symphonic Sounds

This weekend at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the Oregon Symphony plays Mozart’s zesty “Posthorn” serenade — occasional music whose richness transcends its prosaic origins — and Richard Strauss’s colorful tone poem “Death and Transfiguration” and elegiac “Four Last Songs,” with Oregon-born soprano Amber Wagner returning in triumph from her Met debut.” Yet another Oregon native comes home on Saturday and Sunday’s Newport Symphony concerts at Newport Performing Arts Center featuring Europe-based tenor Dominique Moralez in a program of Italian opera overtures and arias.

On Sunday at Portland’s Pearl District Wieden+Kennedy headquarters atrium, Portland Youth Philharmonic’s chamber orchestra, Camerata PYP, plays Wagner’s dreamy “Siegfried Idyll,” his collection of themes from the Ring Cycle that pretty much raised the bar for spousal birthday presents beyond the reach of subsequent husbands, plus another installment of the music of Swiss composer and long time Oregon Coast resident Ernest Bloch, “Four Episodes,” and a portrait of an evidently mercurial lady by the mid-20th century American composer/classical music maven (that’s his shadow in the film “Fantasia,” and his byline on many LP liner notes) Deems Taylor.

Chamber Choices

On Sunday, two visiting Eastern European ensembles grace the stages at the University of Oregon (Poland’s Szymanowski Quartet, which plays music of its namesake 20th century composer, plus Dvorak and Mendelssohn, in a Chamber Music@Beall show), and Portland State University (Russia’s Rastrelli Cello Quartet, in a Friends of Chamber Music concert featuring music by classical and jazz composers, including Brubeck, Jobim, Tchaikovsky, Piazzolla, and more). On Monday, current and former UO faculty musicians in Chamber Music Amici play trios by Haydn and Dvorak at Springfield’s Wildish Theater. And on Saturday, the ensemble Solid Brass celebrates the successful campaign to repaint and otherwise refurbish one of the state’s most valuable little music venues, downtown Portland’s historic Old Church, site of many chamber music concerts, brown bags, and other events.

Vox Resonat sings in Eugene.

Vox Resonat sings in Eugene.

For still more intimate sounds, try the solo recital covering classical, South American, and jazz sounds by New York flutist fantastique Keith Underwood on Sunday at Portland State University, or PSU faculty member Susan Chan’s traversal of music by contemporary Chinese composers Tan Dun, Zhou Long and others, plus a J.S. Bach work, at downtown Portland’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Saturday afternoon.

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