The Arty Semite

'Tis the Season to Be Classical: Unmissable December Concerts

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

While Hanukkah preparations and aftermath can overshadow every other human activity in December, ‘tis also the season for classical concerts, especially although by no means exclusively, in the New York area. These can include much Yiddishkayt, despite the seeming omnipresence of Handel’s “Messiah.”

Mahler-lovers will not want to miss the much-loved British conductor Sir Colin Davis leading the New York Philharmonic in performances on December 2, 4, and 7 of Mahler’s orchestral songs, “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” (The Youth’s Magic Horn). Although born in 1927, Sir Colin still conducts with a balletic grace which vivifies everything he interprets.

Equally dance-like, if a trifle more schmaltzy, is Felix Mendelssohn’s Second String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, which the 18-year-old composer subtitled “Ist Es Wahr?” (Is It True?) after one of his own songs, set to a poem with the yearning question: “Is it true that you always await me in the leafy arcade?” You betcha! The promising young Old City String Quartet will play Mendelssohn’s work on December 5, presented by the Schneider Concerts at The New School.

On the same day, keyboard fans can hear the astute Israeli-born pianist Shai Wosner in a chamber recital with the Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater as part of a Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts series. No caffeine is required before hearing the dazzlingly passionate Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital on December 10 & 12 at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Performing Scarlatti and Vivaldi, Avital transcends his instrument’s sonic limits and validates such recent trends as the attempted revival of a 1920s Polish Jewish mandolin ensemble, The Ger Mandolin Orchestra.

An equally ardent performer in a different repertoire is the majestically refined Israeli pianist Ran Dank, who on December 15 gives a lunchtime recital at The Morgan Library as part of the Young Concert Artists Series, featuring music by Bartók, Schumann and the Hungarian Jewish modernist György Ligeti.

Concertgoers already looking forward to 2011 will want to hear veteran Polish-born pianist Emanuel Ax and friends on January 21 and 23 in music by Schubert and others, presented by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The acclaimed Hungarian Jewish conductor Iván Fischer brings his Budapest Festival Orchestra to Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series on January 25 and 26 in concerts featuring Haydn and Stravinsky. On January 29, the empyreal Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman plays Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall. Makes getting through all the holiday chazerai definitely worthwhile!

Listen to Avi Avital eloquently play ‘Nigun’ from Ernest Bloch’s ‘Baal Shem’ in 2008, accompanied by pianist Amit Dolberg of Israel’s Ensemble Meitar:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ran Dank, Old City String Quartet, New York Philharmonic, New School, Music, Messiah, Martin Fröst, Iván Fischer, Ist Es Whar, Hanukkah, Handel, György Ligeti, Gustav Mahler, Ger Mandolin Orchestra, Felix Mendelssohn, Emanuel Ax, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Classical Music, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Avi Avital, Schneider Concerts, Shai Wosner, Sir Colin Davis, The Morgan Library and Museum, The Youth's Magic Horn, Vadim Gluzman, Walter Reade Theater

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.