As summertime slowly approaches, concerts of music both minimal and maximal will enchant Manhattanites in search of aural Yiddishkeit. On April 29 at the Walter Reade Theater, flutist Claire Chase will perform Steve Reich’s “Vermont Counterpoint” in its version for flute and tape; the alternate version, for eleven flutes, would doubtless exceed even the gifted Chase’s capacities. She will be joined for other, less minimalist, works on the program by the pianist Jacob Greenberg. On May 1 at Carnegie Hall, Reich’s mini-fluting is exchanged for emotional maxing-out in the form of Gustav Mahler’s songs interpreted by baritone Matthias Goerne with the superstar pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
The next day at Zankel Hall, Hungarian Jewish pianist András Schiff offers not-to-be-missed performances of his landsman György Kurtág’s aphoristic works, including two American premieres. On May 4 at Bargemusic, cellist Dave Eggar and pianist Olga Vinokur will play more intriguing sounds in reduced formats, including Philadelphia-born Aaron Jay Kernis’s “Air for cello and piano” (1996) and Marc Mellits’s “Fruity Pebbles” for violin, cello, and piano (1997). The latter work contains a playful tribute to Leonard Bernstein, somewhat curiously quoting TV’s “Brady Bunch” theme, itself a classic at Maryland’s Beth Tfiloh Day Camps where Mellits’ mother long worked as assistant director.
A notoriously anti-Semitic poet claimed that April is the cruelest month; all the more reason for Manhattanites to sweeten it with delightful classical concerts redolent with Yiddishkeit. On March 29, the Israeli-American violinist Yuval Waldman will perform “Music Forgotten and Remembered” at Merkin Concert Hall, including such rarities as Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 1952 “Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes,” and works by two Czech Jewish composers: Gideon Klein, who was murdered at Auschwitz, and “Colloque Sentimentale” (A Chat about Feelings) by Jaromir Weinberger.
On April 4 at Weill Recital Hall, “A Fine Romance: Songs by Jerome Kern is presented by The New York Festival of Song, featuring Joseph Kaiser and Kelli O’Hara in Kern’s suave melodies. For more fiery temperament, on April 5 at Merkin Hall violinist Elena Urioste will perform “Carmen: fantasie brillante” by the Hungarian Jewish composer Jenö Hubay with pianist Michael Brown. And, on the same day, a series of concert performances (continuing through April 9) of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company begin at Avery Fisher Hall starring Neil Patrick Harris.
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.