Classical music events both before and after Purim (on March 8) focus on dialogues redolent of Yiddishkeit, as New Yorkers and others will discover. On February 10 at Weill Recital Hall pianist Lia Jensen-Abbott will perform Fanny Mendelssohn’s “The Year,” a work inspired by the composer’s relationship with her brother Felix. The Hungarian Jewish composer György Ligeti described his 1951 “Sonata for solo cello” as: “[a] dialogue. Because it’s like two people, a man and a woman, conversing.” Ligeti’s sonata converses on February 10 at Bargemusic with cellist Nicholas Canellakis.
Then it’s back to Bargemusic on February 18 for another meeting of the minds, with some of the late keyboard dazzler Earl Wild’s “Seven Virtuoso Études on Popular Songs,” after George Gershwin. Played by Olga Vinokur, the “Études” will be complemented by Gershwin’s own “Rhapsody In Blue.”
Dialoguing across the centuries may be witnessed on February 22 at Alice Tully Hall when the UK’s premier Jewish composer/conductor Thomas Adès directs the Britten Sinfonia in his own “Three Studies After [17th century composer] Couperin” as well as his arrangement of the same Frenchman’s keyboard work “Les barricades mistérieuses,” and Adès’s “Violin Concerto (Concentric Paths)” with soloist Pekka Kuusisto.
From Sukkot to Hanukkah, this year-end’s Manhattan classical concerts featuring Yiddishkeit contain a remarkable range of music, old and new. “Glamour Girl,” a work by Lukas Ligeti, son of the Hungarian Jewish composer György Ligeti, will be heard on November 5 at Zankel Hall played by The Bang on a Can All-Stars. Ligeti lives in Bushwick but plays in an electronica band based in Burkina Faso. Bang on a Can is anchored by clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, whose website notes his boyhood inspiration derived from listening to his “grandmother’s Yiddish socialist chorus.”
Soothing romanticism after this multifaceted modernity may be experienced on November 6 when Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 is presented by “Musicians From Marlboro,” including violist Michael Tree (born Applebaum) at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium. More modernism is represented by Tel-Aviv-born composer Shulamit Ran’s elegant 1991 “Inscriptions” for solo violin on November 17 at Bargemusic in the trustworthy hands of violinist Miranda Cuckson.
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.