Pianists have always held the key to Shriver Hall

Keyboard artists featured as series marks its 40th year

Classical Music

April 10, 2005|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

To celebrate its 40th anniversary of presenting stellar solo artists and ensembles, the Shriver Hall Concert Series will do a logical thing - present even more of them than usual.

In addition to the regular eight subscription concerts, an extraordinary piano festival is on the 2005-2006 schedule, along with the inauguration of a second series at a new venue.

"Forty years is a long time for an organization to stay in business, so we wanted to celebrate past achievement, and also look to the future," says Sel Kardan, executive director of the concert series. "From the very beginning, this series has been particularly strong in presenting pianists. We'll acknowledge that past with a piano celebration."

This three-day event in April 2006 promises a recital by keyboard titan Leon Fleisher, whose program will include the B-flat major Schubert Sonata (a highlight from his recent, exquisite CD of two-hand repertoire).

The festival also will offer the long-overdue Baltimore debut of Krystian Zimerman, the unusually incisive, Polish-born keyboard artist who won the Chopin Competition in 1975; and the first local recital by dynamic Turkish-born Fazil Say, who will play an arrangement of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in a duet with himself, using the technology of a Yamaha Disklavier.

The fest will offer jazz, too - a recital by pianist/composer McCoy Tyner, last surviving member of the pioneering John Coltrane Quartet. "We hope to do a little more jazz programming in future seasons," Kardan says. "We don't want this to be a one-shot deal."

Rounding out the keyboard celebration will be a lecture/recital by Malcolm Bilson exploring the art of improvisation in the 18th century (he'll bring one of his period instruments to demonstrate on); and lectures by the likes of David Dubal (author of Evenings with Horowitz and other books) and Michael Kimmelman (an award-winning pianist and chief art critic of the New York Times).

As for the main subscription series for '05-'06, it opens in October with the combined, exceptional talents of the Takacs String Quartet and pianist Garrick Ohlsson; the program will offer a Mozart quartet, a Chopin piano sonata and the Brahms piano quintet.

Other chamber music slated next season will be provided by such notable ensembles as the St. Lawrence String Quartet (performing Beethoven and Shostakovich), the Vienna Piano Trio (Mozart, Schubert and Schoenberg), and a group formed by violinist/violist Pinchas Zukerman (string quintets by Mozart and Brahms).

Two young French siblings who have been making big waves, violinist Renaud Capucon and cellist Gautier Capucon, will perform duos by Handel, Ravel and Kodaly. Shriver's annual early music concert features a leading expert on baroque style and instruments (particularly the bass viol), Jordi Savall, and his group Hesperion XXI in a program of Spanish music from the 15th and 16th centuries.

The annual vocal recital will be by Jonathan Lemalu, a New Zealand-born Samoan whose rich bass-baritone has put him on the career fast track (his Metropolitan Opera debut last month drew raves).

And, of course, there will be more piano on the series. Prize-winning Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt will give a recital that includes works by Bach, Rameau and Brahms.

As for the new series/new venue, this will involve four free concerts at the Baltimore Museum of Art, starting in '06-'07, "that will allow us to do some more adventuresome stuff," Karda says.

To introduce the series, there will be one concert next season, featuring the hot-shot contemporary music group that goes by a distinctive name (and, a la k.d. lang, eschews capital letters for it): eighth blackbird.

Various lectures and other events, including a community day with area music students, will be part of the 40th anniversary season for the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

And note that there's an unusually potent offer for early-bird subscribers (deadline April 30): a free ticket to a newly-added concert in the current season by celebrated violinist Gidon Kremer and soloists from his Kremerata Baltica group.

This "Shostakovich and After" program will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 2 at Shriver Hall (the day before Kremer takes it to Carnegie Hall).

For more information about the 2005-06 Shriver Hall Concert Series and the May 2 Gidon Kremer performance, call 410-516-7164.

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