By M.L. RANTALA
Classical Music Critic
Even if the weather is cold, there’s a lot of great music in Hyde Park and Chicago to keep you warm this winter. This preview only touches on some of the concerts and performances to be found in our neighborhood and downtown over the next few months.
The University of Chicago Presents concerts resume this month and offer great variety.
Israeli pianist Yaara Tal and German pianist Andreas Groethuysen come to Mandel Hall (131 E 57th St.) on Jan. 10. They will perform works by Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Debussy, and Strauss in a two-piano, four-hands concert. The duo have been performing together since 1985.
Violinist Rachel Podger gives a concert at the Logan Center (915 E. 60th St.) on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The 2018 “Gramophone” Artist of the Year will perform Biber’s Passacaglia in G Minor for solo violin, “Guardian Angel,” and a Bach violin partita. She will also perform, on violin, two of Bach’s cello suites.
On Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m., the Danish String Quartet comes to Mandel Hall. To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, they will perform three Beethoven quartets, one each from his early, middle, and late periods (Op. 18, No. 2; Op. 59, No. 3; Op. 135). This quartet has been pleasing audiences for over 20 years.
The JACK Quartet’s mission is to commission and perform new music and to give voice to under-heard composers. On Feb. 7 at 7:30 in the Logan Center, they will perform the String Quartet No. 9 by Georg Friedrich Haas. University of Chicago Presents describes this unusual concert: “The music of the Austrian composer Haas has become a sort of specialty for the group, who have performed his third string quartet dozens of times and for whom his ninth was written, both to be played in total darkness. Known for building large-scale structures in his music and using the complete spectrum of over-tones, Haas takes full advantage of JACK’s skill with just intonation (the tuning system built on the overtone series) and uses radiant drones and microtonal melodies to create new sound world’s through the enhanced experience of the auditory landscape.”
Concerto Köln brings Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons concertos to Mandel Hall on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The 30-year-old ensemble, which has made over 200 recordings, is known for their unique interpretations. The concert also features music by Locatelli and Valentini. Visit chicagopresents.uchicago.edu for more information on University of Chicago Presents concerts.
The Grossman Ensemble, Chicago’s newest group of contemporary music specialists, gives a concert led by Jerry Hou on Mar. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Logan Center. The all-premiere concert features music by Paula Matthusen, Stephen A. Taylor, David Clay Mettens, and Ashkan Behzadi. An after-party takes place after the concert in the Gidwitz Lobby. There are open rehearsals on Jan. 8, Jan. 29, Feb. 18, and Mar. 12. For more information, visit arts.uchicago.edu/content/grossman-ensemble.
The next concert of the Chicago Ensemble takes place at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. The program includes Leonard Bernstein’s 1942 Sonata for clarinet and piano and Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” for soprano and piano. Also on the program is music by Alexander Timofeev, Robert Cohen, Michael Schelle, and Jack Gottlieb. Visit thechicagoensemble.org.
The Music Teachers of Hyde Park present “A Musical Potpourri” on Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackstone Library (4904 S. Lake Park Ave.). The concert will feature several of the MTHP teachers in performance in the library’s large basement room. Visit mthp.org.
The Newberry Consort returns to Hyde Park on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. at International House. The event is entitled “The Marchesa: Isabella d’Este” and features the “frottole,” an Italian song form. Soprano Ellen Hargis sings these sensual songs with the accompaniment of a variety of Renaissance instruments, including guitar, lute, shawms, recorders, and strings. This is the Consort’s “Year of the Woman,” and later in the spring they will give a concert entitled, “The Mistress: Madame de Pompadour.” Visit newberryconsort.org.
With the new year comes new performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago (20 N. Wacker Dr.). On Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. Sir Bryn Terfel gives a recital at the Opera House. The Welsh bass-baritone has been an international favorite as well as a Lyric favorite for many years, owing to his tremendous interpretive insight and glittering personality, matched with a vocal quality of tremendous beauty.
Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” opens at Lyric on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. and Tchaikovsky’s brooding romantic thriller, “The Queen of Spades,” opens on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. Visit lyricopera.org.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, currently on tour in Europe, returns to Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.) at the end of the month. There are numerous concerts of note, including those on Jan. 30 and 31, Feb. 1 and 4 when the CSO performs music of Tippett and Beethoven conducted by Sir Andrew Davis (music director at Lyric Opera and an expert in the music of Michael Tippett).
Riccardo Muti conducts the CSO in a concert featuring Beethoven symphonies No. 2 and No. 5 as well as “Ophelia’s Tears” by Bacri on Feb. 20, 21, 22, and 23. Hannu Lintu conducts music by Sibelius and Nielsen on Feb. 27, 28, and 29.
Symphony Center is also home to chamber music. On Mar. 2 at 7:30 p.m. pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform an all Beethoven concerti. For more information on all Symphony Center concerts, visit cso.org.