Critic’s Choice for 2016-17 season

By Lawrence Budmen and David Fleshler

Franz Welser-Most leads the Cleveland Orchestra in music of Bach and Bruckner January 10, 2017.  Photo: Kevin Yatarola

Franz Welser-Möst leads the Cleveland Orchestra in music of Bach and Bruckner January 27-28, 2017. Photo: Kevin Yatarola

[Editor’s Note: Rather than the exhaustive (and exhausting) Season Preview of past years, this fall South Florida Classical Review is taking a less epic and more user-friendly approach. This year we are presenting a seasonal Critic’s Choice, with SFCR critics Lawrence Budmen and David Fleshler choosing ten of the most essential classical events not to be missed in the 2016-17 season. LAJ]


Emanuel Ax with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony
October 15 and 16, New World Center, Miami Beach

Emanuel Ax is one of the most reliable pianists on the concert scene and his repertoire choices are often adventurous. The New World Symphony’s season opener features Ax in a rare local performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s 1942 Piano Concerto as well as Ax’s trademark Mozart, with the Piano Concerto No. 14). Michael Tilson Thomas also leads Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn and Richard Strauss’s Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. (LB)

James Ehnes with Peter Oundjian and the New World Symphony
December 10-11, New World Center, Miami Beach

Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 occupies a unique place in the repertoire, a mysterious, intimate, and searing work that puts immense demands on the soloist. The superb violinist James Ehnes will perform the brilliant concerto with the New World Symphony in an all-Russian program conducted by Peter Oundjian. Also on the program is Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila and Rachmaninoff ‘s Symphony No. 2. (DF)

Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänska.
January 10, Arsht Center, Miami

One of America’s finest regional ensembles and its acclaimed music director Osmo Vänskä bring their house specialties, Sibelius (Symphony No. 5) and Beethoven (Symphony No. 1), as well as Geija by contemporary Finnish composer Kalevi Aho. (LB)

Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst with Seraphic Fire
January 27 & 28, Arsht Center, Miami

Franz Welser-Möst is one of the world’s most distinguished interpreters of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner but it has taken a decade of Miami residencies for Cleveland Orchestra’s music director to bring one of Bruckner’s large-scale works to South Florida. Welser-Möst leads the ensemble in the Symphony No. 7, prefaced by music from Bach cantatas. Seraphic Fire, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this season, joins the Clevelanders along with rising mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson (LB)

Lyubov Petrova sings the role of Tatiana in Florida Grand Opera's production of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin"

Lyubov Petrova sings the role of Tatiana in Florida Grand Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” January 28-Feb. 11.

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Florida Grand Opera.
January 28-Feb. 11, Arsht Center, Miami and Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale

Florida Grand Opera last staged Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin 16 years ago, when the company worked out of the old Miami-Dade County Auditorium. Now the opera’s sumptuous music and simmering romantic drama will be brought to life again at the Arsht Center and the Broward Center. Conducting will be Alexander Polianichko, former house conductor of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre. Alternating in the role of Tatiana will be sopranos Dina Kuznetsova and Lyubov Petrova. Singing the role of Onegin will be the baritones Franco Pomponi and John Brancy. (DF)

Nikolai Lugansky with Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic
February 20, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach

The technical mastery and rigorous musical intelligence of the pianist Nikolai Lugansky is familiar to South Florida audiences from his concert and recital performances. He will be joined by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, which traces its origins to the early 19th century and is considered one of the world’s great orchestras, for a performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, a brooding, tempestuous work for which the pianist would seem ideally suited. Also on the program, which will be conducted by music director Yuri Temirkanov, is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, a complex, sprawling work that the orchestra premiered in 1953. (DF)

The Borodin Quartet and pianist Joseph Kalichstein presented by Friends of Chamber Music of Miami
February 21 at the University of Miami’s Gusman Hall and February 23 at Coral Gables Congregational Church

Not every highly anticipated concert needs to offer something groundbreaking. There’s much to look forward to in hearing first-rate musicians perform great works of the repertoire, and that’s what we can expect when the renowned Borodin Quartet teams up with the pianist Joseph Kalichstein, of the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio. They will perform two concerts, each spotlighting a big chamber work of the Romantic era, Schuman’s Piano Quintet  on Feb. 21 and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet on Feb. 23. (DF)

UM Frost Opera Theater. Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress
March 2 and 4, UM Gusman Concert Hall, Coral Gables.

The University of Miami’s Frost Opera Theater under the innovative direction of Alan Johnson has presented a series of productions of 20th- and 21st-century opera composers that have been inventively staged and musically outstanding. This season Johnson turns to Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, a satirical, neo-classical take on the famous Hogarth drawings and one of the most important opera scores of the last century. (LB)

Bachakademie  Gächinger Kantorie/ Bach Collegium  Stuttgart
Bach’s Mass In B minor
April 12, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale

The orchestra and choir of the Internationale Bach Academy Stuttgart have recorded the complete cantatas and all the major choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The group’s expertise in this repertoire is unique. They touch down in Fort Lauderdale to perform one of Bach’s most sublime creations, the Mass in B minor. This performance promises an idiomatic rendering of one of the towering masterpieces of the choral literature. (LB)

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