Critic’s Choice for 2019-20

By Lawrence Budmen and David Fleshler

Daniil Trifonov will make his South Florida debut in the season-opening concert of the New World Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas October 12-13. Photo: Dario Acosta

Danill Trifonov with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. October 12 and 13.

Acclaimed pianist Danill Trifonov, top prize winner at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011, finally makes his South Florida debut at the New World Symphony’s season opener. Rather than overplayed concerto showpieces by Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff, Trifonov offers an intriguing rarity – the Piano Concerto by Alexander Scriabin. In his first local appearance after recent heart surgery, Michael Tilson Thomas conducts a surefire crowd pleaser with selections from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. (LB)

Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt. Friends of Chamber Music. October 24.

Christian Tetzlaff is a violin virtuoso of the highest order as well as a thoughtful, probing musician. Pianist Lars Vogt combines superb technique with deeply felt artistic instincts. Either artist in recital would be a musical treat but both together make the opening concert of the Friends of Chamber Music’s season a truly unique event. Tetzlaff and Vogt’s stimulating program mixes familiar fare by Beethoven (Violin Sonata No. 1) and Franck (Violin Sonata in A Major) with Shostakovich’s less frequently heard Violin Sonata in G Major and Tre Pezzi by Hungarian modernist György Kurtág. (LB)

Jeffrey Milarsky and the New World Symphony. December 7.

Steve Reich’s works have been performed frequently on the New World Symphony’s Sounds of the Times contemporary music series. At this year’s Art Basel week edition, the Synergy Vocals join conductor Jeffrey Milarsky for Reich’s Tehillim (Psalms), a score that melds minimalism with Judaic traditions. The program also features Prayer Bells by Augusta Read Thomas and John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony (based on music from Adams’ opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer). (LB)

Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst. Arsht Center. January 17-18, 24-25, 2020.

Although the Cleveland Orchestra has cut the number of its Miami concerts, both programs this season look like highlight contenders. The orchestra will perform an all-Prokofiev concert, with a suite from Romeo and Juliet that should allow ample scope for the ensemble’s virtuosity. Also on the program is Prokofiev’s rarely heard Symphony No. 2, a work dominated by the composer’s manic, metallic side but containing a haunting slow movement. The orchestra has memorably performed several symphonies of Mahler in Miami, and this season they will devote a concert to one of his greatest, the Symphony No. 5. (DF)

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Arsht Center. February 11. 

Last season the Chicago Symphony under music director Riccardo Muti lit up the stage of the Arsht Center with superlative performances that breathed fresh life into frequently played showpieces by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. The Chicago ensemble may be America’s best orchestra and Muti is a senior statesman and giant among present-day podium artists. When the CSO returns in February, the program includes Dvorak’s popular Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) but the rest of the repertoire is more varied and interesting than last year: Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overture and Paul Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, once an orchestral staple. (LB)

Patrick Dupré Quigley will lead Seraphic Fire in “The Enlightenment Festival” February 12-23, 2020.

The Enlightenment Festival. Seraphic Fire. February 12-23.

If classical concerts are museums, as many critics claim, they’re museums where only about two percent of the collection ever gets displayed. Under Patrick Dupré Quigley, Seraphic Fire—while no slouch at contemporary music—continues to mine music history for the vast number of works by great composers that rarely get heard in South Florida. For a series called The Enlightenment Festival, the ensemble will present Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos, Bach’s “Coffee” and “Wedding” cantatas, the Bach cello suites with soloist Guy Fishman and Handel’s English-language chamber opera Acis and Galatea. Performances will be at venues in Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Naples. (DF)

Octet concerts by the Dover and Escher string quartets. February 26 and March 11.

Two of the nation’s leading quartets will tour together to play octets, works rarely heard in concert because of the musical forces required. The program will include Mendelssohn’s Octet, the most famous one of all, written at age 16. Also performed will be two other youthful compositions, Enescu’s Octet, a 1900 work, a blend of the era’s romanticism and modernism, and Shostakovich’s Prelude and Scherzo, a student piece in which the composer’s voice is just beginning to emerge. The Feb. 26 performance, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach, will be at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. The March 11 performance, presented by Friends of Chamber Music of Miami, will be at the FIU Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center. (DF)

Verdi’s Rigoletto. Florida Grand Opera. March 28-April 5 (Miami) and April 30-May 2 (Fort Lauderdale)

Verdi baritones have not proliferated in abundance in recent decades. Often these roles are taken by artists with voices that are a size too light. Todd Thomas is an old school Verdi singer with a large, mellifluous sound that can turn edgy in moments of high emotion and drama. Thomas was part of the outstanding cast in Florida Grand Opera’s 2017 production of Un Ballo in Maschera. He returns in the title role of Verdi’s tragic court jester. Polish tenor Piotr Buszewski debuts as the Duke of Mantua. Soprano Jessica E. Jones, a standout Musetta in last season’s La Bohème, plays Gilda, and Pacien Mazzagatti conducts. (LB)

Cameron Carpenter, organist. Kravis Center. April 6

The young organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter has become his instrument’s biggest star. A showman with a flamboyant personal style and two Juilliard degrees, he brings to the instrument a thunderous technique and an inclination to blow the dust off the classics. His highly personal, contemporary performances have thrilled some and irritated others. But for what may be the world’s most tradition-bound instrument, it’s unlikely to be a dull concert. (DF)

Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Brett Karlin and Master Chorale of South Florida, May 1 and 3

Performances by the Master Chorale of South Florida have become highlights of the concert season, under its fine artistic director Brett Karlin. The ensemble typically programs a mix of light classics, pops and standard repertory. Yet each season the chorale has performed at least one great classic of the Baroque, Classical or Romantic period. This season they will perform Mendelssohn’s Elijah, an oratorio whose grand and dramatic choruses will play to the ensemble’s strengths. The May 1 performance will be at the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center at Nova Southeastern University, and the May 3 date is at the Wold Center for the Performing Arts at Lynn University. (DF)

Posted in Articles

Leave a Comment

Thu Sep 5, 2019
at 1:20 pm
No Comments