Graf closes Texas Music Festival with a compelling Shostakovich portrait

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Season Preview

Critic’s Choice for 2018-19 season

Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 7:00 am
By Wayne Lee Gay and Steven Brown

Ana María Martínez stars In Daniel Catán’s “Florencia en el Amazonas” at Houston Grand Opera January 18-February 3, 2019. Photo: Chris Kakol/Florida Grand Opera

All-Rachmaninoff evening with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Cliburn Foundation. October 2.

Fort Worth music aficionados love piano music and Rachmaninoff. In October, the Cliburn Foundation teams up with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra to give a generous dose of both in an evening devoted to three of Rachmaninoff’s works for piano and orchestra. 2013 Cliburn Competition finalist Fei-Fei, 2009 Cliburn Competition silver medalist Yeol Eum Son, and 2009 gold medalist Haochen Zhang will perform, respectively, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the Piano Concerto No. 2, and the Piano Concerto No. 3, with Eugene Tzigane conducting. (WG)

Music of Strauss, Schoenberg and Tchaikovsky. Jerusalem Quartet with Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth: October 9.

Barely six months after treating Chamber Music Houston’s audience to riveting performances of music by Beethoven, Claude Debussy and Leoš Janáček, the Jerusalem Quartet will return with reinforcements. Veteran violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth will join the ensemble for Strauss’s Sextet from Capriccio, Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence. (SB)

Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Dallas Opera. October 12-20.

Dallas Opera music director Emmanuel Villaume, acclaimed for his performances of the French and Italian repertoire, has yet to conduct Wagner in America—a situation he’ll remedy with a production of Die fliegende Hollander in October. American bass-baritone and renowned Wagnerian Greer Grimsley will take on the title role of the cursed sea captain, with soprano Anja Kampe as his beloved Senta in the company’s first production since 1994 of this romantic masterpiece. (WG)

Handel’s Agrippina. Ars Lyrica Houston. November  16 and 18. 

Houston’s Baroque ensemble presented a graceful performance of Handel’s masque Acis and Galatea in 2013, and now Handel’s tale of intrigue in ancient Rome will ratchet up the musical spectacle. The cast includes mezzo-soprano Sofia Selowsky, who was a spirited Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville last season with Houston Grand Opera, and countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, who created a sensation as one of the winners of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. (SB)

Fabio Luisi, incoming music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, will lead a program April 18 and 19. 2019.

Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Houston Grand Opera. January 18-February 3. 

Florencia en el Amazonas, premiered by HGO in 1996, has become one of the most successful of the dozens of works the company has introduced. It returns with the warm-voiced Ana María Martínez as the opera singer who takes a riverboat journey down the Amazon in search of logst love. (SB)

Works by Salonen and Bruckner. Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony, with violinist Leila Josefowicz. February 28-March 3. 

As the Houston Symphony’s music director in the 1990s, Eschenbach took the orchestra to international acclaim. The sonorous scores of Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler played a big role in that, and Eschenbach returns to lead Bruckner’s majestic Symphony No. 4. Leila Josefowicz is solo protagonist in the Violin Concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen. (SB)

Music of Still, Martin and Beethoven. Dallas Symphony Orchestra, conductor Fabio Luisi. April 18 and 19

Fabio Luisi will not take over as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra until the 2020-21 season. The Italian conductor remains something of an unknown local quantity, having performed here only twice previously. This pair of non-subscription spring concerts will hold much interest, presenting two 20th-century works (William Grant Still’s Poem for Orchestra and Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Tympani, Percussion and Strings) along with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. (WG)

Verdi’s Falstaff. Dallas Opera. April 26-May 4.

No dying heroines or dark vendettas here. After a career devoted to producing tragic masterpieces, Verdi, in his twilight years, turned to deliciously tangled romantic intrigues and comical comeuppance in his Shakespearean comedy Falstaff. Dallas Opera will close its mainstage season with the company’s first-ever production of the work, considered by many Verdi aficionados to be that composer’s most nearly perfect creation. American bass-baritone Mark Delavan takes on the title role with renowned Verdian Riccardo Frizza conducting. (WG)

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Fort Worth Opera. April 26-30.

In the height of the Great Depression, composer George Gershwin melded elements of opera, Broadway, jazz, blues, and African-American spirituals into Porgy and Bess, an opera that has since come to be recognized as one of America’s greatest cultural achievements. Fort Worth Opera will highlight its spring festival season by presenting director Francesca Zambello’s popular production of this work, with Joe Illick conducting and Thomas Cannon and Indira Mahajan in the title roles. (WG)

Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle. Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony. May 16 and 17.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony have turned in dynamic, colorful and sometimes-eerie performances of Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. That augurs well for next year’s performances of the macabre Bluebeard’s Castle. The intense baritone Matthias Goerne will portray Bluebeard, with mezzo-soprano Michelle deYoung as his victim-to-be Judith. (SB)


September 20

Cliburn Concerts
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor
Eric Owens, baritone
Myra Huang, pianist…


Utah Arts Review to launch this fall

I’m delighted to announce the launch of Utah Arts Review, our …

Fabio Luisi named Dallas Symphony music director

You can’t say the Dallas Symphony Orchestra likes to waste time.…