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Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.12.11

 

Closing Time

Yearly round-ups and requiems

By Brett Campbell

Its bad enough the Trail Blazers playoff run ended so soon; now we have to face the conclusion of the traditional classical music season. The Eugene Symphony closes its year on a dark note, with Mozarts penultimate and most dramatic symphony, number 40, followed by Franz Liszts turbulent tone poem, Orpheus (we all know how that turned out), and Richard Strausss anguished contemplation of Death and Transfiguration. Come early to the Hult Centers Studio for retiring concertmaster (and UO prof) Kathryn Lucketenbergs performance of Mozarts beautifully plangent Violin Sonata No. 21, which matches the downer theme: Like the programs Symphony No. 40, its one of his few minor key works in the genre ã no surprise, since Mozart wrote it when his beloved mother was dying.

For an anodyne antidote, try the Eugene Symphonic Bands May 16 concert at First Baptist Church, featuring show tunes from South Pacific, Phantom of the Opera, Porgy and Bess and more. Or look to the future with concerts by the Eugene Little Symphony and String Academy 2 on May 24 and Eugene Junior Orchestra on May 25, both at South Eugene High. The Oregon Mozart Players season-ending concert May 14 at the Hult offers Beethovens most overlooked symphony, his fourth. After a slow, ominous intro, it cheers up quickly, and the program also features Edward Elgars Introduction and Allegro and ã hooray for programming new music! ã the world premiere of OMP music director Glen Corteses new Concerto for String Quartet and String Orchestra.

On Sunday, May 15, the acclaimed foursome returns to the Soreng stage for an unmissable program: one of Beethovens great middle period quartets, as well as one of the last quartets by the composer who really pioneered that durable form, Joseph Haydn (and its a beauty), and best of all, Maurice Ravels scintillatingString Quartet, maybe the most purely gorgeous work of chamber music ever created.

Chamber Music Amici

Theres more recommended chamber music on tap when the fine musicians of Chamber Music Amici wraps up their season at Springfields Wildish Theater with a couple of fairly rare but worthy offerings: Arthur Blisss folk music-influenced 1927 Oboe Quintet and Gabriel Faures passionate 1879 Piano Quartet, with sweet treats for dessert. And if that doesnt satisfy your oboe jones, check out the UOs oboemaniacal concert at Beall Hall Thursday, May 12, featuring German oboist Andreas Hlz and pianist Hyun Sook Noh playing music by Schubert, Schumann and a world premiere ã retired UO prof Hal Owens new Diversions, written for the UO Oboe Quartet.

Various UO student ensembles play chamber music May 17 at the UO Living Learning Center and May 23 at Aasen-Hull, featuring contemporary sounds. Its not a university concert, but May 15 at Unitarian Church, longtime UO tabla instructor Doug Scheuerell leads whats become a most welcome annual birthday tribute to the great Indian composer/musician Ali Akbar Khan, featuring one of the masters disciples, ethnomusicologist and sarod player David Trasoff.

The ultra hidebound French conservatory rejected Ravels forward-looking quartet in 1904, sparking a major scandal, but today, UOs commendable commitment to new music continues to blossom, with the promising new Sonic Rain series bringing bleeding-edge electronic music to Schnitzer Hall on May 15, with sounds by leading electroacoustic and intermedia composers. Another relatively new ensemble, TaiHei, will play music by the great 20th century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, Daniel Goode and UO student works in a free concert May 18 in Aasen-Hull Hall. Always a reliable source of new sounds, the Oregon Percussion Ensembles May 21 Beall Hall concert features composer David Johnson guest-starring in his own Oregon Variations, plus music by the renowned L.A. composer-percussionist William Kraft and other striking contemporary works.

The May 21 Pacific Rim Gamelan concert at Aasen-Hull and the Composers Forum in Beall Hall May 25 showcases music by UO student composers. And on May 22, the University Symphony bids farewell to stalwart faculty member Wayne Bennett after 30 years; hell conduct one of todays most deservedly popular orchestral works, Rainbow Body by Christopher Theofanidis, and one of the 20th centurys finest orchestral works, Serge Prokofievs Fifth Symphony. The school also commissioned a new choral work by Belgian composer Willem Ceuleers based on Renaissance techniques, and that world premiere happens May 22 at Central Lutheran Church, ã a fitting requiem for a fine classical music season at the UO and beyond.