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Weekend MusicWatch: Emerging from Hibernation

By Brett Campbell
January 4, 2014
St. Lawrence String Quartet performs Monday and Tuesday at Portland State University. Photo: Eric Cheng.

St. Lawrence String Quartet performs Monday and Tuesday at Portland State University. Photo: Eric Cheng.

Solstice…Chanukkah… Kwanzaa… Christmas… New Year’s Eve… Festivus… the Alamo Bowl (Go Ducks!)… at last, we’ve arrived at the season’s final official holiday, the Hangovernal Equinox, and Oregon’s music scene is accordingly sluggish this weekend, with a few welcome breaks in the bleariness.

Eugene Opera “The Fallen Woman” (“La Traviata”), Friday and Sunday, Silva Hall, Hult Center, Eugene. Leah Partridge and Vale Rideout star in the last two performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s tubercular tearjerker.

Jefferson Baroque Orchestra, Saturday, Newman Methodist Church, Grants Pass, and Sunday, First United Methodist Church, Ashland. Everyone knows this program’s main feature, Vivaldi’s colorful “The Four Seasons” violin concertos, whose overfamiliarity may obscure their lasting brilliance. But have you heard French Baroque composer Joseph Boismortier’s lovely cantata cycle by the same name? You should, and here’s your chance, as performed on period instruments by historically informed players.

Trinity Cathedral Chamber Singers, Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland. If you’re not yet weary of seasonal music, hear not-so-familiar works by the great late Renaissance English composer Orlando Gibbons, carols by Peter Warlock and Peter Cornelius, and organ music performed by Heidi Kohne.

Oregon Symphony, Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. The orchestra gives listeners a peek behind the curtain: the opportunity to sit in on its recording session for Aaron Copland’s glorious Symphony #3, in which he included his earlier “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and a talk by the award-winning recording engineer and producer who worked on their Grammy-winning 2012 CD. Remember, this performance will be recorded, so, in Elmer’s words, be vewy, vewy quiet — until the end, of course.

St. Lawrence Quartet, Monday and Tuesday, Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University. Friends of Chamber Music brings the Stanford University based foursome, which introduces its new violinist, Mark Fewer, at these concerts. Monday’s program includes two quartets by the begetter of what we know as the classical string quartet, Joseph Haydn, including the one that really established the model; Verdi’s only string quartet, and, most intriguingly, a new — or is it? — quartet by one of today’s finest composers, Osvaldo Golijov, whose breakthrough “Yiddishbuk” was premiered by the SLQ two decades ago. They also debuted the Argentine-American composer’s piece on the program here, in 2011, but “Qohelet” has evolved considerably since then, including the excision of a then-uncredited Brazilian song in the wake of the plagiarism controversy revealed by then-Eugene-based writer Tom Manoff and discussed here on ArtsWatch.

Golijov, whom you might have seen discussing his “Azul” when the New York Philharmonic played it on PBS on New Year’s Eve, has been more or less blocked creatively for nigh on a decade now, unable to fulfill important commissions, so it’ll be interesting to hear what he’s been up to lately. Tuesday’s program includes yet another Haydn quartet, from his immortal Op. 76 set; a fine quartet by Dvorak that sounds neither particularly Czech nor American; and another piece with a tuberculosis connection, Bohuslav Martinu’s fifth quartet, inspired by his lover, the promising young composer Vitezslava Kapralova, who died of the disease in 1940 at age 25 after they broke off their affair when Martinu refused to leave his wife.

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