Weekend MusicWatch: Piano Profusion

Friends of Chamber Music brings John Kimura Parker to Portland for three concerts next week.

Friends of Chamber Music brings John Kimura Parker to Portland for three concerts next week.

Who knows how many elephant tusks and ebony trees were sacrificed to make it possible, but this weekend offers piano fans a veritable feast of keyboard music on Oregon stages. The tinkling begins at 1:30 pm Sunday,  April 7, when Portland pianists Christopher Schindler,  Colleen M Adent, and Anne D. Young convene at North Portland’s Polish Hall to perform mazurkas by Polish composers Chopin, Szyamnowski and Maciejewski. The admission price includes a little intro to the form by University of Portland professor Kenneth Kleszynski, Agnieszka Laska Dancers performing excerpts from their Chopin Project, and a sweet Polish treat: mazurek cakes.

Even allowing for that dessert, you still have time to head over to Northeast Portland’s Rose City Park Presbyterian Church in time for renowned pianist (and former Linfield College prof) Richard Fuller’s 4 pm recital of music by CPE Bach and Joseph – played not on the conventional modern industrial instrument with its compromised equal tempered tunings, but instead on its predecessor, an intimate-sounding fortepiano much more like the instruments the composers had in mind when they wrote the music, and in the tunings they intended. Fuller, a University of Oregon alum who now lives in Austria, specializes in these historically informed performances.

Or you can go for Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin’s 4 pm solo recital at the Newmark Theater. Read Jana Hanchett’s preview of this Portland Piano International show.

Speaking of the UO, on Monday night at Beall Concert Hall, you can hear award winning pianist Barry Hannigan perform music by Francis Poulenc, Joseph Schwantner, and other 20th and 21st century composers — including Hannigan’s fellow Bucknell prof William Duckworth, who died last year. His piano music, especially the magical “Time Curve Preludes” is some of America’s finest composed in the 20th century.

That gives pianoholics Tuesday off, unless they’re seeing frequent Portland visitor and Vancouver BC native John Kimura Parker performing Brahms and/or Dvorak quintets with the Tokyo String Quartet Monday and Tuesday at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Sponsored by Friends of Chamber Music, the group’s last Portland appearances before their retirement (after 42 years) include quartets by Beethoven, Bartok, Mozart and Kodaly. The next night, Wednesday, April 10, Parker goes it alone at the same venue, performing Russian music by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky (the original piano version of his big hit, “Pictures at an Exhibition”) along with Parker’s own scintillating, centennial arrangement of “The Rite of Spring.”

Speaking of Stravinsky’s still spectacular 20th century masterpiece, there’s yet another opportunity to hear the Rite played live on twice as many pianos this weekend when the pianists from Portland’s two major new music ensembles, Jeffrey Payne of FearNoMusic and Susan Smith of Third Angle, play a live accompaniment to Paul Taylor Dance Company’s “Brief Encounters” in White Bird’s series. The concert also includes recorded music by two other pretty decent composers, J.S. Bach and Arvo Pärt.

Portland Vocal Consort sings Northwest music Saturday.

Portland Vocal Consort sings Northwest music Saturday.

Youth Served

Along with the Tokyo Quartet, this week’s other major chamber music performance happens at the UO’s Beall Hall on Sunday afternoon, when the Oregon Bach Festival’s Chamber Music @ Beall series brings Brooklyn Rider to Eugene. The young string quartet will reprise two works included in their Portland concert last year, Beethoven’s great Op. 131 quartet and the original, group-concocted work it inspired, “Seven Steps,” plus Bartok’s second string quartet and contemporary tunes by the always-engaging Russian American composer Ljova and “Three Miniatures” by BR’s own Colin Jacobsen, inspired by the music of BR’s frequent collaborator, Iranian composer Kayhan Kalhor.

Speaking of classical music’s future, the weekend also offers opportunities to hear more 21st century music. On Friday, various musicians perform a free concert of music by one of the city’s most promising composers, Brent Weaver, at George Fox University’s Bauman Auditorium. The program includes works for brass ensemble (an arrangement of the piece in the video below), tenor and piano, saxophone and piano, and electronic instruments.

More Northwest music is on the bill Saturday at downtown Portland’s First Christian Church, when some of the city’s finest singers, with help from pianist Janet Coleman and conducted by Ryan Heller, offer one of the state’s most valuable classical music performances: Portland Vocal Consort’s annual Best of the Northwest concert, this time featuring music by Portland composers Bryan Johanson, Ethan Sperry (who also conducts Oregon Repertory Singers and PSU choirs), Joan Szymko, and David York, plus UO prof and major American composer Robert Kyr, the excellent Seattle choral composer Karen Thomas, and the winner of PVC’s annual young composer competition, Willamette University student Derek Sup.

That’s actually the second highly recommended new music choral concert of the day, because at 4 pm, just a few blocks away at PSU’s Lincoln Hall, Seattle’s The Esoterics will sing music by two of America’s most acclaimed young composers, San Francisco’s Mason Bates (whose music was also on Chanticleer’s program this week) and Ted Hearne, and more contemporary sounds.

This week also features a pair of attractive vocal recitals. On Saturday at Portland’s St. Luke Lutheran Church, soprano Laurie Hungerford Flint, accompanied by pianist Rodney Menn sings poetry by cummings, Verlaine, Dickinson, and Rumi, set to music by Poulenc, Debussy, Lori Laitman and Gwyneth Walker. And on Tuesday, tenor Matthew Grills is accompanied by former Portland Opera associate conductor Robert Ainsley in music by Barber, Britten, Bizet, Beethoven, Mozart and more, in the latest in PO’s always entertaining studio artist recital series, featuring the company’s rising young talents, at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium.

Young classical performers seize center stage Tuesday night at Portland’s Newmark Theater in MetroArts’s annual Van Buren Concerto Competition, in which eight promising local teenage musicians, backed by members of the Oregon Ballet Theater and Oregon Symphony orchestras, perform movements from concertos by Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and more. The Oregon Symphony is backing a couple of nationally known locally based jazzers this weekend. Pianist Dave Frishberg is best known for his wry compositions like “My Attorney Bernie,” while Patrick Lamb plays more pop jazz. Classical Revolution PDX hosts another in its always fun chamber jams Sunday at North Portland’s Waypost. And ArtsWatch’s AL Adams notes that the inner SE wine bar Vie de Boheme has been hosting African music of late. This Saturday’s band is Portland’s Dusu Mali, performing music from one of the world’s most fertile musical wellsprings.

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