Weekend MusicWatch: The music of chants

Consonare Chorale sings on Saturday.

Cappella Romana, Friday, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Portland
When the early music revival began, a couple generations ago, many of the performers were so determined wring out the inappropriate Romanticism that had contaminated music written centuries earlier that they wound up depriving it of any expressivity at all. Fortunately, scholars discovered that expression and individuality were just as much a part of our ancestors’ music as of our own, resulting in the exciting performances of groups like Portland Baroque Orchestra and others. Vocal music followed a similar path; where medieval chant was usually sung as a kind of ethereal vocal wallpaper, it’s becoming more common to hear it performed with real vocal expression and emotional commitment.

Guest conductor Marcel Peress leads Cappella Romana.

One of the pioneers in that process, French conductor Marcel Peress, showed just how engaging the results could be in recordings with his superb Ensemble Organum. On Friday, he joins Cappella Romana in music from the Codex Calixtinus, an invaluable medieval manuscript that was stolen from its monastery home by a disgruntled employee.

Consonare Chorale, Saturday, First Congregational Church, Portland: The Portland choir has a split personality this time, dividing into double choirs for music by Monteverdi, Gabrieli, Frank Ticheli, and other composers from the Renaissance to the present.

Satori Men’s Chorus, Saturday, The Old Church, Portland: The Portland vocal ensemble sings words by Shakespeare, Tennyson and more in music by Schubert, Sibelius, McCartney and other songwriters.

Oregon Symphony, Sunday and Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland: Guest conductor Hugh Wolff (of Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra renown) conducts Haydn’s jaunty Symphony #82, Sibelius’s Symphony #5, and Dvorak’s relatively rarely performed Piano Concerto.

Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Friday, First United Methodist Church, Portland and Sunday, Good Shepherd Community Church, Boring: Rising young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo, oops, Andres Lopera — recently appointed music director of Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony — leads the grownups in Shostakovich’s first symphony #1, Mozart’s first flute concerto (featuring the Oregon Symphony’s new young principal flutist, Jessica Sindell), and Glinka’s popular Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture.

Smaller-scale sounds

Salem Chamber Orchestra, Sunday, Hudson Hall, Willamette University, Salem: the band plays an excellent program of music by Stravinsky (Concerto in D), Mozart (Symphony #38), Bach (Brandenburg Concerto #3), and Osvaldo Golijov (Last Round).

Denise Dillenbeck and Nikolas Caoile, Friday, The Old Church, Portland: the violinist and pianist, both veteran orchestra players and Central Washington University faculty members, perform a fascinating 20th century program of music by Stravinsky, Messiaen, John Corigliano, and the great New York based jazz pianist/arranger Dick Hyman.

Jan Mittelstaedt, Sunday, First Presbyterian Church, Portland: the president of Cascadia Composers gets a Celebration Works showcase of a potpourri of chamber works for string quartet, saxophone quartet, organ, and more.

It’s a ways down the road, but the Oregon Bach Festival this week announced its biggest extravaganza ever, celebrating the legacy of retiring founding music director Helmuth Rilling.

A Time to Celebrate: Oregon Bach Festival 2013 from Oregon Bach Festival on Vimeo.

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