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Classical Morsels

Must-see classical concerts flood February

There’s plenty of classical music played around town this month. The Eugene Symphony on Feb. 16 at the Hult performs a couple of popular chestnuts: Haydn’s dazzling Trumpet Concerto, which the classical master wrote to show off the soaring capabilities of the then-new instrument, and which will be played here by Baltimore Symphony soloist Andrew Balio; and Tchaikovsky’s moving sixth and final symphony, which still surprises listeners by reversing the expectations of the two final movements. The concert opens with a new overture by today’s most exciting composer, Osvaldo Golijov, the Argentine-American whom the Oregon Bach Festival helped make famous.

The symphony also joins the Eugene Concert Choir and Oregon Festival Choirs on Feb. 25 at the Hult to perform one of the most profound works of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten’s searing 1962 War Requiem, to poetry by World War I victim Wilfred Owen, in hopes for an end to wars. This is easily one of the year’s most compelling classical music events.

Smaller in scale — yet no less ambitious — classical music crowds this month’s calendar, starting with the commencement of a two-year, six-concert survey of all 17 of Beethoven’s amazing string quartets performed by UO faculty members who comprise the Oregon String Quartet. Although he’s best known for his larger works, Beethoven really innovated in his quartets, particularly the last batch, which still sounds modern. The first concert is Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the UO’s Beall Hall.

Another excellent ensemble composed of current and former UO musicians, Chamber Music Amici, introduces its new violinist/violist, Holland Phillips, in an attractive concert Feb. 27 at Springfield’s Wildish Theater, featuring Mozart’s delightful Clarinet Trio, Dohnanyi’s popular Serenade for String Trio and more, including arrangements of Beatles tunes. 

The UO offers some splendiferous music from earlier eras, beginning with a free performance of Baroque chamber music Feb. 22 at the Schnitzer and performed by UO faculty members, led by the expert cellist Marc Vanscheeuwijck. On Friday, Feb. 24, Beall hosts three of the most renowned masters of early music, who appear on hundreds of recordings: cellist Jaap ter Linden, flutist Wilber Hazelzet and harpsichordist Jacques Ogg. These scintillating musicians will play music by J.S. Bach and three of his composer sons, plus his friend Georg Philipp Telemann, also one of the champion composers of the era.

In another gotta-go concert, the UO’s prismatic World Music Series brings award-winning Japanese singer, folk music specialist and shamisen (lute) master Chouei Sato to Beall on Feb. 18. And there’s more world music available Friday, Feb. 24, when Kutsinihira Cultural Arts Center stages a benefit yoga class for impoverished students in Zimbabwe, featuring mbira music from that country played on the so-called “Thumb piano” by Mudzidzi, at Just Breathe yoga studio. 

Finally, you can head up to Portland to catch the city’s annual jazz festival — and/or stay home for a barnburner by former Portlander Tim Berne, who went on to great success in New York’s downtown music scene, with his fabulous Snakeoil quartet at The Shedd on Feb. 29. The Brooklyn-based composer/alto saxophonist’s marvelous new album, Snakeoil, shows that he’s still making hay in improvised music.