Big orchestras and operas make a lot of glorious noise, but sometimes the most enchanting music is also the most intimate. This week, the UO kicks off the fall chamber music season with several concerts of small-scale delights at Beall Concert Hall. This Thursday, Oct. 11, UO violin professor Kathryn Lucktenberg, veteran Portland classical pianist Cary Lewis and pianist Svetlana Kotova begin with an excellent program of music by Seattle-born composer William Bolcom, the irrepressible 20th-century French composer Francis Poulenc and Brahms. This Sunday, Oct. 14, the school’s excellent ChamberMusic@Beall series brings one of the world’s finest chamber ensembles, the Juilliard String Quartet, to perform late works in the careers of three important composers: Mozart’s beautiful String Quartet K. 575, Beethoven’s magnificent Op. 130 quartet (including its original ending, the “Great Fugue,” that is as powerful as anything he ever wrote) and Elliott Carter’s fifth and allegedly final quartet. The Juilliards have been in business since 1946 (with membership changing over the years, of course), but they’re mere pups compared to Carter, who was born in 1908 in New York and is still actively composing.
Speaking of late works, the Eugene Symphony will play late Romantic composer Richard Strauss’ haunting Four Last Songs, which premiered a year after he died, with the acclaimed operatic soprano Christine Brewer on Oct. 18 at the Hult Center, along with Maurice Ravel’s lush La Valse. And speaking of Beethoven, they’ll finish up with his Symphony No. 5. Da da da DA!
My top recommendation in this month’s chamber music jamboree is Monday night’s free concert at Central Lutheran Church, featuring another of the 20th century’s most important musicians, the Dutch viola da gamba virtuoso Wieland Kuijken, a pioneer in the 20th century’s Baroque music revival. Along with recorder player Eva Legêne and Seattle harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree, he’ll perform 17th- and 18th-century music by Couperin, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi and less famous but quite appealing composers like Leclair, Marais and one of the few female composers of the period whose works have survived, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre. With free admission, this is an ideal opportunity to explore the delicious world of historically informed Baroque music played with attention to how its composers intended it to be heard. Still another sort of chamber music aggregation, the Oregon Wind Ensemble, plays a nice mix of old (Mozart, J.S. Bach, Gabrieli) and new (prominent American composer Carter Pann, who’ll appear on piano, and Joel Puckett) at Beall next Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21. At 4 pm the same day, another windy group, the CLC Brass Quintet, plays Bach and more at First Methodist Church. Beall also hosts a couple of the most intimate concerts possible — recitals by Juyeon Kang on Oct. 17 (with a superb program of music by Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, contemporary composers Samuel Adler and Henry Martin, Franz Liszt and six pieces from the pinnacle of piano music, Debussy’s Preludes) and Filipino pianist Albert Tiu on Oct. 22.
Another UO professor, trumpeter Brian McWhorter, as you can read about in detail in music shorts, has assembled a new score for a silent film made by UO students — in 1929! He’ll play it live along with Osvaldo Golijov musical partner Michael Ward-Bergemann at screenings Oct. 12 and 13.
Former Eugenie, John Storie (a protégé of local guitar legends Don Latarski and Mike Denny) returns to town Oct.19 for a performance with his fascinating New West Guitar group at the Jazz Station. The next night, the Station hosts the excellent acoustic pianist Scott Cossu, a Northwesterner who earned a national reputation for his work on the old Windham Hill label and has just released a CD of blues and jazz tunes. And the next night, Oct. 21, the Station (fast becoming one of the Northwest’s hot spots for jazz) hosts the Paul Hemmings Uketet, which adds bass and drums to Hemmings’ laid-back ukulele.
Still another instrumental virtuoso, the great Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster, returns to The Shedd on Oct. 22. Her dancing is as energetic as her fiddling, and her joyous concerts of traditional Celtic tunes never fail to rattle the roof.