Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
CALIDORE STRING QUARTET at Washington Irving High School (Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m.). We are spoiled for choice with youngish string quartets at the moment, but this foursome is particularly fine. As part of the bargain-basement Peoples’ Symphony series, they play an early Haydn quartet, Webern’s “Langsamer Satz” and Beethoven’s Op. 127. In a big week for the late Beethoven quartets, the storied Juilliard String Quartet plays the Op. 131, as well as the Op. 18, No. 1, and Kurtag’s “6 Moments Musicaux,” at Alice Tully Hall (Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.).
STEFAN JACKIW AND MAHAN ESFAHANI at the 92nd Street Y (Dec. 6, 8 p.m.). Audacious performers individually, this violinist and harpsichordist join forces for violin sonatas written by two members of the Bach clan, Johann Sebastian and Carl Philipp Emanuel, as well as two violin-and-harpsichord works from the 20th century: Viktor Kalabis’s Sonata and Walter Piston’s Sonatina. Also at the Y this weekend, the violinist Carolin Widmann is the soloist in Kurt Weill’s Violin Concerto, with the wind players of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, who also play Mozart’s “Gran Partita” (Saturday, 8 p.m.).
SHEKU KANNEH-MASON AND ISATA KANNEH-MASON at Weill Recital Hall (Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.). Good luck getting returns to this recital from two members of an extraordinarily musical septet of siblings. Sheku, a cellist who gained fame playing at a recent royal wedding, and Isata, whose first recording on Decca was an outstanding survey of the piano works of Clara Schumann, one of my discs of the year, play Beethoven, Barber, Rachmaninoff and Lutoslawski.
[Read about the events that our other critics have chosen for the week ahead.]
MODERN PIANO (+) FESTIVAL at Spectrum (through Dec. 19). This sprawling celebration of the piano returns for a second annual festival, with highlights aplenty. This week, check out Jacob Rhodebeck playing Alex Nante’s 50-minute “Diario de Abril” (Friday, 8 p.m.); the International Contemporary Ensemble’s pianist, Jacob Greenberg, performing works by David Fulmer, Amy Williams, Dai Fujikura and Phyllis Chen (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.); the pianist and conductor Naomi Woo exploring the outer limits of the keyboard in pieces by Gyorgy Ligeti, Louis d’Heurieres and Celeste Oram (Sunday, 8 p.m.); and Alexandra Saraceno playing Messiaen’s “Préludes” and “La Merle Noir,” with the flutist Jacob Mortensen (Tuesday, 7 p.m.).
NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG AT MERKIN HALL (Dec. 12, 8 p.m.). Harlem’s gay underground is brought to life by the pianist Steven Blier and his team of singers, with songs by Bessie Smith, Billy Strayhorn, Porter Grainger and, perhaps most intriguingly, Gladys Bentley. Giovanni Russonello described her in a recent obituary for the Times’s Overlooked series as a singer of “gender-bending original blues numbers,” which led to her becoming “Harlem’s most famous lesbian figure” in the 1930s.
ST. THOMAS CHOIR OF MEN AND BOYS at St. Thomas Church (Dec. 10 and 12, 7:30 p.m.). One of the three or four quintessential renditions of “Messiah” in New York will be particularly fresh this year, albeit still with the classic sound made by the choir’s boy trebles, in this group’s first performances under music director Jeremy Filsell. For reference, this year the New York Philharmonic’s “Messiah” gets going on Dec. 17, but you will have to wait until Dec. 20 to hear the best “Messiah” for miles around, at Trinity Wall Street.
SO PERCUSSION at Zankel Hall (Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m.). Joined by a number of friends, this essential quartet looks back on a century of percussion music, from Edgard Varèse’s “Ionisation” and Johanna Beyer’s “March for 30 Percussion Instruments” to Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” and John Cage’s “Third Construction,” all the way through to the New York premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Forbidden Love.”
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