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Friday, February 12, 2021

Valentine for Handel

From the Classical Vault Dept.: Another sweep of the classical-music offerings in the Albany, NY, area in early 1985. And you can see my review of the Munich Chamber Orchestra concert here.


WE’RE BEING GIVEN a valentine all this year thanks to a year that was “portentious to the annals of music,” as an old source book (from which I once copied a school-assigned report) began. In 1685. Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti were born, and this year the classical-music boys are going berserk with celebrations.

George Frideric Handel
There seems to be more of a hangup about anniversaries with classical music than with any other creative field I’ve noticed – these 40th-anniversary-of-the-end of-World War II type of things seem more journalist-on-deadline-inspired than anything else – and make me wonder if there’s some problem in offering the music solely on its own artistic merit. You don’t need an excuse to listen to Bach (unless it somehow embarrasses you for social or political reasons, but this is the sort of pontifical twaddle that informs too much classical music writing).

There’s a Handel Spectacular slated for this weekend, a tribute to the big German-English composer by the Capitol Chamber Artists. (They say that Handel was in a restaurant in England once where he ordered a huge meal, then waited and waited for it to be served. He asked the waiter about the delay. “I thought I should wait for the rest of the company,” the waiter explained. “De gompany!” Handel bellowed. “I am de gompany!” (This story comes from the same source book from which I stole that phrase in the opening sentence.)

On the program are the renowned “Largo” from Xerxes, selections from “Messiah,” and the Water Music. Soprano Mary Anne Ross will be featured, along with CCA regulars; the concerts will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Bush Auditorium at 8 P.M. and the Albany Institute of History and Art at 3 P.M., respectively. Tickets range from $6 to $10.

Due tribute will be paid to the 17th and 18th centuries when Allan Alexander presents “Four Centuries of Golden Hits,” written for lute and guitar, both of which he plays with superior skill. He also has a disarmingly casual way of presenting the music, guaranteeing a tuneful and fun program. It will take place Saturday evening at 8 at the First Unitarian Society of Albany, 405 Washington Avenue.

Although none of the birthday boys is on the program, the concert this Saturday by the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra deserves your attention. This orchestra has been improving mightily and demands your support – plus, who can resist a live performance of Shostakovich’s lusty Symphony No. 5?

Linda Chang will be the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, and the program opens with Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” Charles Schneider will conduct the concert at Proctor’s at 8 P.M.; tickets are $8 ($4 for students) and are available at Proctor’s Arcade and CBO outlets.

There will be a repeat, in a way, of one of last year’s most successful concerts: Monadnock Music returns to Union College’s Memorial Chapel for a performance of Mozart’s opera “Cosi Fan Tutte,” which always strikes me as having paved the way for the sort of musical-comedy movie Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would make in the ‘30s – great tunes, mistaken identity, everything but Edward Everett Horton. Friday evening at 7:30; tickets are $12, available at CBO outlets.

On Tuesday there will be an 8 P.M. concert by the Munich Chamber Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Here we find our old friend Bach, whose “Ricercare for Six Voices” (from The Musical Offering) is on the program. Violinist Young Uck Kim plays Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 (known as the “Turkish” thanks to a characteristic figure in the final movement), and Mozart’s Sympbony No. 29 is also on the program. Hans Stadlmaier is the conductor, and the orchestra is every bit as good as the hall’s legendary acoustics. And what else have you got to do on a Tuesday? Tickets range from $7 to $13; they’re at the box office and CBO outlets.

Metroland Magazine, 14 February 1985

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