Now that the concert season is in full swing again after the summer, this week’s diary is packed with events vying for attention.
Highlights begin tonight with recitals from two of the country’s greatest pianists. Paul Lewis sandwiches Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata between Mozart (his profound C minor Fantasia and Rondo in A minor) and Schubert (the late G major Sonata) at Birmingham Town Hall (7.30pm), while John Lill plays four Beethoven sonatas (the Pathetique, Appassionata, Moonlight and the late C minor) at Malvern’s Forum Theatre (7.30pm).
Tomorrow the CBSO Youth Orchestra climaxes a half-term week of intensive rehearsals with Mahler’s Symphony no.7, a work which the CBSO itself under Simon Rattle did much to cement into the repertoire. Jac van Steen conducts the youngsters at Symphony Hall (7.30pm).
As the piece is scheduled to last 80 minutes, there might just be time to nip up to St George’s Church in Edgbaston for the latest concert in the current Birmingham Early Music Festival (BEMF). It’s a 9pm start for this atmospheric extinguishing of candles as soprano Julia Gooding joins Les Lumieres de Tenebres for settings by the 17th-century French composer Marc Antoine Charpentier of texts taken from the prophet Jeremiah.
Julia Gooding can also be heard on Saturday evening in the newly-refurbished concert hall of the University of Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts, where the BEMF continues with an altogether jollier affair. Here she combines with Passacaglia for “Coffee House Music”, a programme of music by Bach, Handel, Telemann, Marais and Bernier extolling the intoxicating effects of the popular stimulant (7.30pm).
On Monday Dame Evelyn Glennie visits the Adrian Boult Hall to appear as soloist in a very special concert presented by the Music of Life Foundation. Onstage alongside her will be young musicians with disabilities who are supported by MofL, a charity which offers unique opportunities to musically-gifted young people with special needs to be trained professionally and to perform in concert with outstanding professional artists. Accompanying the performers is the Orchestra of St John’s, conducted by John Lubbock (8pm).
With a snappy new name, Midland Opera (previously cumbersomely known as Midland Music Makers Grand Opera Society) launches a week-long run of Bizet’s Carmen at the Crescent Theatre in Sheepcote Street on Tuesday (7.15pm). Philip Ypres-Smith conducts the much-in-demand Queen’s Park Sinfonia, and heading an attractive cast is Lorraine Payne as the tobacco-toting temptress of the title. John Kiefer sings the role of the charismatic bullfighter Escamillo in this tragic tale of infatuation, obsession, jealousy and murder.
Finally, on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon (2.15pm) the CBSO gives two performances of a programme which was to have been conducted by the late Sir Vernon Handley, a renowned interpreter of British music. The concerts, dedicated to his memory, will now be conducted by Martyn Brabbins with an unchanged programme including a rare outing for The Witch of Atlas by Birmingham composer Sir Granville Bantock.
It is joined by two towering works of the 20th century British repertoire, Elgar’s Cello Concerto (Anne Gastinel the soloist) and Vaughan Williams’ Symphony no.5.