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This week's should-hear musical events

It's another remarkably full week, in terms of classical music genres and diversity within those genres.

Naturally, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to catch everything, but it's fun to be spoiled for choice.

Tuesday's attraction is a wide-ranging vocal program featuring Peabody faculty members Stacey Mastrian (soprano) and Steven Rainbolt (baritone), among others. There will be works by Purcell, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Saint-Saëns, as well as contemporary composers Andre Previn and Tom Cipullo.

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Wednesday brings another adventure from Mobtown Modern at Metro Gallery, this time taking on John Zorn's challenge in "COBRA," an ensemble work from 1984 that allows great improvisational freedom -- there's really no score, per se, just cue cards. A sterling lineup of instrumentalists has been assembled for the experience.

At the same time, several blocks away at the Engineer's Club, another burst of improvisation will be going on, this one by gifted members of Harmonious Blacksmith, harpsichordist Joseph Gascho and recorder player Justin Godoy. They'll add their own improvised fancies, the way baroque artists did centuries ago, as part of a program that also includes works by Bach, Matthew Locke and others.

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Speaking of improv, Thursday brings  

This week's should-hear musical events

pianist Robert Levin to the Meyerhoff stage for an appearance with the

to perform Beethoven's Concerto No. 1; he'll also offer some improvisations at the keyboard in the spirit of the composer, who, like many classical instrumentalists of that day, developed improvisational skills. (The program is repeated Friday at Meyerhoff, Saturday at Strathmore.)

And on the subject of pianists and Beethoven, Benjamin Pasternack will play the composer's "Waldstein" Sonata in a recital Thursday at Peabody. This excellent pianist, a member of the Peabody faculty, has also chosen works by Mozart, Haydn, Copland (the daunting Piano Variations) and Bernstein (Pasternack's own transcription of the Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town").

Friday introduces opera into the week's mix. Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande" is one of the most exquisite works in the repertoire, but also one of most infrequently encountered. Opera Vivente, which staged a chamber orchestra arrangement of the work a few seasons ago at Emanuel Episcopal, returns to the material now in an abridged version by Marius Constant. Called "Impressions of Pelleas," this treatment aims to preserve the essence of the deeply layered love story and uses two pianos in place of the original orchestra to capture the multiple shades of the score. Performances continue Feb. 28, March 4 and 6.

Also on Friday, the new kid on the block, Chesapeake Concert Opera, opens a two-night run of Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore" in concert form with piano at Memorial Episcopal (Episcopalians sure are welcoming to opera, aren't they?). 

Speaking of opera-in-concert, the famed Mariinsky Theatre from St. Petersburg opens a residency at the Kennedy Center with an unstaged performance of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" Friday night, led by podium superstar Valery Gergiev. The company will also offer Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" in concert form Feb. 28 and two programs of excerpts from several Russian operas March 3 and 4 (the latter date is to feature popular soprano Anna Netrebko). There will also be a full staging of Prokofiev's monumental "War and Peace" March 6 and 7.


The week just keeps on giving.

Friday and Saturday finds the Annapolis Symphony celebrating the romantic and sensual in music at the Maryland Hall. The Peabody Symphony tackles Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and more on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the Artemis String Quartet makes its contribution to the Beethoven quartet cycle being presented by Candlelight Concerts in Columbia. The program includes the "Serioso" Quartet and Op. 127.

I can't even start thinking about next Sunday, 'cause there's too big a pile-up of musical possibilities. More on that anon.

BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTOS OF BENJAMIN PASTERNACK AND HARMONIOUS BLACKSMITH; PHOTO (by Hertha Hurnaus) OF ARTEMIS QUARTET COURTESY OF JAY K. HOFFMAN & ASSOC. 

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