Ten Richmond concerts to remember from 2018

Jan. 15 – At St. Luke Lutheran Church, pianist Alexander Paley devoted the winter installment of his Richmond music festival to two works firmly on his high-romantic interpretive wavelength, Schumann’s “Carnaval” and Liszt’s Sonata in B minor.

March 25 – At the University of Richmond’s Jepson Theatre, UR’s resident new-music sextet, eighth blackbird, joined by singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and fiddler Dan Trueman, gave one of the first performances of “Olagón: a Cantata in Doublespeak,” a reworking of an Irish legend of love and death by Trueman and poet Paul Muldoon, in a strikingly moody production that visually and sonically melded the ancient and post-modern.

June 1 – At St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Opera Richmond, with the Jefferson Baroque ensemble, staged a production of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” marked by stylish baroque vocalizations from Gabrielle MaesAnne O’Byrne and Tracey Welborn and novel choreography realized by dancers from the Latin Ballet of Virginia.

Sept. 21 – At Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre, pianist Lang Lang, performing with Steven Smith and the Richmond Symphony on his comeback tour after a more than yearlong hiatus due to an arm injury, played a Chopin encore with his trademark superstar flashiness, but made a more lasting impression with a searching interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491.

Sept. 30 – At UR’s Perkinson Recital Hall, a Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia cast – clarinetist Bryan Crumpler, violinists Kobi Malkin and Brendon Elliott, violist Max Mandel and cellist James Wilson – played Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, and Osvaldo Golijov’s “Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind,” works separated by a century in time and several generations in musical style, but surprisingly complementary in performance.

Oct. 21 – At the Carpenter Theatre, Steven Smith, outgoing music director of the Richmond Symphony, conducted the most potent interpretation of Beethoven in his Richmond years in an epic performance of the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (“Eroica”), along with a sonically rich, stylish and rollicking reading of Zoltan Kodály’s “Dances of Galanta.”

Nov. 4 – At Virginia Commonwealth University’s Singleton Arts Center, members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – violinist Paul Huang, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Keith Robinson, double-bassist Xavier Foley and pianist Orion Weiss – revived the combination of virtuoso pyrotechnics and substantive musicality of old-time recitals in a duo-trio-quintet program of Beethoven, Schubert and Giovanni Bottesini.

Nov. 9 – At UR’s Camp Concert Hall, the Danish String Quartet made its Richmond debut in an unusually meaty program of Schubert, Beethoven and Hans Abrahamsen, played with highly focused tone, rich sonority and conversational spontaneity.

Nov. 11 – At the Carpenter Theatre, Steven Smith led the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Symphony Chorus, with soprano Martha Guth and bass-baritone Darren Stokes, in an extraordinarily moving, emotionally turbulent account of Brahms’ “A German Requiem,” performed alongside George Butterworth’s “The Banks of Green Willow” and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for strings in a program marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending World War I.

Dec. 3 – At River Road Church, Baptist, Peter Phillips’ Tallis Scholars presented “A Renaissance Christmas,” a collection of seasonal works by Giovanni Palestrina, Hieronymus Praetorius, William Byrd and John Nesbett, that reached heights of the sublime both in composition and performance.

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