As temperatures climb, some New Yorkers gather their families and head for the countryside, while others remain en ville to seek similar experiences in concerts redolent of Yiddishkeit. One such is a May 26 recital at The Austrian Cultural Forum in which Austrian soprano Ursula Langmayr performs a selection of Gustav Mahler’s outdoors-inspired songs, accompanied by pianist Russell Ryan. Instead of strenuous exercise in rural settings, music lovers can experience virtuosic derring-do in the form of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Variations sérieuses” played on June 1 at Bargemusic by pianist Victoria Korchinskaya-Kogan, whose grandparents were the mighty Ukrainian Jewish violinists Leonid Kogan and Yelizaveta Gilels.
On June 3, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet takes over Symphony Space with a happy family of world premieres, including works by David Rakowski, Perry Goldstein, and Matthew Levy, the last-mentioned being the tenor sax player of PRISM. Summer is nothing without old relatives, and pieces by two elder statesmen of musical modernism, Milton Babbitt (who died in January at age 94) and Mario Davidovsky will be featured in a Bargemusic performance by the composer/performer collective, counter)induction.
A family-style fress-fest, “Love, Loss, Laughter: Favorite Yiddish Folksongs,” is on the menu at Symphony Space on June 5, when The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus is led by conductor Binyumen Schaechter in “Afn pripetshik,” “Rozhinkes mit mandlen,” and other hits. Entirely less cozy, but still a member of the mishpocheh, is comedian/songstress Sandra Bernhard, who plays Town Hall on June 8, the latest stop on her “I Love Being Me Don’t You? Tour.” Another original young relative, Israeli popstar Ivri Lider, performs electronica on June 9 at Le Poisson Rouge.
To soothe traditionalists after Lider’s electrical infusions, on June 10 and 11 Bargemusic presents Mendelssohn’s Piano trio in D minor played by violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Adrien Daurov, and pianist Olga Vinokur. More modern sounds will be heard on June 15 at the Leo Baeck Institute as part of The Chelsea Music Festival, where the nimble-fingered Korean violinist Ye-Eun Choi and the Trio Imàge perform works by Arnold Schoenberg, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and the avant-garde Argentinian Jewish composer Mauricio Kagel. Further innovations arrive on June 15, when Bargemusic presents Kathleen Supové, known as the “downtown piano queen,” in the local premiere of “Barnacles” by Lainie Fefferman, daughter of prize-winning Princeton mathematician Charles Fefferman.
On June 20 at Merkin Hall, “Concerto for Shofar, Trombone and Orchestra” by composer Meira Warshauer will highlight virtuoso soloist Haim Avitsur, in a work available on CD from Navona Records. On June 30, in another local premiere at Bargemusic, pianist Inna Faliks plays “Sirota” by Lev Zhurbin, a Moscow-born, New York-based Jewish composer and violist whose stage name is Ljova (a familiar diminutive of the name Lev). “Sirota,” which means “orphan” in Russian, incorporates a recording by the legendary cantor Gershon Sirota, who died in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Or, on the same day, for musical dessert, try heading to The Caramoor Festival near Katonah, New York to hear the Beijing Guitar Duo play the charming “Sonatina Canonica” by Italian Jewish composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. By then you will have earned your post-prandial nap, which you can take in July!
Listen to Ivri Lider singing in 2011.
Listen to the remarkable Chilean pianist Rosita Renard play Mendelssohn’s “Variations sérieuses,” a performance available on CD from VAI Audio.
Or, listen to Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s charming Sonata Canonica for 2 guitars played by the acclaimed virtuosos Turibio Santos and Óscar Cáceres.