It’s Oscars weekend, and, for once, the often-predictable ceremony has the potential to be genuinely interesting.
As summertime slowly approaches, concerts of music both minimal and maximal will enchant Manhattanites in search of aural Yiddishkeit. On April 29 at the Walter Reade Theater, flutist Claire Chase will perform Steve Reich’s “Vermont Counterpoint” in its version for flute and tape; the alternate version, for eleven flutes, would doubtless exceed even the gifted Chase’s capacities. She will be joined for other, less minimalist, works on the program by the pianist Jacob Greenberg. On May 1 at Carnegie Hall, Reich’s mini-fluting is exchanged for emotional maxing-out in the form of Gustav Mahler’s songs interpreted by baritone Matthias Goerne with the superstar pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
The German Jewish philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885–1977), not to be confused with the Swiss Jewish composer Ernest Bloch, is still remembered for such landmark books as “The Spirit of Utopia,” “The Principle of Hope,” and “The Utopian Function of Art and Literature: Selected Essays.”
An approaching New Year can be a time of rearrangements and transpositions, as Manhattan classical music lovers in search of Yiddishkeit will discover. From December 1 to 3 at Avery Fisher Hall, Gustav Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No. 10 in its revised Deryck Cooke performing edition will be conducted by Daniel Harding. Harding has recorded this work for Deutsche Grammophon, but some Mahlerians may prefer the version on Brilliant edited and conducted by Russian Jewish maestro Rudolf Barshai.
One poet called autumn the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” but some New York concerts redolent with Yiddishkeit focus on the pleasant shock of the new, not misty mellowness. On September 16 at The Austrian Cultural Forum, a new arrangement of the Adagio movement from Mahler’s unfinished Tenth symphony will be conducted in two concerts by its arranger, Michel Galante.
The married painters Nancy Spero and Leon Golub fascinated their contemporaries by interweaving political themes into expressive artworks. As an individual creator, Spero finally received her full due in Christopher Lyon’s “Nancy Spero: The Work,” a lavish book out in October from Prestel Publishing.
While Hanukkah preparations and aftermath can overshadow every other human activity in December, ‘tis also the season for classical concerts, especially although by no means exclusively, in the New York area. These can include much Yiddishkayt, despite the seeming omnipresence of Handel’s “Messiah.”
Gustav Mahler was a Late Romantic composer who became one of the better-known converts from Judaism to Christianity. But according to Max Brod, the Czech musicologist and great friend to Franz Kafka, the existence of Jewish folk melodies in Mahler’s music was made possible by the composer’s “Jewish soul.”