RENÉE FLEMING & SONGSTUDIO / ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER / KRONOS QUARTET
Stern Auditorium (SongStudio: Jan. 14-18) / (Anne-Sophie Mutter Jan. 30)
Renée Fleming chaperones SongStudio, a week-long series of master classes with ten rising young singers and accompanists, featuring diva Elīna Garanča and accompanist Hartmut Höll, plus public conversations on the artistry of the vocal recital with young groundbreakers like soprano Julia Bullock and composer Gabriel Kahane.
Prima violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter offers her own all-Beethoven program for the composer’s 250th birth anniversary focused on three of his most beloved works, the “Spring” Violin Sonata No. 5 in F Major, the “Ghost” Piano Trio in D Major, and the “Kreutzer” Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major.
Zankel Hall (Kronos Quartet: Jan. 25)
Kronos Quartet returns for another cutting-edge expansion of the string quartet repertoire with works by Glass, Reich, Riley, Missy Mazzoli and a World Premiere by Bryce Dessner, among others.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: DUDAMEL
David Geffen Hall (Dudamel: Jan. 15-18, 21 & 23-25)
He’s here! Gustavo Dudamel, arguably the most charismatic conductor in classical music today, slips away from his Los Angeles Philharmonic to lead New York’s for two weeks, commencing with a program comprising Dvořák’s Bohemian elegy, his Symphony No. 9, From the New World; Charles Ives’ modernist conundrum, The Unanswered Question; and a New York Premiere, Esteban Benzecry’s Piano Concerto, Universos infinitos.
Dudamel then tackles two extravagant masterworks of evanescence, Mahler’s valedictory Das Lied von der Erde (“Song of the Earth”) and Schubert’s Tragic Symphony No. 4.
THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY: STOCKHAUSEN
(Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse: January 16)
A rare opportunity to hear electronic chamber music as it was meant to be heard, in a picturesque setting like the Kaplan Penthouse, ostensibly with a drink in hand. Karl Stockhausen’s Kontakte for Piano, Percussion, and Electronic Sounds (1958-60) will be performed with more recent works by his indirect descendants: Kaija Saariaho’s Trois rivières for Percussion Quartet and Electronics (1994) and Thomas Meadowcroft’s Cradles for Percussion Duo with Wurlitzer e-Piano (2013).
WOZZECK / LA DAMNATION DE FAUST / PORGY AND BESS
Metropolitan Opera House
William Kentridge’s new production of Alban Berg’s apocalyptic Wozzeck, commands the month, with Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the pit and Peter Mattei in the title role, fronting a stellar ensemble, including Elza van den Heever and Christian Van Horn.
An unanticipated concert version of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, will be presented because, according to the Met, “the technical demands of reviving the staged production proved to be impossible to accommodate within the company’s production schedule.” The cast, nonetheless, seems ideal: tenor Bryan Hymel as Faust, Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as Méphistophélès and mezzo Elīna Garanča as Marguerite.
Also, not to be missed, the return of the Met’s acclaimed Porgy and Bess for a handful of performances.
LINCOLN CENTER’S AMERICAN SONGBOOK: RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
(Alice Tully Hall: Jan. 22)
Wainwright —who has composed two operas, to date, Prima Donna and Hadrian —will revisit songs that have shaped him as one of the most intriguing songwriters of his generation, in a program he calls, “Songs That Built Me.”
PROTOTYPE FESTIVAL: RICKY IAN GORDON’S ELLEN WEST
Various Venues (Ellen West: Jan. 14, 15, 17-19)
One of the city’s more expansive music theater festivals returns to explore “the interstitial realms between music, operatic tradition, and theatre.” One highlight, among many, will be a New York City premiere for composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s single-act psychoanalytic adventure Ellen West, starring the titanic baritone Nathan Gunn.
(Multiple Locations: Jan. 8-18)
January is also the month of Jazzfest in New York City; a borough-spanning jam session of contemporary jazz at its most ecumenical. Highlights include an evening with guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer, a celebration of Detroit’s jazz legacy that will feature a tribute to trumpeter Marcus Belgrave by, among others, bassist Ron Carter, vocalist Sheila Jordan, pianist Johnny O’Neal and young trumpeter Theo Croker; plus marathons— a Jazzfest signature — for two nights in Manhattan and one night in Brooklyn.