Autumn is a time for reflection.
Darkness begins to fall early, and the world seems to wait for Halloween, when we acknowledge the unseen and honor the dead. It’s a time for dark coffee, honeyed tea, red wine and brown ale. And with music, too, we find ourselves hungering for something deeper.
Classical music, in other words, calls to us. This fall features a chain of atmospheric events, from Rachmaninoff’s “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells” – both part of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rachmaninoff Festival – to the primal dances of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rings out, with its “Ode to Joy” and challenge of brotherhood. We will also hear the haunting strains of a Beethoven sonata that inspired a Tolstoy story, and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” lit by iridescent glass.
Here are the details on these events, as well as several others that call out for your attention.
The list includes several inexpensive events, as well as a couple of freebies. Let the autumn begin.
• 8 p.m. Saturday: Soprano Renee Fleming joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for its season-opening gala. She sings a generous set of songs ranging from Mozart to Broadway, getting the fall musical season off to an extravagant start. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts the concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. $65-$125. 885-5000.
• 3 p.m. Sept. 21: A piano recital is a romantic way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and this one is free. Andrew Tyson, a promising pianist who has been creating quite a buzz, is playing Mozart, Chopin and Schumann in a recital that kicks off this year’s Buffalo Chamber Music Society Gift to the Community Series. Free; no tickets needed. 462-4939.
• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27; 3 p.m. Sept. 28: The Miro Quartet is playing the Slee Beethoven Quartet Series. The Miro “swept the Banff,” as one quartet aficionado puts it, meaning that the quartet beat out the competition at the prestigious Banff Competition in northern Canada. $12 in advance; $20 at the door, discounts for students and seniors. 645-2921.
• 7 p.m. Oct. 1: Opera meets glass sculptures in “Dark Secrets,” the inaugural event in this season’s BPO series “Know the Score.” At Kleinhans Music hall, Falletta will explain and conduct Bela Bartok’s one-act opera “Bluebeard’s Castle” with an enchanting set incorporating the glass creations of Dale Chihuly, whose glass exhibit was such a hit a few years ago at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Only four other cities have seen this production. $29, students $10. 885-5000.
• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10; 8 p.m. Oct. 11; 8 p.m. Oct. 18; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19: The BPO’s two-weekend Rachmaninoff Festival spotlights sides of the composer’s artistry we don’t get to glimpse too often. The first two concerts feature the seldom performed Piano Concerto No. 4, with Fabio Bidini as soloist, “The Sea and the Seagull,” and the Symphony No. 2. The second set of concerts includes the Piano Concerto No. 1 – with a beautiful slow movement that hints at Wagner – played by Gabriela Martinez, as well as “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells,” inspired by the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. At Kleinhans Music Hall. $34-$83. 885-5000.
• 3 p.m. Oct. 26: Ode to joy! The Cheektowaga Symphony, led by the astute and knowledgeable John Landis, is heroically tackling Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Featured will be the Fredonia College Choir, directed by Gerald Gray, and soloists Holly Bewlay, Melissa Thorburn, Joe Dan Harper and Jeffery Strauss. Get to know this thrilling music in advance of the BPO’s performance next spring (on March 21 and 22, 2015). At Villa Maria College. Free. For info visit www.cheektowagasymphony.com.
• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 31; 8 p.m. Nov. 1; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 2: Here is a rare performance appealing to fans of music, theater and dance. The BPO partners with LehrerDance and the Irish Classical Theatre Company for a semi-staged production of “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” the comedy by Moliere with incidental music written in 1912 by Richard Strauss. The music is glorious, in that gilded way that recalls Strauss’ world, the Vienna of Gustav Klimt. Vincent O’Neill stars. $37-$80. 885-5000.
• 8 p.m. Nov. 11: Musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center play Mozart, Beethoven and a more recent Viennese composer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The Beethoven is the “Kreutzer” Sonata, seen as so sultry that Tolstoy wrote a novella about it – a book that was censored at first and has since been made into a number of movies. (The most recent was in 2008 and had a memorable cameo by Anjelica Huston). The Mozart is the beautiful late piano trio in E Flat, K 542. And the Korngold is a quintet, which should prove an interesting contrast with his famous swashbuckling film scores. The concert takes place in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. $20. 462-4939.
• 10:30 a.m. Nov. 14; 8 p.m. Nov. 15: Maximiano Valdes, former music director of the BPO, returns to conduct a concert with more than a bit of Spanish and South American flair. Joining Maestro Valdes is the young and acclaimed violinist Tai Murray, playing Lalo’s atmospheric “Symphonie Espagnol.” Music by Cesar Franck and Alberto Ginastera round out this lively event. $29-$80. 885-5000.
• 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21: It’s not often you get to hear and see Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” the ballet that shocked the world at its premiere. The BPO will be performing the music, and on stage, dancing the primal and frenetic dances, will be the Richmond Ballet. The performance takes place at the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus. $45-$125, students $27. 645-ARTS.