BY LIBBY HANSSEN, Kansas City Star
Expert pianists always play a big role throughout the Friends’ series, and the 2013-14 season will be no exception. Keyboard artists hailing from four countries will play on the Folly Theater stage. Returning masters include Russian Vladimir Feltsman and American Garrick Ohlsson (a Kansas City favorite), with first-time performances by Brazilian-born Arnaldo Cohen and Benjamin Grosvenor, the 20-year-old British talent who is earning enormous critical success (and who studied with Cohen).
The Pacifica Quartet first performed for this series more than 20 years ago and has since garnered an international reputation, numerous awards and prestigious residencies. The Star described its 2005 appearance as “memorable for the ensemble’s refined sonority, superlative technical command and sophisticated musicianship.”
The Friends will host two holiday-themed events.
The Tallis Scholars, conducted by Peter Phillips, will perform a concert in December. The group, frequent performers in the series, celebrated its 40th anniversary as an ensemble in March.
“They are the greatest performing group in the world that specializes in 17th-century vocal music,” said Cynthia Siebert, president and founder of the Friends of Chamber Music. “I feel obligated to bring them on an every-other-year basis.”
On Valentine’s Day, the Venice Baroque Orchestra, with counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, will perform selections from Neapolitan operas in Yardley Hall, a co-presentation with the Johnson County Community College’s Performing Arts Series.
Two younger ensembles will be featured as part of the Friends’ Music Alliance series, co-presented with the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. The Horszowski Trio was formed in 2011 in honor of legendary pianist Mieczysław Horszowski (Hor-SHOV-ski) and has already gained international attention, striving to present a direct musical lineage with the composers whose works the trio performs.
Brooklyn-based quartet So Percussion, which played at the Lied Center in Lawrence last October, constructs programs from both classic and modern percussion repertoire, including original compositions.
Performances of early music are also well-represented.
Jordi Savall is not only a renowned interpreter of the viola de gamba, he is a scholar, educator and impresario and has a staggering output of recordings.
“His projects are the most difficult to assemble — the music doesn’t exist, or he’s finding it in the catacombs of churches and the bowels of libraries, and they haven’t been seen by anyone for hundreds of years,” Siebert said.
Along with his ensemble Hesperion XXI, guest vocalists and performers on authentic regional instruments, he will present “Blood and Honey: The Cycles of Life in the Mosaic of Christians, Sephardic Jews and Muslims in the Balkans.”
“We’ve never presented a program with music that focuses on … the Balkans,” Siebert said. “Many early musicians put far more thinking into the drama and the theatricality of their programs … it’s just rare.”
Also in the series are performances of 16th century English polyphony by Boston-based Blue Heron and a baroque battle with Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s “Concerto: Italy vs. Germany,” who’ve performed on the series twice before.
Information about subscriptions can be found at chambermusic.org or by calling 816-561-9999. Single tickets go on sale June 3.
The 2013-14 schedule
• Sept. 27, Folly Theater: Vladimir Feltsman, piano; music of Haydn, Schubert, Liszt, Scriabin.
• Oct. 12, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: Blue Heron; Music for an English Cathedral: Music From the Peterhouse Partbooks (c.1540).
• Oct. 26, Folly Theater: Pacifica String Quartet; music of Haydn, Schnittke, Beethoven.
• Oct. 31, Folly Theater: Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI.
• Dec. 13, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: Tallis Scholars; music of Victoria, Verdelot, Bruckner, Guerrero.
• Jan. 23, 2014, White Recital Hall: Horszowski Trio; music of Faure, Wuorinen, Schubert.
• Jan. 31, Folly Theater: Garrick Ohlsson, piano; music of Beethoven, Schubert, Griffes, Chopin.
• Feb. 5, White Recital Hall: So Percussion.
• Feb. 14, Yardley Hall: Venice Baroque Orchestra, with counter-tenor Philipe Jaroussky.
• March 8, Folly Theater: Arnaldo Cohen, pianist; music of Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Prokofiev.
• April 11, Folly Theater: Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin; music of Veracini, Bach, Vivaldi, Marcello, Handel, Telemann.
• April 25, Folly Theater: Benjamin Grosvenor, pianist.