Classical Music: Busy concert period brings wave of talent

The classical concert schedule over the next few weeks is unusually laden with both local and visiting performers.

On Friday, the Italian pianist Marco Grieco will appear in the Oak Bay Music Society’s Master Pianists series (7 p.m., Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 1701 Elgin Rd., $20/$15; oakbaymusic.ca).

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Grieco performs regularly all over Europe and has appeared in the Far East, South Africa and New York. This month, he is undertaking his first North American tour, which also includes concerts in Vancouver, Galiano Island and Chemainus, as well as Toronto, Chicago, and other cities.

It is fortunate that he will be performing in an ample space, as he is offering a big program of Romantic fare: some Bach-Busoni, Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2 and a Liszt group comprising the Dante Sonata, the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and the Rigoletto paraphrase.

The coming week is a good one for flute fans of every stripe.

On Sunday, the Victoria Symphony, conducted by Danish-born Christian Kluxen, will give its first Classics program of the season, joined by the eminent Canadian flutist Susan Hoeppner (2:30 p.m., Farquhar Auditorium, $32-$52; victoriasymphony.ca).

Hoeppner — who was born in Winnipeg, grew up in Calgary, and is based in Toronto — has been on the international concert scene since the early 1980s, and has a distinguished record of achievement as a soloist and chamber musician, recording artist, and teacher (at the University of Toronto, Royal Conservatory of Music and elsewhere).

And yet, she has never before appeared with the Victoria Symphony.

Hoeppner will perform concertos by C.P.E. Bach and Haydn in a program that also includes Mozart’s Don Giovanni overture and Haydn’s splendid Symphony No. 82 (the one known as “The Bear” for, as usual, a stupid reason).

The latter work will launch a very welcome Haydn Festival spread across the whole 2016-17 Classics series.

On Tuesday, a superb and very different flutist, Mark Takeshi McGregor, will perform in the University Victoria’s Faculty Concert Series (8 p.m., Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, $20/$15/$10; finearts.uvic.ca/music/ events). McGregor, though based in Vancouver, is the flutist of the Aventa Ensemble here. This semester, he is an interim sessional instructor in UVic’s School of Music.

Though he performs flute music of every vintage, McGregor is a particularly devoted champion of contemporary works, which he has performed around the world to great acclaim.

On Tuesday, joined by pianist Kenneth Broadway, he will offer a program that straddles his whole repertoire: works by Bach, Franck, and Berg, plus an unaccompanied piece, en cueros (“naked” or “vulnerable”), by the Argentinean composer Natalia Solomonoff.

McGregor gave the première of this piece last month at a new-music symposium in Brazil.

A Place to Listen, the concert series devoted to contemporary “quiet” music, especially that of the international Wandelweiser collective, starts up again next Wednesday (7 p.m., James Bay United Church, $10/$5; aplacetolisten.tumblr.com).

Clarinetist Nathan Friedman will perform a new solo work by the Wandelweiser composer Anastassis Philippakopoulos, based on melodic ideas that came to him during long, restorative walks on the Greek island of Kythnos. The program includes two chamber pieces with open instrumentation by Dutch composer Samuel Vriezen, performed by the series’ house ensemble.

Alongside these three works — all North American premières — the series’ co-founder, Daniel Brandes, will perform momentary encounters (3), for “melodica and soft whistling,” by local composer Alex Jang.

The biggest concert of the coming week is the one least in need of my help: a recital next Thursday, Oct. 20, by the great Canadian violinist James Ehnes (7:30 p.m., Dave Dunnet Community Theatre, Oak Bay High School, $40/$10; vsmf.org).

This concert, sponsored by the Victoria Summer Music Festival, is part of the cross-country tour by Ehnes to celebrate his 40th birthday. (It will yield a CD and radio and television programs.) With his 1715 “Marsick” Stradivarius in hand, and accompanied by pianist Andrew Armstrong, he will perform music by Handel and Beethoven, a new commissioned work by Bramwell Tovey, and various showpieces.

At the time of writing, some tickets were still available. Don’t assume they still are.

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