Classical Music: Pianist Shoko Inoue and Civic Orchestra of Victoria play Rachmaninoff

On Saturday, pianist Shoko Inoue will perform for the first time with the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, in a perennial favourite of the concerto repertoire, Rachmaninoff’s Second (2 p.m., Dave Dunnet Community Theatre, $22/$18/$10; civicorchestraofvictoria.org). 

Inoue, who was born in Japan, moved here from Toronto late in 2010 and has since given quite a few solo recitals, though she has not been featured in a concerto since November 2012, when she made her Victoria Symphony debut in the Saint-Saëns Second.

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She is a pianist with a commanding technique, yet one whose focus is always primarily on the emotional and spiritual trajectory of the music, as her very poetic program note for Saturday's concert suggests.

“The Second Concerto symbolizes the inevitable relationship between opposites,” she writes, “sometimes culminating in wondrous moments of union, and at other times spinning off amidst the stars to reassure us of the grand magnificence of our mother, chaos.”

This concert, incidentally, will also mark the first significant workout for the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre’s new seven-foot Steinway B grand piano.

The program, conducted by Brian Wismath, the Civic Orchestra’s music director since 2016, will open with another substantial Romantic masterpiece, Brahms’s darkly expressive Fourth Symphony.

Also on Saturday, the period-instrument duo comprising violinist Paul Luchkow and harpsichordist Michael Jarvis will launch its third season of chamber-music concerts in Christ Church Cathedral’s intimate, acoustically flattering Chapel of the New Jerusalem (7:30 p.m., $25/$20; christchurchcathedral.bc.ca).

The concert’s title, Stylus Fantasticus, borrows a term widely used in the 17th century for what one music theorist of the day described as “the most free and unrestrained method of composing.”

The program features works by a highly original musician closely associated with the “fantastic style,” the Bohemian-born, Salzburg-based violinist and composer Heinrich Biber, including his programmatic Sonata representativa, which includes amusing mimicry of animals — nightingale, cuckoo, frog, chicken, quail, cat.

The program ranges widely, however, drawing on major late-17th- and early-18th-century French and German composers including Buxtehude, Marais, Louis Couperin, Rameau (one of his delicious Pièces de clavecin en concerts) and Telemann, whose music has been much in evidence here in 2017, the 250th anniversary of his death.

For Saturday’s concert, the duo will be joined by viola da gamba virtuoso Sam Stadlen, a member of the venerable and acclaimed British viol consort Fretwork, which has performed here five times over the past decade. Jarvis met Stadlen during Fretwork’s most recent visit here, a year ago, and the idea for a trio collaboration emerged soon thereafter.

Saturday’s performance will fall in the middle of a three-week tour in which the trio is performing this program in seven West Coast locations. After the last concert, on Nov. 3, for Early Music Vancouver, they will record the program for a CD.

Luchkow and Jarvis have just released a CD, in fact — their third, featuring ebullient accounts of six programmatic sonatas by French Baroque composer Michel Corrette, on the Toronto-based Marquis Classics label.

On Sunday, two distinguished performers from Prague, violinist Jirí Vodicka and pianist Martin Kasík, will appear in a chamber-music program at Oak Bay United Church (7 p.m., advance $35/$28/$20, at Ivy’s Bookshop, door $35; information 250-888-1974).

Their recital, sponsored by the Czech Honorary Consulate in Victoria, commemorates the 99th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s independence, which was declared on Oct. 28, 1918, near the end of the First World War.

Both performers are multiple prize-winners who have international concert careers and have recorded CDs for the Supraphon and ArcoDiva labels.

Vodicka, 29, whose career took off in his teens, is also concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic, a member of the Smetana Trio and a teacher at both the Prague Conservatory and the University of Ostrava. (He plays an instrument made by Giuseppe Gagliano at Naples in 1774.) Kasík, 41, also teaches at the Prague Conservatory and at the city’s Academy of Performing Arts.

The two are on a five-city Western Canadian tour, which began in Edmonton last Saturday and will end here. Their program includes Beethoven's “Kreutzer” Sonata, showpieces by Saint-Saëns and Sarasate, and works by two 20th-century Czech composers, Klement Slavicky and Josef Suk.

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