The concert season has already ended for some local classical organizations, and there will be two more season finales this weekend, both featuring a serious large-scale masterpiece of the standard repertoire.
On Saturday morning, the Emily Carr String Quartet will bring its season to a close, as it has the past few years, with an instalment of its series Music Inside Out, in which a single major work is discussed, then performed (refreshments 10:30 a.m., concert 11; Pacific Fleet Club, 1587 Lyall St., CFB Esquimalt; $25, students free; emilycarrstringquartet.com).
This time, the focus will be on Schubert’s last major work, the String Quintet in C Major, completed in October 1828 just a few weeks before his death at age 31.
It is a work of astonishing richness, breadth and profundity, at once rife with influences (Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, contemporary Viennese and Hungarian styles) and endlessly original. It is also relatively unusual in that the standard string quartet is augmented not with a second viola, but a second cello.
On Saturday, that second cello part will be taken by Sophie van der Sloot, the inaugural participant in the ECSQ’s new Young Artist Mentorship Program. Van der Sloot, 16, is a Grade 10 student at St. Andrew's Regional High School. She studies in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Collegium program, has won many awards at festivals, participated in the Young Artists Program at the National Arts Centre, in Ottawa, and has performed with the Victoria Symphony, the Sidney Classical Orchestra and the Victoria Chamber Orchestra.
The quintet will be introduced, in the context of Schubert’s life and work, by pianist Robert Holliston, head of the VCM’s keyboard department and a personable, popular lecturer.
Several times in the recent past, the Victoria Symphony has closed its season with a program devoted wholly or mostly to a monumental choral-orchestral work, such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Brahms’ German Requiem. In 2011, it was Verdi’s Requiem, which will come around again as a season finale this weekend (Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m.; Royal Theatre; $32-$85; victoriasymphony.ca).
Christian Kluxen will conduct, rounding out his first season as the orchestra’s music director, which he launched with Mahler’s equally monumental First Symphony. Like the Mahler, Verdi’s Requiem — sacred music that is appropriately grandiose and solemn, but also unabashedly operatic — is a splendid test of a conductor’s technical and interpretive mettle, and of the virtuosity, showmanship and dramatic range of an orchestra and chorus.
This weekend, the chorus will be the Victoria Choral Society, joined by an international quartet of acclaimed soloists: Norwegian soprano Kari Postma; mezzo-soprano Megan Latham, a native of British Columbia; Adam Frandsen, a tenor who, like Kluxen, is from Denmark; and baritone Vartan Gabrielian, a Torontonian based in Philadelphia.
Next Wednesday, May 16, in its penultimate offering of the season, the new-music series A Place to Listen will sponsor a concert curated by clarinetist and composer Nathan Friedman, a member of the APTL Ensemble, who will perform with violinist Emily MacCallum and pianist Daniel Brandes (7 p.m., James Bay United Church, $10; aplacetolisten.ca).
Friedman’s program, comprising three trios exploring “aspects of mourning,” was inspired by the late music of Liszt, repertoire well over a century older than that which APTL usually programs. But late Liszt “has always been very influential on my work,” Friedman says. “It presents a highly enigmatic soundworld that is alternately stark and lyrical, often sounding decades ahead of its time.”
The concert will open with Liszt’s Romance oubliée (1880), followed by a work inspired by some of Liszt’s late piano music: Trauergondel (2012), by Leo Svirsky, an American composer based in The Hague.
The second half will be devoted to the première of a new piece by Friedman himself for the same three instruments plus “sine tones.” Titled l’oe, it is based on Mallarmé’s long, unfinished poem Pour un tombeau d'Anatole, his effort to write about the death of his young son in 1879.
So, to review: a late utterance by a young composer dying of syphilis, a Mass for the dead and a program of grieving music. Happy Mother's Day!