Bach beat

Lions and lambs
By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  March 8, 2010

NOT SO CRUEL APRIL Stephanie Blyth sings Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein for Opera Boston.

Composers JOHN HARBISON and PETER LIEBERSON are big presences this spring. Peggy Pearson's Winsor Music ( is co-sponsoring a Bach 325th-birthday celebration with Emmanuel Music ( for which Harbison will discuss and conduct Bach's Cantata No. 42 (free; Emmanuel Church, March 20) and will also present a Lieberson Boston premiere (St. Paul's Church, April 25).

Collage New Music ( offers Harbison's latest song cycle, The Seven Ages a beautiful and unnerving setting of Louise Glück (Longy School, March 22). And James Levine leads Harbison's new Double Concerto with the BSO (, along with Mahler's Symphony No. 7 (Symphony Hall, April 8-10). Levine also leads the premiere of Lieberson's Songs of Love and Sorrow, with baritone Gerald Finley ("Doctor Atomic") (March 25-30), and Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah, with power soprano Christine Brewer and mezzo Stephanie Blyth (April 1-3).

March goes out like a lamb with cellist YO-YO MA's Celebrity Series of Boston recital (Symphony Hall, March 26; For Emmanuel Music, pianist RUSSELL SHERMAN plays Haydn and Schoenberg (Emmanuel Church, March 28 + April 11, 25). Conflict alert! On April 25, the Celebrity Series presents another great pianist, MAURIZIO POLLINI, who'll play Chopin (Symphony Hall). The BOSTON CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY ( has an intriguing program of early Mahler (the Piano Quartet) and the Second Viennese School (Sanders Theatre, April 18). And the BORROMEO STRING QUARTET ( starts a Beethoven cycle at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (April 4).

Courtney Lewis's DISCOVERY ENSEMBLE ( returns with Haydn, Bartók, and Schumann (Sanders Theatre, April 11). Ben Zander's BOSTON PHILHARMONIC ( has Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps and Gwyneth Wentink in Ginastera's Harp Concerto (Sanders Theatre, April 22, 25; Jordan Hall, April 24).

Works for the stage include AMERICAN CLASSICS (, doing, in concert, Irving Berlin's 1918 revue, Yip, Yip, Yaphank, whose biggest hit was "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning" (Follen Church, April 16; Longy School, April 18). BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ( offers, fully staged, Mozart's first operatic masterpiece, Idomeneo (Shubert Theatre, April 23–May 4). OPERA BOSTON ( ends the cruelest month with Offenbach's delectable military satire, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, with, once again, Stephanie Blyth (Cutler Majestic, April 30–May 4).

May brings us some stellar early music. The HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY ( welcomes Sir Roger Norrington back to Symphony Hall to lead Beethoven's most pastoral symphonies, Nos. 4 and 6 (April 9, 11), and Harry Christophers paints a "Bach Portrait" there (April 30, May 2). The BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL ( has Jordi Savall's Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and Al Darwish in a musical history of Jerusalem (Sanders Theatre, May 5). Martin Pearlman's BOSTON BAROQUE ( features Michael Miniaci in Mozart arias for male soprano (Jordan Hall, May 7-8). David Hoose and the CANTATA SINGERS ( continue to explore and celebrate Heinrich Schütz, with his final Schwanengesang (Jordan Hall, May 14). And Gil Rose's BOSTON MODERN ORCHESTRA PROJECT ( brings us up to date with baritone Sanford Sylvan and five modern mavericks (Jordan Hall, May 28).

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