NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: MESSIAH / BEETHOVEN & BRONFMAN / SONDHEIM
David Geffen Hall (Beethoven: Dec. 5-7) / (Messiah: Dec. 17-21) / (Sondheim: Dec. 31)
What would the season be without Handel’s Messiah? An unfinished melody. British Baroque maestro Harry Bicket commands the Philharmonic’s massed forces to bring Handel on home for the holidays.
NY Phil Music Director Jaap van Zweden meanwhile carries forth the Beethoven 250 festivities with the euphoric Symphony No. 2; the splendid Piano Concerto No. 4 played by the commensurately sublime Yefim Bronfman; and, in a lovely twist, a new work from Steve Reich that pays homage to the Baroque concerto grosso.
New Year’s Eve at the Phil celebrates Stephen Sondheim, whose 90th Birthday rapidly approaches. Tony Award-winner Katrina Lenk sings, Alexander Gemignani conducts.
THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY: BAROQUE FESTIVAL
Alice Tully Hall (Goldberg Variations: Dec. 3) / (Corelli: Dec. 8 & 10) / (Brandenburg Concertos: Dec. 13, 15 & 17)
Celebrate the season with these Baroque favorites:
Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations played by a master of this opus, pianist Jeffrey Kahane.
Corelli’s Christmas Concerto accessorized with the Bach Trio Sonata in C minor, the “Winter” movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and other charming Baroque baubles.
Finally, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in all of their orchestral glory.
THE QUEEN OF SPADES / LE NOZZE DI FIGARO / THE MAGIC FLUTE / NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA
Metropolitan Opera House
Tchaikovsky’s chilly St. Petersburg noir, The Queen of Spades, returns with the hugely anticipated Met debut of Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen.
Richard Eyre’s speedball production of Le Nozze di Figaro continues its run with a first-class cast.
Julie Taymor’s puppet-laced The Magic Flute also returns, in the Met’s family-friendly, abridged, English language edition.
Der Rosenkavalier glamorizes the holiday season with Sir Simon Rattle in the pit and Golda Schultz moving over from the Met’s acclaimed Porgy company to sing the role of Sophie.
Anna Netrebko then kicks out the all-Puccini jams for the New Year’s Eve Gala, an evening of highlights fully staged, with Met maestro Nézet-Séguin conducting.
ARTEMIS / DIDONATO & NÉZET-SÉGUIN
Carnegie Hall (Artemis: Dec. 7) / (DiDonato & Nézet-Séguin: Dec. 15)
To call Artemis a jazz female supergroup seems frivolous. They are, however, an extraordinary assemblage of contemporary jazz talents who are all women: Music Director and pianist Renee Rosnes; clarinetist Anat Cohen; tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana; trumpeter Ingrid Jensen; bassist Noriko Ueda; drummer Allison Miller; and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. One hell of a band.
Carnegie Hall also embraces the many moods of the season with Schubert’s Winterreise, perhaps the greatest emotional rollercoaster in the vocal music canon, sung by opera’s incomparable navigator of roiling emotion, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, accompanied by Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
THE MET CLOISTERS: THE CROSSING
(The Fuentidueña Chapel: Dec. 21)
A little post-modernist Christmas spirit: David Lang’s Pulitzer-winning, the little match girl passion, sung by The Crossing chamber choir at The Cloisters, together with a World Premiere of Spectral Spirits by composer Edie Hill, set to poems by Holly Hughes.
CYRUS CHESTNUT: A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
(Miller Theatre: Dec. 7)
Vince Guraldi’s timeless television score played by a present-day jazz piano giant, plus quartet. What a great idea for the holidays.
PETER & THE WOLF: ISAAC MIZRAHI
(Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Dec. 7, 8, 13, 14 & 15)
Prokofiev’s children’s chestnut narrated by the eponymous designer himself, who, of course, also costumed the proceedings.
HOLIDAY TEA AT THREE: VINCE GIORDANO’S NIGHTHAWKS
(Park Avenue Plaza: Dec. 14)
A free holiday tea dance keyed to the hot jazz of the 1920s and ‘30s is a longstanding tradition in the lobby of this midtown office tower, just blocks from Rockefeller Center. So, come and dance.