Falling into the classics season, Buffalo News

Autumn is a time for reflection.

Darkness begins to fall early, and the world seems to wait for Halloween, when we acknowledge the unseen and honor the dead. It’s a time for dark coffee, honeyed tea, red wine and brown ale. And with music, too, we find ourselves hungering for something deeper.

Classical music, in other words, calls to us. This fall features a chain of atmospheric events, from Rachmaninoff’s “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells” – both part of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rachmaninoff Festival – to the primal dances of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rings out, with its “Ode to Joy” and challenge of brotherhood. We will also hear the haunting strains of a Beethoven sonata that inspired a Tolstoy story, and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” lit by iridescent glass.

Here are the details on these events, as well as several others that call out for your attention.

The list includes several inexpensive events, as well as a couple of freebies. Let the autumn begin.

• 8 p.m. Saturday: Soprano Renee Fleming joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for its season-opening gala. She sings a generous set of songs ranging from Mozart to Broadway, getting the fall musical season off to an extravagant start. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts the concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. $65-$125. 885-5000.

• 3 p.m. Sept. 21: A piano recital is a romantic way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and this one is free. Andrew Tyson, a promising pianist who has been creating quite a buzz, is playing Mozart, Chopin and Schumann in a recital that kicks off this year’s Buffalo Chamber Music Society Gift to the Community Series. Free; no tickets needed. 462-4939.

• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27; 3 p.m. Sept. 28: The Miro Quartet is playing the Slee Beethoven Quartet Series. The Miro “swept the Banff,” as one quartet aficionado puts it, meaning that the quartet beat out the competition at the prestigious Banff Competition in northern Canada. $12 in advance; $20 at the door, discounts for students and seniors. 645-2921.

• 7 p.m. Oct. 1: Opera meets glass sculptures in “Dark Secrets,” the inaugural event in this season’s BPO series “Know the Score.” At Kleinhans Music hall, Falletta will explain and conduct Bela Bartok’s one-act opera “Bluebeard’s Castle” with an enchanting set incorporating the glass creations of Dale Chihuly, whose glass exhibit was such a hit a few years ago at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Only four other cities have seen this production. $29, students $10. 885-5000.

• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10; 8 p.m. Oct. 11; 8 p.m. Oct. 18; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19: The BPO’s two-weekend Rachmaninoff Festival spotlights sides of the composer’s artistry we don’t get to glimpse too often. The first two concerts feature the seldom performed Piano Concerto No. 4, with Fabio Bidini as soloist, “The Sea and the Seagull,” and the Symphony No. 2. The second set of concerts includes the Piano Concerto No. 1 – with a beautiful slow movement that hints at Wagner – played by Gabriela Martinez, as well as “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells,” inspired by the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. At Kleinhans Music Hall. $34-$83. 885-5000.

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