One almost wants to bust out the old Steve Martin scene in "The Jerk" - where Navin Johnson runs around screaming, "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!" - when talking about the release of the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival schedule.
It's not exactly apropos and within the spirit of a classical-music series to go all Steve Martin, but I do rip open the brochure every spring to leaf through frantically to see the year's program.
I generally want to go to all the concerts, but life (read: one's job and so on) has a nasty way of interfering with those idyllic ambitions. So I always make sure I make five concerts and, since I have a bully pulpit at the Daily, hereby do declare them to be the "can't-miss" concerts of the season. (Let's hear it for the power of the pen, er, keyboard.)
Before we list off what we think are going to be our favorites, we address our asterisk. Bravo Executive Director John Giovando asked me last year, "Why don't you ever put any of our chamber concerts in your top-five articles?"
The answer is because it's so hard to narrow down all the concerts at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to five, much less add in chamber concerts, or Big Music for Little Bands, as the festival calls them. (I'm a big fan of chamber music, and iTunes proves it. My most-played albums are all Bach's, be they the Brandenburgs, the Orchestral Suites or the Harpsichord Concerti.)
So, for Giovando - who is leaving the festival after 25 years of marvelous stewardship in which Bravo has gone from a few concerts in Beaver Creek to hosting three major orchestras - we are including two chamber concerts in this year's list of not-to-miss concerts.
Alisa Weilerstein (cello), Jennifer Koh (violin) and Anne-Marie McDermott (piano) present a pair of trios by Mendelssohn and Brahms at the Vail Mountain School. While the Ford Amphitheater is an intimate setting, especially compared with most symphony halls, chamber concerts such as these are an even closer look at classical music.
It's an all-piano slate of Saint-Saens, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Copland and Brahms at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. If you haven't heard classical music at this venue, you're missing something.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra - Brahms' "Double Concerto" and Schubert's Ninth Symphony. That should be Great. (OK, really bad classical music joke.) Brahms is always good - that's a rule - and I don't remember "The Great" being played here in recent memory.
The Philadelphia Orchestra - This would fall under the category of rousing. Kirill Gerstein plays Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and that's followed by Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" Symphony. This is a delightfully Russian evening.
The Philadelphia Orchestra - Joshua Bell comes to Bravo in a huge coup for the festival. Bravo to Bravo - the much-acclaimed violinist performs Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Oh, yes, the second half of the program is Dvorak's Seventh.
New York Philharmonic - Opening night for New York is always the place to be. As always, arrive early, especially if you're on the lawn. There's a great program, too, with Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto (with Benjamin Grosvenor on the bench) as well as Brahms' First Symphony. (We cite the rule "Brahms is always good" again.)
New York Philharmonic - Conductor Alan Gilbert arrives for an Italian and Russian evening. After "Fountains of Rome," by Respighi, we have spring and winter from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Tchaikovsky's Fourth finishes the evening. (And yes, I am an unabashed fan of the Romantic Era.)
Daily Staff Writer Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.