Take a musical voyage with Bravo! Vail | VailDaily.com

Take a musical voyage with Bravo! Vail

Zach Mahone/Special to the Daily

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek has winter offerings of classical music, but these are the best five or six weeks of the year — the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic come to town, along with a myriad of great soloists; not to mention chamber concerts and assorted free musical events taking place throughout the county.

Bravo! Vail is one of the reasons this is a wonderful place in which to live. (I’ve heard the skiing and snowboarding is pretty good here, but golf and Bravo! Vail top my list, along with reading a really good novel in front of a roaring fire during the winter.)

When the Bravo! Vail schedule comes out in the spring, one wants to attend every single concert, so the concept of narrowing it down to a five, or thereabouts, is laborious and painful. Yet, here we go.


Dallas Symphony Orchestra

The classical symphonic opener of the season features Borodin, Chopin and Dvorak. The headliner for this concert understandably is Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony, “New World.” (Kudos to the festival for spotlighting Dvorak with many of his works throughout the season.) I am always happy to hear “New World,” but what I am really excited about is Garrick Ohlsson’s return to the festival for Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto.

My first Bravo! Vail concert was with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, probably around 2000, and Ohlsson did Chopin’s First. I’ve been a fan ever since. Some of my favorite recordings on my iPod are of Ohlsson performing Beethoven piano sonatas. I am pumped that he is back.

July 7

The Philadelphia Orchestra

This is titled “Nadja and Appalachian Spring.” That works. Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is back to perform Ravel’s “Tzigane” and Saint Saens’ “Havanaise.” She’s always spectacular. (With returning artists like Salerno-Sonnenberg, festival regulars tend to develop a relationship with them, even if they’ve never actually met them. That’s one of the many joys of live music.)

Copland should always be played in a setting like the Ford Amphitheater. Works like “Appalachian Spring” embody our part of the world.

Yet the real kicker to this concert is the variety of composers in the program, Ravel, Saint-Saens, Copland, Berlioz and Sierra all in one night is voyage one can only take through music.

July 10

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. Go. That isn’t hard to understand, people.

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto makes for a very Russian evening.

July 12

The Philadelphia Orchestra

If I had to pick one, this is it. Mozart’s 20th Piano Concerto is one of my favorites. It was one of the first used CDs I bought in college, a magnificent recording of Rudolf Serkin playing. (Kids, there was a time when you didn’t download your music from a computer, but I’m starting to sound like a grumpy old man who barks at kids who step on his lawn.) And for those not familiar with the Mozart, you have heard it before, particularly the second movement in the movie “Amadeus.”

So, this is Mozart and Mahler’s Fourth. Congratulations to the festival for doing something that is not Mahler’s First or Fifth in a non-anniversary year. Phillips is the soprano for the final movement of the Mahler.

July 19

New York Philharmonic

Huzzah, Dvorak is on the program and it’s not “New World.” Yes, many instances of this occur, but this is allegedly a top-five list. It’s Dvorak’s Cello Concerto (Carter Brey) and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth. This should be a crowd-pleaser. It’s also the Philharmonic’s opening night, which is always an event.

July 26

New York Philharmonic

The mathematically-inclined will realize that this is concert No. 6. Sue me. I’m a liberal-arts major. Gil Shaham, another soloist who is happily becoming a Bravo! Vail regular, takes on Sibelieus’ Violin Concerto. (Good pick. We haven’t heard that one in a while. It also falls under the category of “Sibelieus is performed and it’s not Symphonies Nos. 1 or 2 or ‘Finlandia.’”)

Holst’s “The Planets” caps the evening.

And …

Although he is retired, former executive John Giovando always got upset at me — in a nice way — because I never included a chamber concert in our top-five/top-six/ever-growing list. All of the chamber concerts at the Vail Mountain School are treasure, yet we give you July 15’s all-Mozart program with Anne-Marie McDermott as the pianist and Calder Quartet.

To see ticket prices and the entire Bravo! Vail season lineup, visit http://www.bravo vail.com.

Chris Freud is the Vail Daily’s sports editor as well as the paper’s classical-music fan. He can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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