This weekend’s programs bring to our stage some golden favorites of the repertoire as well as some important new work. Notable among the former will be Gil Shaham’s performance of Bruch’s perfectly beautiful and ultra-Romantic violin concerto (Benedict Music Tent, 6 p.m.). This is a work beloved of violinists, as it also displays virtuosity along with an achingly sweet tone - it’s a wonderful choice for Shaham, whose enthusiasm, warmth, and dazzling ability have made him an Aspen favorite since he was a child. Ludovic Morlot, music director of the Seattle Symphony, pairs the Bruch with Beethoven’s magisterial Leonore Overture, one of four overtures he wrote for his singer opera, Fidelio. We had another one on our first Friday this season.
Sunday Afternoon (Benedict Music Tent, 4 p.m..) we have two more great artists who emerged from among our students to worldwide careers Aliza Weilerstein and Leonard Slatkin. They join students and faculty of the Aspen Festival Orchestra for Elgar’s Cello Concerto, a darkly glowing Romantic work that brilliantly employs the burnished sound of the cello and the rhetoric of the concerto form. In a remarkable tribute to her artistry, Daniel Barenbolm has recorded this concerto with Weilerstein for the first time since he recorded it with his wife, the late Jazqueline du Pre. It is one of Weilerstein’s signature pieces, and will be one of the not-to-be-missed performances of the summer.
With Elgar, Slatkin presents a new work by a composer new to our facility, Steven Stucky. Skucky’s Symphony was a joint commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic and premiered to tremendous acclaim this past season. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, longtime advisor to the LA Phil and professor at Cornell, Stuck is clearly one of our most important living composers. His music is generous in its style both for listeners and musicians. We are proud to give our Aspen audience a chance to know him.
Saturday we have our morning opera scenes (Wheeler Opera House, 10 a.m.), now hitting their mid-season stride in a wonderful variety of favorite moments from all periods of opera and drawing a large crowd to the Wheeler. Saturday afternoon chamber music (Harris Hall, 4:30 p.m.) includes Mozart’s oboe quartet, and Alisa Weilerstein joining our artist-faculty for Martinu’s Sextet. Saturday evening we have the Aspen debut of a renowned French pianist, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Harris Hall, 8 p.m.). This season we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harris Hall, and a piano recital of these monuments of the standard repertoire is a great reminder of the importance Harris plays in every one of our seasons.
The 2013 season of the Aspen Music Festival and School opened June 27. Alan Fletcher is the president and CEO.