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Weekend Music Picks: New-Music Groups Go Old School

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 26, 2010 10:10PM

Photo courtesy of dal niente
Two new-music groups that normally perform chamber music programs that tend toward the avant garde and experimental are taking the edge off by going back in time this weekend, with concerts featuring music that's, relatively-speaking, downright ancient.

Saturday, February 27 - dal niente
dal niente will play arrangements of two early 20th-century pieces by masters from the early Modern and late Romantic eras. The first work will be Igor Stravinsky's 1953 arrangement of his own "Concertino." Originally composed in 1920 as a string quartet, Stravinsky expanded the ensemble to twelve, with a violinist, cellist, and ten wind and brass musicians. The second half will be Arnold Schoenberg and Rainer Riehn's arrangement of Gustav Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" ("The Song of the Earth"). Mahler's piece is a symphony, although he didn't number it because he believed in the "curse of ninth," which caused a composer to die after writing his ninth symphony (he wrote "Das Lied" after his Symphony No. 8). Like just about all of Mahler's works, it was written for a huge orchestra, and in 1921, a little more than a decade after its composition, Schoenberg started arranging the piece for a smaller ensemble (while still keeping the vocal soloists). Schoenberg never finished, and his project was taken up and completed in the 1980s by Riehn. Michael Lewanski will conduct the group, which will feature mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and DePaul University voice faculty member Michael Sylvester.
7:30 p.m., Gottlieb Hall, 38 S. Peoria, $15, $5 students

Sunday, February 28 - Anaphora
We usually shill concerts from Anaphora's Contemporary Series, but their Classical Series is something we should keep you up to speed on, too. This Sunday's program is a fun (and free!) selection of music: George Gershwin's Three Preludes, originally for solo piano but arranged by Anaphora saxophonist Masahito Sugihara for oboe, clarinet, sax, and bassoon and will be performed by the Chicago Reed Quartet; a Sugihara arrangement of Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla's "Fuga y Misterio," also to be performed by the Chicago Reed Quartet; Claude Debussy's clarinet piece "First Rhapsody"; and a piano trio by Felix Mendelssohn.
3:00 p.m., Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, FREE