By DAVID ALLEN
The Italian maestro Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Friday and Saturday. Credit Ronald Zak/Associated Press
Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera.
CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Carnegie Hall (Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.). Happily, contemporary music plays a significant role in the programs that Riccardo Muti leads at Carnegie this season, with each of these two concerts featuring a New York premiere. On Friday, Jennifer Higdon’s Low Brass Concerto debuts alongside Stravinsky’s “Scherzo fantastique,” Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” from “Peter Grimes” and Chausson’s “Poème de l’amour et de la mer,” with the mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine. Samuel Adams’s “Many Words of Love” has its premiere at Saturday’s concert, with the overture to Verdi’s “I vespri Siciliani” and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 also on the bill.
INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE at Abrons Arts Center (Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.). New York’s leading new-music group does a real service with its free OpenICE concerts, all constructed and performed at the highest of high standards. This time around, hear Ellen Reid’s “Push/Pull” and Rebecca Saunders’s “To and Fro,” as well as pieces by Elliott Carter, Reiko Füting, Karen Keyhani and Jonathan Dawe.
KIRILL GERSTEIN at Town Hall (Feb. 11, 2 p.m.). The cheerfully inexpensive Peoples’ Symphony Concert series presents this deft recital from this hyper-virtuosic pianist. There’s Bach and Debussy, Chopin and Brahms, and the intriguing prospect of Three Mazurkas by Thomas Adès, whose new piano concerto Mr. Gerstein will debut next year with the Boston Symphony.
LORELEI ENSEMBLE at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields (Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m.). Performing at the 5 Boroughs Music Festival, this Boston-based, all-female vocal group presents music from the very old to the very recent, with works from the Renaissance giant Guillaume Dufay included with those by David Lang, Steve Reich, Moira Smiley and six other composers.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC at David Geffen Hall (Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., through Feb. 17). Jaap van Zweden has made something of a name for himself with his ongoing Wagner recordings with the Hong Kong Philharmonic on Naxos, and it is Wagner with which he returns to conduct the orchestra that he formally takes over next season. He is joined by Heidi Melton, Simon O’Neill and John Relyea for the first act of “Die Walküre.” Wagner’s opera is prefaced in the “Ring” by a tale of the rape of nature, and environmental themes have been crucial to the recent work of the composer John Luther Adams. His “Dark Waves,” in effect the predecessor of the immense “Become Ocean,” acts as the prelude here.
DOROTHEA RÖSCHMANN at Zankel Hall (Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.). Core repertoire from this sophisticated soprano, singing with that ideal accompanist Malcolm Martineau. Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder” and Mahler’s “Rückert Lieder” make for a fine pairing. Here, they come with five songs by Schubert and Schumann’s “Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart.”
ALEXANDRE THARAUD at Zankel Hall (Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.). Just the one work here from the thoughtful French pianist, but one that needs no added extras: Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” a piece that Mr. Tharaud recorded sensitively, and for which he received some acclaim, three years ago.