Critic's picks - classical music
BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA In a keenly anticipated upcoming program (Feb. 11-13), James Levine leads the BSO in a resonant grouping of works: Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra (Op. 6) alongside Strauss’s “Four Last Songs’’ with soprano Renée Fleming. Next month’s notable BSO event will be the premiere (March 25-30) of Peter Lieberson’s “Farewell Songs.’’ Symphony Hall, 617-266-1200, www.bso.org.
BEETHOVEN QUARTETS It’s raining Beethoven these days as three different ensembles are tackling the complete cycle of quartets. The Chiara is next to forge ahead (Feb. 12) at Harvard’s Paine Hall. The Muir Quartet continues its survey (March 3) at the Tsai Performance Center, and the Borromeo Quartet will soon join the party, launching a new cycle (April 4) at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. www.chiaraquartet.net, www.muirstringquartet.org, www.borromeoquartet.org.
MONTEVERDI’S VESPERS Martin Pearlman leads two performances of Monteverdi’s masterpiece of 1610, with sopranos Mary Wilson and Kristen Watson, tenors Derek Chester, Aaron Sheehan, and Lawrence Jones, and baritones Sumner Thompson and Donald Wilkinson. 8 p.m., Feb. 19-20, $25-$64, Jordan Hall, 617-484-9200, www.bostonbaroque.org.
CELEBRITY SERIES Two notable visitors in the coming weeks will be the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra returning to Symphony Hall (Feb. 25), with piano soloist Louis Lortie, under the baton of Riccardo Chailly; and the excellent Berlin-based Artemis Quartet making its Boston debut (March 5) in Jordan Hall. Both programs are, you guessed it, all-Beethoven. 617-482-6661, www.celebrityseries.org.
‘MADAME WHITE SNAKE’ Opera Boston is presenting the premiere of this first opera by Chinese-American composer Zhou Long, based on an ancient Chinese legend adapted by Brookline librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs. It will be directed by Robert Woodruff and conducted by Gil Rose. Feb. 26, 28, and March 2, $29-$132, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 617-451-3388, www.operaboston.org.
BOSTON MODERN ORCHESTRA PROJECT For this program titled “Strings Attached,’’ violist Kim Kashkashian is the soloist in Betty Olivero’s mesmerizing “Neharot, Neharot.’’ Also on the bill will be works by Milton Babbitt, Scott Wheeler, Stephen Hartke, and Bartok. Gil Rose conducts. 8 p.m., March 6, $10-$52, Jordan Hall, 781-324-0396, www.bmop.org.
CANTATA SINGERS The chorus under David Hoose’s direction continues its Heinrich Schütz-themed season with a performance of motets from his “Cantiones Sacrae’’ and his “Symphoniae Sacrae III’’ alongside music by Monteverdi, Stravinsky, and Poulenc. 8 p.m., March 12, $17-$52, Jordan Hall, 617-868-5885, www.cantatasingers.org.
MESSIAEN’S ‘VINGT REGARDS’ Pianist Paavali Jumppanen returns to the Gardner Museum’s Tapestry Room to perform Messiaen’s mind-bending cycle of piano works, written in 1944 for Yvonne Loriod, the pianist who later became the composer’s wife. March 14, $23, 617-278-5156, www.gardnermuseum.org.
CHAMBER ORCHESTRAS RISING Boston’s two budding chamber orchestras offer intriguing programs in the coming weeks. First up (April 2-3) is the conductorless ensemble A Far Cry, which will perform works by Honegger, Strauss, and a Howard Frazin premiere at Jordan Hall and at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain. Then Courtney Lewis’s Discovery Ensemble returns to Sanders Theatre (April 11) with music by Haydn, Bartok, and Schumann. www.afarcry.org, www.discoveryensemble.com.
BOSTON CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA Music director Steven Lipsitt leads Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 and the premiere of scenes from Herschel Garfein’s opera “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead,’’ based on the Stoppard play. April 10-11, $34-$63, Faneuil Hall, 617-423-3883, www.bostonclassicalorchestra.org.