Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
JONATHAN BISS at Carnegie Hall (Jan. 24, 8 p.m.). Most pianists play a good amount of Beethoven, but few have taken on the composer with such relish as Biss, whose engagement has included developing a remarkably popular online course, recording the sonatas steadily over time and writing a book on the whole experience. Replacing Leif Ove Andsnes, who withdrew on short notice because of an elbow injury, Biss plays three sonatas: No. 6 in F, No. 18 in E flat and No. 29 in B flat, the titanic “Hammerklavier.”
CANTATA PROFANA at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea (Jan. 18-19, 8 p.m.). Alternating between the new and the old, on instruments modern and period in turn, this formidable ensemble presents “Visions of Silence.” Darting between the late 20th century and the early Baroque, they perform Alvin Lucier’s “Music for Piano With Amplified Sonorous Vessels,” Tarquinio Merula’s “Canzonetta spirituale sopra alla nanna,” Galina Ustvolskaya’s Symphony No. 5, Alessandro Piccinini’s “Toccata cromatica” and Salvatore Sciarrino’s “Infinito Nero” — a 20th-century setting for the words of a 17th-century mystic’s visions. Alice Teyssier is the soprano.
SEONG-JIN CHO at Carnegie Hall (Jan. 22, 8 p.m.). This uncommonly sensitive and effective pianist placed himself in a distinguished lineage when he triumphed in the Chopin Competition four years ago; among its previous winners are names like Martha Argerich, Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimerman. So perhaps it’s no surprise that tickets are limited for this recital, which includes Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and selections from Debussy’s “Préludes” and “Images.” Try for a return regardless.
‘IOLANTA’ AND ‘BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE’ at the Metropolitan Opera (Jan. 24, 8 p.m.; through Feb. 14). Marius Trelinski’s dark, fascinating juxtaposition of these one-act operas by Tchaikovsky and Bartok is one of the most bracing examples of directorial entrepreneurship to have reached the Met’s stage in recent years, and here it makes its first return since its debut in 2015. The cast is excellent: Sonya Yoncheva takes on the title role in “Iolanta,” with Matthew Polenzani as Vaudémont; in the Bartok, Gerald Finley is Bluebeard and Angela Denoke is Judith. Henrik Nanasi conducts.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC at David Geffen Hall (Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m.; through Jan. 26). So much for Jaap Van Zweden’s supposed reticence regarding new music. Here the conductor gives the premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Fire in My Mouth,” a reflection on the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 and the death of 146 garment workers, most of them immigrants, in Manhattan. (An earlier politically engaged piece by Wolfe, “Anthracite Fields,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015.) The Philharmonic is joined by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and the Crossing, an outstanding chamber choir. The projections and video are by Jeff Sugg, and the whole thing is directed by Anne Kauffman. Before that, Van Zweden leads the “Elegy” from Steven Stucky’s “August 4, 1964,” a piece he debuted with the Dallas Symphony, and Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. Anthony McGill is the soloist.
For an overview of January and February’s cultural events, click here.