Critic’s Choice

Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:53 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

James Ehnes will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Saturday night to open the Beethoven Festival. Photo: Benjamin Ealovega

Early September is traditionally a fallow period for music in Chicago, a respite between summer festivals and the start of the fall season.

Pianist-conductor George Lepauw is changing all that. On Saturday night, Lepauw and colleagues will launch “Revolution 2012,” the second installment of his Beethoven Festival, which debuted to great acclaim last year. This time the lineup is even more ambitious with a dizzying array of Beethoven and beyond programs—day, night and late night—through September 16. Many of Chicago’s finest musicians will be taking part, joined by several starry guests, including violinist James Ehnes, pianists Charles Rosen and HJ Lim, cellist Stephane Tetreault and clarinetist Julian Bliss.

The festival kicks off Saturday with Ehnes performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Conductor Daniel Boico and the Beethoven Festival Orchestra will also perform the composer’s Coriolan Overture and Second Symphony along with the world premiere of David Winkler’s Forza Vita Festival Overture, composed for the occasion. Concert time is 7 p.m. at the National Pastime Theater’s Mason Hall, 941 W. Lawrence.

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