Critic’s Choice

Thu Jan 09, 2020 at 10:46 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong open the Winter Chamber Music Festival Friday night in Evanston. Photo: Benjamin Ealovega

As has been the trend in recent seasons, Lyric Opera is shuttered until February and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is on tour with no local performance scheduled until January 30. Happily, in a bustling musical city like Chicago, there are other options.

The Winter Chamber Music Festival opens Friday night at Northwestern University and runs through January 26. The annual Evanston event will score first in the Beethoven feast of 2020, with James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong presenting two programs of Beethoven violin sonatas 7:30 p.m. Friday (Nos. 1 and 3-5) and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Nos. 6, 8 and 9 “Kreutzer”). This year’s lineup also features the Aizuri Quartet (Jan. 17), the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam (Jan. 19) and the American String Quartet with Stephanie Blythe (Jan. 26). All events take place at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.


Duo Tal & Groethuysen comes to the University of Chicago Presents series for an evening of music for two pianos and piano four-hands Friday night. Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen will offer Mozart’s Sonata in B flat, Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor, and intriguing duo-piano versions of Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser, Debussy’s La Mer and Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s lustige Streiche. Concert time is 7:30 p.m. at Mandel Hall.

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