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Bach Festival's large-scale delights

  • Jun 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007 If Chamber Music Northwest is a musical conversation, then the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene is its complement: large-scale oratory. Whereas Portland's annual chamber feast -- going on now -- offers duos, trios and quartets engaged in intimate debate, the Bach Festival spreads across the stage with massed choral/orchestral fare. It opens Friday with Johannes Brahms' exalted Requiem and follows on with Beethoven's immense "Missa Solemnis," Arthur Honegger's dramatic oratorio, "King David" and a nifty Haydn choral mass. This is the dilemma Portland audiences face every late June and early July: How much shuttling up and down Interstate 5 can we take? After Brahms' glorious Requiem, highlights at this year's Oregon Bach Festival continue with Midori playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, Tuesday; an all-Chopin piano recital by the thoughtful Jeffrey Kahane, Thursday; Haydn's classical "Theresa Mass," July 8; the mad balalaika/accordion boys known as Trio Voronezh, July 10; "King David" with costumes and narration, July 12; the five sibling pianists who all attended Juilliard and call themselves the 5 Browns, July 13; and as a closer, Beethoven's devotional "Missa Solemnis," July 15. Part of the festival's magic are the classes, lectures, noon concerts and open rehearsals that swirl each day through the halls of the Hult Center and the University of Oregon campus. Helmuth Rilling, the revered artistic director, leads the proceedings. Happy listening. Friday through July 15, Hult Center in downtown Eugene and Beall Hall at the University of Oregon; $5-$52; 541-682-5000, www.oregonbachfestival.com. -- David Stabler