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Links: a May review roundup

The pianist Jeremy Denk, who performed in Washington on Saturday. (Photo by Dennis Callahan) (Courtesy of Opus 3 Artists) (Dennis Callahan/Dennis Callahan)

I reviewed the pianist Jeremy Denk in one of his distinctive recitals. I’ve called him the quintessential 20th-century pianist; I may switch that epithet to “The Charles Rosen of the 21st century.” Very different presentation, but same blend of smart writing about music and actually making it.

I went to the Washington Chorus’s “Essential Wagner” concert, expecting disaster, and really enjoyed myself. I mean, really, what chorus singer wouldn’t want to be part of an army of female Valkyries? I think some director may want to check out this concept. And the tenor Issachah Savage was, simply, amazing.

I heard Nelson Freire in a belated NSO debut, giving a sensitive performance of the Brahms Second Concerto under a slightly finicky Andreas Delfs.

And I went to the Washington Concert Opera’s Samson et Dalila.

In what turned out to be a Web exclusive, Stephen Brookes reviewed — and raved about — the pianist Vanessa Perez at the Venezuelan Embassy.

Charles T. Downey heard the National Philharmonic perform Debussy’s rarely-played incidental music to “Martyrdom of St. Sebastian:” “a series of pretty, occasionally exotic sonic backdrops.” He also got to hear the current Domingo-Cafritz artists, members of WNO’s apprentice program, in scenes from American operas.

Robert Battey gave a deft, appreciative appraisal of Itzhak Perlman, who is so familiar at this point that it can be hard to know what to write about his performances. He found Narek Hakhnazaryan, who has performed here fairly often, a complete cellist, but not yet a complete musician.

Cecelia Porter was transported by the Cathedral Choral Society’s performance of Bach’s B minor mass.

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