During the latter half of July, the classical music concert season kicks into high gear with great programs at Tanglewood in Lenox and at Tannery Pond in Pittsfield. Here are my picks for memorable concerts at these two in estimable venues.
* Saturday, July 20, 8:30 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro Lothar Koenigs leads the Boston Symphony and vocal soloists soprano Katarina Dalayman, soprano Amber Wagner and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in a concert performance of Act III of "Die Walküre" by Richard Wagner.
Why go? The music opens with the thrilling "Ride of the Valkyries" and concludes with the incandescent "Magic Fire Music." For sheer brilliance of orchestration and thrilling vocal gymnastics, this concert performance, with the assembled stellar cast, will be a musical highlight of the season.
* Sunday, July 21, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: Pinchas Zuckerman, violist, violinist and conductor, will lead principal players of the BSO in a program of Baroque masterpieces by Vivaldi, Telemann and J.S. Bach.
Why go? This concert is, in effect, a mini Baroque festival with superlative BSO soloists performing brilliant and diverse double and solo concerti. The closing work, Bach's ebullient "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2," is always a treat to hear, with the solo violin, trumpet, flute and oboe soloists adding zest to the resonance of the string orchestra.
* Monday, July 22, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Conductor Stephane Deneve and TMC conducting Fellows lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO) in an all-Debussy program.
Why go? Who could resist such masterworks as "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," "Jeux" and "La Mer"? Go, and surrender to the voluptuous orchestration.
* Wednesday, July 24, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Pianist Paul Lewis presents an all-Schubert program of the three last piano sonatas of the Viennese master.
Why go? These last sonatas represent the ne plus ultra of Schubert's genius. Composed consecutively, they speak as one grand voice: Classicism on the cusp of Romanticism. Don't miss this one.
* Thursday, July 25, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The great pianist Garrick Ohlsson presents a solo recital with works by Beethoven, Schubert, Charles Griffes (1884-1920) and Chopin.
Why go? A great early Sonata by Beethoven, Schubert's "Fantasy in C Major," searing Chopin and the seldom heard Griffes - an American Impressionist composer - make for a diverse and intriguing program.
* Saturday, July 27, 8:30 p.m. in the Shed: BSO Music Director-designate Andris Nelsons leads the Orchestra and vocal soloists soprano Kristine Opolais, mezzo-soprano Lioba Braun, tenor Dmytro Popov and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a performance of Verdi's "Requiem."
Why go? This will be the hottest classical ticket all summer, and a chance to see the BSO's new music director in action (he begins his tenure with the Orchestra this fall). Expect tempestuous and lyric music of genius, a stellar cast of soloists and a remarkable young conductor full of promise. Who could ask for more?
Tickets for these and all Tanglewood events can be purchased online at tanglewood.org, through SymphonyCharge at (888) 266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall box office, located at 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Tickets are also available at the Tanglewood box office at the main gate, on West Street in Lenox.
At Tannery Pond
* Saturday, July 27, 8 p.m.: This charming and intimate venue in Pittsfield - a home of great chamber music - presents the Miro String Quartet in a program of Schubert, Puccini and Beethoven.
Why go? The highlights are two of Beethoven's masterpieces: the Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3 and the Quartet in F Minor, Op, 95. The headlong presto finale of Op. 59 will "knock your socks off;" the F Minor Quartet is a powder keg of controlled fury, and its appeal is similarly overwhelming. This is a chamber music highlight of the season, so if you're a string quartet maven, I can't recommend this concert highly enough.
Tannery Pond is located on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, New York, one-and-a-half miles east of the town center on Route 20.
Tickets are $30 and $35. Reservations are recommended. Call 888-820-1696 or for more information go online at tannerypondconcerts.org.
At The Clark
Upcoming: The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown presents a program in their "Summer Chamber Music 2013" series each Tuesday in August. I'll have more to say about this series next time. For more information, including reservations for their pre-concert dinners and to purchase tickets, call (413) 458-0524 or visit online at clarkart.edu.