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Mostly Mozart Festival: The best concerts to see in 2015

The annual Mostly Mozart Festival brings top-notch classical musicians to the Lincoln Center campus

Photograph: Richard Termine
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

Among the classiest things to do in summer in NYC, the Mostly Mozart Festival began in 1966 as Midsummer Serenades: A Mozart Festival, but soon changed its name and broadened its scope. Now in its 49th season, the festival has been leaning increasingly toward the contemporary in recent years. The 35 classical concerts and events on this year's bill includes nights of Mendelssohn, Prokofiev and, of course, Mozart (not to mention Haydn's The Creation), but there's some exciting and very current presentations as well. The incomparable soprano Barbara Hannigan appears in the American premiere of George Benjamin's Written on Skin and the all-but-infallible International Contemporary Ensemble presents a candlelit program of Dai Fujikura. There are also, of course, world-class performers, such as Joshua Bell, Emanuel Ax and the Emerson String Quartet. A free performance and discussion on July 22 and a free concert on the 25th kick off the month-long festivities. Here's our guide to the best concerts at this year's season.

Mostly Mozart's 10 best concerts

1

Emerson String Quartet + Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Critics' pick

The famed Emerson String Quartet plays Mozart's Quartet in G minor and works by Haydn, Beethoven and Fauré with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. A preconcert recital begins at 6:30pm.

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Alice Tully Hall (at Lincoln Center) Monday August 3 2015
3

Danish String Quartet: A Little Night Music

Critics' pick

The Danish String Quartet takes on Mozart's arrangements of the second and fourth fugues from the second book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Thomas Adè's Arcadiana, Op. 12 and Beethoven's heart-stopping Grosse Fuge in B-flat major, Op. 133 in this late-evening recital.

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Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse (at Lincoln Center) Friday August 7 2015
4

Academy of Ancient Music: Mendelssohn in Scotland

Critics' pick

Age-old authenticity debates aside, it's always illuminating to hear music played on period instruments. In its festival debut, the Academy of Ancient Music presents a matinee program of works Mendelssohn composed after his 1829 tour of Scotland.

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Alice Tully Hall (at Lincoln Center) Sunday August 9 2015
5

Music of Dai Fujikura

Critics' pick

The excellent International Contemporary Ensemble plays a program of the equally exciting contemporary composer Dai Fujikura in its turn at the festival's late-night candlelight series.

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Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse (at Lincoln Center) Thursday August 13 2015
6

Written on Skin

Critics' pick

If you only make it to one Mostly Mozart engagement, make it to one of the three performances of George Benjamin's Written on Skin in its U.S. premiere. The 2012 tale of betrayal stars the magnificent Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan.

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David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) Tuesday August 11 2015 - Saturday August 15 2015
8

Joshua Bell + Andrew Manze

Critics' pick

Famed violinist Joshua Bell joins the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra under Andrew Manze for works by Mozart and Schumann, and then Bell takes over the baton for two pieces by Bach.

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Tuesday August 18 2015 - Wednesday August 19 2015
9

Haydn's "The Creation"

Critics' pick

Haydn's masterful "The Creation" closes the festival, with the festival orchestra, conducted by Louis Langrée; soprano Sarah Tynan; tenor Andrew Staples; bass Brindley Sherratt; and the Concert Chorale of New York. A preconcert lecture takes place at the Stanley H. Kaplan Playhouse on Fri 21 at 6:30pm.

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Friday August 21 2015 - Saturday August 22 2015

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