Some string quartets focus on a composer or a period, but the Barcelona-based Cuarteto Casals plays the full spectrum of quartet music - from Mozart to Brahms to Shostakovitch, spiked with works of Spanish composers who are relatively unknown elsewhere. Violinists Vera Martinez Mehner and Abel Tomas Realp, violist Jonathan Brown and cellist Arnau Tomas Realp formed the group while they were students at Madrid's Escuela Reina Sofia in 1997. The Cleveland Chamber Music Society brings them to Fairmount Temple Auditorium (23727 Fairmont Blvd., Beachwood ) at 8 p.m. Tuesday for the second concert in a tour that began in New York and will take them to Houston and Puerto Rico before a string of gigs around Europe that end up in Spain in late March. Their Cleveland program begins with one of just three quartets by Juan Cris—stomo de Arriaga, an early 19th-century Spaniard who died at age 19. Also on the program is Shostakovich's Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108, and Brahms' Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2. Call 216.291.2777 or go to clevelandchambermusic.org.
City Music is coming to a neighborhood near you this week with an octet of guest performers, most of whom have played in City Music's chamber orchestra. The program focuses on more intimately scaled music, with Franz Schubert's String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 and Felix Mendelsson's Octet in E flat Major, Op. 20. Musicians include cellists Edward Arron and Keiko Ying, violinists Catherine Cosbey, Zsolt Eder, Kyung Sun Lee and Peter Salaff, and violists Charles Krenner and Eric Wong. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fairmount Presbyterian Church (2757 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights); 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Rocky River United Methodist Church (19414 Detroit Rd.); 8 p.m. Friday at the Shrine Church of St. Stanislas (3649 E. 65th St.); 8 p.m. Saturday at Willoughby United Methodist Church (15 Public Square); 3 p.m. Sunday at Elyria First United Methodist Church (312 Third St.); and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Joseph Catholic Church (12700 Pearl Rd, Strongsville). All performances are free. Go to citymusiccleveland.org or call 216.321.8273.
It's less jarring, but Stravinsky's Violin concerto has the same propulsive energy as his The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky was a successful pianist, so it took his publisher, the violinist Samuel Dushkin, to press him into service. Written in 1931, the concerto had its premiere that year with the composer leading Dushkin in the solo part, supported by the Berlin Radio Symphony in live broadcast, the kind of moment that would convince any luddite that broadcast technology was living up to its promise. Violinist Gil Shaham, a familiar guest at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave.), performs it with the Cleveland Orchestra at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow and Saturday. Also on the program are Tchaikovsky's instrumental telling of the tragic love story by proxy, Francesca da Rimini, and Dvoörák's Romantic portrait of Czech nationalism, his Symphony No. 7. Tickets: $31-$87. Call 216.231.1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com.
A toddler would have a hard time not loving the trombone, with its telescopic pipes facilitating fat glissandi ripe for cartooning. Cleveland Orchestra trombonist Edward Zadrozny teams up with actress/singer/narrator Maryann Nagel and pianist Laura Silverman to show the kids what it's all about in a Musical Rainbow concert, "The Tricky Trombone," at 10 a.m. today and 10 and 11 a.m. tomorrow in Reinberger Hall at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave.). As usual, the show has music the kids will know and love, as well as less familiar sounds. Tickets: $7. Call 216.231.1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com.
News stories of moms killing children never fail to shock, supposedly offering evidence of how far gone the world is. But as the tale of Medea - the tragic mother of Greek myth who avenges her husband's betrayal by murdering her children - attests, it's not a new idea. Students at Case Western Reserve University's Eldred Theatre (2070 Adelbert Rd.) present Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish's translation of Euripides' Medea at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through March 1. Dennis Fox directs. Cleveland Institute of Music student Tiffany Goff provides an original score. Tickets: $10. Call 216.368.6262 or go to case.edu.
Cleveland Public Theater's Big [BOX] series continues this week with Margi Herwald Zitelli's new play Unethical, directed by Lisa Ortenzi. Zitelli is city editor of the Cleveland Jewish News. Her play deals with four co-workers who work because they can't afford not to, but whose freedom to be themselves butts up against the corporation's new Ethics and Standards of Conduct. Performances are at 7:30 today and tomorrow, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15. Cleveland Public Theatre is at 6415 Detroit Ave. Call 216.631.2727 or go to cptonline.org.
The hip-hop equivalent of classic rock is "old school," the period in the 1980s when the youthful style was just emerging from the neighborhood parties that birthed it and beginning to thrive on radio and in record stores. The Legends of Hip Hop packages the memories for people who loved beat-box master Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Whodini ("Freaks Come Out at Night") and Too $hort. It's at 7:30 p.m. at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre. Tickets: $22.50-$42.50. Call 216.241.6000 or go to playhousesquare.org.
It's as if Cleveland theater just discovered British playwright Sarah Kane. The first professional productions of her work in Ohio both happened in 2009. First came the Bang and the Clatter's Blasted, and now the nimble and nomadic Theater Ninjas perform her Crave at Asterisk Gallery (2393 Professor St.). The audience has to bring both imagination and powers of observation to the script, which has no stage directions, no setting and an oblique narrative that mixes the author's voice with found text. Characters go by initials only. It alludes to literature as well as pop culture, but it portrays uncertainty at every turn. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, through March 8, with an additional 8 p.m. performance Monday, March 2. Go to theaterninjas.com.
Abe Olvido's sculptural improvisations with electric guitar are like color-field paintings in sound and make an effective context for Mike Marcellino's musings - a steady stream of words to be considered as objects for their own sake rather than for the benefit of narrating events or describing scenes. Olvido and Marcellino will do their thing, which they've dubbed Split Pea/ce, at 7:30 at the Barking Spider (11310 Juniper Rd.). They're on until 8:30, when Mike Maimone performs piano jazz, followed by the Rocket 88s performing rockabilly at 10 p.m. Free. Call 216.421.2863 or go to barkingspidertavern.com.
Arvo P...rt is that rare living composer of symphonic and choral music whose works get played, and not just by dedicated colleagues. Cleveland Museum of Art's Viva and Gala Around Town series presents his Passio, a choral setting of the Passion according to St. John. The Oberlin Choir will join soloists from Trinity Choir of New York City. Owen Burdick conducts. It's at 7:30 at the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus (3649 E. 65th St.). Tickets: $32 for CMA members, $34 for nonmembers. Call 216.421.7350 or go to clemusart.com
You can't find a better story idea in Hollywood: a comic romp about a drug seller whose ward is a beautiful and rich woman-child, and so - as seems to happen in such circumstances- he's in a hurry to marry her before someone else does. Here's another: a tale of nuns in love and despair, which seems doomed to make some cautionary point through tragedy, but there's a silver lining after a suicide. Those stories - respectively, Haydn's The Apothecary and Puccini's Suor Angelica - are being staged by the Cleveland Institute of Music's opera theatre program, which is blooming under the direction of Cleveland Opera founder and former director David Bamberger. Harry Davidson conducts the CIM Opera Orchestra at CIM's Kulas Hall (11021 East Blvd.) English subtitles are projected above the stage. Performances at 8 p.m. through February 28. $15. Call 216.791.5000 or go to cim.edu.