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Russian-born Icelandic conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy will be moving from Japan to Australia to direct the Sydney Symphony, but not before closing out his two week stint in Washington, D.C., with Norway’s greatest, Edvard Grieg. Peer Gynt remains Grieg’s best-known work, far outshining the Henrik Ibsen play he composed the piece to accompany, though its prominence is cemented in a perhaps undeserved association with cartoon camp. Audiences might recall Wile E. Coyote and Sam the Sheepdog clocking into work to the tune of “Morning Mood,” while “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is notable for having inspired the “Inspector Gadget” theme song. Rounding out the kitsch value is actor John de Lancie (“Q” from Star Trek: The Next Generation), who narrates. The National Symphony Orchestra performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 6, and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW. $20–$80. (202) 467-4600. –Mike Paarlberg
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are the best example of the mechanical elegance of baroque music: a perfectly scripted, rapid-fire conversation carried from instrument to instrument that’s just a little too glib for its own good—-like an episode of The West Wing. Which isn’t to say the scripts are nearly as predictible, however; with the Fifth, Bach introduced history’s first keyboard concerto, while the Sixth takes out the violins completely to give the violas—-the string orchestra’s perpetual neglected stepchildren—-a rare spotlight. Concertmaster Jonathan Carney leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra through the last and best three of the concertos, plus Bach’s double violin concerto at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. $21—$84. (877) 276-1444. –Mike Paarlberg