“One of the reasons I enjoy contemporary music so much is that it presents languages that are completely unknown in advance of the encounter,” Gloria Cheng once observed. “The challenge of sifting through the raw data and eventually assimilating both the language and the meaning really appeals to my intellect as well as my soul.” Cheng, whose breathtaking mastery of 20th- and 21st-century piano music has earned her the title of contemporary music's “oracle,” moves over to the harpsichord this week when she presents The Intrepid Harpsichord, a recital of works “beloved and audacious” from composers past and present. The program is typical Cheng, brimming with the unexpected — such as the world premieres of William Kraft's Quillery, Veronika Krausas' L'ombre du luth and Stephen Andrew Taylor's Ubiquitin, cheek to cheek with baroque classics like Francois Couperin's delectable Les Barricades Mystérieuses, one of the most beautiful harpsichord works ever written, which is, in essence, an inside joke — the “mysterious barricades” referring to the huge skirts that covered women in the 18th century! Past and present are united in more ways than one: Cheng performs on an instrument built by her husband, on a model created by French master harpsichord builder Pascal Taskin (1723-1793). Presented by Piano Spheres at the Colburn School, Zipper Concert Hall, 200 S. Grand St., dwntwn.; Tues., April 30, 8 p.m.; $25, $15 students. (323) 692-8075, pianospheres.org.

Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., 2013

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