Summer may be fading away, but Autumn looks set to shine. We’ve seen the usual flood of fascinating music data fill our site in recent months, and so we’ve compiled a few clues on what to look out for in the months ahead.
The coming few months the last chance to celebrate 2012’s various composer anniversaries, and though 2012 hasn’t been as heavy in anniversary concerts as the Mahler-fest that 2011 turned out to be there is a clear upsurge in performances of music by several celebrated figures. First among them is Claude Debussy, who turned 150 this August – and what’s refreshing is that there’s plenty going on here beyond the expected rush of renditions of La mer and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune: the late orchestral work Jeux is being championed not only by the Berlin Phil but also by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and The Hague’s Residentie Orkest, and sketches from that other enigmatic piece Le martyre de Saint Sébastien are set to hit the States hard, with performances from the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. Whether you’re in Oslo, Brussels or Bristol, it’s worth seeking out some Debussy before the year is through.
Much the same can be said for that other 150-year-old Frederick Delius, although the anniversary celebrations here are rather Northern European based. But if you’re intrigued to hear more of Delius after his various outings at this year’s Proms (Delius reviews here), then Bergen in Norway and the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham are two possible destinations.
Beethoven remains the Autumn’s most performed composer, as he was for the same period last year – though while Autumn 2011’s most performed Beethoven work was the Eroica Symphony, this year it’s set to be the Seventh, which is heading to Hong Kong with Jaap van Zweden and going on tour with Bamberg Symphony and Herbert Blomstedt. Brahms is also getting a slight facelift, with his Second Symphony on top so far – we have four performances listed for Norway alone. The German Requiem is also set to do rather well for itself, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and Brussels, Oxford Philomusica, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Hong Kong Philharmonic all scheduling high-profile performances in the coming months.
Mozart performances are quite evenly spread, though there’s an unexpected spate of horn concertos in October, with Manchester Camerata and the OAE both taking on no. 4 and the Bergen and New York Philharmonics both presenting no. 3. Of Mozart symphony concerts coming up, the standout piece of programming comes from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, who are pairing the Jupiter Symphony with a certain well-known piece of Holst and calling the concert “The Planets”.
As for Bach, there’s masses – and also oratorios, particularly of the seasonal variety – but worth a particular mention is the Bach Unwrapped festival at Kings Place in London, which gets going just before the start of the new year and will continue throughout 2013. And talking of Baroque music, there will be no shortage of Messiahs this Christmas – we’re already listing 43 for this period, from Cardiff to Malvern to New York. Prepare yourself.
He still doesn’t count as a stalwart of the concert hall, but Arnold Schoenberg is set to enjoy a busy few months – twice as busy, in fact, as this time last year – and it’s not just the better-known pieces like the First Chamber Symphony (on at BOZAR with Lothar Koenigs) which are getting heard: his curious choral work Friede auf Erden is getting an airing in Stockholm, in the unlikely company of Poulenc and Respighi. His arch-rival Stravinsky fares rather better, with 11 performances of The Rite of Spring (that’s more than of the Pastoral Symphony) and – maybe more interestingly – several enticing renditions of the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, including one in Brussels in piano transcription.
Mahler is having a very different time of it to this time last year, when his First and Ninth Symphonies were the most performed: this Autumn the top ones are the Fifth – in San Francisco, Stockholm, and also Manchester with the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena – and the Second, which is getting a thorough workout on both sides of the Atlantic. There’s also a tasty-looking Das Lied von der Erde with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, with soloists Susan Graham and Christian Elsner.
Among contemporary composers, Jörg Widmann stands out as being particularly well represented: there are several performances scheduled at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, a work at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, and his Violin Concerto played by Christian Tetzlaff with the Berlin Phil. Hans Werner Henze has fewer performances, but they’re all good ones – movements from his Requiem in Cardiff and his piece Die Basseriden with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich both look fascinating. James MacMillan is receiving a number of performances, including his orchestral piece The Sacrifice with Boston Symphony Orchestra under Stéphane Denève.
Cellist Truls Mørk will be all over Europe in the next few months, and playing concertos from Haydn at the Southbank Centre in London to Saint-Saëns at the Oslo Concert Hall, where he is Artist in Residence. Alisa Weilerstein is even busier, playing everywhere from Nottingham to New York. Among the violinists, Joshua Bell is hitting the tour-bus hard, and you can catch him in Cardiff, Boston or Philadelphia.
Alan Gilbert is the busiest conductor on our records up to December, with 24 events listed so far – he’s conducting the Royal Concertgebouw and Staatskapelle Berlin as well as his own New York Philharmonic. And remarkably, our second busiest conductor is Herbert Blomstedt, celebrating his 85th birthday this year, who has a busy schedule with all of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Bamberg Symphony (with whom he is touring Japan). It’ll be tough as well to keep up with Jaap van Zweden, who is starting his term as Music Director of Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and also performing in Zurich, San Francisco and Chicago.
Uber-star Lang Lang is keeping busy too, with numerous concerto performances with top orchestras: Liszt, Rachmaninov and Beethoven are among those he’s playing. He also has two solo recitals lined up, with lashings of Chopin, as far apart as Hong Kong and Sonoma, California.
That Lang Lang recital in Sonoma will form the grand opening of the brand new Donald and Maureen Green Music Center, a beautiful concert hall which will be part of Sonoma State University. The stars don’t stop after Lang Lang’s appearance: it’s a truly stunning first season they have lined up, and John Adams, Joyce DiDonato, Yo-Yo Ma and Anne-Sophie Mutter will all be there in the coming few months, as will San Francisco Symphony.
In Europe, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, often referred to as BOZAR, is also well worth a look – not only for its stunning architecture but also for a very fine-looking season. As well as plenty of visiting orchestras, they are welcoming a brilliant selection of pianists including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Tamara Stefanovich and Krystian Zimerman.
Carnegie Hall, though, isn’t to be outdone. Guests include John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as an amazing number of top American orchestras and many fabulous soloists. It’s hardly surprising, but it is a season well worth checking out.
So wherever you’re heading this Autumn, take a look at what we’ve got in the way of classical music: it will be an amazing few months, and we hope to see you there.
31 August 2012