Come and Get It!
As always, the Wigmore Hall season has looked ambitious and extremely attractive from start to finish. You could do worse than spending most of your evenings and some afternoons there for fine performances of chamber music or lieder. Next season a survey of Schubert’s complete 650+ songs will stretch to 40 concerts and two seasons, so check it out and take your picks.
Magdalena Kozena is doing a five-concert series with her husband, Sir Simon Rattle, playing the piano for her, his first appearance ever at the Wigmore Hall, I believe; and the Heath Quartet is undertaking a complete Bartok Chamber Music series and two recitals by violinist James Ehnes. And that ain’t all, folks! If you want to hear the best music small in scale but big in heart and sound (actually, the cheap seats at the back and up in the gallery have the best acoustics) by both the top names of the day and the most exciting emerging artists also in the mix, go find them at: http://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/whats-on
And then there are all the orchestral concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, and all the other ensembles that make London their home; as well as visiting orchestras from all over the world at places like the Barbican, the South Bank Centre and the Cadogan Hall. The Royal Philharmonic continues its residency at the converted hall that used to be a Mason’s lodge near Sloane Square, but there were also visits this autumn from some of the more interesting European orchestras that don’t often get heard away from home: the Basel Symphony Orchestra, for example, on 24 and 28 September with the redoubtable Elisabeth Leonskaya playing Mozart on the 28th and Alice Sara Ott playing Ravel on the 24th. Conductor Michael Sanderling brought his Dresden Symphony on 5 October; and Gergiev conducted winners of the latest Tchaikovsky competition with the Mariinsky Orchestra on 26 October.
For me, a highly anticipated evening is 5 November when Jan Latham Koenig brings his brilliant Flanders Symphony Orchestra and teams up with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus to present music written for or about Napoleon in the 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo. And I wouldn’t want to miss either Maxim Vengerov or Chloe Hanslip on 8 and 23 November respectively, the latter with the Prague Symphony orchestra in a program that includes Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony along with the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Check out the full programme and book your tickets at: http://www.cadoganhall.com/
When the LSO returns from a touring summer to Japan, you might want to make your way to the Barbican for some of their concerts. Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding and Simon Rattle (welcome home!) are among the stellar lineup of conductors for the season and you can find the full list, click links to more information and choose at: http://lso.co.uk/whats-on/2015-16-season
I have had a soft spot for the Philharmonia Orchestra since the days when I was a student and used to attend concerts conducted by the likes of Otto Klemperer, Carlo Maria Giulini and a tyro Daniel Barenboim, not to mention the occasional controversial visit from Herbert von Karajan whose lush concerts got slower and slower, shorter and shorter, and sounded more and more like the interpretation of a mechanical genius with Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these great performances are preserved on recordings from that era and even turn up on YouTube (though I wish someone would clear the rights to release on DVD the last revelatory cycle of Beethoven symphonies that Klemperer did, which were broadcast on television in color!—and even appeared on YouTube for a while with Japanese subtitles). The orchestra seems to me to be regaining its legendary form under Esa-Pekka Salonen after a bit of a slump.
Not surprisingly, the programming and choice of conductors are selling tickets well. Christoph von Dohnanyi has conducted their 70th anniversary concert at their London home, the Royal Festival Hall, with Beethoven’s 9th included in the programme on 27 September. The highly reliable and usually moving Yuri Temirkanov conducted Brahms on 4 October; star pianist Daniil Trifonov played Rachmaninov’s 4th Piano Concerto on 5 October to kick off a complete cycle of the piano concertos; and chief conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen returns on 1 November. Paavo Jarvi’s Nielsen cycle is likely to become one of those Philharmonia legends and begins on 19 November; and Lang Lang joins with Salonen for a promising Grieg event on 26 November. The result is that whenever you’re able to spend an evening at a concert, there will be something you’ll enjoy attending. (If you expect to be in New York a little later in the season, both Salonen and Trifonov will be working there at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.) Full information for the Philharmonia Orchestra can be found at:http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/concerts/seasons/40/1516_season_-_london
And keep Liverpool in mind: they have what I think
is one of the liveliest and most interesting orchestras outside the capital, run since 2006 by Vasily Petrenko. You can find them at home or on tour this season in the UK (http://www.liverpoolphil.com/276/the-phil-on-tour/the-rlpo-in-the-uk-and-abroad.html) or whet your appetite with his Shostakovich cycle with the orchestra on Naxos (multiple discs).