I love a good season announcement as much as anyone, but I can't help thinking, as I've thought before, that January is a little early. We won't know what The SCO, RSNO, BBC Scottish and Royal Opera are doing until March/April time. This matters to me, since as travelling south is expensive, I like to ensure I get the most bang for my buck and that I'm not missing any gems on my own doorstep (I inevitably wind up with one or two clashes all the same). This means that, exciting though the London Symphony Orchestra's 2010/11 season is (PDF download here.), I'll not be booking anything just yet.
Well, almost nothing. I've already booked one thing: a year on Sunday you'll find me, baring calamity, in the Barbican to hear Mark Elder conduct them in The Kingdom. It doesn't come up all that often, and to find it under the baton of one of the greatest Elgarians represents an unmissable opportunity. (And if you doubt how unmissable Elder's Elgar is, read what he did with Gerontius last summer, not to mention the fact that I prefer the Kingdom as a work.)
Don't panic though, it was only in December last year when I got round to planning my February & March LSO visits and found tickets easily for everything I wanted (including Beethoven one and nine with Gardiner). What other highlights, though, present themselves for later booking.
Well, the first thing that leaps out at me is Janacek's Glagolitic Mass, one of my favourite works by one of my favourite composers (and given it's getting Sunday and Tuesday runs, we can presume it's being recorded). True, the lack of a real organ at the Barbican is a shame, but it should be fine none the less. Davis conducts, which causes me to speculate that Gergiev might do something very interesting with the piece.
For those who like Gergiev's Mahler, there's another substantial dose, and if you're wondering why it's back so soon, the fifth and ninth symphonies are being taped again, not having been captured to everyone's satisfaction last time around. The first also gets a look in. Personally, I've found what I've heard of the series a little rushed, but I do plan to give it a fuller exploration at some point, perhaps when LSO Live finally makes it to Spotify.
The Mahler flavour is continued elsewhere, though, with something arguable far more fascinating, namely Marin Alsop's programme early in December. She gives us Beethoven's Leonore III overture and seventh symphony as orchestrated by Mahler. Given, to my mind, orchestration was one of Mahler's greatest talents, this promises to be very interesting indeed. Certainly his version of Schubert's Death and the Maiden made rather special listening with the SCO last April. Sandwiched between them we find a composition by Mahler, but in a surprise Alma and not Gustav: seven lieder arranged by David and Colin Matthews.
Elsewhere Rattle will be around to do Bruckner nine and some Messiaen, Noseda brings Bartok's second violin concerto and Prokoviev's sixth symphony, Gardner does Mendelssohn's Italian symphony, Harding accompanies Grimaud in Mozart's sublime K488 concerto and Gergiev kicks of the season with Pictures at an Exhibition.
In short, there's an awful lot of interesting stuff. My main reservation is that the season is relatively light on concert opera, with a sole offering in the form of Candide with Kristjan Jarvi. (Well, I suppose I should also ask "Where's Runnicles?", but we do see plenty of him up here these days.)
Playing the game of what is being recorded is also good fun - it's usually a safe bet that it's those works up twice in a row. Thus we may expect to see future LSO Live releases including Bruckner four from Haitink and Tchaikovsky's first three symphonies from Gergiev.
Not content, however, with selling the 2010/11 season now (tickets went on sale on Monday), the LSO is reaching yet further, with a concert series coupling Beethoven's piano concerti and Nielsen's symphonies with Davis and Uchida that runs up to December 2011 (the symphonies look set for disc). I suspect these may be ones that will go quickly, and which are worth booking now.
While I'll hold off the remainder of my booking for the time being, I think it's safe to say that I won't be a stranger to the Barbican next season.