Tuesday 30 March 2010

The 2010/11 Royal Scottish National Orchestra Season

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra haven't quite unveiled their new season and, in such circumstances, I would normally be a little reticent about stealing their thunder. However, since someone else has already done so, and the information is available for all to see on the Glasgow Concert Halls website (my thanks to @fergusmacleod for the tip), I don't feel too guilty. (Indeed, as I type these words, I receive a message from them absolving me of any such guilt, so no need to wrestle with any moral dilemma over whether or not to publish after all.)

Caveat - the Usher Hall have failed to jump the gun in a similar manner, so this preview applies to Glasgow only and I cannot say which of these concerts will be repeated elsewhere.

The season kicks off at the end of September with Denève and Dvorák's New World symphony, the same one we'll have heard a month earlier from Runnicles and the BBC Scottish at the Edinburgh festival. The programme also includes Ravel's concerto for left hand with Nicholas Angelich as the soloist and MacMillan's Three Interludes from The Sacrifice. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking the RSNO are deliberately extending the festival's New Worlds theme as in December we get Postcards from the Americas, featuring Copland, Bernstein, Shilkret (a Trombone concerto no less - this I have to hear) and Ginastera.

The New World symphony appears to tie into two of the seasons themes: Great Symphonies and Great Concertos (it seems perhaps churlish to note that such themes could describe pretty much any orchestral seasons anywhere). Later, in November, Denève is back with the Symphony Fantastique. This should be good: Denève has a good track record in Berlioz, and is always his best with extravagant and dramatic pieces. To make the concert even more attractive, Frank Peter Zimmermann will be playing Szymanowski's 2nd violin concert (bringing back memories of his 2006 visit with the Berlin Philharmonic to play the first).

Other Great Symphonies include the return of reliably excellent conductor laureate Neeme Järvi for Dvorák's Serenade for Strings and Shostakovich 7, Leningrad. Tchaikovsky's Pathetique in February 2011 under the baton of Boreyko and Sibelius 6 and 7 from Kristjan Järvi (glad to see them answering my recent pleas for more Siblius - oh, I grant you it's just possible that wasn't the reason for this choice of programme) and Rachmaninov 2 under Denève (even more excitingly coupled with Knussen's violin concerto from Leila Josefowicz about whose performances of Adès I've read good things lately).

If anything, the great concertos are more exciting. Regular readers may, perhaps, be bored by the regularity with which I wax lyrical about Paul Lewis. Then again, you may have heard him and been similarly impressed. Whatever your view, I can't wait for October and his appearance for the Emperor concerto (Denève conducting) - his ability to capture the grandeur of Beethoven should make for a fine performance. Elsewhere, we get John Lill and Tchaikovksy 1 (not to mention Dvorák’s 5th symphony under Urbariski). The prospect of Imogen Cooper playing Mozart's 20th concerto is sure to excite anyone who's heard her wonderful recent recordings with the Northern Sinfonia. Then there is Beethoven's 4th, one of my absolute favourites, from Marc-André Hamelin. Indeed, it almost seems as though there has been a deliberate attempt to check off some of my favourite concertos as Stephen Hough visits to play the Grieg.

In a particularly interesting programme, Paul Daniel pairs a Bach keyboard concerto with Elgar's first symphony (and a little more Sibelius). There is also Nicola Benedetti's annual visit. The second half Beethoven 4 doesn't qualify this into the great symphonies category, though in my view it is up there with the best. Benedetti herself plays the Korngold concerto.

I'm thrilled the season has so much Dvorák, and not just the popular stuff. However, perhaps best of all is his wonderful cello concerto. Sol Gabetta is the soloist and Roberto Abbado conducts.

To round things off, Denève returns for a symphony which might as well have been composed with the moniker great in mind (no, not Schubert's 9th, strangely absent): Beethoven's 9th. To make matters more interesting, he has pared it with John Adams' 9/11 piece On the Transmigration of Souls. It's a powerful work, and I'm thrilled to see some Adams on the programme.

And that's not to mention the various items in the Naked Classics series or the annual performance of the Messiah (though this year they may have some strong competition - I'll say no more now, what a horribly tease!). If I had a gripe, it's that it won't be the RSNO who brings Rachel Barton Pine back to our shores this season. Fingers crossed one of the other orchestras does.

All in all, things look rather exciting as the Scottish orchestras begin to announce their seasons. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra follows on 7th April and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra a week later on Monday (12th). Where's Runnicles will, of course, report fully.

Full details, including which of these we can expect to hear in Edinburgh and elsewhere, will be published on the RSNO website tomorrow (and should be dropping through subscribers' letterboxes at the same time). I'll update the article tomorrow with any revised information.Update - 2010-04-07

First up, here are the brochures: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Second, everything mentioned above, save for the Messiah, is on in Edinburgh as well as Glasgow.

Thirdly, it wasn't clear from looking at the individual concerts, but the new music theme is being pushed hard as part of their Ten our of 10 theme. Good.

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