Thursday 27 January 2011

Great Performers at the Barbican in 2011/12 (and more)

In parallel with the LSO's announcement of their next season, the Barbican have published details of their other classical programming. While the Great Performers strand will doubtless draw the most attention it isn't what has me most excited, which is this. It seems that the BBC Symphony Orchestra are doing a Sibelius cycle next year, which is good news to begin with. The icing on the cake, though, is that concert of the 3rd symphony and more under the baton of Sakari Oramo. Not only is he one of my favourite conductors and Sibelius one of my favourite composers, but, for my money, he is one of the finest Sibelians around today (those with Spotify can hear his CBSO recordings here). The remainder of the cycle is in other hands.

Following this, the next thing to grab me is also a British orchestra - the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with their chief conductor Andris Nelsons and soloists Sarah Connolly, Toby Spence and James Rutherford in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.

A less flattering eye-catching thing is the jump in ticket prices - top spot for Rattle and the Vienna Phil is £85 (with the bottom price up to £25). Additionally, the area covered by the top bracket has increased. Still, with a programme of Brahms' and Schumann's 3rd symphonies (with some Webern sandwiched between), I don't suppose they'll have much trouble selling that out.

The question of whether this is all being announced a little too early, which I raised in my LSO post, rears its head with Murray Perahia's recital: if you book now you're taking pot luck as the programme has yet to be announced. I'm not a fan so I won't be. TBCs or suspiciously light looking programmes are littered through the series - what will Martha Argerich be playing with the St Petersburg Philharmonic on 24th March 2012? Who can say. But the Barbican will happily take your cash now, thank you.

Following on from their visit in December 2009, the Concertgebouw are back for three concerts under three different conductors. There is Jansons with an all Strauss programme, Harnoncourt with the Missa Solemnis and, most compellingly, Haitink with Bruckner 5 (I'm presuming something else too but doubtless that has yet to be decided as well). None of the three has me wishing I was a Barbican Red priority member.

One of the biggest items is a four concert residence from the New York Philharmonic next February, including Mahler 9, Lang Lang and a young people's concert, but again, none of the programmes has me scrambling for my credit card.

You can hear Gergiev and the Mariinsky do Parsifal (soloists from the company), though based on my experience of Gergiev that isn't an especially enticing prospect. Meanwhile, late October and early November bring a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies from Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus.

Actually, I realise I've missed two absolute must sees: a residence by the amazing Kronos Quartet. The first programme (actually at the Hackney Empire, not the Barbican) features various works including George Crumb's Black Angels, which they played so well in Edinburgh last summer, while the second is a meditation on the anniversary of 9/11. This is an extraordinary ensemble - miss them at your peril.

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