Thursday 22 March 2012

There's Runnicles and more - the BBC SSO unveil the rest of their 2012/13 season

The prime fillet, or rather fillets, of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's 2012/13 season were announced a couple of weeks ago: a three concert series conducted by Donald Runnicles, each featuring an act of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

However, as those attending their performance of Brahms' 1st symphony tonight will find, there's much more than that on offer (subscribers will already be aware of this, as advanced information dropped through their letterboxes on Monday - I like that the orchestra tells their subscribers first rather than the press).

The first thing to note is that the Glasgow season is now 16 concerts, up one (lucky Glasgow). The second is an interesting Polish theme, featuring Chopin's piano concertos, Szymanowski (the wonderful 1st violin concerto, the 4th symphony and more) and Lutoslawski. Those wondering if they should head over to Edinburgh during the festival to hear Benedetti play the Szymanowski may like to know she's also doing it in Glasgow in November with the BBC SSO and Litton.

Another theme is dance, so works from ballet scores (Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin Suite and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring) feature alongside Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and, of course, Beethoven's 7th symphony, which Wagner described as "the apotheosis of the dance". The Rite celebrates its centenary, which in turn is the reason for this strand.

Elsewhere, Andrew Manze continues his survey of Vaughan Williams' symphonies, though for me the more compelling aspect of these concerts is the presence of Steven Osborne for the accompanying pieces: one pairs the Pastoral symphony with Beethoven's 4th piano concerto, the other the 9th with the Emperor. Indeed, this marks the start of a full cycle.

When discussing the new RSNO season, I noted that there was a nice chance to hear Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez but that I wasn't altogether taken with the accompanying material. When the BBC SSO do it with Sean Shibe on guitar and Andrew Manze conducting things are more to my taste, with Mozart's Jupiter symphony, Manze's own orchestration of Mozart's Adagio for Glass Harmonica and John Maxwell Geddes's Ombre.

The first of the non-Wagner concerts from Runnicles is a programme featuring Berg's violin concert with Julian Rachlin and Beethoven's 5th symphony (Johann Strauss's Blue Danube waltz also features but I can live without hearing that, though Webern's orchestration of some Schubert dances may be interesting). In addition, there is the post concert coda of Rachlin and Runnicles in recital. Then in April we get Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto, Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Shostakovich's 9th symphony.

Matthias Pintscher's two concerts are interesting, one pairing Weber with Lutoslawski's cello concerto and Beethoven's 7th symphony, the other a new and as yet unnamed work by Pintscher with The Rite of Spring. Ilan Volkov only appears once, but his programme of Lutoslawski and Szymanowski should be worth hearing.

All in all, it appears to be a strong season, with some interesting strands running through it. If only more of it was available in Edinburgh....


Details available on the BBC SSO website. Brochures: Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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