Announcements appear to be like busses. You wait months for the Edinburgh Festival programme and then barely have you had time to digest it when two orchestras fire out their announcements. However, I must say that I rather like the fact that the BBC sent their announcement to the general public before the press.
Given the amount he's here these days, it's hard to remember there was a time when you couldn't hear Donald Runnicles conduct a concert in Scotland for love or money, outside the odd festival appearance. It's a little sad, therefore, that the orchestra has scaled its Usher Hall appearances back again from three to two, though the blame can probably be laid at the door of Edinburgh's audience who sometimes don't know a good artistic thing when it sets up and performs in front of them.
One interesting aspect of the season is the choice to pair Mahler with Britten. It's not a coupling that obviously jumps out at me so it will be interesting to hear. As we weren't swamped in Scotland during the anniversary year, three symphonies doesn't feel excessive, especially when two, the 5th and 9th, are conducted by Runnicles, always a sure Mahlerian. I'm particularly interested to hear the pairing of the 9th and Part's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten which should work well.
Runnicles' first Edinburgh concert features Mozart's Requiem, which I'm afraid I can't get too excited about, though it is excellent that they are working with the National Youth Choir of Scotland for this, coupled with Elgar's cello concerto. Elsewhere in the Glasgow season he can be found conducting everything from Beethoven 4 to Grieg's piano concerto to Shostakovich 1.
Another thread running through the season is the presence of various American greats, from Copland to Ives and Adams to Gershwin. It will be nice to hear Copland's 3rd symphony, which features the fanfare for the common man at the start of the finale. More intriguingly, under Runnicles' baton Adams' City Noir will provide a direct comparison to the RSNO's Peter Oundjian who is doing the same work at this summer's festival.
There's plenty else to tune in for, from Thomas Dausgaard with Nielsen's Inextinguishable 4th symphony to Jun Märkl's programme of Messiaen and Debussy. Andrew Manze concludes his Vaughan Willams cycle and hits two of my favourites, with both the Sea Symphony and the Sinfonia Antartica for which the Edinburgh Festival Chorus will be on hand. Lastly, Opera North's impressive music director Richard Farnes conducts a programme including the suite from Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen. He is a dab hand with the composer so this should be well worth hearing.
All in all, there's a lot to look forward to, it's just a pity more of it isn't in Edinburgh. True, a trip to City Halls is fairly easy and very pleasant, though given it's a Thursday it often clashes with the SCO and other commitments. Still, it's nice to be spoilt for choice.
You can download the brochures here: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen.
What is it with Edinburgh audiences! Runnicles' name ought to be a box office draw alone. And the BBSCO are so darn good these days you'd expect their concerts to do well.
I remember going to a piano recital by none other than Jean-Efflam Bavouzet at the QH in early nineties. There can't have been more than 50 of us there. I was so impressed with him though.
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