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3.3.10

What You Will Be Hearing Next Season

Christoph Eschenbach, incoming music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, is also advising on the music programming of the entire Kennedy Center, and the announcement of the 2010-11 season, reported on by Anne Midgette today in the Washington Post, was big news. Frankly the chamber music offerings announced so far look like more of the same -- certainly good but nothing all that exciting to report. As for the NSO the season-long focus on Beethoven struck me as underwhelming, given that Marin Alsop did a Beethoven symphony cycle in her 2008-09 season. All of the Beethoven piano concerti again, and with somewhat less than thrilling soloists (Nikolai Lugansky and Radu Lupu excepted, the latter with Gianandrea Noseda at the helm for his NSO debut). Pretty much any other composer for this sort of extended scrutiny -- other than Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky, it probably goes without saying -- would have been more interesting.

Anne highlighted the first performances of some contemporary pieces, but frankly the composers chosen (Pintscher, Golijov, Augusta Read Thomas) are not among my favorites. The most exciting of these premieres is a new work commissioned from Peter Lieberson, which will feature on a program with Tzimon Barto playing the Gershwin piano concerto in F. I will also be glad to hear Magnus Lindberg's Parada (although a more substantial piece would have been better), especially as conducted by Susanna Mälkki, even if the rest of the program is a dud. Eschenbach's programming for the Kennedy Center's India festival will include not only Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie (with Cédric Tiberghien on the piano and Tristan Murail on on the ondes Martenot) and Zemlinksy's Lyric Symphony (with Matthias Goerne) but also the suite from Roussel's quirky opera-ballet Padmâvatî.

Some other interesting programming includes a Bruckner 6 and a Prokofiev 6 (a powerful work), some Mahler (the fifth symphony and Kindertotenlieder with Nathalie Stultzmann, the fourth symphony). Sergey Khachatryan will return to the NSO, playing Shostakovich's second violin concerto. That work is paired with Sibelius's first symphony, and the Finnish composer's En Saga features on another program with Nielsen's fourth symphony. Why not a season-long focus on Sibelius instead, please? Finally, some other guest conductors promise to be well worth the price of admission: Rinaldo Alessandrini will lead next year's Messiah (!), and Vladimir Ashkenazy will conduct Shostakovich's tenth symphony, paired with Steven Isserlis playing the Walton cello concerto.

What will the NSO sound like under Christoph Eschenbach, and how will his tenure be accepted by the orchestra? The test case comes next week with the conductor's first concerts with the orchestra since his appointment, a performance of Verdi's epic Requiem Mass (March 11 to 13). Soloists will be Twyla Robinson (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo-soprano), Nikolai Schukoff (tenor), and Evgeny Nikitin (bass-baritone), with the Washington Chorus on the choral part.

8 comments:

jfl said...

he couldn't *not* bring tzimon barto, could he. uh, well...

Charles T. Downey said...

Right, but far be it from me to repeat rumors of this kind.

symphony fan said...

Agreed on the Beethoven. At least it will give us the opportunity to hear the NSO's new principal timpanist.

jfl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles T. Downey said...

I was referring to the nature of his connection to Eschenbach. No doubt that he is an odd, troubled person.

And I should say that I liked his Rameau CD -- go figure. He is unpredictable, which could be awful but could also be surprising and fun.

Anonymous said...

Re: the chamber music listings, some of us are delighted to see that Pam Frank appears to be playing again after her injury!

jfl said...

"...which could be awful but could also be surprising and fun."

Which--we surely agree--beats predictable, stodgy competence ANY day. :-)

Charles T. Downey said...

Surely.