Saturday 21 January 2017

Looking ahead: Rattle-mania and more at the Barbican in 2017/18

LSO with Sir Simon Rattle - photo Ranald Mackechnie
LSO with Sir Simon Rattle - photo Ranald Mackechnie
The Barbican's 2017/18 classical music season is one of enormous diversity. Simon Rattle takes up his post at the London Symphony Orchestra with music from Byrd to Birtwistle, Sakari Oramo conducts all of Sibelius' symphonies, Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking gets its UK premiere with Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen, Iestyn Davies sings the title role in Handel's Rinaldo and the Academy of Ancient Music perform Purcell's King Arthur.

Visitors include the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of La Scala and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Composers celebrated include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Julian Anderson and Leonard Bernstein. American pianist Jeremy Denk is the artist in residence at Milton Court.

The Barbican is making a big splash for the arrival of Simon Rattle at the London Symphony Orchestra with ten days of concerts under the banner This is Rattle which includes Rattle conducting the LSO in five evening concerts with repertoire ranging from Helen Grime, Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Adès and Oliver Knussen, through Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust to Stravinsky's ballets, plus a series of composer curated concerts given by musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Britten Sinfonia and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Away from the Rattle-mania, there are plenty of other good things going on.

Joyce DiDonato with Philip Cutlip in Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie at Houston Grand Opera, 2011 - photo Felix Sanchez
Joyce DiDonato with Philip Cutlip in Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie
at Houston Grand Opera, 2011 - photo Felix Sanchez
Bernard Haitink returns to the LSO for concerts not only including Brahms and Beethoven but Thomas Adès too. A celebration of all things Bernstein includes Marin Alsop and Simon Rattle conducting all the symphonies, and Wonderful Town too (albeit in a shortened concert version). Rattle's other concerts include Das Lied von der Erde with Simon O'Neill and Christian Gerhaher (if we must have the baritone version then Gerhaher is probably the only person to bring it off). Michael Tilson Thomas will be conducting the LSO and London Symphony Chorus in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Joelle Harvey, Sasha Cooke, Toby Spence and Luca Pisaroni. Francois-Xavier Roth will be conducting a series commemorating the centenary of the death of Debussy and at LSO St Lukes there is a day devoted to Debussy's piano music with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

All tickets for under-18s at LSO's Barbican concerts will be £5, there is also a new initiative: Half Six Fix – early evening concerts conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, Simon Rattle and François-Xavier Roth, offering an hour of orchestral music at the end of the working day. In 2018, Simon Rattle will direct a performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gruppen in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern.

The Academy of Ancient Music presents a semi staged version of Purcell's King Arthur conducted by Richard Egarr and staged by Daisy Evans, with Louise Alder, Mhairi Lawson, Charles Daniels and Peter Harvey, and other concerts include a programme directed by Pavlo Beznosiuk which explores the English links of the 18th century Italian concerto grosso

Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Birtwistle's Earth Dances and RVW's Sea Symphony with Elizabeth Watts and Marcus Farnsworth. Lili Boulanger's music pops up in a BBC SO concert conducted by Jon Storgards and Sakari Oramo is conducting a full cycle of Sibelius symphonies with the BBC SO. Jospe Pons conducts the orchestra in Granados Goyescos. Joyce DiDonato features as Sister Helen in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and directed by Leonard Foglia; rather amazingly the works UK premiere and a chance to hear a work which is very popular in the USA.  Sakari Oramo conducts Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with Stuart Skelton, Alice Coote and Alan Ewing.

The BBC Singers are conducted by Peter Dijkstra in a reconstruction of Mendelssohn's version of Bach's St Matthew Passion with Nicolas Mulroy as the Evangelist and Brindley Sherratt as Christus, and the choir gives an all Handel programme conducted by Sofi Jeanin.

The BBC's first Total Immersion day is devoted to Julian Anderson, with a programme of events culminating in Edward Gardner conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in an all Anderson programme with Carolin Widman the soloist in In lieblicher Blaue. And the second is devoted to Esa-Pekka Salonen concluding with Sakari Oramo conducting an all Salonen programme. The final Total Immersion day brings all the Bernstein strands together with a day devoted to his music.

The Britten Sinfonia is joined by Kings College Choir for a programme which pairs Bernstein's Chichester Psalms with RVW's Dona Nobis Pacem and a new work from Emma Ruth Richards. And Britten Sinfonia Voices join the Britten Sinfonia for Stravinsky's Mass conducted by Eamonn Dougann in a programme of Mozart and Stravinsky. Thomas Ades conducts the orchestra in a cycle pairing Beethoven's symphonies with the music of Gerald Barry.

The English Concert, conducted by Harry Bicket, is returning with another Handel opera. This time Iestyn Davies sings the title role in Handel's Rinaldo; Handel's first opera for England and a role which Davies sang very memorably at Glyndebourne in 2014 (see my review).

Solomon's Knot will be performing all of Bach's motets in a Bach Weekend which includes Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout in Bach's Violin Sonatas, the Monteverdi Choir, Jean Rondeau in the Goldberg Variation, Jean-Guihen Queyras in the Cello Suites.

Singcircle, director Gregory Rose will be performing Stockhausen's Stimmung and Cosmic Pulses. Other visitors include Cecilia Bartoli, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Les Talens Lyriques in Francois Couperin, Franco Fagioli and the Venice Baroque Orchestra in Vivaldi and Handel Les Arts Florissants in Monteverdi's Selva morale e spirituale, Jonas Kaufmann, Diana Damrau and Helmut Deutsch in Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch. 

Christopher Purves joins Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo for an all Handel programme, Mark Elder conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle with Robert Hayward. Gustavo Dudamel brings the Los Angeles Phiharmonic for three concerts, performing Varese, Shostakovich, Ted Hearne, Bernstein (Chichester Psalms) and Beethoven.

Full details from the Barbican website though there is so much on offer you might be better off downloading the season brochure (PDF).

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