Monday, September 17, 2018

NYC's 2018 - 2019 Classical Music Season

When I first began this blog several years ago I was very intent on giving myself an education in classical music appreciation.  I had never had an opportunity to study the subject when in college but hoped that by attending as many performances as I could manage that I would learn at least a little about this wonderful art form.  It certainly helped that I live within walking distance of both Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall where the world's greatest musicians regularly appear.  This allowed me not only to hear some spectacular performances but also to substantially enlarge my knowledge of the repertoire.

I feel now that my self appointed task has largely ended, at least for the time being.  Though painfully aware of the limits of my knowledge, I feel I the need to concentrate my attention on other areas of interest, particularly my photography and my fiction writing.  Accordingly, while the classical music season will soon begin again in earnest here in New York City, I will be attending far less performances than last season and will therefore be posting here less often.  Nonetheless, I will still be hearing many fine performances over the coming months.

My Saturday matinee subscription to the Met shrank this season from eight operas to only seven, though I didn't notice any reduction in the cost of the subscription itself.  Of the seven, the performance that should prove most interesting is Verdi's Otello.  Not only is it the composer's greatest opera, at least as far as I'm concerned, but on this occasion it will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel who will here be making his Met debut. I will also be attending three new productions - Saint-Saëns's Samson et Dalila, starring Elina Garanča and Roberto Alagna; Verdi's La Traviata, starring Diana Damrau; and Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, starring Anna Netrebko.  In addition, Pretty Yende and Javier Camarena will star in La fille du régiment while Sondra Radvanovsky will sing the title role in Tosca.

I subscribed to the same four series at Carnegie Hall this season as last, but once again the number of performances has lessened, this time from fourteen to twelve.  Still, there are several performances that should be well worth hearing.  Of the orchestral concerts, the one I'm most eagerly anticipating is an all-Bartók program, including The Miraculous Mandarin suite, given by the Budapest Festival Orchestra.  Bartók was one of the twentieth century's greatest composers, and I don't know any other ensemble that performs his music as well as the BFO under the baton of its Music Director Iván Fischer.  They are in a class by themselves.  Another conductor I very much admire is Andris Nelsons, and in November I will hear him lead the Boston Symphony in a performance of Mahler No. 5.

The instrument whose music I've always most enjoyed is the piano, and this coming season I will be lucky enough to hear two of the greatest pianists now active.  First will be the wonderful Mitsuko Uchida who will actually be appearing twice, first in an all-Schubert solo recital that will include his final sonata in B-flat major, arguably the greatest work ever written for solo piano, and secondly with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in a performance of two late Mozart concerti.  Next, András Schiff will perform an eclectic program at his solo recital that will include the Bartók well as Janáček's In the Mists.  As for the younger generation of pianists, Yuja Wang will perform the Prokofiev Concerto No. 5 with the New World Symphony and Daniil Trifonov will take on the Schumann Concerto with the Met Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev in a program that will also include Schubert's No. 9.

In addition to these concerts and recitals, I will be attending roughly a dozen of Juilliard's Wednesdays at One lunchtime performances at Alice Tully Hall that include works for orchestra, solo piano, voice, and chamber ensembles.

All in all, it should be an excellent season even if a bit less crowded than in prior years.

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