Coming at the top of the list is the kind of performance that makes you scratch your head and wonder just how MTT talked the administration into funding it: complete semi-staged performances of Peter Grimes, with a spectacular cast headed by tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Elza van den Heever (both former SFO Adler Fellows). Adding to the luster of the Britten centennial year - and thank goodness somebody is taking note of it - are performances of the War Requiem (Semyon Bychkov conducts), the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (Toby Spence, and a great opportunity to hear our fabulous principal horn Robert Ward), excepts from The Prince of the Pagodas (MTT), separate performances of the Four Sea Interludes from Grimes (MTT, with video by Tal Rosner), and the Simple Symphony (Alexander Barantschik conducts, on a program that also includes Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Piazzola). The Kremerata Baltica's visit includes the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge.
But that's not all. Other highlights are:
- Anthiel, Jazz Symphony; Barber Violin Concerto (James Ehnes); Gershwin, An American in Paris
- Zosha di Castri, Lineage (SFS commission, world premier), on a program with Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky 1st PC (Bronfman)
- Mahler Third Symphony (Sasha Cooke, mezzo; MTT - but you could have guessed that, right?)
- A grab-bag headed by Manny Ax in the LvB Third Piano Concerto and also including music of Mahler, Copland, Debussy, Delius, Grieg, and Rachmaninov (MTT)
- Pablo Herras-Casado conducts two weeks of tasty programs featuring Ades and Mendelssohn; works include scenes from Ades's The Tempest, with Audrey Luna, Charlotte Hellekant, and Rod Gilfrey and scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Andras Schiff is back with lots of Bach; he will also attempt the same feat I saw Jeffrey Kahane in a few years back: performing the Goldberg and Diabelli Variations on the same program. Good luck, Andras!
- Yuja Wang is on several programs and is part of Project San Francisco. (Again?)
- We hear more Mason Bates, whose music is paired with Beethoven's. Um.
- Edwin Outwater conducts Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Dvorak Legends, and Prokofief.
- There's a series where you get to hear one of the world's great orchestras play great film scores with the movie running. Films are Psycho, The Lodger, Vertigo, City Lights, Fantasia (!), "Hitchcock's Greatest Hits."
- Ragnar Bohlin conducts Messiah, with Katie van Kooten, Claudia Huckle, Sean Pannikar, and Joshua Hopkins
- Osmo Vanska is back, with Sibelius (yay!), Rachmaninov, and Stravinsky; Daniil Trifonov plays the Rach Rhapsody, with that tune.
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra visits, alas with Pinchas Zuckerman and an all-Beethoven program that includes the Fifth and the Violin Concerto
- The Kremerata Baltica program looks great and includes Shostakovich.
- The fabulous young conductor Lionel Bringuier guest-conducts here for the first time, in Brahms, Dutilleux, and Ravel
- Ralphael Fruehbeck de Burgos conducts for the first time in I don't know how long; Haydn & Rimsky
- Yuri Temirkanov brings the St. Petersburg Phil to town for two programs, with works by Kancheli, Rossini, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimskey, and Tchaik PC 1 (Denis Kozhukhin). The Rinsky is the Suite from The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia (Yes, I had to write out the whole thing.)
- Julia Fischer is on the schedule playing a Prokofiev violin concerto; I'll believe it when I see it.
- Gustavo Dudamel and the LAPO visit with two programs.
- Herbert Blomstedt has a program of the Schubert Great C Major Symphony and Carey Bell in the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto! Yes!! (His second week is Bruckner & Mozart PC 21 with Garrick Ohlsson)
- James Conlon has a great program that includes Schulhoff and Shostakovich, the latter with trumpet god Mark Inouye and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
- Ton Koopman has two programs of JSB and CPEB.
- Christian Tetzlaff has a solo Bach program and plays the Bartok 2nd violin concerto on a program that includes Sibelius & Brahms. (C'mon, Michael, forget Lemminkainen's Return and put Russ deLuna out front with The Swan of Tuonela.)
- Having done such a great job with choral masterpieces last month, Charles Dutoit returns with Stravinsky, more Poulenc, and Faure. I hate the Faure Requiem but might stick around for it this time. His second week is Shostakovich and Beethoven (Kirill Gerstein).
- That program with Prince of the Pagodas also has the Shostakovich first violin concerto with Janine Jansen.
There's also to-be-announced chamber music with members of SFS and soloists on Great Performers whom I have not mentioned. I'll just say, to close: it's a great season. And it even includes a new work composed by a woman.