Monday, March 02, 2015

San Francisco Symphony 2015-16

The press release and season calendar for SFS's 2015-16 season appeared around noon, as expected. I've been through the calendar twice and, well, it feels like a scattershot season, with little new or recent music.

There's no season-ending festival, though there are two vague focal points: Schumann (we will hear all four symphonies*) and Sibelius (violin concerto, some of the symphonies, other odd ends). Probably it's because the Sibelius orchestral music - he turns 150 - is parceled out among MTT, Susanna Malkki, and Alan Gilbert. And also Leif Ove Andsnes, who has an eye-catching recital at Davies.

Note that I because I love both Schumann and Sibelius, I will definitely be going to all most of those concerts.  (Not to the one that's Copland plus Schumann, I won't.)

There are two three other alleged themes, and again, they are just kinda...what?

One is music from rarely-heard operas, in this case Mussorgsky's Kovanshchina, Weber's Oberon, Pfitzner's Palestrina, Busoni's Turandot (I am not making this up, and you can get a copy of the recording on Capriccio if you don't believe me), and some Rameau. Well....yeah, but it's all orchestral music! Not one aria is scheduled! I mean, isn't there a dramatic soprano out there who is willing to turn up and sing "Ocean, thou mighty monster" from Oberon??? Maybe if that program were the week before or after Christine Brewer's recital with Paul Jacobs?

Sigh, I know, I know: it's too late to move those concerts around.

The second? Conductors playing music from their native countries!

Sheesh. That's....pretty easy. I mean, Stephane Deneve's strengths certainly do include French music! And we've got the great Marek Janowski conducting Beethoven.

Third is 20th c. violin concertos, including possibly the most popular, the Sibelius, with Leonidas Kavakos. Also: Gidon Kremer in the Bartok 1st, Nikolaj Znaider in the Nielsen, Christian Tetzlaff in Shostakovich 1st.

They might as well have said that Yuja Wang is a season focus. She is on five programs with two different orchestras: she appears with SFS and the Russian National Orchestra, playing Beethoven 4, Bartok 2, Tchaik 2, and Mozart 9. I...would like to hear a more varied roster of pianists playing concertos, please.

Deep breath: okay, enough of the complaining. You get the point (and you know that I do this most seasons, too). Now for some of the high points of the season:

  • Charles Dutoit conducts the Berlioz Requiem. 
  • MTT conducts the Sibelius violin concerto, The Swan of Tuonela, and the Schumann Rhenish Symphony.  I have been looking forward to hearing the Swan live since high school, and while the calendar doesn't mention who will play the solo English horn part, we know that it has to be the great Russ deLuna.
  • Leif Ove Andsnes's recital of works by Sibelius, Chopin, Debussy, and Beethoven (Op. 31, No. 3, known here and there as La Chasse)
  • MTT conducts Ives, Bartok, Mahler
  • Premier of Jorg Widmann's piano concerto, Trauermarch, with Yefim Bronfman, on an MTT program that includes symphonies by Brahms and CPE Bach
  • Premier of Ted Hearn's Dispatches, on a program that includes Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and the Pathetique.
  • Andras Schiff's last sonatas recital. Okay, I'd like to hear LvB Op. 111 and the Schubert Bb sonata, D. 960, on the same program.
  • Schiff conducts SFS in a program that includes Mozart's last piano concert and Haydn's Nelson Mass, a wonderful piece.
  • Susanna Malkki's programs are both great: Mussorgsky, Shos (Tetzlaff), Prokofiev & Tiensuu, Chopin (Trpceski), Sibelius
  • I'm curious about Mehta/Israeli Phil, which includes the Eroica and a work by a Georgian composer I don't know at all.
  • MTT/Strauss, Schumann, with Laura Claycomb singing a piece I'm sure I reviewed her in about ten years back.
  • Krzysztof Urbański gets the Polish beat, with a work (probably short) by Kilar, followed by Manny Ax in the Emperor concerto and Dvorak 9. 
  • Janowski's Beethoven, plus the Pfitzner
  • Edwin Outwater has a crazy program that I love on paper: Busoni, Weber, Saint-Saens (Egyptian concerto (oh, well) with Stephen Hough, who will be great), Hindemith
  • Stephane Deneve drew the Nielson violin concerto!
  • Herbert Blomstedt's programs: not a thrill but maybe I'll go?
  • MTT conducts the Schubert Unfinished and Mahler Das Lied von der Erde with Sasha Cooke and Simon O'Neill.
  • Heras-Casado has two good programs.
  • MTT: Stravinsky plus Adams The Wound-Dresser with Thomas Hampson. The Stravinsky includes the complete Petroushka, a score I love dearly.
  • MTT conducts Mahler 2, Resurrection, with Karina Gauvin and Kelly O'Connor
  • MTT conducts Bernstein, On the Town
I don't have a full count of works by living composers, but there are the 3 commissions (Bates, Hearn, Widmann), Adams, and the several composers I don't know. Maybe 8 or 10? There are no works by female composers. There is one woman conducting the orchestra. For comparison, the LAPO season, which I haven't discussed yet, has works by something like 27 (!!!) living composers.

* This might just have something to do with Joshua Kosman's tweet the other day about having more chances to hear the Spring Symphony. Perhaps he had an imbargoed press release in hand. 


atrave said...

Am I the only person put off by yet again another season in which we are exclusively treated to yet again two works by Mahler by the baton of MTT? Was it part of his contract when he started with SFS that no one else would ever be allowed to conduct his orchestra in Mahler? I have collected all programs since 1995, and the only rpogram I found was when Myung-Whun Chung conducted the Titan in January 2008. And frankly, as much as I think MTT does a great job with French, Russian or American composers, his vision of Mahler is a bit too heavy-handed and flase-sounding, IMHO

CruzSF said...

Ah, now I see that you don't care for Hough. I've liked what I've heard from him in the past and will go to hear this Saint-Saens concerto I don't know (yet).

As for the rest ... as much as I love Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, and the usual composers, I'm saddened (maybe more disgusted) that there isn't greater representation of women composers in the next season. I'll have to do some travelling next season to hear newer and "unusual" music. So be it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, dear - the "oh, well" is about the Egyptian, not Hough. I will correct.

There is a ton of new/unusual away from SFS! I should probably write up a page about SFCMP, Left Coast, etc.

Mary Jane Leach said...

I heard Dutoit conduct the Berlioz at Tanglewood a few years ago - he did a good job, and it's nice to hear it live. Just don't look at him at the end, as he is usually off the podium before the sound has even died out, which can be a little disconcerting.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Dutoit has done big choral works in at least 2 recent SFO appearances, and the one I attended was very good. I'm looking forward to this one a lot.

Mary Jane Leach said...

Yes, I've seen Dutoit a lot - he was at SPAC with the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years - and he is very good.