Wednesday, 4 April 2007

What’s for dinner this season?

cyntillating sounds opus four

It’s April, and symphony orchestras all over the world publish their menus for their subscription series coming season.

So what’s cooking?

To start with, here, just around the corner, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has a wonderful menu for 07-08. There is lots of Olivier Messiaen planned, symphonic of course (Les offrandes oubliées, L’Ascension, Turangalîla) but also, in happy collaboration with the orchestra’s home The Concertgebouw, chamber music, all to celebrate the composer’s birth year of 1908. This also allows a taste of the Concertgebouw’s graceful organ from time to time. The RCO’s ‘great maestros’ programming (isn’t that one and the same thing, great and maestro?) even features little knives and forks next to certain dates, so there the menu is not only the likes of Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Daniele Gatti and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, but real food as well. André Previn will be conducting his ex-wife Anne-Sophie Mutter in Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, so cutlery might fly during those concerts. Chief Conductor Maris Jansons is served up in all the series as he feasts on not only Messiaen but also Kancheli, Bartók, Beethoven, R. Strauss and Mahler to name but a few. Jansons’ menu in Munich where he is also Chief of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is a bit more meat and potatoes, but who wouldn’t mind conducting Beethoven’s Ninth for the Pope in Rome? And Von Karajan, who also ‘turns 100’ in 2008 is reason for Jansons’ performance of Brahm’s Deutsches Requiem.

Despite important billing as conductor emeritus in Amsterdam, Riccardo Chailly, now Chef in Leipzig, has not been asked back for dinner, but will himself be cooking up a storm with his new German orchestra: starting with an appetising Mendelssohn festival in September, the Gewandhaus programming has a bit too much measuring cup type recipes in the rest of its season for my taste: concerts for the 50th anniversary of the death of Sibelius, the 100 year anniversary of Grieg’s passing, and even the 125th anniversary of Wagner’s trip to the other side. Not a very creative numbers game. But Chailly has his own Pope, at least in a performance of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ‘Three Screaming Popes’, and it’s not Leipzig if there isn’t a good deal of Bach. Gewandhaus should be lauded for inviting American conductor John Mauceri – he is great and not enough on European soil – if only to conduct film music which is only one of many meals he serves up extremely well.

The wait is on for other European gourmet delights as, even though they have done the shopping and sent out the press releases, the details are still unknown in Paris and London.
Birmingham, Berlin and Budapest will quickly follow suit; finishing up will be the Vienna Philharmonic, appropriately so being the chocolate dessert capital of the world.

More mouth watering morsels to follow soon…