James Levine and Boston Symphony Orchestra Open 2007-08 Season

Classic Arts News   James Levine and Boston Symphony Orchestra Open 2007-08 Season
 
It's "Opening Night at Symphony" this evening at Boston's Symphony Hall, as mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet join the Boston Symphony Orchestra for its first concert of the 2007-08 season. BSO music director James Levine conducts an all-Ravel program featuring Alborada del gracioso, the song cycle Sh_h_razade, the Piano Concerto in G and the Daphnis et Chlo_ Suite No. 2.

Ravel remains on tap for the BSO's first subscription concerts this weekend: Thibaudet remains on hand for the Piano Concerto, and the program features Alborada del gracioso, Pavane for a Dead Princess and the complete Daphnis et Chlo_ score. Levine and the orchestra bring this program to Carnegie Hall in New York next Monday, October 7.

The BSO's programming for the coming season includes a number of major events. In November, Levine conducts relatively rare performances of Smetana's complete Mš vlast (of which the popular piece "The Moldau" is one movement). Colin Davis conducts Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius in January, with soloists Ben Heppner, Sarah Connolly and Gerald Finley. For the end of the Christian Holy Week, Bernard Haitink comes to Boston to conduct Bach's St. Matthew Passion, with Ian Bostridge as the Evangelist.

In April and May, Levine closes the BSO season with concert performances of Berlioz's epic Les Troyens, with Part One and Part Two on alternating programs. The cast includes tenor Marcello Giordani (Aeneas), mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter (Dido), mezzo-soprano Yvonne Naef (Cassandra and Ghost of Cassandra), baritone Dwayne Croft (Chorebus and Ghost of Chorebus), tenor Eric Cutler (Iopas), tenor Kenneth Tarver (Hylas) and bass Kwangchul Youn (Narbal); joining the BSO will be the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

As for contemporary music, the coming Boston Symphony season includes three world premieres: in November, Elliott Carter's Horn Concerto (written for BSO principal horn James Sommerville); in February and March, William Bolcom's Symphony No. 8 for chorus and orchestra; and, in April, John Harbison's Symphony No. 5 (with mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and baritone Nathan Gunn).

Levine conducts the U.S. premiere of Henri Dutilleux's Le Temps l'horloge for soprano and orchestra in November and December, with Ren_e Fleming singing the solo part composed for her; they bring the work to Carnegie Hall on December 3. At the beginning of November, Markus Stenz conducts violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann and the BSO in the American premiere of Australian composer Brett Dean's The Lost Art of Letter Writing. Other contemporary works featured during the coming season include Michael Gandolfi's The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Oliver Knussen's The Way to Castle Yonder, and Osvaldo Golijov's Ausencia and Azul for cello and strings, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist.

One major event comes April 9-12, with Levine conducting back-to-back Brahms programs featuring the Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (with Evgeny Kissin as soloist) and the Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3.

Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff visits Boston at the end of February for two programs: Schubert's Winterreise, with Levine accompanying him at the piano, and a set of five Schubert songs orchestrated by various composers.

Other works conducted by Levine include Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and tenor Johan Botha, Berg's Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff, and Duparc songs with Fleming.

The guest conductor lineup includes BSO conductor emeritus Bernard Haitink leading Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 with Mitsuko Uchida. Eminent Spanish maestro and Boston favorite Rafael Fr‹hbeck de Burgos conducts three Strauss tone poems, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Leif Ove Andsnes. Daniele Gatti leads the orchestra and Garrick Ohlsson in Schumann's Piano Concerto and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.

Symphony Hall's 67-stop Aeolian-Skinner organ is spotlighted twice in next season's programming, with Simon Preston featured in Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Timpani, and Strings, led by Robert Spano, and James David Christie joining the orchestra for Saint-SaêŠns's "Organ" Symphony (No. 3), led by Charles Dutoit.

The soloist lineup also includes Leon Fleisher celebrating his 80th birthday with a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor"). Violinist Isabelle Faust makes her BSO debut with pianist Peter Serkin in Berg's Chamber Concerto for piano and violin with thirteen wind instruments.

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