The Great Performers season opens on October 17 with an 80th birthday celebration for Colin Davis, who will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra (of which he has just become president, following a dozen years as principal conductor). The three-concert mini-festival features an all-Mozart program including the Requiem, Haydn's The Creation (with soloists Sally Matthews, Ian Bostridge and Dietrich Henschel), and an all-Beethoven evening featuring the Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Paul Lewis.
In November Martha Argerich will perform Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra under Charles Dutoit; the concert also features Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
The orchestral offerings continue in February with concerts led by Ivšn Fischer and Vladimir Jurowski. Fischer leads the Budapest Festival Orchestra in two programs focusing on Bart‹k: the first includes the rarely-heard music for the ballet pantomime The Wooden Prince; the second features Duke Bluebeard's Castle. Later in the month, Jurowski conducts the Russian National Orchestra in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Stephen Hough) and the New York premiere of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony (No. 8) — "completed" by 33-year old Russian composer Anton Safronov. The third movement (Scherzo) is a reconstruction by Safronov from Schubert's surviving, almost-complete piano score; the music for the fourth-movement finale is Safronov's own. (This completion was first performed in 2005 by the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra.)
Come March, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard perform an all-Beethoven program, with Piotr Anderszewski as soloist for the Piano Concerto No. 1. April brings the Great Performers debut of conductor Osmo V‹nsk‹ and the Minnesota Orchestra; the concert includes works by Sibelius and Mahler, along with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, with soloist Lars Vogt.
The orchestral concerts wrap up in May, when Kurt Masur leads the Orchestre national de France in Dvoršk's Symphony No. 9 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2, with 25-year-old French pianist David Fray making his New York debut. Anne-Sophie Mutter is the soloist for Beethoven's Romance in F major and Romance in G major on the second program, which also includes music of Dutilleux and Tchaikovsky.
The lineup for the Virtuoso Recitals series includes pianists Marc-Andr_ Hamelin performing works of Haydn, Chopin and Debussy; Richard Goode playing Chopin, Bach, Debussy, Beethoven and Faur_; and Christian Zacharias performing Scarlatti sonatas and music of Schubert and Ravel. The final Virtuoso Recitals concert unites violinist Gil Shaham and long-time collaborator pianist Akira Eguchi in works by Walton, J. S. Bach, Rodrigo and Sarasate.
American lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani opens the Art of the Song series (which will decamp to the Rose Theater for the duration of Alice Tully Hall's renovation) in December, joined by pianist Julius Drake for works by Beethoven, Britten, Ives and Schubert. In January, soprano Christine Sch‹fer sings Schubert's Winterreise with pianist Eric Schneider; in February, baritone Russell Braun and tenor Michael Schade offer a duo-recital, joined by pianist Carolyn Maule (Braun's wife), of Mendelssohn duets and Viennese songs arranged by John Greer. American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato wraps up the series in March with works by Vivaldi, Rossini, Chausson, Bolcom and Copland, accompanied by pianist David Zobel.
In a three-concert mini-series in February 2008, Midori will explore the parallels and contrasts between Alfred Schnittke and Toru Takemitsu. Joining her will be guest artists including harpist Nancy Allen, clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Daedalus and Mir‹ Quartets. Rounding out the programs are works by Bach, Ravel, Debussy and Shostakovich.
On the early music front, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants offer the New York premiere of the rarely-performed 17th-century Italian opera Il Sant'Alessio by Stefano Landi. The Lincoln Center performances in October will feature countertenors in most of the sung roles, including those of Saint Alexis (Philippe Jaroussky) and his wife (Max Emanuel Cencic). The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment returns to Lincoln Center with Handel's Messiah, led by Laurence Cummings, harpsichordist, conductor and Head of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
In April the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and its principal guest conductor, Murray Perahia, offer Mozart's "Paris" Symphony, Haydn's "London" Symphony and concerti of Bach and Mozart, with Perahia conducting and playing the piano.
Other Great Performers highlights include the Emerson String Quartet (celebrating its 30th anniversary this season), playing two all-Brahms programs, and the English a cappella sextet The King's Singers performing a program of seasonal and sacred works from the Middle Ages to the present in December at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. In November, the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky celebrates his homeland with 19th- and 20th-century sacred and popular songs; he will be joined by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of Choral Art led by Constantine Orbelian.
In spring 2008, a mini-festival called "Stravinsky Onstage" will present works by dancer/choreographer Michael Clark and puppeteer Basil Twist. Twist's Petrushka (a Great Performers commission) features Czech and Japanese puppetry techniques accompanied by Stravinsky's score, which will be performed in a two-piano version.
Following previous film series devoted to Verdi, great conductors and Glenn Gould, Great Performers will present a seven-part series on Beethoven called "The Art of the Symphony." It will focus on interpretations of his masterworks over the past 50 years, with archival footage of performances and rehearsals by Klemperer, Solti, Kleiber, Boulez, Gardiner, Norrington, the Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw and Karajan — the last rehearsing and conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a 1967 performance of the Fifth Symphony in Paris.
Leon Botstein takes the podium for the 45th season of the American Symphony Orchestra, with six concerts focusing on lesser-known works. The ASO's series opens on September 30 with a concert version of the rarely performed 1906 English opera The Wreckers ("Les naufrageurs") by late-Victorian composer and women's suffrage activist Ethel Smyth. Later programs focus on works by Russian Futurist composers, early 20th-century Italian music and 20th-century works that "explore outer, and inner, space" by Takemitsu, Ligeti, Ruud Langgaard and Andrzej Panufnik.