Statistics alone don't tell the whole story, but the numbers for the Philharmonic's 2004-05 subscription season portend an exciting year of music-making: three world premieres, two U.S. premieres, nine New York premieres, music by 55 composers in a 32-week season featuring the 106 virtuosos of the Philharmonic, 17 legendary guest conductors, 24 stellar instrumental soloists, 20 brilliant vocalists, and one great Music Director‹Lorin Maazel.
The season, whose details were announced at a February 10 press conference, offers a stimulating mix of music from the classic to the contemporary. The first subscription week program sets the tone with Olivier Messiaen's Les Offrandes oubliées, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, and Maxim Vengerov performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, with Mr. Maazel on the podium. The second week brings the first of the season's world premieres, all of them commissioned by the Philharmonic: Augusta Read Thomas's Gathering Paradise, Emily Dickinson Settings for Soprano and Orchestra. Soprano Heidi Grant Murphy will singtexts by the reclusive American poet in a setting that, according to the composer, "celebrates the vast array of orchestral colors and possibilities."
The subscription season's other world premieres are Scherzoid by Mark-Anthony Turnage (a co-commission with the London Philharmonic Orchestra), and an as-yet-unnamed work by Wolfgang Rihm, a celebrated German composer whose scores are marked by a profound concern for the human condition. Lorin Maazel will conduct all three world premieres.
The Philharmonic podium has always been a showcase for the world's greatest conductors‹both those whose careers are in the ascendancy, and those who are firmly established. In the 2004-05 season three conductors who have made their Philharmonic debuts in the last few seasons return to build on their earlier successes with the Orchestra: David Robertson, Alan Gilbert, and Sakari Oramo. The Philharmonic stage will also be graced by conductors who will be renewing their deep ties to the Orchestra, among them Sir Colin Davis, Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur, and Riccardo Muti. Riccardo Chailly and Kent Nagano both return after long absences, and Hans Graf will make his Philharmonic debut under the auspices of the Kurt Masur Fund for the Philharmonic.
The Philharmonic stage is a magnet for the world's top instrumental and vocal soloists and the 2004-05 season is no exception: Many old friends, including Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Sir James Galway, Gil Shaham, Mitsuko Uchida, Deborah Voigt, and Pinchas Zukerman will return, while newcomers will make their Philharmonic debuts, among them three celebrated divas, Olga Borodina, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Karita Mattila.
The New York Philharmonic Festival: Visions of the Beyond (March 17-April 16, 2005) will explore the power of music to conjure up worlds beyond our own mortality. The festival opens with Mendelssohn's Complete Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed semi-staged with Shakespeare's text. Sir Neville Marriner will conduct. Other festival highlights include Kent Nagano leading concerts exploring the unexpected spiritual links between Bach and Messiaen; Charles Dutoit conducting Berlioz's tempestuous La Damnation de Faust; Christoph von Dohnányi on the podium for works of György Ligeti, Sibelius, and Janácek; and Riccardo Muti essaying Liszt's A Faust Symphony.
All the details‹including information on how to subscribe to guarantee the best seats and other benefits‹can be found on the Philharmonic's Website, newyorkphilharmonic.org.
Robert Sandla writes about the arts.