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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Carnegie Hall 2016-17 Preview: Masks, Marathons, and Marvels

Ambitious 2016-17 season offers Mahler, Bruckner and a Venetian festival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Venetian festival La Serenissima comes to Carnegie Hall in February 2017.
Original image courtesy of  and © 2016 by Carnegie Hall. Photo alteration by the author.

For the last three years, Carnegie Hall's annual press conference unveiling the slate of its forthcoming season has been held upstairs at the no-longer-new Resnick Education Wing, atop the world-famous music hall at the corner of West 57th St. and Seventh Avenue. Today's conference featured a lengthy presentation by still-reigning Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson, a conversation between Mr. Gillinson and next year's composer-in-residence Steve Reich, and the distribution of weighty vermilion folders to members of the working music press. From the looks of the schedule, next year is going to be...big.
Make that...really, really big.
The season opens Oct. 6 with Gustavo Dudamel leading the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in a pair of hard-hitting Stravinsky ballets: Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Mr. Dudamel will follow this with an evening twinning South American compositions with works by Ravel. He and his orchestra will then attempt to ascend into a higher state of being by performing Olivier Messiaen’s vexing but beguiling Turangalîla-symphonie

And that's just the first weekend.

This season has a number of orchestral highlights. Sir Simon Rattle returns to finish out his two-year Perspectives series, conducting Mahler with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. In January, Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle offer a  complete cycle of nine numbered Bruckner symphonies, the first in the Hall’s 126-year history. The shorter symphonies will be prefaced with Mozart piano concertos featuring Mr. Barenboim as soloist, directing the ensemble from the keyboard.

The aforementioned Mr. Reich celebrates his 80th birthday this year on Nov. 1 with a concert featuring three of his works including the video opera Three Stories. In the spring, Mr. Reich will offer a concert-and-discussion series at Zankel Hall exploring his own music and those of contemporaries and followers: Terry Riley, Philip Glass, John Adams, Julia Wolfe, Nico Muhly and others.

A troika of fast-rising Russian pianists Danil Trifonov, Denis Matsuev and the young Bezhod Abduraimov are on the schedule, each giving solo concerts. Marc-André Hamelin and Leif-Ove Andsnes will appear together, offering a finger-busting program that might make your knuckles hurt. (The two virtuosos have included, among other works,  a four-handed transcription of The Rite of Spring.) Vocal recitals are scheduled, with highlights including appearances by star bass Eric Owens mezzo Joyce DiDonato and soprano Natalie Dessay.

Next February, the slushy streets of Manhattan become the canals of Venice, Italy as Carnegie Hall presents La Serenissima, a three-week festival of Venetian choral music, chamber music, oratorio and opera. All these riches flow from the water-locked city by the Adriatic. Your guides include period performance specialist Jordi Savall, the all-female vocal ensemble Tenet and the Concerto Italiano, who will end the festival with a concert performance of the Monteverdi opera L'Incorinazione di Poppea.

The following week, the Venitians yield to a flotilla of great orchestras, as the Vienna Philharmonic the Boston Symphony Orchestra make their annual visits. Other guest ensembles include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam, and from right here in New York, the Orchestra of st. Luke's and the MET Orchestra. This last ensemble will end the season in early June, giving three concerts under the baton of music director James Levine. The programs: complete evenings of Mahler, Brahms and Sibelius. 
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.