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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Superconductor 2012-2013 Season Preview: New York Philharmonic

Starting and ending with Stravinsky, an exciting year at the Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Music director Alan Gilbert. Photo by Chris Lee © 2010 The New York Philharmonic
The 2012-2013 season promises some big changes at the Philharmonic. Emanuel Ax, the pianist who has played 100 concerts with the ensemble over the years, joins the orchestra as Artist-in-Residence. Also, Christopher Rouse is the new Composer-in-Residence, replacing Magnus Lindberg. With a new orchestra contract in place and music director Alan Gilbert at the helm, this should be an exciting year for New York's hometown orchestra.

Here's twelve things that we're excited about seeing next season.
  • In an egalitarian gesture, the 2012 season opens on Sept. 19 with an "ordinary" subscription concert conducted by Alan Gilbert. György Kurtág's ...quasi una fantasia... starts the year off, followed by Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven's third Piano Concerto. The concert ends with Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring conducted by Mr. Gilbert. (There will be a gala opening too on Sept. 27, but that's probably not as exciting.)
  • On Oct. 4, new Artist-in-Residence Emanuel Ax pairs Bach's D minor Keyboard Concerto with the Schoenberg Piano Concerto, followed by Mozart's Linz Symphony. Alan Gilbert conducts.
  • The Nielsen Project continues Oct. 10, as Alan Gilbert conducts four concerts featuring the Danish composer's concertos for flute, violin and clarinet, paired with Tchaikovsky's Little Russian Symphony.
  • The Philharmonic is working with Lincoln Center's White Light Festival this year. On Nov. 4 at the Rose Theater, Emanuel Ax will lead a chamber-sized performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in a reduced orchestration by Arnold Schoenberg.
  • Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel return to the Philharmonic this season. Mr. Masur offers two weeks of Brahms starting on Nov. 8. Mr. Maazel will lead works by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Lutoslawski and Shostakovich, starting Jan. 16, 2013.
  • The first concerts of 2013 (starting Jan. 3)  feature French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, playing the Grieg Piano Concerto. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra maestro Manfred Honeck conducts the program, which also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
  • The Philharmonic continues its tradition of performing great Broadway musicals with Carousel. Rodgers and Hammerstein's operatic show will be staged at Avery Fisher Hall and directed by James Brennan. Carousel runs for five performances and will open Feb. 27.
  • March has become the time of the season when the Philharmonic focuses on a single composer in a spring festival. This year, they offer The Bach Variations. The month-long festival, mounted in collaboration with the 92nd St. Y kicks off with a March 3 symposium. March 6 marks the first concert. The series will feature choral works (the Magnificat, the Mass in B minor) orchestral works and a collaboration with Hungarian pianist András Schiff. Mr Schiff will also make his debut as a conductor on April 3.
  • Christopher Rouse's presence as the orchestra's new Composer in Residence will be felt (and heard) throughout the season, especially at a series of four concerts featuring soloist Joshua Bell and Charles Ives' daunting Symphony No. 4, a massive work that requires two conductors.
  • This year's free Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (May 27) features Bruckner's Third Symphony, as Alan Gilbert continues his survey of the major works by this heavyweight Austrian composer. For those wishing for better acoustics, the Bruckner Third will also be played in subscription concerts starting April 24, 2013.
  • June 6 is D-Day, as in Luigi Dallapiccola. The Philharmonic presents his one-act opera Il Prigionero, a 1948 work that offers a powerful statement about political oppression. This concert is presented as part of June Journey: Gilbert's Playlist, a season-ending series of concerts highlighting the many influences and personal musical taste of the New York Philharmonic's music director. 
  • The season ends with the welcome return of visionary designer Doug Fitch (Le Grand Macabre, The Cunning Little Vixen.) This time, the Brooklyn-based artist will mount Stravinsky's Petrushka, a ballet score about a love-struck puppet that meets a violent end.

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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.