SSO 2017

Seven thoughts on the Sydney Symphony’s 2017 season.

You could summarise them as four pluses, a fifth plus (all pluses according to my taste of course) though in part depending, and two just saying.

1. Bartok

Bluebeard’s Castle is the headline act here.  I’m looking forward to this.  We’ll also be hearing an early obscurity, the Four Pieces Op 12 and the violin concerto.  The Miraculous Mandarin  features in a special Lantern Festival concert to be conducted by Tan Dun and otherwise made up of works by him.  I find this just a bit surprising because the scenario of TheMM has always seemed to me to be orientalist in a not very nice way.

2.  Brahms

We don’t often get to hear Brahms’ choral-orchestral works – even the German Requiem.  Next year we have the Alto Rhapsody (in the same concert as Bluebeard’s Castle)  and (on the one program) the Song of Destiny and the Song of the Fates.  There’s a bit more, including a recital (program not yet finalised) by Orli Shaham arranged around the Op 118 and 119 piano sets.  Big names play the violin concerto and first piano concerto in Special Events (see 7 below).

3.  Ravel

Nothing particularly unusual about performances of Bolero or La Valse, but the concert billed as “Ravishing Ravel” is something to write home about: David Robertson conducts Daphnis et Chloe (I hope the ballet rather than either of the suits) and Susan Graham sings Sheherazade.  She’s also the soloist in Mahler 3.  Is it mischievous to suggest that it would have been nice if we could have got Edo de Waart out for that?  I suppose not all stars can align.

4.  Haydn

He’s getting a bit of a revival, mostly in the “Mozart in the City” series at Angel Place, renamed in the body of the brochure “Mozart and Haydn in the City.”  Each concert includes a Haydn symphony. After the first concert, the remaining three will feature in order Morning, Noon and Evening.  I particularly like the program for the final concert, led by cellist Peter Wispelwey.  The Evening symphony will be matched (in the wine with food sense) with the Mozart Serenade for Winds K 388 with Wispelwey playing the (better-known of the two) Haydn cello concerto for dessert.

5.  Pelleas et M, Dutoit, Argerich

Charles Dutoit is to conduct Pelleas et Mellisande.  I’m very much looking forward to this even though it seems to me that it’s not really Debussy in rather the way that Mahler 1 is not really Mahler or Gurrelieder are not really Schoenberg. Martha Argerich’s Australian debut is announced for (I’m pretty sure) the third time. Dutoit will conduct.  She is to play Beethoven 2 and that program also includes The Three Cornered Hat.

6.   Rachmaninov

This is less interesting to me.  All four concerti are getting an outing, as well as the Symphony No 3 and the Symphonic Dances.  I put that down to box office.  More alarmingly, two of them, and the Symphony No 3, feature in 3 out of the 4 “Meet the Music” concerts, aimed primarily at high-school students.  Isn’t that a bit much?  It seems rich fare for the young and impressionable – a bit like too much red cordial.

7.   The Money

In 2015 the SSO’s finances took a bit of a knock with an operating loss of over $1.2 million. Premium reserve subscriptions for 2017 for the main full length series are about 12% more than they were for 2016, from $99 to $111.  I expect a similar increase has been applied across the board though I haven’t dug out last year’s brochure to check.

Gone, or attenuated, is the longue durée where you could wait for the big names to turn up in your series.  The trend continues of reserving the biggest names (with some honourable exceptions) for “Special Events.” Subscribers get first bite of the cherry but at a discount to the premium prices which is generally less than full-series subscription tickets receive over single tickets. This takes a bit of the gloss off subscribing.  If it keeps the general prices (relatively) down, then so be it, I suppose.

2 Responses to “SSO 2017”

  1. David Winterton Says:

    “It seems rich fare for the young and impressionable – a bit like too much red cordial.”

    What a silly, suburban, unctuous comment. Young people should be exposed to fine music.

    • marcellous Says:

      Yes, but there is other fine music to which the young could be exposed.

      What do you mean by “unctuous?” “Suburban” I can take though it’s meaningless without knowing from what position you consider it a word of scorn.

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