SSO 2018

The Sydney Symphony has announced its season for next year.

There’s not too much to frighten the horses – or the accountants.  We have a Mozart festival.  (There is also still the Mozart series at Angel Place.)  The concert performances of operas have been abandoned.  The Carriageworks venture is not slated to continue.

The orchestra’s year in Sydney ends in mid-November to make time for a European tour.  That might make the accountants nervous.

A second “Meet the Music” series has been reinstated on Thursday nights – not a repeat of Wednesdays but a selection of other programs.  This must be a good thing, though if you take the brochure literally the deal for <30s entails relegation to C reserve unless accompanied by an >30 [>29?] ticket buyer.  Can that really be the case for school groups?

There is no Berlioz.  Hint: he died in 1869.

Emmanuel Ax headlines the Mozart series.  Other pianists I’m looking forward to are Simon Trepceski, Steven Osborne and Benjamin Grosvenor (who has been to Sydney before but not for the SSO) and of course NF (see below).  Stephen Hough seems squandered on the Rach/Pag variations and midweek/daytime gigs.  Thibaudet plays the S-S “Egyptian” (why does that always make me think of Cardinal Pirelli?) in what should be a particularly beguiling program (Debussy Faun & Sibelius 2)

Anne Sofie van O sings Schubert orchestrated[!] – which I suppose is a way of presenting her in this repertoire in the Concert Hall, coupled with Mahler “10” (D Cooke).  (Simone does 6.)

I can resist the special pricing of the other Anne-Sophie despite a symphonic rarity by Kalinnikov.

Edo de W conducts Beethoven 9 – I would have preferred something more adventurous but his return is always welcome.

Speaking of returning former chief conductors, Caetani is back [in Sydney] again and welcome here so far as I’m concerned whatever they feel about him and he about them there. He will channel his Italian side for a change with the Verdi Requiem. Then again, let’s not be complacent: when are we going to hear Stuart Skelton back in his home town?  He’s all over almost everywhere else in Australia like a rash (Melbourne next year, anyway.)

Particular highlights for me:

  • Oboist, François Leleux, whose almost totally unheralded visit here in 2012 made quite a buzz amongst double-reedists, returns for the first of the Angel Pl Mozart series. (How does an oboist pop up on tour in Sydney for just one gig?  Possible answer: because he comes with his violinist wife, Lidia Batiashvili.)
  • Nelson Freire playing Beethoven 5 with Wagner bleeding chunks – a sin I expect I will be able to forgive since committed by Runnicles.
  • Masaaki Suzuki – this time to conduct a program including Beethoven’s Mass in C – not LvanB’s greatest moment but  also not bad, and MS should offer something interesting in that and the Haydn symphony it comes with.  Local ladies take vocal solos with some intriguing overseas gents.

When you look forward to a new season it is easy to concentrate on either old favourites or long-anticipated rarities.  Not so many of the latter in prospect.  Doubtless I’ll strike some surprises next year when it comes.  Meanwhile, as pure straightforward enjoyment, I expect the Debussy/Saint-Saens/Sibelius combination will be hard to beat.



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