So! The Mellon Grand Classics new season (2006-2007) is out of the box!
We are still in the middle of this season’s concerts but I am
already excited of what will come next. I have my favorite composers,
conductors and soloists to whom I am attached and at the same time I am
eager to be surprised by the new & unexpected. What remains
constant, however, is the orchestra! Any Steelers’ lover would understand that. It does not matter if they win or lose… And for me, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is a constant winner! They will never go wrong!
Let’s see what will delight me: the familiar & the novel:
First, my "returned favorites": The composers Shostakovich, Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven and Sibelius. To any of their compositions I will listen any time. The most exciting concert will be in celebration of Shostakovich’s
100th birthday. We will be treated to a concert fully dedicated to his
work. As far as I remember, it never happen before. A Suite, a Piano
Concerto & a Symphony. This will also be a "triple Russian
concert": both the conductor, Vassily Siansky & the pianist Vladimir Feltsman
were born and raised in Russia & will offer their emotional
connection with this monumental composer, who to my mind, can be
compared only to Beethoven.
Mahler will be played only once (to my sorrow…): His First Symphony. But here comes the unexpected: Peter Oundjian
who conducted Mahler’s Symphonic Movement "Blumine", last December,
will include it in the Symphony ( as originally composed, but than
removed by the composer.) I do not remember ever it being performed in
Beethoven has five appearances, most notable, his Violin
Concerto, two Piano Concertos, and his great last Symphony. Expected
& cherished, especially knowing that Yefim Bronfman will play the First Piano Concerto.
A whole concert is dedicated to Brahms (including my beloved
Symphony No.2) and than two more concert which will feature a Piano
Concerto & a Violin Concerto! This will be a feast to my ears!
Sibelius‘ heroic Symphony No.5 and the powerful yet lyrical
Symphony No.2 will be performed in consecutive concerts. These happen
to be the two Symphonies I most cherished.
Among several conductors I am looking forward to, I must highlight Rafael Fruhberick de Burgos
who conducted the first two concerts of this season. He is bigger than
life! And next season he will conduct four concerts, one of which will
feature all Spanish music. Who can ask for more?
Now, the novel & unexpected: Two World Premieres by composers whom I am not familiar with: Gubaidulina and Theofanidis.
I always come to these performances with a mixture of anticipation
& fear. I am curious to hear fresh contemporary music & believe
that classical music does have a future (compared to many who already
wrote it’s obituaries…) But I am also afraid that I might "not get
it", that I might leave the concert hall not remembering even one
phrase… Yet, most of the time I am surprised & delighted. Case in
Point: Higdon’s Blue Cathedral which was performed last November.
Another novelty: a Puppet Show on stage! de Falla’s Master
Peter’s Puppet Show. I don’t remember ever hearing this composition,
let alone combined with its protagonists. In contrast, I appreciate the
novelty of listening to Messiaen, the French composer, so deeply religious, who is not featured much in concerts halls.
Now I ask myself: is there any concert which I would rather not
attend? The answer is NO! Between my favorites and the novel are all
other beloved composers (Mozart, Dvorak,Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, to mention just a few.) Admired Conductors (Davis, Alsop, Tortelier, Janowski) and adored soloists (Emanuel Ax, Sarah Chang, Lynn Harrell, and "our own" Randolph Kelly and Andres Cardenes.) But above all: I wish to attend them all for my love of any live music the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs!