LSO announces 2009-10 season: complete Verdi and Strauss operas, Dutilleux celebration

Otello, Elektra, Nielsen cycle, returns from Haitink, Gergiev and Davis in the new season

9 January 2009


Complete performances of Strauss' Elektra and Verdi's Otello, a cycle of the Nielsen symphonies and a celebration of the music of Henri Dutilleux are at the heart of the London Symphony Orchestra's 2009-10 programming, announced today.

Returns from regular LSO conductors Bernard Haitink, John Eliot Gardiner and Marin Alsop, President Sir Colin Davis, Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev and Principal Guest Conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Daniel Harding, and Conductor Laureate André Previn form the backbone of the season, alongside visits from Mark Elder, Semyon Bychkov, John Adams, Peter Eötvös and Thomas Adčs.

The season opens on Sunday 20 September 2009 with a concert by Gergiev, inaugurating his year-long series 'exploring European music of the last century as seen through the eyes of 95-year-old French composer Henri Dutilleux, who can recall the impact of composers such as Stravinsky and Strauss'. The programme puts Dutilleux's L'Arbre des Songes alongside Ravel's Daphnis and Debussy's La mer. Later concerts include Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, Stravinsky's Jeu de cartes, Strauss' Oboe Concerto, Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony and Ligeti's Atmospheres.

Also of note in the Russian maestro's LSO season are two large-scale works. On 22 September, Gergiev will conduct Berlioz's La damnation de Faust with a stellar cast including Thomas Quasthoff and Bernarda Fink. Then on 12 and 14 January 2010, he will bring together an exciting line-up of singers including Angela Denoke, Felicity Palmer and Matthias Goerne for two concert performances of Strauss' Elektra.

Sir Colin Davis' season is characterised by the beginning of a two-year cycle of the complete Nielsen symphonies, continuing from his Sibelius cycle with the orchestra (now available on LSO Live). I'm delighted to see him return to Verdi with two concert performances of Otello featuring an intriguing cast, especially Gerald Finley as Iago and Anne Schwanewilms as Desdemona (3 and 6 December). Davis is also reunited with Radu Lupu in October 2009, performs Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique in February 2010, conducts MacMillan's St John Passion again in March and ends his year with Haydn's The Seasons.

Bernard Haitink's returns later this year bring together concerts of Schubert and Mahler, while Michael Tilson Thomas continues the First and Second Viennese Schools theme with programmes of Schubert, Berg and Mahler. John Eliot Gardiner comes back to complete his Beethoven series, too, with two concerts including the Choral Symphony with Rebecca Evans as solo soprano. There are four 'Composer Concerts', where the LSO's regular composer collaborators conduct programmes of music that has inspired them. These include John Adams, Peter Eötvös and Thomas Adčs, each of whom performs a varied repertoire.

In all, the LSO's new season seems very well balanced, with both choral and symphonic works, pieces from the German, French, Italian and American repertoires, and music from several different centuries – all of them performed by world-class musicians. Online booking opens on 12 January 2009 at 9.30am.

By Dominic McHugh

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