The world's stars take to the stage in the Southbank Centre's 2009-10 season

Barenboim returns to Beethoven; Fleming, Gheorghiu recitals; Haitink and the Chicago Symphony

4 February 2009

Daniel Barenboim

Details have been announced for the new Southbank Centre 2009-10 classical music season.

The programme includes concerts by Resident Orchestras (London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta), monographic cycles (focusing on Beethoven, Bernstein, Leonidas Kavakos) and international singers and instrumentalists (such as Christine Brewer, Renée Fleming, Angela Georghiu, Anne Sophie von Otter, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Hélène Grimaud).

It's difficult to list all the remarkable events taking place at the Southbank Centre from September 2009, yet an overview of the season will highlight some of the most interesting projects.

Beethoven is the protagonist of fifteen concerts encompassing the whole season. The complete string quartets will be interpreted by the Takács Quartet; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will present all nine symphonies, under the prestigious batons of Ivan Fischer, Vladimir Jurowski, Leonidas Kavakos and Sir Charles Mackerras. In addition, following the success of his piano sonata cycle in 2008, Daniel Barenboim will continue his immersion into Beethoven's works, this time presenting performances of the five piano concertos together with the Berlin Staatskapelle.

Kavakos will be on stage as one of the conductors of the Beethoven cycle, but the audience will be offered the chance to see him also in his virtuoso performances. In fact, he is the inspiration for a showcase including talks, concerts and study days, starting from 28 November.

Another important part of the season is the so-called Bernstein Project. This is a year-long series of events directed by Bernstein's pupil Marin Alsop. Characteristically, the Southbank Centre is offering a well-rounded portrayals of the great man, with lectures and screenings completing the series of events. This project will reach its climax with a performance of Bernstein's Mass, including a boys' choir, a cast of dancers, marching bands and a rock band.

Charismatic violinist Nigel Kennedy is another representative of the high level cast of the Southbank season. During the Polish Music Weekend, he will share his knowledge of Eastern European traditions in order to explore aspects of the Polish culture, across musical genres (choral, jazz, rap) and different art forms - including films and food.

Early music lovers will be intrigued by probably one of the most peculiar events of this season: from 2 October a weekend of baroque music will be presented, featuring celebrated lutenist Paula Chateauneuf and the Olando Consort. The focus of this Early music celebration, entitled Take the Risk, will be improvisation techniques from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries; related discussions, workshops and open rehearsals enhance the series.

The twentieth century's musical tradition is present as well, in its French declination: the London Sinfonietta and the National Youth Orchestra, supported by American video artist Gary Hill, will perform the complete oeuvre of Edgard Varèse in April, in a production by Pierre Audi (in collaboration with the Holland Festival and the Festival d'Automne in Paris).

Renee FlemingMany international orchestras will be guests at the Southbank Centre during the year, too. Among them, are the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Bernard Haitink; the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Iván Fischer and Julia Fischer; and Camerata Salzburg with Leonida Kavakos. As for the orchestras in residence, the London Philarmonic Orchestra will embark on a concert series whose theme is Between Two Worlds: this include Mahler's Resurrection, an Alfred Schnittke festival, a Sibelius Symphony Cycle and the world premiere of Henryk Górecki's Fourth Symphony on 17 April 2010. This latter is not the only premiere that this season offers: among the highlights of the copious new musical works presented are Philip Glass's Violin Concerto No. 2, The American Four Seasons, and Richard Barrett's Mesopotamia.

An additional orchestral highlight is the project that the Southbank Centre is organizing together with the Britten Sinfonia. Conducted for the first time by Christopher Hogwood, eminent figure within the classical repertoire horizon, the Britten Sinfonia will present a series of works by composers whose significant anniversaries fall in 2009 – such as Handel, Martinů, Mendelssohn and Haydn. Moreover, the orchestra's projects include collaborations with tenor Mark Padmore and violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Among the works that they will explore, some are particularly interesting: compositions by Nico Muhly (Philip Glass’s pupil), as well as Purcell, Britten, Steve Reich and John Adams' pieces.  Other noteworthy collaborations include performances with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Imogen Cooper.

International artists that will be visiting the Royal Festival Hall include names such as Angela Gheorghiu (2 October), Renée Fleming (3 November), and Jane Manning (performing works composed especially for her by Dai Fujikura, Colin Matthews and David Sawer, among the others). If the vocal department is outstanding, the piano season is equally remarkable, with recitals by Krystian Zimerman, Maurizio Pollini and young Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. Most of the latter concerts will appear within the context of Chopin at 200: Celebrating a Musical Imagination, a cycle in honour of Chopin's 200th birthday.

With a programme spanning from Early music to works from canonic repertoire, and from opera to world premieres, it will be hard to remain unsatisfied by such a rich season that shines among the already rich London musical panorama.

By Marina Romani

This is not a comprehensive list of the many events taking place at the Southbank Centre next year. For further information visit:

In addition, as the press release informs us, 'further dates and complete programme details will be announced in April when Southbank Centre's complete Classical Music Guide 2009-10 is published'.

Photos: Daniel Barenboim; Renee Fleming

Bryn TerfelRelated articles:

Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2009 Preview of this summer's festival
London Symphony Orchestra 2009-10 Gergiev conducts Elektra, Davis' Otello
Opera Rara 2009 The bel canto label announces period instrument Donizetti for 2009
Welsh National Opera 2009-10 Bryn Terfel sings his first Hans Sachs

Join the debate: if you have any comments on this or any of our articles, visit our forum