The Royal Festival Hall announces the 2008-09 Shell Classic International season

Classical music news

4 February 2008


The Southbank Centre has announced the line-up for its 2008-09 Shell Classic International Series.

Featuring several of the world's greatest orchestras, conductors and soloists, it will see the Royal Festival Hall play host to several of the same orchestras as this season as well as a mouth-watering visit from the Vienna Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez conducting his Ensemble Intercontemporain and Gustavo Dudamel leading the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuala.

The season opens on 1 October 2008 with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer in two quintessential works of the Viennese fin de sičcle: Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Soloists in the Mahler will be Christianne Stotjin and Jorma Silvasti. A couple of days later, John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and the Monteverdi Choir will continue their fascinating exploration of another adopted Viennese symphonist, Johannes Brahms. The Third and Fourth Symphonies will be performed on 4 and 5 October with imaginative couplings designed to trace the many influences on the composer.

Mitsuko Uchida will perform two Mozart piano concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on 24 November while Pierre-Laurent Aimard goes one better, performing the first three concertos by Beethoven with them on 21 April 2009. For their third concert, Yuri Termikanov will conduct a mixed programme of Prokofiev, Shostakovich (his Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, with pianist Denis Matsuev), Debussy and Bizet.

Mariss Jansons returns with his Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in two concerts: the first (29 November) features Mozart's 'Linz' Symphony and Bruckner's Fourth, the 'Romantic'; the second (29 March) includes another great symphony - Beethoven's 'Eroica' - coupled with Strauss' Four Last Songs (with Anja Harteros) and the Second Suite from Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe.

There's more Bruckner from an orchestra with an unparalleled tradition in the music when Zubin Mehta brings the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to perform the Ninth Symphony on 19 February, coupled with Haydn's 'London' Symphony. Pierre-Laurent Aimard features again in two concerts given by the Ensemble Intercontemporain on 10 and 11 December. Pierre Boulez conducts them in his own compositions, Sur Incises and Derive II, coupled with works by Messiaen and Carter.

After their appearance at this year's Proms, there's likely to be huge demand for the two concerts given by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuala under their music director Gustavo Dudamel. Although full programmes haven't been published yet, they will be performing two classic orchestral showpieces: Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra (14 April) and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (18 April). The series also manages to fit in a return visit from the Zurich Opera. Marc Minkowski will conduct them with the Orchestra la Scintilla in Handel's Agrippina. The performance, on 17 May, features a cast led by Malin Hartelius, Marijana Mijanovic and Vesselina Kasarova.

Overall, then, an eclectic and exciting range of concerts from some of the world's great musicians over the coming months.

By Hugo Shirley

See also our preview of the Barbican's Great Performers 2008-09 season here.

And read our preview of the London Philharmonic's 2008-09 season here.

Also see details of Welsh National Opera's 2008-09 season here.