Boasting a calendar of 66 performances in front of an anticipated 100,000 concert-goers, the RSNO's new season promises another attractive blend of variety and innovation alongside a solid helping of bread-and-butter classics. Under Stéphane Denève's leadership, the orchestra now has impressive statistics to support the subjective sense of significant progress. Audiences are at their highest levels in fifteen years, among whom an increasingly healthy proportion are the much coveted younger listeners. As the orchestra approaches a period of transition, the challenge is to sustain and continue that success.
In a celebration of 'the richness and accessibility of the music of our time', the RSNO's TEN OUT OF 10 series presents ten works composed during the last decade, vividly engaging with contemporary audiences while embracing a wide diversity of style. The ambitious schedule (listed in full below) is woven throughout the season, allowing the selected works to appear alongside well-established repertoire. (For instance, Kaija Saariaho gets paired with Neilsen's 4th symphony, while Oliver Knussen lands Rakhmaninov's 2nd.)
The Naked Classics series is a collaboration with composer and animateur Paul Rissmann—described by the Neue Musikzeitung as 'the Jamie Oliver of music animateurs'—which aims to introduce the classical repertoire to younger audiences. The new season includes one of the 10/10 concerts, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Insomnia (17/18 March), and also introduces one of the leading exponents of the historically-informed approach, Roy Goodman, with Haydn's 104th symphony (19/20/21 May, including for the first time a visit to Dundee's Caird Hall).
A third innovation in the coming season is a series of chamber concerts performed by members of the orchestra: three performances at Edinburgh's Dovecot Studios and Glasgow's St Mary Cathedral including Schubert's Octet (12/19 September), Bartok's 3rd String Quartet (13/20 February) , and Brahms' F Major Quintet (29 May/5 June).
The core of the programme features a kaleidoscope of visiting soloists and guest conductors. An undoubted highlight is RSNO Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi's annual visit (25/26 March), for a performance of Shostakovich's Lenningrad symphony. It's coupled with the Dvorak Serenade, which is nice, but maybe the orchestra has missed a trick: Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra would be the smart coupling. Yes, the Bartok mocks the Shostakovich, but the Shostakovich can take it.
Intriguingly, Järvi fils also appears in this year’s schedule, Kristjan Järvi directing a fascinating programme that includes Sibelius’ 6th and 7th symphonies (17/18/19 February). As usual, the RSNO's schedule is built around performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with regular visits to Aberdeen and Dundee, and more occasional concerts in Perth, Inverness and Dunfermline. On this occasion, the Sibelius will be performed in Perth.
No Mahler this year (apart from the Adagietto from the 5th in Valentine's week. (A week? It's come to this?)), but Conductor Emeritus Walter Weller presents works by two of Mahler's contemporaries; Zemlinsky's Sinfonietta and Korngold's Violin Concerto (1/2 April, with soloist Nicola Benedetti). You would've thought Korngold was too young to have met Mahler in person, but apparently he did—when aged 9, Mahler recommended him to take lessons with Zemlinsky.
Elsewhere, Paul Daniel conducts Elgar's Symphony No. 1 (21/22/23 October); Thomas Søndergård returns with his countryman Nielsen's Inextinguishable Symphony (5/6 November). Making their RSNO débuts, Krzysztof Urbanski directs Antonín Dvorák's 5th Symphony (14/15/16 November, inc Aberdeen) and Andrey Boreyko conducts Tchaikovsky's Pathétique (3/4/5 February, inc Dundee). Miguel Harth-Bedoya presents a Latin-flavoured programme including Ginastera's Four Dances from Estancia and Nathaniel Shilkret's Trombone Concerto. Composed for Tommy Dorsey in 1945 but then lost, the work has been reconstructed by former RSNO Trombone Brian Free and will be performed by the RSNO's current Principal Trombone, Dávur Juul Magnussen (3/4 December).
Visiting soloists include John Lill, joining Krzysztof Urbanski to perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no. 1, the brilliant Venezuelan Gabriela Montero, who joins Andrey Boreyko for a welcome performance of Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto, and Imogen Cooper, who plays Mozart's 20th concerto (19/20 November). Leila Josefowicz is the soloist in Oliver Knussen's Violin Concerto (28/29 January), and Sol Gabetta returns in Dvorák’s Cello Concerto (24/25 February, with Roberto Abbado—nephew of the great Claudio). Finally, Mezzo-soprano Kelly O'Connor brings to Scotland Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs (28/29/30 April, inc Aberdeen), a work that she has championed since the untimely death of its dedicatee, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
TEN OUT OF 10 schedule and dates:
James MacMillan: Three Interludes from The Sacrifice (23/24/25 September)
Guillaume Connesson: Aleph (30 September/1/2 October)
Kaija Saariaho, Orion (5/6 November)
Helen Grime: Virga (12/13 November)
Magnus Lindberg: Graffiti (19/20 November)
Oliver Knussen: Violin Concerto (28/29 January)
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Insomnia (17/18 March, in the 'Naked Classics' strand)
Christopher Rouse: Rapture (14/15/16 April)
Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs (28/29/30 April)
John Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls (5/7 May)
Photo: Paul Rissmann
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