Marin Alsop has kept music by Mahler prominent in her programming since taking the helm of the Baltimore Symphony. The just-announced 2010-11 season, Alsop's fourth as music director, is no exception.
Still more Mahler will turn up: Britten's arrangement of the second movement from the Third Symphony ("What the Wild Flowers Tell Me"). Mahler's wife, Alma, also will be remembered with the performance of some of her songs. Alsop will conduct most of the Mahler item. Cornelius Meister will be on the podium for the Smetana arrangement, Carlos Kalmar for the Britten.
Verdi's Requiem, which, coincidentally, has been quite popular lately around here (performances this month by the National Symphony and Concert Artists of Baltimore), will close the BSO's '10-'11 season. Alsop will conduct; the Washington Chorus (the NSO's superb partner in the Requiem) will participate; soloists TBA.
Baltimore native Philip Glass, whose music Alsop has long championed, will be back in the picture. Alsop will conduct his
multimedia work "Icarus at the Edge of Time," based on the children's book by physicist Brian Greene; this program also offers John Williams' "Star Wars" Suite.
Other notable contemporary fare on the '10-'11 lineup: John Adams' "Doctor Atomic" Symphony (based on the recent opera of that name); Roberto Sierra's Sinfonia No. 4 (conducted by Juanjo Mena); and a new work (not yet identified) by Osvaldo Golijov. Some compelling classics of the 20th century will be heard, notably Berg's Violin Concerto (soloist Baiba Skride, conductor Mario Venzago) and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra (conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier)
There are several bread-and-butter pieces spread throughout the season, among them Beethoven's Fifth (yet again, this time with Venzago conducting), Schubert's Fifth (Venzago), Rossini's "William Tell" Overture (Hasn Graff conducting) Dvorak's "New World" Symphony (yet again, with Alsop), Brahms' Symphony No. 2 (Meister) Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 (Graf); violin concertos by Mendelssohn (soloist Stefan Jackiw with Alsop) and Brahms (soloist Augustin Hadelich with Mena); piano concertos by Chopin (Ingrid Fliter playing No. 2 with Graf), Grieg (Orion Weiss with Tortelier), Rachmaninoff (Kirill Gerstein playing No. 1 with Alsop, Yuja Wang playing No. 2 with Mena) and Prokofiev (No. 3 with Simon Trpceski). Orchestra players stepping into the limelight include principal fluist Emily Skala for Corigliano's "Pied Piper Fantasy" with members of the OrchKids education program (Alsop conducting) and concertmaster Jonathan Carney for Burch's rarely heard Violin Concerto No. 2 (Meister conducting).
Speaking of Russian fare, there will be no less then three Shostakovich symphonies" Alsop conducts No. 5, Gunther Herbig No. 10 and teenage Ilyich Rivas No. 1. Alsop conducts Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 and "Cinderella." Mena will lead Bruckner's Sixth (which Christoph Eschenbach has also programmed with the NSO next season).
The star-conscious will take particular note of two big-name artists, pianist Emanuel Ax performing Brahms' No. 1 with Alsop, and violinist Midori performing Shostakovich's No. 1 with conductor Gilbert Varga.
The opening gala features violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist in Piazzolla's popular "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires." And Alsop will bring back another Charlie Chaplin film, "The Gold Rush," with the BSO performing the original score (the presentation of "City Lights" a couple years ago was terrific).
At first glance, it looks like a very attractive season, repertoire-wise, with a lively mix of tried and new (several selections have been identified as "musicians' picks" -- pieces the BSO players especially wanted to perform). Given the economic constraints of the day, the guest artist roster isn't bad (it's especially nice to see Venzago's name again). Although I'd welcome some other conductors and soloists here, it looks like we'll be in for some fine music-making.
It's also a season with one big change -- the Casual Concerts series of Saturday morning concerts at Meyerhoff has been canceled after 24 years (attendance has been too flat for too long, I'm told). This loss of six performances in Baltimore will be balanced by the addition of six concerts at Strathmore (conspiracy theorists long worried about the implications of the BSO's second home may well become re-caffeinated by this news).
PHOTO OF MARIN ALSOP BY DEAN ALEXANDER COURTESY OF BSO; SUN FILE PHOTO OF MARIO VEMZAGO