Migration, Tilson Thomas and Wang in the spotlight in Carnegie Hall’s 2018-19 season

Thu Jan 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct four orchestras in Carnegie Hall’s 2018-19 season.

George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture will be the first music heard in Carnegie Hall’s 2018-19 season, opening the October 3 gala concert and played by the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, with Renée Fleming and Audra McDonald  as vocalists.

Gershwin and Tilson Thomas prominently embody the theme for the new season: “Migrations: The Making of America.” While the topic is currently in the news, as Carnegie’s executive directive Clive Gillinson described during Thursday afternoon’s press conference, it was actually chosen three years ago. Such is the essentiality that migration has been to the human experience and by extension to music.

Of the main strands of musical migration Carnegie will explore—bluegrass, jazz and blues, and the Yiddish roots of American popular music—Gershwin and Tilson Thomas, legatee of an important family of Yiddish theater performers, will represent the classical scene at Carnegie.

The conductor will hold one of the two Perspectives Series, with the other handled by that of his frequent collaborator, pianist Yuja Wang. Tilson Thomas will lead four different orchestra—the San Franciscans, the New World Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the National Youth Orchestra USA—in seven different concerts.

His two-night inauguration of the season will continue October 4 with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and music of another favored MTT composer, Stravinsky: Pétrouchka, the Violin Concerto in D, and Le sacre du printemps. But his programming actually begins this coming summer, when he will lead the NYO-USA, along with pianist Jean-Yves Thiduadet, in its annual summer concert (July 19).

Later in 2018-19, he will be joined by pianist Igor Levit with the Vienna Philharmonic for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and music by Ives and Mahler (March 5-6). Then, to begin May of next year, MTT and the New World musicians will play the local premiere of the conductor’s own Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, featuring soprano Measha Brueggergosman, as well as accompanying Wang in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (May 1-2).

Wang’s own Perspectives series will show a side of her artistic personality that few audiences have so far seen. She will open October 26 with a percussion quartet lead by Martin Grubinger; the program will include Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and an arrangement of Le sacre du printemps. In February she and frequent musical partner Kavakos will play a recital (program to be determined), and on April 10 she and cellist Gautier Capuçon will play sonatas from Franck and Rachmaninoff. There should be some real surprises Feb. 11, when she gives a collaborative performance with the theatrical/musical comic duo of Igudesman & Joo.

The Vienna Philharmonic will be making their annual visit to Carnegie, not only with MTT but with two additional concerts under Adam Fischer (Beethoven and Bartók on March 2 and Haydn and Mozart March 3). Younger brother Ivan will bring in his own Budapest Festival Orchestra April 5-6, with Bartók across both nights, including the Concerto for Orchestra and Bluebeard’s Castle with soloists Ildikó Komlósi and Krisztián Cser.

The English Concert and conductor Harry Bicket continue their exceptional, multi-year survey of Handel, with a concert performance on April 14 of Semele (featuring soprano Brenda Rae, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, bass Soloman Howard, and tenor Banjamin Hullett). Other early music highlights are the Feb. 21 appearance from Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations, playing music from the seminal soundtrack for Touts les matins du monde; two nights of Berlioz from John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestra Révolutionnaire et Romantique (including Symphonie fantastique and Lélio, Oct. 14-15); and there will be Bach (and Vivaldi, Conti, Telemann, and Handel) from Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan on November 30.

The season’s Debs Composer’s Chair, mandolinist Chris Thile, will also play Bach (Nov. 28) and premiere a new piece of his own commissioned by Carnegie (part of the hall’s 125 Commissions Project). Other new works in the season will include music from Andrew Norman, played by yMusic (May 4), Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields, with the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choice of Trinity Wall Street (Dec. 1), and a world premiere by composer Alex Temple, from the American Composers Orchestra (Nov. 2).

One older thread will come to an end and a new one will begin through Mitsuko Uchida; the pianist will conclude her two-season survey of the Schubert piano sonatas with concerts April 30 and May 4. And she will begin a new traversal of the Mozart piano concertos, playing and leading the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, on March 29.

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis will premiere Sebastian Currier’s Piano Trio (with cellist Daniel Müller-Schott), and play Debussy, Mozart and Poulenc (Mar. 12). The piano duo of Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich will play Messiaen, Bartók, and Ravel, and bring Harrison Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine to the U.S. for the first time. Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat will debut at Carnegie October 24 with Boulez, Debussy, and Alkan.

Other piano recitals will come from Denis Matsuev (Nov. 9), Marc-André Hamelin (Nov. 15), Leif Ove Andsnes (Jan. 24), Daniil Trifonov (Feb. 9), and Evgeny Kissin (May 16), among others.

Familiar visitors like the Philadelphia Orchestra (Nov. 13, Mar. 8, June 7), the Boston Symphony Orchestra  (Nov. 19, March 19-20), and the MET Orchestra (May 18, June 3 and 14), will be joined by the Czech Philharmonic, the last bringing their distinctive sound to the hall October 27-28, with music from Dvorak and Mahler. From farther East will come Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, playing a complete concert performance of The Nutcracker (Oct. 31) and music from Strauss (Nov. 1), and Daniel Barenboim leads his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Don Quixote and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (Nov. 8).

Further musical riches will include chamber music concerts from the St. Lawrence String Quartet, with pianist Inon Barnatan (Nov. 8), two concerts from the ensemble Decoda (Nov. 14 and Jan. 23), playing Prokofiev, Britten, and newer music from David Bruce and Wynton Marsalis; and the Chiaroscuro Quartet, with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, in a program of Schubert and Mozart (March 4).

One is advised to plan ahead for two performances in particular. Along with vocal recitals from tenor Paul Appleby (Oct. 26), mezzo Elina Garança (Oct. 23), and countertenor Iestyn Davies (May 16), tenor Jonas Kaufmann will sing German operetta and film songs from the fraught and fruitful period between the two World Wars (Oct. 5, accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s); and soprano Anna Netrebko and pianist Malcolm Martineau will perform a yet-to-be determined program, December 9.

For more information and subscription tickets, go to carnegiehall.org. Single concert tickets go on sale to subscribers and members on August 6, then to the general public August 20.

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