Critic Picks for 2018-2019 Season

Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 1:00 am
Isabel Leonard stars in the world premiere of Nico Muhly's "Marnie" October 19- November 10 at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo: Vincent Peters

Isabel Leonard stars in the U.S. premiere of Nico Muhly’s “Marnie” October 19- November 10 at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo: Vincent Peters

Miranda Cuckson and Michael Hersch. September 18. National Sawdust.

Michael Hersch’s dense, dissonant, passionate music can seem stupefying when it shows up amid a program of more easily grasped fare. This September, however, National Sawdust dedicates a whole evening to this underappreciated composer, with performances by the fearless violinist Miranda Cuckson and a rare appearance by the composer himself, a fiery and proficient pianist.

Listeners will have the total-immersion Hersch experience in works from the last decade and a half, including selections from in the snowy margins, Fourteen Pieces, the weather and landscape are on our side for solo violin, and The Vanishing Pavilions and one day may become menace for piano; Cuckson and Hersh will collaborate in the violin sonata, the wreckage of flowers. (DW)

The Moving Sounds Festival 2018. October 1-4.  The Austrian Cultural Forum. 

The Austrian Cultural Forum’s Moving Sounds Festival this year explores “the enormous influence of Gustav Mahler on contemporary music and culture.” The featured ensemble is the Argento New Music Project, which has previously delivered gripping performances of chamber reductions of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 and Das Lied von der Erde. Along with playing new and recent music from innovative composers Bernd Klug, Meaghan Burke, and others, Argento will play a new arrangement of two movements from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. The scope of the theme is hinted at through one of the scheduled events: pianist/composer Elisabeth Harnick’s 30-minute improvisation on Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. All performances are free and take place at a trio of venues. (GG)

Nico Muhly’s Marnie. October 19-November 10. Metropolitan Opera. 

Five years after his Two Boys caused a considerable positive stir, Nico Muhly’s new opera for the Met opens. Best known as a Hitchcock film, Marnie originally comes from a novel by Winston Graham, and has a theme ideal for operatic treatment—a beautiful young woman who assumes multiple identities. This U.S. premiere should offer a star turn ripe for the taking by the great mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, while Michael Meyer, who produced the Met’s popular Rat Pack Rigoletto, promises a cinematic staging. (GG)

Matthew Polenzani, Julius Drake, and friends. February 24. Carnegie Hall.

Matthew Polenzani is in his prime. At fifty years old, the American tenor remains at the very top of his field, excelling in a range of repertoire at leading opera houses around the world. In February, he will partner with Julius Drake, one of today’s foremost lieder accompanists, for an evening of song in Zankel Hall, featuring a selection of Schubert lieder, Brahms’s Zigeunerlieder, and Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte. Jennifer Johnson Cano will join him for a rare treat, Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared. (ES)

Michael Tilson Thomas and the Vienna Philharmonic. March 5-6. Carnegie Hall. 

MTT has his own Perspectives Series at Carnegie this season, and he will be bringing in both the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony. But anticipation runs highest for his collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic. The March 6 concert is Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, and the depth of feeling both conductor and orchestra have for that music promises much. The intriguing program of March 5 offers Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 played by Igor Levit, as well as the rare chance to hear this venerable, Old World orchestra interpret Charles Ives’ raucous Decoration Day. (GG)

Jaap van Zweden will close his inaugural season as music director of the New York Philharmonic with a series called “Music of Conscience” May 22-June 8. Photo: Chris Lee

Wagner’s Ring cycle. March 9–May 11. Metropolitan Opera.

Soprano Christine Goerke announced her return to the Met stage in 2013 with a riveting performance as the Dyer’s Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten; almost immediately, the company slotted her in as their next Brünnhilde, and anticipation of the event has only grown in the years since. 

That anticipation will finally pay off this season, as the Met presents three complete Ring cycles. The first integral cycle since 2012–13 begins in March, with Goerke leading a starry cast that features Jamie Barton as Fricka, Greer Grimsley as Wotan, Tomasz Konieczny as Alberich, and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Fafner, among others. Philippe Jordan conducts. (ES)

Anne-Sophie Mutter with a Sebastian Currier premiere. Carnegie Hall. March 12.

Sebastian Currier first made his mark as a master chef of tone color in small ensembles, and the world premiere of a new Currier chamber work is still something to look forward to. The Beethoven allusion in the new piece’s title, Ghost Trio, promises a look back at him and other 19th-century masters, whose footsteps Currier plainly hears and is undaunted by. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, pianist Lambert Orkis, and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott will introduce the work at Carnegie Hall. An added attraction that same evening will be the U.S. premiere of Gran Cadenza for two violins by another exquisite colorist, Seoul-born composer Unsuk Chin. (DW)

Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. May 3–11.Metropolitan Opera.

The connoisseur’s choice at the Met this season is one of the masterworks of the 20th century, Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, a soul-shaking portrayal of Carmelite nuns sent to the guillotine for their beliefs during the Terror. Two of the finest singing actresses on operatic stages today lead the cast: Isabel Leonard as Blanche de la Force and Karita Mattila as Madame de Croissy. The brilliant young coloratura soprano Erin Morley appears as Constance, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s new music director, conducts. (ES)

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. May 19. David Geffen Hall.

We’ve been lucky in New York to have Manfred Honeck as a frequent guest conductor. This spring, New York audiences will get to hear him with his own ensemble, the superb Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series. They bring an unapologetic program of Beethoven warhorses: Symphony No. 5 and the “Emperor” Concerto with pianist Till Fellner. (ES)

Music of Conscience” at the New York Philharmonic. May 22-June 8. David Geffen Hall.

Jaap van Zweden’s first season as Philharmonic music director is packed with exciting and intriguing events, including the world premiere of Louis Andriessen’s Agamemnon. For displaying his vision and cementing his place on the New York cultural landscape, however, look to this season-ending festival. Conductor and orchestra will step into vital contemporary arguments and events with concerts that feature John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, dedicated to lives lost from the AIDS epidemic, Beethoven’s charged and timeless Eroica symphony, and the world premiere of David Lang’s prisoner of the state, a modern response to Fidelio, in a fully staged performance. (GG)


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