Something for Every Ear
A John Adams premiere, written for dazzling pianist Yuja Wang. An all-Caroline Shaw program, youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, by the Attacca Quartet. Two U.S. premieres by Scottish composer James MacMillan, from Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen. Don't forget a New York premiere by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Many of these groundbreaking works will be paired with invigorating staples of the repertoire, from Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, during the upcoming season of Lincoln Center's Great Performers series. Commencing in October, the 2019–20 season will once again appeal to music lovers of every stripe, whether you adore Bartók and Beethoven, Dvořák, or Mahler.
"Great Performers offers a diverse range of classical music programs, from the vast landscape of a Mahler symphony to the intimacy of the late Beethoven piano sonatas," says Jane Moss, Lincoln Center's Ehrenkranz Artistic Director. "We are especially pleased that wonderful artists such as Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, singer Susan Graham, esteemed pianist Daniil Trifonov, and the up-and-coming young conductor Lahav Shani, among many others, will be performing on our stages this season. It is certain to be a season of memorable and meaningful musical experiences for all of us."
The grandest showcase of Great Performers is the Symphonic Masters series, featuring the world's most exceptional orchestras and conductors in David Geffen Hall. On November 17, Gianandrea Noseda makes his first Lincoln Center appearance as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra with Act II of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in concert. Joined by soprano Christine Goerke and tenor Stephen Gould, Noseda and the NSO will treat audiences to one of the most rapturous duets in the repertoire. Later that month the inimitable Gustavo Dudamel returns with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a pair of concerts—the first highlighting Bruckner's "Romantic" Fourth Symphony, and the second featuring pianist Yuja Wang performing the new John Adams concerto alongside works by Ginastera and Stravinsky.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra, always an audience favorite under maestro Iván Fischer, returns for two concerts, the first all-Dvořák and the second all-Mahler. Israeli conductor Lahav Shani makes his New York debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in an all-Brahms program, featuring the Fourth Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 1 performed by beloved soloist Emanuel Ax. To conclude Symphonic Masters, the London Symphony Orchestra returns for two concerts under nonpareil conductor Simon Rattle; Rinat Shaham and Gábor Bretz will sing Judith and Bluebeard, respectively, in a concert version of Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle, and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja—"one of classical music's great risk takers" (Bachtrack)—plays the Ligeti Violin Concerto, alongside Mahler's Symphony No. 4.
Bartók shines again in a series pairing the Hungarian master's complete string quartet cycle with Beethoven's "Razumovsky" quartets in three concerts by the "indispensable" (Newsday) Emerson String Quartet. Beethoven becomes a poignant theme throughout the season, as the world celebrates the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. Two artists from the Virtuoso Recitals series will feature all-Beethoven programs: riveting German violinist Isabelle Faust performs the three Op. 30 Violin Sonatas, robust works of gravitas, fire, and gaiety, in November; and Scottish pianist Stephen Osborne, known for his "mind-blowing performances" (Herald, Scotland), interprets Beethoven's three last piano sonatas in April.
The Virtuoso Recitals series is completed by two stellar pianists spotlighting Bach—Daniil Trifonov, the season's Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, will astonish with a solo recital featuring featuring Bach's The Art of the Fugue and arrangements by Brahms, Liszt, and others. Finally, perennial favorite Jeremy Denk performs Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier in May, a familiar work nonetheless full of surprises, especially as performed by this "masterful" (Boston Globe) Bach interpreter.
Ensemble enthusiasts will delight in the Chamber Orchestras series, opening with Britten Sinfonia and choir The Sixteen under founder Harry Christophers presenting two U.S. premieres by preeminent Scottish composer James MacMillan: his transcendent settings of the Miserere and Stabat Mater. Spiritual themes will be explored again by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and its Choir with Pergolesi's Stabat mater on period instruments, paired with Vivaldi's triumphal Gloria in D major. Also using period instruments, Germany's Concerto Köln presents an extended paean to the violin with a selection of Baroque works, including celebrated concertos from Handel, Bach, and Vivaldi.
Bach appears once more when The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, directed by violinist Pekka Kuusisto, performs the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and a new work it inspired, Bach Materia, from composer Anders Hillborg. The concert also features performances of Haydn's Symphony No. 99 and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1.
Operagoers and art-song aficionados alike always appreciate the intimate Art of the Song series, where vocal megastars perform their favorite lieder in Alice Tully Hall. German baritone Christian Gerhaher, widely considered the successor to the legendary Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, sings an all-Mahler recital featuring Songs of the Wanderer, selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and the moving Kindertotenlieder. Stunning Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená is joined by six musicians—including her husband, Simon Rattle, on piano—for an exotic selection of art-song repertoire from Chausson, Stravinsky, Brahms, Janáček, and Ravel.
American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, called "opera's sweetheart" by the New York Times, returns to the stage where she made her New York recital debut, alongside pianist Malcolm Martineau in a program featuring Mahler's Rückert Lieder and French mélodies by Reynaldo Hahn. The Beethoven celebration continues when baritone Matthias Goerne and rising keyboard star Jan Lisiecki present a selection of songs by the German master for an all-Beethoven program in April 2020.
Lincoln Center's Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts offer a relaxed atmosphere and casual conversations with the artists. The 2019–20 season kicks off with pianist Kit Armstrong performing Bach's intricate Goldberg Variations, followed by violinist Rachel Barton Pine in December and István Várdai on solo cello in February. Russian Renaissance, a quartet inventing new possibilities for Russian folk instruments, presents an eclectic program later the same month, and the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition winner, Aizuri Quartet, visits in April. The series concludes with violinist Tessa Lark in a May program featuring Ravel's ravishing Tzigane.
String quartet enthusiasts can also get their fix at the Complimentary Classical series, free one-hour concerts in the David Rubenstein Atrium. This series opens with the all-Caroline Shaw program by the Attacca Quartet, featuring the composer herself as vocalist and guest violist. The Bay Area's Telegraph Quartet, the Juilliard School's quartet-in-residence Argus Quartet, and London's Heath Quartet round out the series.
Additional Great Performers offerings include a Gustav Mahler film series, a slate of pre-concert lectures and discussions, and other ancillary events. You can find the entire, fantastic line-up online.
Ann Crews Melton is a freelance writer based in Bismarck, North Dakota.
For more information and tickets, visit LCGreatPerformers.org.