Compliments of the (New) Season: The 2011-2012 Santa Cecilia Programme

Compliments of the (new) season!: The 2011-2012 Santa Cecilia Programme (JB)

Rome is the right place to live for a music lover. No other city in the world is likely to offer a programme to stand comparison with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. If there is one, will someone please tell me? First, the Accademia boasts a world-class orchestra with a charismatic, inspired musical director and chief conductor in Antonio Pappano. That is before you start to take into account the galaxy of visiting conductors, orchestras and soloists and an additional cycle of chamber music concerts.

In one of the worst recession years in living memory, last year’s ticket sales went up by 20%, bringing in a little over seven and a half million euros. A similar sum was raised in private sponsorship. The government has withdrawn its threat to cut its spending on the Arts by 50% and an act of parliament is in its final stages to recognise the Accademia, along with La Scala, as virtuoso institutions requiring additional special support. If this is starting to sound like a lot of money, you will probably agree from what follows that it is money well spent.

Appropriately, the season opens with Pappano conducting the Mahler Symphony of a thousand (22, 23, 24 October) with the China National Chorus as guests. On 9 November, Valery Gergiev conducts a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s Evgene Onegin with the Marinsky orchestra and chorus of S.Cecilia. With the same forces, Gergiev conducts Mahler’s 3rd on 10 November, and the Adagio of no. 10, as well as the 4th on 11 November, then taking over the S. Cecilia orchestra for the 7th on 12, 14 and 15 November.

The S. Cecilia orchestra joins with the Mozart Orchestra to be conducted on 20 November by Claudio Abbado in a rare programme of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy The Tempest, and Shostakovich’s music for Grigory Kozincev’s film of King Lear, with a simultaneous screening of the film.

The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela with their conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, on 23 November play Beethoven’s Eroica, with Angelica Olivo as soloist in the Mendelssohn Violin concerto. Just before Christmas, Fabio Biondi conducts the original Dublin, chamber-music version of the Messiah (on 17, 19 and 20 December).

Please keep in mind that I am only drawing attention to the highlights of the season in this dispatch.

Both the great Italian cellists are programmed: Enrico Dindo with the Saint-Saens’ first concerto (10, 12, 13 December) and Mario Brunello with the Dvořak concerto (21, 23, 24  January).  Maurizio Pollini’s seventieth birthday celebrations are marked on 18 January with his playing of the Mozart concerto no 23, K 488.  Evgene Kissin in the soloist in the Grieg concerto on 4, 6, 7 February.  Leonidas Kavakos plays the Korngold violin concerto on 18, 20 and 21 February and Janine Jansen the Brahms on 3, 5, 6 March.

Antonio Pappano conducts Bruckner’s 8th symphony on 17, 19 and 20 March.

A concert performance of Cavalleria Rusticana (with Luciana D’Intino, Aleksandrs Antoneko and Roberto Frontali) is conducted by James Conlon on 31 March, 2 and 4 April.

Yuri Temirkanov conducts the S. Cecilia  orchestra in two programmes: Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto (soloist Lisa Batiashvili) and the same composer’s Song of the Forest. Then, on 21, 23 and 24 April, the Beethoven 7th and Brahms’ 2nd symphony.

Georges Prêtre marks his 50th year of collaboration with the orchestra on 12, 14, 15 and 16 May, conducting Beethoven’s 9th.

The Chamber Music season is equally appealing. It opens on 21 October with Michele Campanella playing an all Liszt programme, including the Sonata, followed on 4 November by a Chopin programme from Ivo Pogorelich.  Hélène Grimaud also offers the Liszt Sonata on 9 December with Mozart, Berg and Bartok.  Two curiosities: On 2 December Les Talens Lyriques conducted by Christophe Roussett with Ann Hallenberg (mezzo soprano) offer a programme in homage to Farinelli, while on 16 December, the leading strings of the orchestra with guests –all of them playing on prize instruments – offer the Vivaldi Four Seasons, Sarasate / Strelnikov Carmen Fantasia and Piazzolla /Dindo Le Gran Tango.

András Schiff will give three Bach recitals: on 20 January with Book One of the 48 Preludes and Fugues and 10 February with the Six Partitas BVW 825-830, with 9 March dedicated to the 6 French Suites.

Details of two awaited piano recitals will be announced later, to be given by Maurizio Pollini on 22 February and Grigory Sokolov on 18 April. Radu Lupu offers Franck, Schubert and Debussy on 11 May.

I will personally not want to miss neither the Rachmaninoff Elegiac Trio Op. 9 on 27 January, with Pavel Berman (violin) Enrico Dindo (cello) and Alexander Romanowsky (piano), nor the Leipzig Gewandhaus Quartet playing Haydn and Mendelssohn and joined by Roberto Prosseda for the Schumann quintet (3 February). Nor the hugely talented Hagen Quartet with Beethoven, Verdi and Mozart on 23 March.

The ever popular Uto Ughi has two recitals, the first on 27 April dedicated to Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Stravinsky; the second on 4 May with the Franck and Debussy sonatas and works by Leclair and Chausson.

Vocal highlights include recitals from Ian Bostridge with Winterreise (17 February), Cecilia Bartoli (5 April) and Juan Diego Florez (24 May). This last will bring a glorious season to a close.

Those outside Rome might be interested to learn that the S. Cecilia Orchestra will open the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London with a concert performance of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell on 16 July, conducted by Pappano and subsequently to be recorded by EMI.

8 and 9 August are the lucky days for the Salzburg Festival when Pappano leads his orchestra in Haydn’s London Symphony and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

A tour in September takes in Rimini (18), Verona (20) and Bucharest (21 and 22), all conducted by Pappano with Héléne Grimaud as the soloist in the Brahms first piano concerto (18 and 21) and Denis Matsuev for the Rachmaninoff second concerto (20 and 22).

It is the turn of Japan and China to receive the Orchestra in October, all concerts conducted by Pappano with Boris Berezovsky as the soloist in the Liszt concerto no. 1 (Tokyo, 3 October) and the 2nd Rachmaninoff concerto  (Tokyo, 5 October) and Beijing (9 October).

Roman readers can begin noting dates in their diaries.  Others might like to plan a trip to the Eternal City to include some of this excellence.

Jack Buckley