Sir Antonio Presents Another Glorious Season in Rome

ItalyItaly Sir Antonio Presents Another Glorious Season in Rome

Santa Cecilia 2014 – 2015

How does he do it?  His energy is legendary.  It needs to be.  Not only is he Music Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in his native London, but Direttore Musicale at the Acccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia where he presented another glorious programme, aided and abetted by the Accademia’s President, Bruno Cagli.

The piano playing of the fourteen year old Antonio was good enough to accompany his Italian father’s singing students.  That was 1973.  What an excellent way into opera, learning how singers have to breath and how to breath with them.  In Angelo Bozzolini’s documentary about the S Cecilia Orchestra Pappano says he didn’t really have a normal schoolboy’s life, hurrying from school to his father’s studio to work with the singers.  But what perfect training this would turn out to be.

A pity his father was not still alive in 2012 when the Queen knighted his son for Services to Music, the same year in which President Napolitano made him Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. 

Then there are his recording contracts.  Outstanding on the forthcoming list is the Aida, on offer, alas, for one public concert performance only and outside the season-ticket arrangements on 27 February 2015 with Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ambrogio Maestri and Ekaterina Semenchuk.

Anglo-Italian collaborations obviously mean much to him.  He is, after all, the embodiment of them.  He spoke for more than ten minutes about his pride in conducting the world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’s Tenth Symphony  with the London Symphony Orchestra on 2 February this year.  This was jointly commissioned by S Cecilia and the LSO and it is S Cecilia’s turn to perform the work on 27 June 2014

Sir Max studied in his postgraduate year in Rome with Petrassi; he told me more than once that it was Goffredo Petrassi who informed him that he had such an amazing, unique talent that he should not consider any alternative to being a composer.  Petrassi died, aged 98 on March 3 2003; until then, Max always made a point of visiting him on his own frequent visits to Rome.

Francesco Borromini remains another of Max’s Roman loves. (All Borromini’s architecture is exclusively in Rome.)  The Davies Tenth Symphony is dedicated to Borromini; the last movement is a setting for solo baritone of the architect’s suicide note.  Extremely moving, reports Maestro Pappano.  The 27 June programme is completed with the two famous Respighi Rome pieces –The Fountains and the Pines of Rome.

Orchestral Concerts are not my favourite form of music entertainment.  Give me Opera or Chamber Music every time.  But the galaxy of Great Performers and / or conductors is such in the coming season that I shall be attending more of those concerts than usual.  The Great are always on offer with the distinct possibility of learning something about music which we only thought we knew.

Evgeny Kissin plays the Rachmaninoff second concerto  for the opening of the season (25, 26, 28 October) with the Musorgskji Night on MountCalvary and the Strauss Alpine Symphony completing the programme.  Pappano conducts.

On 2,3,4 November Fabio Biondi’s Europa Galante take the stage with an all Vivaldi programme.

The outstanding young English conductor, Jonathan Nott  conducts the Berg Lyric Suite and Strauss’s oboe concerto and Don Juan on 22, 23, 24 November.

While Santa Cecilia are on tour of the Far East, Valery Gergiev  takes the stage with his Orchestra of Teatro Marinsky in two all Prokofiev programmes, both with Leonidas Kavakos.  On  10, 11, 12 December  in the second violin concerto and 13, 14 and 15 December in the first concerto

Of special interest is Maestro Pappano’s return to the podium on 20, 22 December with Anna Netrebko   singing both the letter song and the sleepwalking scene from Verdi’s Macbeth  with another little-known Lady Macbeth aria of Richard Strauss.  And Till Eulenspiegel  completing the programme.

So much for 2014.  The new year sees a flourish of outstanding soloists with the orchestra.  Beatrice Rana –still in her early twenties and winner of first prize in Montreal and second at the Van Kleiber competition plays the Tchaikovsky first piano concerto (4, 5, 6 January)

On 10,12 13 January Nicola Luisotti conducts the Rossini Stabat Mater with soloists, Maria Agresta, Isabel Leonard, René Barbera and Ildebrando D’Archangelo as soloists.

On 17, 19, 20 January Renaud Capuçon plays the Mendelssohn violin concerto, then on 24, 25, 27 January the outstanding Georgian violinist, Lisa Batiashvili  plays the Sibelius concerto. 

Stay with great violinists for Joshua Bell’s Scottish Fantasy of Bruch (7, 9, 10 February) then on 21, 23 and 24 February Janine Jansen repeats her memorable Brahms concerto. 

The great Alexander Romanovskymuch admired by S Cecilia audiences plays Rachmaninoff’s first concerto on 21, 23 and 24 March –a programme conducted by Pappano with the Sibelius Second Symphony.

Martha Argerich  makes her regular return to the orchestra in one of Shostakovich’s  most fun pieces, the concerto for trumpet and orchestra.  11, 13 and 14 April  with Yuri Temirkanov conducting and the Haydn Surprise symphony and the Dvorak Eighth completing the programme.

The soloists for the Brahms Requiem on 14, 16 and 17 March are Christiane Karg and Matthias Goerne  conducted by Manfred Honeck

Such are the events which most attract me from the main orchestral concert series.  Herewith what I see as the unmissable peaks of the Chamber Music season.

Ramin Bahrami –all Bach on 31 October; Daniil Trifonov –Stravinsky, Ravel and Liszt on 14 November; Lang Lang with Mozart and Chopin Ballades on 21 November; Mikhail Pletnev  with Betthoven, Schumann and Scriabin on 5 December.

One of the season’s most unmissable attractions is the very young violin and piano duo of Anna Tifu and Gloria Campaner (important prize-winners both, the world over) with Franck, Enescu, Schumann and Ravel on 23 January.

Among the other great pianists with programmes to be announced are Yuja Wang (17 February) ; Hélène Grimaud (11 March); Krystian Zimerman (25 March); and the three final recitals of the series: Rafal Blenchacz (12 April); Grigory Sokolov (29 April) and Arcadi Volodos (13 May).

Further information on the Accademia’s website:

Jack Buckley


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