Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra Presents Details of 2015/2016 Season

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5.5.15 (JR)

At its Press conference today Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra presented details of its new season commencing at the end of August 2015.

The main orchestral highlights are set out below but for a full season’s programme visit the orchestra’s website: www.tonhalle-orchester.ch

The season kicks off at the end of August with a concert to thank the orchestra’s sponsors (principal ones are Credit Suisse and Mercedes Benz) and supporters led by principal conductor Lionel Bringuier, now in his second season, performing Brahms’ Violin concerto with Janine Jansen and Dvorak’s 8th symphony.

Sir Neville Marriner, in his nineties, will conduct the orchestra in September in a programme including Prokofiev’s 1st and Mendelssohn’s 5th symphonies.

The orchestra’s new Creative Chair is German clarinetist/composer Jörg Widmann many of whose works will be included in concerts throughout the season.

The official opening concert in mid-September (under Bringuier) features the Brahms Double Concerto with new artist-in-residence Lisa Batiashvili and Gautier Capuçon, two works by Widmann and the evocative Poem of Ecstasy by Scriabin.

Andrès Orozco-Estrada makes his conducting debut with the orchestra in October with Ives, Janacek’s Taras Bulba, Martinu and Beethoven’s 5th.

Bringuier conducts at the end of October in a programme consisting of Ravel’s Schéhérazade, Sibelius’ Violin concerto with Batiashvili and Brahms’ 2nd symphony. Early November he takes on, in an attractive mixed programme, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Ravel’s Mother Goose suite, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with Mathias Goerne and Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole.

Charles Dutoit returns to Zurich to conduct the orchestra in Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Zürcher Sing-Akademie.

A big name joint recital worth mentioning is given by Cecilia Bartoli and Rolando Villazon in opera arias: Tuesday 1st December 2015.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is welcomed back in early December to Zurich, to conduct the Tonhalle Orchestra, in an all Czech programme to include Dvorak’s Golden Spinning Wheel and the Janacek’s thrilling Glagolitic Mass (with his own Monteverdi Choir).

Mid-December Bringuier turns his attention to Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony and Dvorak’s Cello Concerto.

2016 brings back Bernard Haitink for an all Beethoven concert in early January, his 3rd piano concerto (with Igor Levit) and the Eroica symphony. Later that month Haitink will lead us through Brahms’ German Requiem with soloists Christian Gerhaher and Camilla Tilling. Later in January Sir John Eliot Gardiner returns, this time with his English Baroque Soloists, in an all Mozart programme.

At the end of January Blomstedt is back, with Grieg, Dvorak’s 9th symphony and a piece unknown to most outside Scandinavia I imagine, Lidholm’s Poesis for orchestra.

Bringuier turns his focus onto Shostakovich in February, his short 6th symphony. In the first half Honegger’s 2nd symphony and Schumann’s piano concerto with Leif Ove Andsnes.

At the end of February Krzysztof Urbanski conducts a mouth-watering concert, Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Sol Gabetta and Shostakovich’s 10th symphony.

There is a series of six chamber music concerts performed by members of the orchestra. I will mention just one, to show British music gets a look in; in March 2016 a group of six players perform music by Vaughan Williams, Bax and Walton, though I might add that several of the players are English mother tongue or married to Brits.

If you fancy some fun, the Gershwin piano quartet in March 2016 sounds appetising, four grand pianos on the Tonhalle stage with music ranging from Scriabin, through Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, to Bernstein and, of course, Gershwin.

Heavier stuff in March too: Franz Welser-Möst with Messaien (Chronochromie) and Richard Strauss’  Alpensinfonie.

Bringuier conducts Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra in mid-March; Yefim Bronfman plays Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto in the first half along with Widmann’s Armonica for orchestra.

Over Easter the orchestra will accompany the Gemischter Chor Zürich in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Not to be missed: full disclosure – I am singing.

At the end of March Michael Sanderling conducts the orchestra in Bruckner’s 4th symphony with a Swiss première of Widmann’s “ad absurdum” for trumpet and small orchestra in the first half. Widmann, at the press conference, said he heard young Russian trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov play for four minutes without taking a breath and this so impressed him, he has written a piece for him: he fears few other trumpeters can play the piece.

In April the orchestra is joined by Jean-Yves Thibaudet for Grieg’s piano concerto and a Brahms piano quartet (orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg).

In mid April the orchestra will go on an extensive central European tour with Bringuier, Batiashvili and Capuçon taking in Vienna, Rosenheim, Cologne, Paris (at the new Philharmonie), Heidelberg, Dortmund, Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.

Schumann’s 2nd symphony features in May under Markus Stenz. Giovanni Antonini returns with Avi Avital on mandolin for Beethoven, Vivaldi and Bach.

David Zinman, currently undergoing hip replacement surgery, returns to his old orchestra in June 2016 for Mozart’s piano concerto no. 24 with his old friend Radu Lupu and Bruckner’s 5th symphony.

The Zurich Festival will open on 17th June 2016 with Bringuier conducting an attractive programme of Bernstein’s Candide Overture, some Dvorak with Lisa Batiashvili and Mahler’s First Symphony. A few days later Bringuier is joined by Hélène Grimaud for Brahms’ second piano concerto, with some Satie and Mozart to start.

Jörg Widmann will bring his Irish Chamber Orchestra to Zurich on 20th June 2016 for the Festival; they play a programme of Mendelssohn, Widmann (of course), Bruch and Mozart’s 40th symphony.

René Jacobs conducts the orchestra in Haydn’s “The Seasons” at the very end of June, Sir András Schiff entertains us in early July 2016 with Janacek and Schumann. And finally: to end the festival (in early July 2016) Jörg Widmann takes to the podium, wielding his clarinet, to perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and an intriguing piece by himself entitled “Mass for large orchestra” in which the orchestra is made, at times, to sound like a choir; but no real choir is actually involved.

John Rhodes

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