Sunday, October 27, 2013

Classical: 2014 concert program tantalises

Anne-Sophie Mutter will perform three concertos in February.

Anne-Sophie Mutter will perform three concertos in February.

Sydney's concert calendar for 2014 offers a feast of fine music, but the challenge for music lovers will be, as ever, deciding what to select. Let me suggest a possible degustation of programs and artists.

Sydney Festival offers baroque music on period instruments with the renowned Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, and by the Apollo Ensemble from Holland in a program of rarely heard Jewish music. The Hilliard Ensemble is also certain to please in two separate programs.

But the most tantalising fare may be a double-bill: American rock guitarist and Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo joins with Sydney's excellent Ensemble Offspring to present his Hurricane Transcriptions, based on the composer's experience of Hurricane Sandy.

Berio's 1965 work, Laborintus II, brings another pop superstar, Mike Patton, together with Roland Peelman and the Song Company, for an evening of electrified, and electrifying, entertainment.

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For those partial to the rich flavours of symphonic music, the Sydney Symphony's season is replete with a diversity of repertoire and styles.

Those who love the violin will be tempted by Anne-Sophie Mutter playing (and directing) three Mozart violin concertos (February) and Frank Peter Zimmermann in the Sibelius concerto with Donald Runnicles conducting (December).

Beethoven aficionados will not be able to resist all five piano concertos, played by Emanuel A with new chief conductor David Robertson on the podium.

You want more piano? Certainly – in September, there is Stephen Hough playing the Dvorak concerto, as well as a solo recital devoted to Debussy and the four Ballades of Chopin, while in late November you can hear the Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman perform Brahms' No. 1, again with Runnicles at the helm.

Seasonal specials include a concert performance (February) of Elektra by Richard Strauss, with a stellar cast including Christine Goerke in the title role, and Lisa Gasteen, Cheryl Barker and Peter Coleman-Wright along with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Sydney Dance Company.

More intimate will be the appearance of classical guitarist Pepe Romero in the hauntingly beautiful Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo (August). Australian premieres of music by John Adams, Kalevi Aho and Brett Dean, along with commissioned works by Paul Stanhope and Detlev Glanert, enrich the diet of established classics.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (and Choir) promises tempting delights as it celebrates its 25th year. The joyous Magnificat by J. S. Bach opens the season (February), along with a newly-composed homage to the master by the prolifically imaginative Elena Kats-Chernin.

Other highlights for the year include Israeli mandolinist, Avi Avital, the Russian baroque violinist, Dmitry Sinkovsky, and the exotic sonorities of Ottoman baroque music, complete with Whirling Dervishes, a program truly redolent of old spices.

Richard Tognetti's distinctive approach to ACO programming brings together the ancient, the ultra-new, and the unexpected. There are symphonies by Sibelius (6) and Mahler (4), chamber music (Dvorak, Smetana, Shostakovich), and an intriguing survey of 42,000 years of music: Timelines. Expect anything from ancient Aboriginal chant, through to Hildegard von Bingen and Pink Floyd.

Musica Viva's season is well served by youth: Budapest-based Kelemen Quartet, the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio from London and the American Brass Quintet. Previous favourites, The Choir of King's College Cambridge and the Borodin Quartet, return as welcome guests, while pianist Imogen Cooper gives two solo recitals (August). Included in the year are two Australian premieres: Ross Edwards' 3rd string quartet, and a piano trio by MV chef, Carl Vine.

Brett Weymark and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will be busy with Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, James MacMillan's compelling Cantos Sagrados, and a major new work from Matthew Hindson, plus Bach motets in St Mary's crypt.

And savouring Bach, The Song Company has scheduled the B minor Mass in October, with just 10 voices. Roland Peelman's eclectic mix of interesting works brings to the table the usual tasty and tasteful mixed platters of a cappella repertoire, while a semi-staged performance of David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion at Easter has the necessary ingredients to be a piece de resistance.


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