A salute to Bernstein; Mahler, Strauss and Shostakovich on tap in BSO’s 2017-18 season

March 30, 2017 at 5:14 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

In its 2017-18 season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will mark the birthday centennial of Leonard Bernstein with performances of several Bernstein works.

In its 2017-18 season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will mark the birthday centennial of Leonard Bernstein with performances of several Bernstein works.

The 2017-2018 season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will bring a mix of familiar and unfamiliar music to Symphony Hall. A new face will join the orchestra as artist-in-residence, and Boston will celebrate the connections between the BSO and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Next season, Andris Nelsons will begin his new role as kapellmeister of the famed Leipzig ensemble, a role he will hold alongside his position as conductor of the BSO. Starting February 5, 2018 the BSO will feature a “Leipzig week in Boston,” with music, archival exhibits, and lecture series held at the Boston Public Library aimed at celebrating the German city. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players will join the Gewandhaus-Quartett for Mendelssohn’s Octet for strings, Op. 20 as part of the festivities on February 11 at Symphony Hall.

In addition, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will join the BSO as its first artist-in-residence. He will perform in three concerts, playing works by Bach (February 8-10, 2018), Ravel (February 15-17), and Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety symphony (No. 2) under Nelsons’ baton March 22-27 as part of a season-long celebration of the composer’s centennial.

The Bernstein celebration will kick off on opening night, September 22, with Nelsons leading the composer’s Divertimento for Orchestra, Halil for flute and orchestra, starring BSO principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe, and the popular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Giancarlo Guerrero will lead Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, Kaddish in concerts March 15-17.

Nelsons will continue his multi-season exploration of Shostakovich’s symphonies by leading Symphony No. 11 (September 28-October 3), Symphony No. 14, with soloists Kristine Opolais and Bryn Terfel (February 1-3), and Symphony No. 4 (March 22-27). The concerts will be recorded live and released on the Deutsche Grammophon label.

Nelsons will also conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in concerts September 23 and 26 and the composer’s epic Symphony No. 3, with Susan Graham as soloist January 18-20. Strauss’ music, a specialty for Nelsons, will be the focus of concerts November 30-December 2 when the conductor leads An Alpine Symphony. BSO principal violist Steven Ansell and cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform Don Quixote March 29-April 3. Nelsons will also begin a multi-season survey of Bruckner’s symphonies by leading the composer’s Fourth SymphonyNovember 21-25.

Nelsons will also continue the tradition of concert opera, leading Act II of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde April 5 and 7. Jonas Kaufmann will make his premiere in the title role. Camilla Nylund will sing the role of Isolde. Regular BSO podium guest Charles Dutoit will lead Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust October 26-28. Susan Graham will sing the role of Marguerite and Paul Groves will appear as Faust.

Thomas Adès will continue his role as artistic partner with the BSO by leading music by Beethoven and Stravinsky, as well as the suite from his opera Powder Her Face January 25-27. Augustin Hadelich will perform Ligeti’s Violin Concerto as part of these concerts. Adès will also make his BSO debut as piano soloist in Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Three Pianos February 8-10. Other soloists in that work will be Kirill Gerstein and Thibaudet.

Next season will feature fewer world premieres than has been the case in recent years, with Nelsons leading new works by Sean Shepherd (February 8-10) and Jörg Widmann (March 29-April 3).

Guest conductors will include Alan Gilbert leading John Adams’ Sheherazade.2, with Leila Josefowicz as soloist (March 1-3); Bernard Haitink in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Emanuel Ax (May 1-5); François-Xavier Roth in two weeks of concerts that feature music of Beethoven and Mozart (January 4-9) and Webern, Bartók, and Stravinsky (January 11-13); Christoph von Dohnányi in works by Bach, Beethoven, and Bartók (November 16-18); and Herbert Blomstedt in an all-Mozart program (February 22-27).

Associate conductor Ken-David Masur will lead a semi-staged production of Grieg’s Peer Gynt with soprano Camilla Tilling (October 19-24). Assistant conductor Moritz Gnann will conduct works by Gabrieli, Marcello, Rossini, and Mozart in a single concert May 4.

Soloists to appear next season will include Paul Lewis in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (September 28-October 3); Gil Shaham in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (October 5-7); Rudolf Buchbinder in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (November 21-25); and Leonidas Kavakos in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (November 30-December 2).

The BSO will make its first Nelsons-led tour of Japan in November and the orchestra will return to Carnegie Hall April 11-13.

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players will perform four concerts, offering music by Liebermann, Puts, Previn, and Mozart October 15 and works by Bruch, Boulanger, and Mozart along with a new piece by Elena Langer April 22. Thomas Adès will join the ensemble in a program of Beethoven, Schubert, Ligeti, and Janacek January 21. And Jean-Yves Thibaudet will appear as pianist with the ensemble in music by Saint-Saëns and Dvorák March 11. All Chamber Players’ concerts will take place in Jordan Hall.

Subscriptions for the 2017-2018 season go on sale 10 a.m. Friday. Single tickets go sale July 31. bso.org; 888-266-1200.

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