Just in: Jonas Kaufmann to sing Tristan

The Boston Symphony has just rolled out its season.

Jonas Kaufmann will sing the third act of Tristan und Isolde opposite Emily Magee. He sang the second act last season with Camilla Nylund. Andris Nelsons is the conductor in both instances. He’ll be ready for the full work pretty much now.

Other Boston highlights:
The Boston Symphony Orchestra/Gewandhausorchester Leipzig alliance, curated by Andris Nelsons, breaks new ground this year with the first-ever joint BSO/GHO concerts, taking place at Symphony Hall during the third “Leipzig Week in Boston.” In this third year of the BSO/GHO Alliance, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig itself comes to Boston in late October and early November for two programs of its own, as well as two joint concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of Andris Nelsons. These joint concerts bringing together the BSO and GHO feature Olivier Latry in performances of Richard Strauss’ Festive Prelude for organ and orchestra, and BSO wind principals John Ferrillo and Richard Svoboda and GHO string principals Frank-Michael Erben and Christian Giger in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B-flat for oboe, bassoon, violin, and cello; these concerts will also include Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy.

Also: premieres of three BSO/GHO Alliance co-commissions, all to be led by Andris Nelsons. The first, Betsy Jolas’ Letters from Bachville, receives its world premiere performances in the concerts of November 7–12, in a concert also featuring Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917, to be recorded live for the BSO’s ongoing Shostakovich cycle (also marking the first BSO subscription performances of this work). The world premiere of Latvian composer Arturs Maskats’ “My River runs to thee…” (Homage to Emily Dickinson), the second of the three BSO/GHO Alliance co-commissions, is part of the subscription program of November 21–26, which also includes Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Daniel Lozakovich making his subscription series debut, and Galina Grifojeva’s On Leaving for unaccompanied choir featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which also participates in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2, To October, to be recorded live for the orchestra’s ongoing project for Deutsche Grammophon. The final BSO/GHO Alliance co-commission to be presented in 2019–20 is the American premiere of HK Gruber’s Short Stories from the Vienna Woods, which is part of the subscription program of April 2-4, also featuring Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3. On October 3–5, Mr. Nelsons leads James Lee III’s Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula, the first work by this American composer to be performed by the BSO. Also on that program are Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Yuja Wang as soloist, and music from Smetana’s patriotic salute to his Bohemian homeland, Má Vlast.

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  • It may be an interesting experience to join members of the two magnificent orchestras, with totally different traditions and sound, together for a concert. I doubt though that the outcome will be more rewarding than hearing these orchestras separately. One of the pleasures of hearing the greatest orchestras is the unique qualities and sound that each one possesses. That will be lost when orchestras are mixed together. One may get a so called “international” sound instead.

    • I believe Simon Rattle did that with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics in 2006. Does anyone know how it went?

      • Yes, I went to the performance in Vienna. It was a large orchestra but not double size, so selected players from BPO and VPO shared the platform. The opening notes of the Vaughan Williams Fantasia will remain with me forever – I had never heard such a concentrated intensity of sound. The Mahler 6 was stupendous – we were in the last row of Stalls at the Konzerthaus – I would not have wanted to be any closer! Again, it was the weight and intensity of sound, not pure volume.

  • Hats off to the BSO and Anders Nelson. It’s a great season and I love the idea of these collaborations: this one is very well thought-out.

    You missed some highlights. Sir András Schiff, making appears in the dual role of conductor-soloist, with a program of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms. Pinchas Zukerman returns as conductor and violin soloist for a program of Strauss, Bruckner, Mozart, and Haydn. The young Greek conductor Constantinos Carydis makes his BSO debut in a program featuring Midori in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, closing with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and also including music of Kodály and Greek composer Periklis Koukos. BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès returns to the BSO podium in March with a program book-ended by music of Stravinsky—his Pulcinella Suite and Perséphone for speaker, tenor, chorus—plus Adès’s own Lieux retrouvès for cello and orchestra with soloist Steven Isserlis, for whom he wrote it.

    Lots of big names, lots of new music mixed in with favorites. It’s an impressive lineup.

    • I see that Christoph von Dohnanyi is announce for the season as well. How is his health been lately? And is this his only American appearance?

  • Not a big fan of Kaufmann after his Parsifal effort in Bayreuth last year (heard on radio) — sounded over-loud, strained, almost like a circular saw in the last act. If that is what opera does to a voice, what is the point?

    • I don’t think that is what opera in general does to a voice. However, in Kaufmann’s case it’s what the wrong roles do to a voice. I’ve heard him in times when he made the roles suiting a lyrical tenor and I liked what I got to hear. However someone obviously told him he’s a spinto and can do “heavier” stuff – and that was when his voice started to sound strained and stressed. It got worse with him even doing excursion into the Heldenfach. To me it sounds as if he’d have destroyed his voice now – and it’s a pity because as a lyrical one it was a lovely voice.

      • Exactly. Based on his performance of act II, Kaufmann cannot sing Tristan. Yet tickets are probably sold out, as will be the case when he sings the entire role. Sad times.

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