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THE SCENE This month sees the long-awaited US premiere of Weinberg’s opera The Passenger, a Beethoven festival in St Louis, Borodin’s epic Prince Igor at the Met, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass in Toronto

ST LOUIS, MO St Louis Symphony Beethoven Festival (January 10 – February 1) The St Louis Symphony launch into the New Year with a series of guest conductors and artists to perform several of Beethoven’s most beloved works. Conductor Andrey Boreyko leads the orchestra in the composer’s Symphony No 7, which is paired with Nielsen’s Violin Concerto. Another set of concerts features Louis Lortie playing the Emperor Piano Concerto, which is followed by Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. St Louis’s music director David Robertson takes charge of his ensemble to lead the Eroica Symphony. The festival wraps up with the high drama of Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 and Shostakovich’s Fifth, with guest maestro Jaap van Zweden on the podium.

TORONTO, ON Toronto Symphony Orchestra Mozart: Coronation Mass (January 15, 16) The Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrate January with their Mozart Festival featuring a selection of his chamber, symphonic and choral works. On January 15 and 16, the orchestra present the composer’s jubilant Coronation Mass, with an all-Canadian cast of vocal soloists, led by conductor Peter Oundjian. If that’s not inducement enough, then the programme opens with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5, here played by Hilary Hahn.

NEW JERSEY, NJ New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival (January 17-19, 24-26) Over two weeks, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present two series of concerts as part of their Winter Festival, dedicated to the theme of ‘earth’. The first series presents Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, which is paired with the US premiere of Tan Dun’s Earth Concerto, a work that deploys ceramic and stone as instruments alongside the orchestra. The second week features Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony – a symphonic tone-poem that evokes the epic drama of an arduous mountain climb. This is preceded by Vincent D’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air,


Weinberg’s The Passenger – pictured here at English National Opera – receives its US premiere

HOUSTON, TX Houston Grand Opera Weinberg: The Passenger (January 18 – February 2) Completed in 1968, Mieczysław Weinberg’s opera The Passenger had to wait until 2010 to receive its world premiere, and now it finally arrives in Houston for its American premiere. Based on the Polish radio play by Holocaust survivor Zofia Posmysz, the libretto revolves around an encounter between two women, one a former concentration camp guard and another who resembles her former prisoner. Michelle Breedt and Joseph Kaiser star, with Patrick Summers in the pit. which sports a prominent, expansive piano part, played here by Pascal Rogé.

NEW YORK, NY Carnegie Hall Jonathan Biss Piano Recital (January 17) The pianist returns to Carnegie Hall with a programme that culminates in two Beethoven sonatas – No 27, Op 90, and No 21, Op 53 (Waldstein). Biss, a thoughtful and technically accomplished pianist, is in the early stages of recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. His recent online course on the topic drew record numbers of students, many of whom will surely be eager to see him live and in person. He opens with works by Brahms, Kurtág and Chopin.

MIAMI, FL New World Symphony MTT’s Tchaikovsky (January 31 – February 2) Michael Tilson Thomas dedicates a weekend to the music of Tchaikovsky, leading the New World Symphony, his orchestral academy of gifted music graduates. This programme features works from late in Tchaikovsky’s career, culminating with the Pathétique Symphony. Other works include selections from Suite No 2, and Variations on a Rococo Theme, the closest Tchaikovsky came to writing a cello concerto, with soloist Matthew Allen.

NEW YORK, NY Metropolitan Opera Borodin: Prince Igor (February 6 – March 8) Maybe there’s a reason the Met Opera hasn’t presented Prince Igor in nearly a century. It’s a sprawling Russian epic that requires the massed forces of a very large orchestra, a huge chorus and a boatload of soloists. The Met is perhaps one of the few opera houses able to manage such a major production (though it shares this with De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam). Director Dmitri Tcherniakov makes his case for the opera as a ‘colossal work of art’, with a new psychological take on Borodin’s work. Russian bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov takes on the weighty title-role, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting.

Previews by Damian Fowler


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