New World Symphony leans toward populist repertory in 2016-17 season

By Lawrence Budmen

Renee Fleming will perform Ravel's "Shéhérazade" in the New World Symphony's 2016-17 season.

Renee Fleming will perform Ravel’s “Shéhérazade” in the New World Symphony’s 2016-17 season.

The New World Symphony hews toward a conservative lineup in the orchestra’s 2016-2017 season. Such familiar symphonic fare as Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) abound throughout the season.

Artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas leads Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn and Strauss’ Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks at the opening program on October 15 and 16. Emanuel Ax is soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 16 and a rare performance of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto. Tilson Thomas also conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 on a program with Christian Tetzlaff playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. (Jan 21, 2017) Cellist Alisa Weilerstein plays Britten’s large scale Cello Symphony with Tilson Thomas at the concluding concerts on May 6-7. Soprano superstar Renee Fleming sings Ravel’s Shéhérazade at the Arsht opener on October 22.

Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena debuts (April 8-9) with familiar scores by De Falla and Ravel plus Ingrid Fliter soloing in Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Canadian Baroque specialist Bernard Labadie, recently recovered from leukemia, returns to lead Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 4 and Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 (November 12-13). An all Russian program led by Peter Oundjian is highlighted by violinist James Ehnes, playing Shostakovich’s searing Violin Concerto No. 1 on December 10-11. James Conlon returns with a rare performance of Shostakovich’s sprawling Symphony No. 12 (The Year 1917) and familiar Beethoven (Symphony No. 2) March 25-26.

Other returning guest conductors are Roberto Abbado and Osmo Vanska (leading trademark Sibelius and Nielsen March 11). Blockbuster piano concertos feature Garrick Ohlsson (playing Grieg) and Jean Yves Thibaudet (Gershwin).

The three Sounds of the Times programs and Sunday afternoon chamber music programs feature the most interesting repertoire. In addition to the annual New Works program led by Tilson Thomas, the contemporary music series brings the return of Austrian composer-conductor H.K. Gruber for U.S. premieres of his into the open for percussion and orchestra (with soloist Colin Currie) and Bernd Richard Deutsch’s Mad Dog (December 3). Dutch contemporary music specialist Reinbert de Leeuw conducts his own Der Nächtilche Wanderer (April 15).

Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor opens the chamber series on October 9 with Luciano Berio’s iconic Folk Songs and tenor Paul Appleby, highly praised for a recent recital for Friends of Chamber Music, sings Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings on a program with Enescu’s Octet (April 2). November 20 brings an American celebration of Pulitzer Prize winning compositions by Paul Moravec, Steve Reich and Aaron Copland. Sibelius String Quartet No. 1 (Intimate Voices) shares a bill with two instrumental rarities – Bloch’s Piano Quartet No. 1 and Martinú’s Sextet (March 5).

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