Critic’s Choice 2023-24

By Lawrence Budmen

Stéphane Denève conducts the New World Symphony in music of Prokofiev, Peter Lieberson and James Lee III October 14-15.

Music of James Lee III, Peter Lieberson and Prokofiev. New World Symphony/Stephane Denève with Kelley O’Connor. October 14-15.

A new era at the New World Symphony begins with the excellent French conductor Stéphane Denève ascending the podium as the orchestral academy’s artistic director. 

Denève’s typically adventurous program features the world premiere of James Lee III’s Visions of Cahokia and Peter Lieberson’s sensuous Neruda Songs (perhaps one of the first masterpieces of the 21st century) with the fine mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor. The conductor’s own compilation of excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet completes a program that promises to be both festive and challenging.

Strauss: An Alpine Symphony. Cleveland Orchestra/Stéphane Denève. November 17-18.

This season’s Cleveland Orchestra Miami residency opens with the collaboration of members of the New World Symphony and their new director. Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony, a portrait of a mountain-climbing day in the Alps, is the program’s piece de resistance. 

Scored for massive forces, including additional brass and percussion, a wind machine and glockenspiel,, the work is rarely performed. These performances continue the educational and concert relationship between the Clevelanders and New World fellows begun last season. The concert opens with Schumann’s Cello Concerto, once a repertoire staple that has fallen off the radar in recent decades. Pablo Fernández, a Tchaikovsky Competition winner, does the solo honors.

Ehnes Quartet. Friends of Chamber Music. November 18.

After a decade-long cycle of the complete Beethoven string quartets, the Ehnes Quartet has returned annually to the Friends of Chamber Music with mixed programs. Led by violin virtuoso James Ehnes, the group gives consistently refined readings of a broad repertoire marked by careful attention to precise balances and idiomatic interpretive instincts. Program TBA.

Brahms and Beethoven. Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim. December 5-6.

One of Europe’s oldest orchestras plays two nights of symphonies by Brahms –  (Nos. 2 and 4 on December 5) and Beethoven (Nos. 5 and 6 on December 6) at the Arsht Center. Daniel Barenboim, who has led the orchestra for three decades, is scheduled to conduct the tour.

Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci. Florida Grand Opera. January 27-30, 2024 (Arsht Center, Miami) and February 8-10 (Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale).

Although operatic verismo may be anything but subtle, Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s 1892 melodrama can still pack a punch when sung and played with abandon. Florida Grand Opera’s production looks promising. The tenor role of Canio is pivotal to any production and FGO has snared a rising star as the heart-broken, enraged clown – American tenor Limmie Pulliam. Kearstin Piper Brown, who has performed numerous contemporary opera and concert works, sings Nedda.

Patrick Dupre Quigley will lead Seraphic Fire in a program of Haydn’s vocal music February 23-25, 2024.

Zlata Chochieva. Friends of Chamber Music. February 8.

The Russian-born, Berlin-based pianist Zlata Chochieva has given a series of impressive recitals for the Miami International Piano Festival. Now, she takes the FIU stage for a Friends of Chamber Music concert. Program TBA.

Vocal music of Haydn. Seraphic Fire/Patrick Quigley. February 23-25.

Patrick Quigley and Seraphic Fire conclude their annual Enlightenment Festival by recreating a concert at the Esterházy Palace in 1800, given by Haydn. The Missa in augustis (which has come to be known as the Lord Nelson Mass) is one of the composer’s finest vocal works and will share the bill with the Te Deum for Empress Marie Therese and The Battle of the Nile. With choir, soloists and chamber orchestra, this concert promises a rare opportunity to hear significant sacred and secular works by one of music history’s path-breaking composers.

Works by Berg, Mahler and Bruckner. Vienna Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst  March 8-9.

The Kravis Center has scored a real coup by booking the belated southeast Florida debut of the storied Vienna Philharmonic for two concerts. Franz Welser-Möst, one of the Viennese ensemble’s frequent podium guests, opens both programs with Alban Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra, followed by the ninth symphonies of Mahler (March 8) and Bruckner (March 9).

Benjamin Britten celebration. Orchestra Miami/Elaine Rinaldi.  April 14.

The ever-audacious Elaine Rinaldi presents a celebration of the one hundred and tenth anniversary of British composer Benjamin Britten’s birth (in November, 1913). This new chamber series offers the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings with tenor Gerardo José Ortega, his Simple Symphony and a selection of his folk song arrangements.

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the New World Symphony in music of Shostakovich, Ravel and Tchaikovsky May 4-5.

Music of Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Shostakovich. New World Symphony/ Michael Tilson Thomas with Jean-Yves Thibaudet. May 4-5.

A rare performance of Shostakovich Symphony No. 15, the composer’s orchestral swan song, highlights a program led by NWS artistic director laureate Michael Tilson Thomas. French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, a frequent Tilson Thomas collaborator, plays Ravel’s Piano Concerto in a Gallic matchup and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet opens the program.

Posted in Articles

Leave a Comment

Wed Sep 6, 2023
at 10:34 am
No Comments