AS Manchester’s classical music goes into summer holiday purdah for the next three weeks or so, I’m taking a long view of the coming winter-spring season’s highlights – starting today with the big battalions of orchestral and choral music.
Both the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé have choral works to offer at the Bridgewater Hall early in the season: Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (The Creation) from the BBC Philharmonic under Juanjo Mena on September 24, and Beethoven’s Choral Symphony from the Hallé on October 6, conducted by Sir Mark Elder (with scenes from Verdi’s Macbeth to precede it – quite a contrast). The BBC Phil employ the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus – and they’re doing The Creation in the German version – and of course the Hallé have the Hallé Choir.
At the end of the season the two symphony orchestras join together for one of the biggest Romantic blockbusters in the repertory: Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. It comes on June 4, and the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic will combine with the Hallé Choir, Sir Thomas Allen as narrator and five top soloists under Sir Mark Elder’s baton. It’s just after Sir Mark’s 70th birthday, and billed as ‘a celebration for one of British music’s most treasured figures’.
That birthday is one he shares with composer Edward Elgar, and in March he presents an Elgar festival with the Hallé including the first symphony, ‘Enigma’ Variations and The Dream Of Gerontius (March 9 to 12).
There’s much more to be excited about, of course – I’d point to Tippett’s A Child Of Our Time, performed alongside Britten’s nearly-contemporary Sinfonia da Requiem, by the Hallé under Ryan Wigglesworth (October 27), an evening featuring virtuoso organist Jonathan Scott collaborating with conductor Cristian Mǎcelaru and the Hallé (February 9), and the BBC Philharmonic in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, with Manchester Chamber Choir and Nicholas Kraemer (April 14, Good Friday).
And each of the big two has a world premiere to share with us: the Hallé on April 20, with Huw Watkins’ Symphony, and the BBC Philharmonic on May 26, with Mark Simpson’s NOX – a concerto for cello and orchestra (soloist Leonard Elschenbroich).
Visiting orchestras at the Bridgewater Hall include the St Petersburg Philharmonic (always wonderful) on January 27, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos on May 11.
Then there’s the Hallé’s performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold on November 27 – but that’s next week’s subject: opera.