LPO 2018/19 season player picks
- Published: Friday, 07 September 2018 17:06
With our 2018/19 season at Southbank Centre now just around the corner, what to come and hear next at Southbank Centre? We've been asking LPO players what pieces they're most looking forward to performing over the coming months ...
Sue Thomas, Flute
One of my highlights this autumn will be Vladimir Jurowski conducting Das Lied von der Erde, a work that was composed after ‘the most painful period’ in Mahler’s life (this appeals to my melancholic Welsh soul!). The last movement, ‘Der Abschied’ (Farewell), has one of the most glorious moments in the orchestral flute repertoire, with two solo duos between the first flute and the mezzo-soprano, who in this instance will be the wonderful Sarah Connolly.
In November Vladimir conducts Stravinsky’s masterpiece The Rake’s Progress. Stravinsky is one of my favourite composers and this will be a special evening for me, as I was introduced to this opera at Glyndebourne in 2010 after returning from maternity leave. The Rake’s Progress is an incredible opera, despite its unusual lack of trombones! It includes a sublime aria for two flutes and soprano: on 3 November this aria will be sung by Sophia Burgos, and the fabulous Matthew Rose will revisit his role as Nick Shadow. A musical feast for everyone awaits!
Paul Richards, Principal Bass Clarinet
Looking through the season, there are many interesting concerts, not least the season opener on 26 September with Thomas Adès as both conductor and composer. Enrique Mazzola conducting Gershwin’s An American in Paris on 24 October should also be an audience winner. But one concert I’m especially looking forward to is Janáček’s Sinfonietta on 7 November. I’m a big fan of Janáček – he has such a unique and identifiable voice, whose music frequently has the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
In the 1970s there was a drama series on Granada TV called Crown Court, and the opening theme featured part of the fourth movement of the Sinfonietta. I remember that those staccato quavers in the trumpets made a real impression on me and, curious to hear more, I later went to hear the Hallé performing it at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. I sometimes wish I played the trumpet instead of the clarinet, so I could take part in the opening fanfare; however, it’ll still be great to be able to hear our magnificent brass section perform it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Helena Smart, Second Violin
My personal highlights this season are works that hold special memories and symphonies that I’ll play for the first time. First of all is Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3 in our opening concert on 26 September. This is a fantastically exciting work and I can’t wait to play it under the fully charged baton of Thomas Adès, whose In Seven Days we’ll also be tackling in the same concert. I’m always blown away by Tom’s varied style, as well as his sense of fun. If his concert with the LPO last April (when we played his Powder Her Face Suite) is anything to go by, we’re in for a thrilling season opener!
On 5 December we’ll take on Bruckner’s Second Symphony with Vladimir Jurowski. I’m a huge fan of Bruckner but I haven’t yet had the chance to get to know this particular work. Playing a piece for the first time is always a memorable occasion, and under the stimulating stewardship of Vladimir this is sure to be a highlight. In the same concert we’ll hear the wonderful Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky. Although this work is performed so often, it still sounds fresh and vibrant when played by a young and exciting soloist like Alena Baeva.
Rachel Masters, Principal Harp
Sometimes playing the harp can feel very singular within an orchestra, such as coming in with the fugal solo entry in the last movement of Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements (26 September). This work has a challenging harp part which I always enjoy performing, because Stravinsky’s soundworld and unusual orchestration is so interesting. Then, later in the season, it’s party time with massed harps for Berlioz and Wagner: composers who enjoyed using multiple forces. Berlioz is still a formidable challenge for us harpists, and although the harps are only used in the second movement of his Symphonie fantastique (14 November), it’s quite impressive to hear all four of us going for it. During the performance we are blessed(?) with being ‘tacet’ (silent) during the first movement, giving us no chance to warm up for a rather scary entry in the second, going crazy for five minutes, then three more tacet movements to reflect on how it all went!
Then there is the timing of the repertoire during a season, when you can find yourself with a very clean house after several quiet weeks, followed by very intense periods when you rather wish you’d used your free time to prepare ready meals for the freezer ... However, whatever your schedule, it’s essential to keep your fingers in top condition so that when you return after a quiet patch, you are still ‘match fit’. Fortunately I have tolerant neighbours (and husband) who happily put up with my technical regime which keeps the old digits working properly.
Simon Carrington, Principal Timpani
Orff’s Carmina Burana (13 October) has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it performed at the Southampton Guildhall when I was nine or ten years old. I was learning the violin at the time, but still remember that as well as being awestruck by the drama of the opening movement, I was dazzled by the splendid array of timpani and percussion instruments on stage – it was definitely a Damascene moment for me!
I’ve always associated Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (10 October) with the LPO, ever since I watched a film of a studio recording in the early 1980s conducted by that most idiosyncratic of Bartókians, Sir Georg Solti. Bartók often maximises the modern pedal timpani’s capability of changing the pitch of the drum quickly. There is a most unusual section in the Intermezzo where a beautiful viola tune is accompanied only by lush harp chords and timpani playing the chromatic bass line, hopefully somewhere near in tune!
I’m also looking forward to playing Berio’s Sinfonia for the first time on 8 December; this is a rare opportunity to hear a fascinating piece that takes us on a journey through much familiar music, most notably referencing Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony. With the amazing Swingle Singers and Vladimir steering us through, this promises to be a real highlight of the season.
Sue Böhling, Principal Cor Anglais
Following a rare, long summer holiday this year, I’ll be looking forward to my first concert back at Royal Festival Hall on 29 September, with Vladimir Jurowski and pianist Mitsuko Uchida. We’re so lucky to have Mitsuko playing Mozart’s K595 Piano Concerto with us, and as I’m not playing in this piece I’ll have the luxury of sitting back and listening to the poetry. There’s a good link that runs through this concert’s programme, as legend has it that Mahler’s last word was ‘Mozart’. The second half is Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, six passionate and beautifully evocative songs. Mahler’s writing for the winds is so poignant and well-written that it’s always a pleasure to play – but at the same time, it can be heart-wrenching.
Another concert that I’m particularly looking forward to is Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on 3 November. We performed a run of this opera with David Hockney’s unmistakable set and costume designs at Glyndebourne in 2010. It was a vivid and memorable run for us, and I look forward to seeing how we’ll stage this one-off performance at Royal Festival Hall. Stravinsky’s complex writing will push us as usual, but it’s fun to perform.