For more than 40 years, the young musicians of the New York String Orchestra have made Christmas Eve a time of joyous music making. This season, violinist Pamela Frank joins the orchestra with Jaime Laredo on viola for Mozart’s eloquent and virtuosic Sinfonia concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364. There’s also an energetic concerto by Vivaldi and Haydn’s dazzling penultimate symphony, the inventive “Drumroll.”
New York String Orchestra Jaime Laredo, Conductor, Violin, and Viola Pamela Frank, Violin
VIVALDI Concerto in A Minor for Two Violins, Strings, and Continuo from L'estro armonico, Op. 3, No. 8
MOZART Sinfonia concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364
Rather than singing “Auld Lang Syne,” bid the old year adieu with great orchestral music performed by the New York String Orchestra. The legendary Richard Goode joins the orchestra for Mozart’s highly dramatic Piano Concerto No. 20. There’s also a new work by Gabriela Lena Frank inspired by Peruvian pan pipes and Mendelssohn’s vibrant symphonic tribute to Scotland.
New York String Orchestra Jaime Laredo, Conductor Richard Goode, Piano
Parsifal, Wagner’s final opera, is a majestic work that reaches heavenly heights in its spiritually transcendent third act. Wagner was Bruckner’s idol, and the sweeping breadth and tonal language of the older composer inspired much of his music. At the time of his death, Bruckner had only completed three movements of his Ninth Symphony, but what he left is compelling and deeply touching. His symphony ascends from a musical primordial haze to a finale that explores new harmonies and peace in its quiet closing benediction.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Daniele Gatti, Chief Conductor
WAGNER Prelude to Act III and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal
“It’s one of astonishing power and beauty,” said The New York Times of violinist Janine Jansen’s “full-bodied, polished-wood sound.” She is the soloist in one of the Romantic era’s great works: Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. It is certainly a showpiece for the soloist, but the concerto is also a work of tremendous lyricism and emotional weight. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the great Mahler orchestras, performing the composer’s Symphony No. 1 at Carnegie Hall—a work that delights with its sounds of nature and lilt of folk song, while uplifting the spirit with its sublime climax.
Perspectives: Janine Jansen
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Daniele Gatti, Chief Conductor Janine Jansen, Violin
“It is music coming from another world—it’s coming from eternity,” said conductor Herbert von Karajan of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. The composer's hallmarks are all present in his final completed work: sweeping breadth, profound emotion, a rustic dance, and unchecked ferocity. The ethereal finale is a serene farewell that sets grief, bitterness, and regret aside as it achieves transcendence.
The Cleveland Orchestra Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director and Conductor
JOHANNES MARIA STAUD Stromab (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
A chorus sings of the pleasures of wine, a winter storm blows, the sun rises gloriously, and a farmer and his beloved declare their love. Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons is a masterpiece of text wed to music with expressive arias for soloists and robust choruses. In a series of brilliantly vivid tableaux, Haydn depicts pastoral pleasures, including a rousing spinning song and an autumn hunt—with horns quoting actual hunting calls—and more.
The Cleveland Orchestra Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director and Conductor Golda Schultz, Soprano Maximilian Schmitt, Tenor Thomas Hampson, Baritone The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus Lisa Wong, Acting Director
There’s passion and power in Chausson’s and Britten’s sea music. Chausson set Symbolist poetry in his Poème de l’amour et de la mer, a two-song collection with orchestral interlude that is rich with metaphor and infused with steamy Wagnerian harmonies. There’s nothing metaphorical about Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes; the sun’s glimmering light on the water, the sound of church bells, waking birds, and a savage storm are portrayed with gripping realism.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Riccardo Muti, Music Director and Conductor Clémentine Margaine, Mezzo-Soprano Jay Friedman, Trombone Michael Mulcahy, Trombone Charles Vernon, Bass Trombone Gene Pokorny, Tuba
“The passion and dramatic verve Riccardo Muti masterfully elicited … is simply magnificent,” said NPR of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director. One of the legendary Verdi conductors, he conducts the dramatic overture to I vespri Siciliani. While Verdi sizzles, Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 charms with its warm, flowing melodies, and radiant brass-drenched finale.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Riccardo Muti, Music Director and Conductor
Mozart’s final symphonies are pinnacles of Classicism that boldly point to the Romantics. His Symphony No. 40 opens in a state of nervous agitation and culminates in an edge-of-your-seat finale that Wagner called “exuberant with rapture and audacity.” The “Emperor” Piano Concerto is grandly virtuosic and heroic in spirit—a towering landmark where Beethoven the master pianist and symphonist are brilliantly fused.
Orchestra of St. Luke's Robert Spano, Conductor Kelley O'Connor, Mezzo-Soprano Jeremy Denk, Piano
MOZART Symphony No. 40
BRYCE DESSNER Voy à Dormir (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
Lyrical, dramatic, and light-hearted aspects of Brahms’s music are showcased by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His famous Academic Festival Overture playfully quotes student songs before culminating in the jubilant “Gaudemus igitur.” In warmly melodic music, Brahms shows reverence for past masters and classical forms in his Variations on a Theme by Haydn, while the heroic tone and grand scale of his Symphony No. 1 establish him as a great German symphonic master.