Barenboim to conduct Bruckner symphony cycle at Carnegie Hall

Israeli-Argentine maestro will lead Berlin state opera as soloist in Mozart concertos; season to include world premiere of work by American minimalist Steve Reich

This May 26, 2015 file photo shows Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim playing his new piano at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England.  (Adrian Dennis/AFP)
This May 26, 2015 file photo shows Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim playing his new piano at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England. (Adrian Dennis/AFP)

NEW YORK — Daniel Barenboim will return to Carnegie Hall to conduct a rare cycle of all of Anton Bruckner’s numbered symphonies, the leading New York concert venue said Tuesday.

Announcing its 2016-17 season, Carnegie Hall said that Barenboim would appear after a four-year absence to lead the Berlin State Opera in the cycle.

Barenboim — an Argentine-Israeli known for his vast repertoire as well as his pro-peace activism — will conduct Bruckner’s nine numbered symphonies over 11 days, pairing them at the concerts with Mozart piano concertos that the maestro will play himself.

In two of the concerts, the prolific conductor, pianist and music educator will play programs comprised of a Bruckner symphony and Mozart’s two Sinfonie concertante, the popular K. 364 for violin and viola and the less-known K. 297b for four woodwind soloists.

Anton Bruckner. (Public domain)
Anton Bruckner. (Public domain)

In all other concerts Barenboim will conduct from the piano Mozart’s late concertos (Nos. 22-27). The program will not include the early, posthumously published and curiously-numbered Symphony No. 0 and Symphony No. 00 or Study Symphony by Bruckner. Barenboim will be conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin, an orchestra he has been leading since 1992.

Barenboim, 73, told AFP last year that he was planning to spend less time with the baton and more time performing and setting up the Barenboim-Said Academy, which is due later this year to start training Middle Eastern and European musicians in hopes of helping to bring peace.

The season marks the first in which Carnegie Hall will showcase all nine numbered symphonies by Bruckner, a 19th-century Austrian considered a crucial bridge between the classical form of the Romantic era and later expressionism. Bruckner, an organist by training, modeled practically all his symphonies structurally on Beethoven’s Ninth. He was a highly regarded teacher and his most prominent students were Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf.

World premiere of Steve Reich piece

Carnegie Hall will open the season on October 6 with Gustavo Dudamel leading the first of three concerts by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, which is rooted in Venezuela’s wide-scale music education programs.

Dudamel, who is also music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will lead the Venezuelan orchestra in works of Stravinsky and Ravel as well as Latin American composers.

Steve Reich CC BY 2.0 (Ian Oliver/Wikipedia)
Steve Reich CC BY 2.0 (Ian Oliver/Wikipedia)

Carnegie Hall’s season will also feature contemporary fare including the world premiere of a commissioned work by Steve Reich, a top living US composer known for his minimalism. Among Reich’s famous pieces are “Different Trains,” a piece for string quartet and tape reflecting on the trains the composer used to take in the 1940s to visit his separated parents when he was a child and the very “different trains” the composer said Jews were hauled on in Europe during the Holocaust, and “Tehillim,” a piece with Hebrew text from the Book of Psalms the composer wrote after spending a year in Jerusalem in the mid-1970s, where he studied Ta’amei Hamikra, the oral tradition of melismatic chanting from the bible.

Angelique Kidjo, one of Africa’s leading singers, will return during the season to Carnegie Hall, which also plans new arrangements for chamber orchestra of works by pop stars Bjork, Elvis Costello and Sting.

Simon Rattle, who takes over next year at the London Symphony Orchestra, will come to Carnegie Hall for the last time with the Berlin Philharmonic for performances that include Mahler’s complex Symphony No. 7.

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