The 2009/2010 Seattle Symphony subscription season at a glance


Every year, I put together a little pocket guide to the Seattle Symphony subscription season for my symphony friends to help them decide which ticket package they want. As before, you might find it helpful, you might not, but either way, you’re going to have to suffer through it. Here’s the at-a-glance season guide for Gerard Schwarz’s 25th and penultimate season as the orchestra’s music director.

Week Program Comments 22 13 10A 10B 7AB 7CD 7EF 7G 4A 4B MS BB MM PC SS
09/24
2009
§ Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos #10
§ Golijov: Fantasía sobre La Pasión según San Marcos
Brahms: Symphony #1
Awesome
Awesome
Nervous
Excellent
§
 
§
 
*
§
 
§
 
§
 
§
 
§
 
§
 
   
§
 
§
 
             
10/01
2009
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Mahler: Symphony #5
Awesome
Polarizing
  *                          
10/08
2009
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Poulenc: Aubade
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #1
Dvořák: Symphony #8
Awesome
Okay
Good
Excellent
                   
 
 
 
 
       
10/22
2009
Prokofiev: Symphony #1 “Classical”
Martinů: Oboe Concerto
Dvořák: Legends #6, 7, 9
Haydn: Symphony #88
Awesome
Okay
Excellent
Excellent
                             
10/30
2009
Handel: Alexander’s Feast Excellent                       §      
11/01
2009
Beethoven: Coriolan Overture
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #2
Beethoven: Symphony #6 “Pastoral”
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                             
11/05
2009
§ Beethoven: Leonore Overture #1
§ Borodin: Symphony #3
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
§ R. Strauss: Ein Alpensinphonie
§ Shostakovich: Symphony #15
Good
Good
Awesome
Good
Okay
§
§
 
§
§
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
             
11/12
2009
§ Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
§ Mendelssohn: Overture Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde
Spohr: Violin Concerto #8
§ Brahms/Schoenberg: Piano Quartet in g minor
§ Orff: Carmina Burana
Awesome
Good
Good
Awesome
Awesome
§
§
 
§
§
§
§
*
§
§
       
§
§
 
§
§
               
11/19
2009
Jensen: The Drover
Mozart Piano Concerto #21
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #6
Okay
Awesome
Excellent
  *                          
12/03
2009
§ Glinka: Russlan and Ludmilla Overture
Vivaldi: Viola Concerto, RV 417
§ Tchaikovsky: Three Dances from Nutcracker
Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
§ Dvořák: Three Slavonic Dances
§ Bizet: Farandole from L’Arlésienne
§ Humperdinck: Prelude to Hansel und Gretel
§ Smetana: The Moldau
§ Rimsky-Korsakov: Polonaise from Christmas Eve
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Suite
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
Good
Excellent

Excellent
Awesome
§
 
§
 
§
§
§
§
§
 
§
 
§
 
§
§
§
§
§
 
     
§
 
§
 
§
§
§
§
§
 
     
§
 
§
 
§
§
§
§
§
 
§
 
§
 
§
§
 
§
§
 
       
12/30
2009
§ Bach: Orchestral Suite #3, BWV 1068
§ Brahms: Liebeslieder Waltzes
Beethoven: Symphony #9
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                   
 
 
 
     
§
§
 
01/07
2010
Mozart: Symphony #40
Bruckner: Symphony #4 “Romantic”
Excellent
Good
                             
01/17
2010
Purcell: Indian Queen Suite
Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 4
Handel: Organ Concerto Op 7 No 1
Handel: Organ Concerto Op 4 No 5
Rameau: Les Indes galantes Suite
Wildcard
Good
Good
Good
Good
                             
01/27
2010
Mozart: Symphony #27
Mozart: Adagio for Violin and Orchestra
§ Mozart: Rondo in C major for Violin and Orchestra
Beethoven: Romance #2
Mendelssohn: Symphony #4
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                         
 
§
 
 
   
02/04
2010
Busoni: Turandot Suite
R. Strauss: Violin Concerto
Schumann: Symphony #3 “Rhenish”
Okay
Okay
Good
  *                
 
 
 
       
02/11
2010
Barber: Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance
Barber: Violin Concerto
§ Shostakovich: Symphony #15
§ Brahms/Schoenberg: Piano Quartet in g minor
Okay
Okay
Okay
Awesome
 
 
§
§
       
 
 
§
§
                 
02/26
2010
Mozart: Symphony #34
Mozart: Violin Concerto #5 “Turkish”
Mozart: Serenade #9 “Posthorn”
Awesome
Excellent
Excellent
                             
03/05
2010
Rameau: Les Paladins Suite
Mercadante: Flute Concerto in e minor
§ Handel: Concerto Grosso, Op 3 No 2
Rossini: String Sonata #1 in G
Telemann: Suite in C major, TWV 55:C6
Okay
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Okay
                     
 
 
§
 
 
     
03/11
2010
Mendelssohn: Sinfonia #12
Haydn: Piano Concerto in D, Hob. XVIII
Mozart: Divertimento, K136
Mozart: Symphony #29
Good
Excellent
Awesome
Awesome
                             
03/18
2010
Brahms: Double Concerto
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé
Excellent
Excellent
                             
03/25
2010
§ Lutosławski: Symphony #4
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto #4
Sibelius: Symphony #5
Nervous
Good
Excellent
§
 
 
§
*
 
      §
 
 
              §
 
 
 
04/01
2010
Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen Suite
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #5
Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition
Okay
Okay
Awesome
  *                          
04/15
2010
Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #4
Stravinsky: Pétrouchka (1947)
Excellent
Awesome
Excellent
  *                          
04/22
2010
Haydn: Symphony #93
Dutilleux: Cello Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony #5
Excellent
Nervous
Awesome
                   
 
 
 
       
04/29
2010
Sibelius: Pohjola’s Daughter
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto #2
Adams: Harmonielehre
Okay
Awesome
Polarizing
  *                          
05/06
2010
Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 3
Tippett: Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli
Tallis: When rising from the bed of death
Elgar: Introduction and Allegro
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Good
Wildcard
Wildcard
Good
Excellent
  *                          
05/13
2010
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Schumann: Piano Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony #4
Good
Excellent
Excellent
                             
06/10
2010
Debussy: Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un faune
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto #2
§ Ravel: Pavana pour une infante défunte
Chausson: Symphony in B-flat major
Awesome
Excellent
Excellent
Okay
 
 
§
 
   
 
§
 
 
 
§
 
 
 
§
 
     
 
§
 
             
06/17
2010
§ Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques
§ Mozart: Rondo for Piano K382
§ Wagner: Parsifal excerpts
Mendelssohn: Symphony #2
Nervous
Awesome

Nervous
Good
§
§
§
 
§
§
§
*
     
§
§
§
 
     
§
§
§
 
         
06/24
2010
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
§ Bernstein: Serenade
§ W. Schuman: Symphony #3
Bernstein: Symphony #2 “The Age of Anxiety”
Okay
Okay
Okay
Okay
 
§
§
 
 
§
§
 
 
§
§
 
 
§
§
 
   
 
§
§
 
 
 
§
§
 
           
      22 13 10A 10B 7AB 7CD 7EF 7G 4A 4B MS BB MM PC SS
†  Premiere
MS  Musically Speaking
BB  Basically Baroque
MM  Mainly Mozart
PC  Popular Classics
SS  Symphony Specials

Notes:

This chart doesn’t include “one-off” concert series such as the Visiting Orchestras or Distinguished Artists series.

The comments column very crudely categorizes the works to assist my less-classically-aware friends. This is, of course, a highly subjective rating system, but I tried to view each piece from the ears of somebody new. Thus, I rated downward pieces that I personally like but which others might not and rated up pieces that I may not find musically satisfying but which nevertheless tend to be crowd-pleasers. These predictions have, of course, proven wrong in the past. For example, my assessments of Bruckner have always been optimistic. (And I haven’t learned my lesson, because this year, I’m rating the Bruckner Fourth Symphony as Good, because this time I really think they will like it.)

Here’s what the comments mean. Note that they do not indicate whether the piece is significant in a musicological sense; they’re just my guess as to whether my friends are going to like it.

  • Awesome: Guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
  • Excellent: You will definitely like this piece.
  • Good: You will probably like this piece.
  • Okay: You may like this piece.
  • Nervous: I have a bad feeling about this one.
  • Polarizing: Some people will love it; others will hate it.
  • Wildcard: I have no idea what will happen.

In many cases, I am not familiar with the piece and am basing my evaluation on what I know about the composer (or am just guessing).

Seattle Symphony notes: Principal Second Violin Elisa Barston had worked under the shadow of heartthrob Joshua Roman, but with Roman’s departure last year, she has inherited the mantle of taking the lead in appealing to the “youth audience.” She’s been given increasingly visible solo performances and even authored an entry on the symphony’s blog. I for one am pleased by her more prominent profile. She always seems to be genuinely enjoying herself when I see her performing.

Update: Minor corrections as noted in comments.

* Update: Changes were made to the subscription schedule for the UBS Masterworks 13 series after the brochures were printed. (Thanks to Greg for pointing it out.) They have been updated in the chart above. Note that five concerts were deleted but six were added, so the Masterworks 13 concert series actually has 14 concerts.

§ Update: Many changes were made to the subscription schedule in July 2009. They have been updated in the chart above. The concert for the week of October 30, 2009 has been cancelled; ticket-holders will be given tickets for the concert on the week of May 6, 2010.

Comments (20)
  1. John says:

    Wow, I suffered much more than I expected.

  2. Mark says:

    Makes me wish I lived in Seattle. That looks like an awesome programme :)

  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    I personally would’ve put the Beethoven 5th down a notch just for being so overplayed, even by "less-classically-aware" standards.  ;)

  4. Gabe says:

    Wow, 12/3 looks to be particularly awesome! Almost makes me wish I could go to Seattle to hear it.

    Incidentally, Smetana’s is spelled wrong.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If it makes any difference to you, the 10/30/2009 and 10/22/2009 events appear to be listed in the wrong order.

  6. Gwyn says:

    A brief explanation of the different columns (22   13   10A   10B   7AB   7CD   7EF   7G   4A   4B) are might be handy. Not that I live anywhere in Seattle. Or have much interest in the Symphony.

    [They’re just the names of the different ticket packages. -Raymond]
  7. Juan says:

    Give the Barber violin concerto another shot.  I grew up listening to it and other concerti, and this one remains a favorite.  I like the Stern recording.  There may be other good ones, but the ones I’ve heard with the violin stud of the moment just lack any punch at all in the third movement.

  8. Chris says:

    I love the idea of "wildcard" to mean "sorry, no idea". I shall adopt this forthwith. :-)

  9. Doug says:

    I also recommend the Barber violin concerto.  The third movement is really cool, and has an interesting back story, but the second movement is unreasonably beautiful… if you don’t melt when you hear it, you don’t have a soul.

  10. Uwe says:

    I also like Bruckner a lot and don’t think his music is performed enough, although there is some truth to the old adage that he didn’t write ten symphonies — he wrote one symphony ten times (not even counting revisions).

  11. benjamin says:

    I’m really envious of how Seattle residents get to see such a wide variety of shows.

  12. Brad says:

    Ah, but which package will you be taking? Or do you just go for everything?

  13. David Brooks says:

    3/18: The whole ballet? Both suites? (one suite would make the program too short). Suite 2 is awesome. The whole ballet: much as I love it, you’ll definitely get Ravel poisoning.

    5/6 looks… interesting. Whatever the merits individually, playing the original followed by its variations works in concert less often than it should.

    Siegfried (sp)?

    [All it says in the brochure is “Ravel: Daphnis et ChloĆ©“. Gosh, I sure hope it’s not the entire ballet… (And I’ll fix the Siegfried misspelling, thanks.) -Raymond]
  14. Alexander Grigoriev says:

    Re: Bruckner

    Fourth symphony as a whole may not be good for a first time listener. Bruckner is kind of acquired taste; first time you may find him too dry (as dry wine). Seventh symphony has a better chance.

    I don’t quite agree with “one symphony” adage, but, again for an unprepared listener it may be true.

    I don’t know why you gave Mahler’s Fifth “polarising” rating. I think it’s more digestable than Bruckner’s 4th.

    [I’ve seen what Mahler does to my friends… -Raymond]
  15. Worf says:

    Is it just me, or is the table wider than the space allotted?

    After 7G, the right edge of the frame obscures the rest…

    Not that I’m from seattle, but maybe if someone didn’t notice.

    Any idea of the cost? Just curious since there were rumors of how classical music is dying. (I prefer the modern equivalent – movie and video game scores. Nothing like the Halo 2 Mjolnir Mix to get you in the coding mood…)

  16. Mark (one of them) says:

    Chris: in a vain attempt to prevent the creation of more microspeak, I like to clarify that wildcard actually means "cannot predict in advance".

    P.S. is Alexander an alter-ego of Alexandre Grigoriev, or does Raymond’s blog only attract a certain subset of names?

  17. Condor says:

    It strikes me that the fraction of music from living composers is almost zero. Many of the composers are really ancient. Do people in Seattle prefer to listen to music that has been performed countless times before? Is there no interest in new experience?

  18. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    Condor,

    That’s because most of composers worth listening are dead.

    Can you name many interesting composers alive?

  19. Greg says:

    Are you sure this is the right season for the 13-concert series? Page 5 of the subscriber brochure claims that it corrects the summary table on page 11.

    I wonder why you’d put together a strong season like this and then close it out with an all-Bernstein program. Oh well.

  20. Condor says:

    Alexandre,

    you really are living in the past. If what you write would be true, then nobody would ever have listenend to Bach, Beethoven etc. when they were alive. You are not taking living composers seriously. Since you are in that frame of mind and obviously never have taken the trouble to attend concerts with music from modern composers I am not going to help you either; would be a waste of time.

Comments are closed.