The 2011/2012 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 the first season with newly-appointed music director Ludovic Morlot. (Full brochure [pdf].)

Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BW MM RH BS SS
09/22
2011
Zappa: Dupree's Paradise
Dutilleux: The Tree of Dreams
Beethoven: Symphony #3
Nervous
Nervous
Awesome
                       
09/29
2011
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Varèse: Amériques
Polarizing
Awesome
Nervous
                   
 



 
10/06
2011
Liszt: Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Nervous
Okay
Excellent
                       
10/20
2011
Mozart: Symphony #25, K173dB
Haydn: Cello Concerto in C
Schubert: Symphony #5
Awesome
Excellent
Excellent
                       
10/28
2011
Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052
Webern: Symphony Op. 21
Stravinsky: Dumbarton Oaks
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #5
Excellent
Nervous
Good
Excellent
                       
11/03
2011
Schumann: Violin Concerto
Bruckner: Symphony #7
Excellent
Nervous
                       
11/10
2011
Poulenc: Gloria
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Copland: Symphony #3
Okay
Awesome
Okay
                       
11/17
2011
Britten: Canadian Carnival
Knussen: Violin Concerto
Bedford: Outblaze the Sky
Britten: Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia (Peter Grimes)
Good
Nervous
Wildcard
Good
                       
12/28
2011
Humperdinck: Hansel und Gretel excerpts
Beethoven: Symphony #9
Wildcard
Awesome
                       
01/05
2012
Weber: Overture Der Freischütz
Stravinsky: Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra
Mozart: Piano Concert #20, K466
Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony
Excellent
Okay
Awesome
Nervous
                       
01/13
2012
Bach: Orchestral Suite #2
CPE Bach: Kiev Concerto
JC Bach: Keyboard Concerto
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #2
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                       
01/19
2012
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
Vasks: Distant Light
Mendelssohn: Symphony #4 Italian
Excellent
Nervous
Awesome
                       
01/26
2012
Muhly: New Work (World Premiere)
Chopin: Piano Concerto #2
Sibelius: Symphony #2
Wildcard
Excellent
Excellent
                       
02/09
2012
Stravinsky: Scherzo fantastique
Jolivet: Concertino for Trumpet
Haydn: Symphony #93
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Okay
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                       
02/16
2012
Schubert/Berio: Rendering
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #2
Schumann: Symphony #4
Wildcard
Excellent
Excellent
                       
02/22
2012
Vivaldi: Winter and Summer (4 Seasons)
Mozart: Symphony #38 Prague
Beethoven: Symphony #7
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
                       
03/01
2012
Mozart: Piano Concerto #6, K238
Haydn: Symphony #6 Le matin
Mozart: Piano Concerto #27, K595
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                   

 
 
03/09
2012
L. Mozart: Symphony in G, G. 16
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #3
Bach: Sinfonia in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6
Mozart: Viola Concerto (orig. Clarinet concerto)
Good
Awesome
Good
Excellent
                       
03/15
2012
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn
Dutilleux: Tout un monde lointain
Ravel: La Valse
Excellent
Nervous
Excellent
                       
03/22
2012
Schubert: Rosamunda excerpts
Janáček: Taras Bulba
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Good
Okay
Awesome
                       
04/05
2012
Mozart: Overture Marriage of Figaro
Mozart: Piano Concerto #24, K491
Mahler: Symphony #1
Awesome
Awesome
Excellent
                       
04/12
2012
Rouse: Infernal Machine
Dvořák: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                   

 
 
04/19
2012
Dutilleux: Symphony #1
Imeri: Za Simon
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G
Dukas: The Sorceror's Apprentice
Nervous
Wildcard
Excellent
Awesome
                       
04/26
2012
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #3
Shostakovich: Symphony #8
Awesome
Polarizing
                       
05/03
2012
Mozart: Divertimento in F, K138
Mozart: Violin Concerto #2, K211
Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto #5 Gretry
Schubert: Symphony #3
Awesome
Excellent
Okay
Excellent
                       
05/15
2012
Hindemith: Kammermusik #1
Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle
Okay
Wildcard
                       
06/07
2012
R. Strauss: Don Juan
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Turina: Danzas Fantásticas
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol
Excellent
Okay
Good
Excellent
                       
06/14
2012
Bernstein: Candide Overture
Ives: Symphony #2
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto #3
Excellent
Polarizing
Excellent
                       
06/21 Berlioz: The Damnation of Faust Excellent                        
07/12
2012
R. Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra fanfare
Ligeti: Atmosphères
Matthews: Pluto
Holst: The Planets (with video)
Excellent
Polarizing
Wildcard
Awesome
                       
Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BW MM RH BS SS

Legend:

21 Masterworks 21-concert series (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
13 Masterworks 13-concert series (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
7A Masterworks 7-concert series A (Thursdays)
7B Masterworks 7-concert series B (Saturdays)
7C Masterworks 7-concert series C (Thursdays)
7D Masterworks 7-concert series D (Saturdays)
7E Masterworks 7-concert series E (Thursdays)
7F Masterworks 7-concert series F (Saturdays)
7G Masterworks 7-concert series G (Sunday afternoons)
4A Masterworks 4-concert series A (Friday afternoons)
BW Baroque & Wine Series (Choice of Fridays or Saturdays)
MM Mainly Mozart (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
RH Rush Hour (Fridays)
BS Beyond the Score multimedia lecture-concert (Sunday afternoons)
SS Symphony Specials (Various evenings)

For those not familiar with the Seattle Symphony ticket package line-ups: Most of the ticket packages are named Masterworks nX where n is the number is the number of concerts in the package, and the letter indicates which variation. Ticket packages have been combined if they are identical save for the day of the week. For example, 7C and 7D are the same concerts; the only difference is that 7C is for Thursday nights, while 7D is for Saturday nights. The Beyond the Score concerts focus on only one of the pieces.

Changes from last season:

  • The Masterworks 20 series has been expanded to 21 concerts.
  • The Masterworks 10A and 10B series have been dropped.
  • The Masterworks 4B series was renamed 4A. (There used to be 4A and 4B, then 4A was dropped last year leaving just 4B. Then I guess they figured having a 4B without a 4A was confusing, so they renamed 4B to 4A.)
  • The Thursday Rush Hour series has been dropped.

This chart doesn't include "one-off" concert series such as the Visiting Orchestras or Distinguished Artists series. A "one-off" series is a concert series which shares no concerts with any other series. (Baroque & Wine and Symphony Specials are grandfathered in; I'll probably omit them in future years.)

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 my symphony friends. 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.

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. (For example, I know that my friends hate minimalism, so I rated the Adams down even though I myself might enjoy it. They also aren't big fans of Bruckner.)

  • 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).

Comments (15)
  1. Gabe says:

    Rite of Spring is polarizing? I'm just as surprised as I was last year to find that Also Sprach was polarizing.

    Also, I'm amused to see the space-themed concert. The Cleveland Orchestra combined Holst's Planets with Mozart's Jupiter and some HD imagery back around Thanksgiving. I wonder if all the space-themed concerts around the world use the same video.

    [In my experience, Le sacre and Also sprach take some getting used to. -Raymond]
  2. Alex Grigoriev says:

    @Gabe:

    Rite of Spring? Yes it is. It's not something to listen by itself. This was supposed to be a ballet. It's not something to like at the first try.

  3. Evan says:

    I'm jealous of you folks that live in cities big enough to have a frequent orchestra concern schedule; around here's it's once a month.

    The one thing I would dispute is Korngold's violin concerto (marked "okay")… I actually really like this piece, and think it should probably be at least a "good". The Chicago symphony just performed that last weekend, and I almost went down to see it.

    @Gabe: To be honest, I took a while to warm up to all of Also Sprach. Maybe that's 'cause I never really sat down and listened to it, I'm not sure. But for a while I actually thought it was mostly just sort of 'meh'.

  4. Maurits says:

    At least one good thing came of Pluto's demotion: The Planets is complete again.

  5. Brian Reiter says:

    @Gabe "Rite of Spring" was so disturbing to the audience it caused an actual riot at its debut in 1923. There is a fascinating Radio Lab story about it.

    http://www.radiolab.org/…/24

  6. Gabe says:

    Alex Grigoriev: It's my understanding that at its Paris debut in 1913, the riots were caused by the ballet. When it was performed a year later in Paris without the ballet, Stravinsky needed police protection from the adoring fans. Personally, I usually think of Stravinsky's work as children's music. Perhaps because I saw The Firebird as a kid, or perhaps because Rite of Spring is featured in Fantasia, but it's hard to imagine somebody hating it.

    It could be that people whose first exposure to it was in Fantasia like it, while people whose first exposure was in a concert following Mozart hate it. Maybe that would make some interesting research.

  7. lefty says:

    "either way, you're going to have to suffer through it"

    Ha!  I applied "Chen's Theorem of Ultimate Optimization" (blogs.msdn.com/…/8998849.aspx) to this blog post and got through it no problem by just skipping right to the end.

  8. David Brooks says:

    Note the annotation: Also Sprach Zarathustra *fanfare*. No fair just giving us the Space Odyssey bit! But the rest of the concert sounds fascinating. Also I want to hear the Varese live: I may have to venture beyond my Sunday Afternoon habit.

    An all-English concert: Britten, Knussen, and Bedford (both influenced by Britten) – is that Morlot or a guest? I don't have my brochure yet.

    Rite Of Spring: my recollection is that the riot was more about the scenario. If my understanding of the dancing is correct, I'd have rioted too.

    [The all-English concert is guest-conducted by Oliver Knussen himself. -Raymond]
  9. Neil says:

    Winter and Summer strikes me as a bit of an odd selection from the Four Seasons; although I guess they are designed to work stand-alone, I'm used to hearing them in order.

  10. Malcolmm says:

    I'd upgrade Dupree's Paradise to a Good/Excellent myself…

    Would I get shot if I posted up a Youtube linke to Filthy Habits Ensemble Live Barcelona 2009 Dupree's Paradise? Possibly. However, that should be enough information to search and find it ;)

  11. Andrew says:

    The correlation between rating and era of composition is relatively clear. Rach is an obvious outlier (being not the most serialist of composers) but: Bruckner? Nervous? Really?

    [Yes, really. My friends hate Bruckner, except for the Fourth, which was okay except it went on too long. And I had such high hopes, too. (Another correlation that is harder to see is "solo vocalist" = "dislike".) -Raymond]
  12. dancol says:

    Thanks for the post — I've been meaning to check out the Seattle Symphony since moving here. Do you have a suggestion for which night of the week to attend, all other things being equal?

    [Whatever day works best with your schedule. I prefer the leisure of the Saturday concert, since there's no stress of fighting traffic to get to Benaroya Hall on time. -Raymond]
  13. Gabe says:

    Funny; my father is also squarely in the "solo vocalist" = "dislike" camp. We both find Bruckner palatable, though, so what do we know? Indeed, the two concerts I saw with my father last season were Bruckner's 8th (original ending) and another one where we left before the piece with the solo vocalist.

  14. Worf says:

    Hrm, not sure if it's blasphemy, but I think Video Games Live is holding a symphony soon as well, or probably already held… though I'm not sure if it was the Seattle Symphony.

    Features the first showing of Halo Reach in symphonic form, too. Probably one of the few symphonies you can take kids along and they'll enjoy it.

    (I'm not a symphony person (not a fan of the classics) but I do love orchestral music – movie scores, video game music, etc.)

    Just to say you don't have to enjoy classical to enjoy a live symphony performance. (I have tix to the Vancouver show.. too bad it isn't VSO).

  15. Ricardo Costa says:

    I'm surprised that Rach 3 is not "awesome", even for people who aren't fans of classical music :)

Comments are closed.