The Philharmonic’s New Season: What Our Critics Want to Hear | Modern Society of USA

The Philharmonic’s New Season: What Our Critics Want to Hear

The Philharmonic’s New Season: What Our Critics Want to Hear

Freshman year can excite with newness, but it’s as sophomores that people tend to come into their own. Jaap van Zweden’s reign as music director of the New York Philharmonic came into clearer view on Tuesday, when the orchestra announced its 2019-20 season, its second under his baton.

There will be nods to the past, as in an exploration of Mahler’s time leading the Philharmonic in the final years of his life. There will be lots of new music, too, with Mr. van Zweden giving premieres by Philip Glass, Tania León, Nico Muhly, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Nina C. Young and Ellen Reid. And there will be experiments — as when he conducts Renée Fleming in Björk songs.

To mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which barred states from denying voting rights based on gender, the Philharmonic has commissioned new works by 19 female composers, eight of which will be performed next season. Besides celebrating what Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, called a “tectonic shift in American culture,” the project sends a statement to the classical music field at a moment when female composers still struggle to be heard.

It’s not often that the Philharmonic devotes five performances to a single program. But it is handing over significant real estate to a star: Mr. Dudamel, who will lead Ives’s “The Unanswered Question,” Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony and a premiere by Esteban Benzecry. Two days after that run ends, Mr. Dudamel will be back for a program of Schubert’s Fourth Symphony and Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde.” JOSHUA BARONE

Play Elgar and I’ll be there, but this whole program has a welcome, unforced focus to it, compared to much else in the Philharmonic’s sprawling season. Call it a Commonwealth affair, with Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and the “Four Sea Interludes” from Britten’s “Peter Grimes” framing the American premiere of the Australian composer Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto. Alban Gerhardt is the soloist; the conductor, Simone Young, was born and started her career in Sydney. DAVID ALLEN

Joan La Barbara is the kind of gifted, veteran New York composer the Philharmonic has often declined to notice. She’s experimentally minded, certainly, but her works contain plenty of more traditional operatic melody, too. All of which makes a commission from her — set to appear as part of the contemporary chamber music series “Sound On” alongside new works by Nicole Lizée and Paola Prestini — a potential highlight of the season. SETH COLTER WALLS

Mr. Welser-Möst has not been on the Philharmonic’s podium since 2000, two years before he took charge of the Cleveland Orchestra. New York is on its third new music director since then, but he’s still going strong in Ohio, and returns with the kind of sophisticated, new-old program Cleveland audiences will recognize: Jörg Widmann’s suite of music from his 2012 opera “Babylon” — the Philharmonic’s answer to Carnegie Hall’s focus on Mr. Widmann next season — and Strauss’s “Symphonia Domestica.” ZACHARY WOOLFE

It’s a work that should play to Mr. van Zweden’s strengths: Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”), a monumental exploration of mortality with moments of ferocity, tenderness, and, hopefully, transcendence. The lineup, featuring the soprano Joélle Harvey and the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, is promising. And it will be nice to get to hear the immense work for its own sake rather than for a grand occasion: an orchestra’s return from a strike or the commemoration of a disaster. MICHAEL COOPER

The Berlin installment of “Hotspots” — a short festival exploring musical creation in that city, Reykjavik and New York — is exciting for including the first time the Philharmonic will play the orchestral music of Olga Neuwirth. (She’s Austrian, but, then again, the Reykjavik program features a new work by Nico Muhly, a New Yorker.) Conducting Ms. Neuwirth’s premiere will be John Adams, on a program with his “City Noir” and a suite from Prokofiev’s “The Love for Three Oranges.” JOSHUA BARONE

More Adams rounds out the season at David Geffen Hall: his luminous choral symphony “Harmonium,” with texts by Donne and Dickinson. The Philharmonic has done it just once before, and it’s unmissable. It concludes a program that also features Ms. Snider’s premiere and Shostakovich’s sprightly Concerto for Piano (Yuja Wang, in some luxury casting), Trumpet (the orchestra’s principal, Christopher Martin) and Strings. ZACHARY WOOLFE

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