Philharmonic Announces Its Next Season

Emanuel Ax
The New York Times

By Daniel J. Wakin

The composer Christopher Rouse and the pianist Emanuel Ax will be featured presences at the New York Philharmonic next season, as composer and artist in residence, the orchestra said on Wednesday in announcing its 2012-13 programs.

The orchestra is making a fresh start of sorts next season. A new executive director, Matthew VanBesien, who most recently ran the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Australia, will be in place. And management and the players have just settled on a new labor contract. The agreement lasts only two years and puts off the critical issue of pensions, but it gives the orchestra some breathing room.

In other programming ventures the Philharmonic will highlight the musical tastes of the man most seen on its podium: Alan Gilbert, who will be in his fourth season as music director. The orchestra will present a series of four programs in June 2013 that it is calling Gilbert’s Playlist. The programs are a condensation of what the orchestra calls “themes and ideas” from Mr. Gilbert’s first three years in the job.

The first program focuses on jazz and includes Aaron Copland’s swing-tinted Clarinet Concerto, to be performed by the orchestra’s highly regarded new acquisition from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales. The Philharmonic, joined by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis, will also perform Mr. Marsalis’s “Swing Symphony,” which had its American premiere, by the Philharmonic, in September 2010.

The Gilbert fest includes a 12-tone one-act opera, Luigi Dallapiccola’s “Il Prigioniero” (“The Prisoner”), with Gerald Finley, the bass-baritone, in the title role; Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with a favorite Gilbert soloist, Lisa Batiashvili; a 55-minute orchestral arrangement of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle (you can catch the real, unexcerpted thing beforehand, both this spring and next spring, at the Metropolitan Opera); a performance by Mr. Ax of Mr. Rouse’s “Seeing,” for piano and orchestra; and Stravinsky’s “Petrouchka,” with puppets, dancers, live animation and video projection in a production created by Doug Fitch, who directed two of Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic successes of recent seasons: the semistaged productions of Ligeti’s “Grand Macabre” and Janacek’s “Cunning Little Vixen.”

The orchestra, continuing the practice of grouping concerts around a composer, will put on four programs dedicated to Bach. A different conductor will lead each one. They are Mr. Gilbert, the Japanese Bach expert Masaaki Suzuki, the early-music specialist Bernard Labadie and the pianist Andras Schiff. The Bach minifestival includes concerts and events in collaboration with the 92nd Street Y, which also announced its new season this week. Brahms is getting special treatment too, with the Philharmonic performing his complete symphonies and concertos.

Most years now the orchestra presents a concert version of a musical, and next season “Carousel,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, will get the treatment.

In the spring of 2013 Mr. Gilbert takes the orchestra on a European tour for the fifth time. But he opens the subscription season with something of a novelty in September: his first performance of Stravinsky’s landmark “Rite of Spring” with the Philharmonic. (He performs the work with the Juilliard Orchestra this season, on March 2 at Avery Fisher Hall.)

The new season also brings the next phase of the orchestra’s plan to perform Carl Nielsen’s six symphonies and three concertos and record them for the Dacapo label. This time it will be the concertos for violin, flute and clarinet. A boxed set is planned for release in 2015, the 150th anniversary of Nielsen’s birth.

Mr. Gilbert and the orchestra will also present the first performance of a song cycle by Anders Hillborg, with Renée Fleming as soloist, at Carnegie Hall.