War highlight

English soprano Emma Bell
English soprano Emma Bell

A performance of Britten’s iconic War Requiem on December 1 jumps off the page of the 2013-14 Sheffield International Concert Season at the City Hall.

Given by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, it features internationally acclaimed English soprano Emma Bell among three strong soloists and is directed by the orchestra’s highly rated associate conductor, Michael Seal.

The chorus is also on duty at another season highlight, an all-Beethoven affair from the excellent Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra and its Colombian music director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, on March 1.

It takes in the Choral Fantasia (with brilliant Barry Douglas the pianist), Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, the dramatic Ah! Perfido (soprano tba), and considerably more familiar Fifth Symphony.

Two of six Hallé concerts in the 13-concert season have Beethoven piano concertos programmed.

Korean wunderkind Sunwook Kim plays No 4 on September 20 at a Sir Mark Elder-conducted concert that also includes Dvorák’s colourful tone poem about a malevolent Water Goblin and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Renowned Beethoven pianist John Lill returns on April 5 with No 3, which is followed by Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique’ Symphony. Jamie Phillips, Elder’s latest assistant at the Hallé, is the conductor.

A previous talent in the post, Rory Macdonald, returns on October 19 with the orchestra and Sibelius’ En Saga, Shostakovich’s First Symphony and Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the much admired Thomas Carroll.

Elder returns next May (25) with Gershwin’s American in Paris, Copland’s Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Bernstein’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances and Ginastera’s Harp Concerto.

Other Hallé concerts see Andrew Gourlay back to conduct Britten’s last orchestral work, Suite on English Folk Tunes, Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with fast-rising Norwegian virtuoso Henning Kraggerud, and Stravinsky’s Petrushka on January 31.

And Jennifer Pike plays Bruch’s Violin Concerto on March 15 with fiery German conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens on the podium. Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ Symphony and Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi are elsewhere.

The Moscow Philharmonic offers Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade next May (9), plus excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto with Guy Johnston as soloist.

Excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet are heard at a BBC Philharmonic concert February 14 when the orchestra’s music director Juanjo Mena also guides it through Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough.

Another older-generation piano virtuoso, Howard Shelley, is the soloist /director at an English Chamber Orchestra on November 8 which takes in Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto, Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, Fauré’s Pavane and Prokofiev’s ‘Classical’ Symphony.

And Giovanni Guzzo is the soloist/ director for Haydn’s ‘Trauer’ Symphony, Mozart’s ‘Turkish’ Violin Concerto and Schubert’s Symphony from the Manchester Camerata on October 4.

The annual Christmas Concert with Samuel West the presenter this year completes the baker’s dozen of concerts for which subscription booking is now open. Tickets for single concerts go sale from May 7.