Lesley adds a high note to celebratory concert

Lesley Garrett
Lesley Garrett
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AS celebratory concerts go, you cannot get a much more festive programme of items than the those which get the 2012-13 Sheffield International Concert Season under way on September 29.

An 80th birthday concert for the City Hall, after Richard Strauss’ Don Juan has got it underway there is a relay of overtures: Wagner’s, strictly Prelude, to act one of Die Meistersinger, Rossini’s to William Tell, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 and Smetana’s to The Bartered Bride.

If you think it sounds a bit like present-day over-kill, the latter three featured in the opening concert in 1932 though they didn’t have Lesley Garrett involved in the proceedings, of course. The South Yorkshire diva is singing a selection of arias and songs.

Sir Mark Elder directs the Hallé who give a further five concerts in the season, two of them under the orchestra’s former principal guest conductor Cristian Mandeal and both for some reason on a Sunday.

On November 25, the first takes in Schubert’s Ninth Symphony – ‘the Great C major’, and Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the winner of the Terence Judd-Hallé Award at this year’s Leeds Piano Competition as soloist.

And, on June 2 next year, the Romanian maestro steers them through the briny waters of Debussy’s La Mer and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, the latter with the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.

Okko Kamu returns to conduct the orchestra on January 25 in Brahms’ Third Symphony after starting with another seascape, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, before younger generation Russian pianist Evgenia Rubinova takes on Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.

Mark Elder’s present assistant at the Hallé, the much-vaunted Andrew Gourlay, begins his concert with the orchestra on March 17 (another Sunday) with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture after which Ukrainian violin sensation Valeriy Sokolov is the soloist in Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto.

Delius’ Walk to the Paradise Garden from his opera A Village Romeo and Juliet (not Shakespeare’s) and Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony complete the concert.

Rory Macdonald makes his annual Hallé appearance on April 20 with a programme of Beethoven’s Leonora No 3 Overture, Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony – ‘Italian’, and Saint-Saëns Third Symphony – ‘Organ’, with Jonathan Scott the soloist.

The BBC Philharmonic is here on May 10 under the direction of its chief conductor from September this year, Juanjo Mena, with a programme of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances Op 72 and Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto with highly rated Alban Gerhardt as soloist.

Equally highly rated, Steven Osborne plays Britten’s Piano Concerto when the City of Birmingham Symphony return on February 9 with Ilan Volkov on the podium and Elgar’s Serenade for strings and two Sibelius works, his tone poem The Bard and Sixth Symphony, elsewhere.

Two more British soloists of wide international repute appear with three foreign orchestras in the season, Freddy Kempf returning to play Rachmaninov’s ‘Paganini Rhapsody’ with the St Petersburg Symphony and Alexander Dmitriev on October 19.

Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture, Borodin’s Second Symphony and Prokofiev’s Firebird Suite (1919) are performed elsewhere.

Chloë Hanslip plays Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the Prague Symphony and Heiko Mathias Förster on November 9, the concert also taking in Dvorák’s Sixth Symphony and Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture.

Mikhail Rudy, no less, plays Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto when the Polish National Radio Symphony come to town with former music director Jacek Kaspszyk on February 22 and the orchestra performs Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and Lutoslawski’s Little Suite under its own steam.

Handel’s Messiah from the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is back this season with Darius Battiwalla conducting the performance on December 15 with the Manchester Camerata.

And a week earlier, December 8, the Phil again joins forces with the Black Dyke Band for the ever-popular Christmas Concert.