Richard Strauss (1864-1949) Sesquicentenary 2014: Strauss's Voice

Musical Opinion, January-March 2014 | Go to article overview

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) Sesquicentenary 2014: Strauss's Voice


The 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss takes place this year, and in January in Manchester - a city with which Strauss had quite close connexions - the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé and Manchester Camerata will join with The Bridgewater Hall for a celebratory series of concerts.

Manchester's three orchestras will perform all of Strauss's orchestral songs and many of his great orchestral works including a performance of An Alpine Symphony with musicians from both the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé on stage. The festival takes place over nine concerts and runs for eight weeks from January 9 to March 8. BBC Radio 3 will cover the concert series extensively with live broadcasts. Strauss's Voice follows in the city's recent musical landmark celebrations of Shostakovich and Mahler, and in its scale and ambition the formidable creative musical voices of the city will be harnessed for a substantial retrospective.

The festival partners are delighted that Manchester-born Michael Kennedy CBE, who has published three widely-admired studies of Richard Strauss and his music, and who will celebrate his own 88th birthday in February, is Honorary Patron of Strauss's Voice. He will give a keynote talk on January 22, hosted by Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny, introducing an open rehearsal of An Alpine Symphony. This will be one of the many highlights of the celebration, when 125 players from both the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic perform the work, conducted by the Philharmonic's chief conductor Juanjo Mena on January 23rd.

The human voice was central to Strauss's composing life; among the singers taking part in this festival are Soi le Isokoski, Inger Dam-Jensen, Hillevi Martinpelto, Anne Schwanewilms, Roderick Williams, Susan Gritton, Alexander Vinogradov, Steven Davislim, William Dazeley and Ruby Hughes.

The Hallé opens Strauss's Voice on January 9 as Nikolaj Znaider conducts Alexander Vinogradov in two of the few songs Strauss wrote for bass voice, followed on February 5 with Markus Stenz conducting Anne Schwanewilms in the Four Last Songs (a concert repeated on February 6 and 9). …

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