So much to look forward to in the New Year!
At the Wigmore Hall: Jonas Kaufmann in recital on Sunday, sold out for months, with ticket prices three times more than usual. Much as I love JK in opera, I'll leave that for the fashionable crowd. But start the year with Amore e Morte dell'amore, a very well planned recital of baroque chamber pieces with Sonia Prina, Roberta Invernizzi and Ensemble Claudiana on Saturday 3rd. Andras Schiff plays Schubert on Friday 9th. He's also giving one of his inimitable post-concert talks, usually very special. He's playing Beethoven on 13/1 and accompanying Mark Padmore in recital on 15/1. Less famous, but good: Barnabas Keleman at 11.30 on 11/1, a young but very promising violinist. Also very worth booking, the JACK Quartet premiering Simon Holt and G F Haas on 19/1.
The REALLY big news is Mozart 250 – A Retrospective, the Wigmore Hall's series marking the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s childhood sojourn in London. It launches with a retrospective of the year 1765, featuring music written in London, Paris, Vienna, Eisenstadt and in Italy, complete with Mozart’s first symphony and concert arias. Classical Opera, conducted by Ian Page, with Anna Devin, Sarah Fox and John Mark Ainsley. Mozart back-to-back, pretty much, for the rest of the month.
But for me, the highlight will be Ernst Krenek's Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen on 29/1 with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau. The cycle is panoramic in every sense and rewards thoughtful understanding – much more than seven humorous songs, as it was once described. There are in fact 20 songs, some of them very dark indeed, including perhaps the only Lied to deal withn the rise of the Nazi Party on the other side of the Alps.
Fresh from his success in Vienna with Jonny spielt auf, Krenek went on a spiritual retreat to the Salzkammergut. This background is extremely important context. In 1928, the centenary of Schubert's death. Schubert wasn't quite as ubiquitous as he is today, so Krenek was paying homage, as a modern Austrian composer, to the most iconic song composer of all time. Again, this matters, since Austria lost the war of 1914-18 and became a dismembered rump of a formerly glorious empire. Krenek was engaging with Schubert, and also with the reinvention of Austrian identity. Life in the Salzkammergut was tough, but the people were as resilient as mountain goats. I've been writing about Krenek's Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen for more than 15 years yet still find fascinating new aspects. It's such an unconventional work that it would be worth reading what I've written before about it, for example HERE. Boesch should be brilliant, since he's Austrian and understands the background.