Popular guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard leads the Seattle Symphony in a concert of Schoenberg, Mozart and Haydn — and extends his Symphony contract for three years.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll isn’t the city’s only team leader whose contract has been up for an extension.
Thomas Dausgaard, Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s principal guest conductor, is in the second season of his current three-year contract but has agreed to stick around for another three years after SSO finishes 2017. Local audiences will get to keep watching one of the most sought-after conducting talents in the world until at least 2020.
Dausgaard, chief conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, conducts three weeks here per season, bringing consistent artistic leadership to the Seattle Symphony when music director Ludovic Morlot is appearing elsewhere. The contract extension will allow him to deepen his relationship with the orchestra and anchor even more of the ambitious programs he has presented at Benaroya Hall.
Seattle Symphony: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23
With Thomas Dausgaard conducting, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10-13 at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $21-$121 (206-215-4747 or seattlesymphony.org).
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A live performance of the latter was recorded for the Seattle Symphony Media label — whose recordings, since its founding in 2014, have received a Grammy Award — and will likely be released on CD this summer.
Reached in Munich, Dausgaard said the extension “allows us to do further planning and find more repertoire we can do together. We’re not short of ideas.”
Asked if he has a wish list of projects he would like to do with SSO in the years ahead, he laughed and said both he and the orchestra do, but wouldn’t divulge details.
Dausgaard’s immediate attention is on the program he will conduct March 10-13, including Mozart’s delicate, introspective yet vibrant Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major. Boris Giltburg, first-prize winner of the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels — who also performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Seattle Symphony the following year — is the guest artist.
“This is Mozart’s most soul-searching piano concerto,” Dausgaard said. “In a way, it’s very simple, but it reaches us on a very deep level. It’s also full of vitality and has the most joyful finale. It also has chamber-like orchestration. No drums or trumpets, and it has clarinets instead of oboes, which gives it a mellow color. It has a church-like feeling in many places. This is a tender concerto.”
Also on the bill is Haydn’s Symphony No. 88, written around the same time as the Mozart. Dausgaard describes the Haydn composition as “unpredictable, experimental and charming.” Pairing it with the concerto, he says, “gives us two world views, two different personalities.”
The program also includes Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night,” originally written for a chamber group but enlarged by the composer for symphony orchestra.
“It’s a high-Romantic piece merging the styles of Brahms and Wagner, and somehow creating his own storytelling idiom,” Dausgaard said. “It’s like being in a dream. There is something so otherworldly about it. In beauty, awe and pure musical thought, it is a fantastic work.”
Next season, Dausgaard will conduct Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 alongside Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. There will also be an all-Rachmaninov program featuring the composer’s Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 1, and an all-Strauss program consisting of “Four Last Songs” and “An Alpine Symphony.”
Dausgaard avoided talking about specifics but said his focus in 2016-17 “will be on the roots of the music. Where does it really come from? What is the explanation behind it?”
He did, however, disclose one example, citing “a strong influence of Gregorian chants in some of Rachmaninov’s music. I want to bring attention to this, so we’re bringing in a wonderful chorus to be a part of the celebration. They will do the chanting for us. It will be a real eye-opener.”