The threats facing democracy will be a central focus of Carnegie Hall’s coming season, the presenter announced on Tuesday, with a festival devoted to the flourishing cultural scene in Germany between the two world wars.
From January to May, Carnegie will host “Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice,” an exploration of creative expression during the fragile democracy in Germany from 1919 to 1933. The festival will feature ensembles such as the Vienna Philharmonic and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s performing works by composers of the time, including Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill.
“We’re seeing the challenges to democracy more and more clearly, and it’s all the more reason we have to treasure it,” Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, said in an interview. “We want people to ask questions and contemplate why democracy matters, and what the threats are in our day.”
The 2023-24 season, which begins in October, will feature some 170 performances, beginning with two concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of its outgoing music director, Riccardo Muti. The pianist Mitsuko Uchida and the conductor Franz Welser-Möst, the music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, will each organize a series of Perspectives concerts.
The composer Tania León, who won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2021, will lead a season-long residency; in January, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will offer the New York premiere of a new piece by her.
More on N.Y.C. Theater, Music and Dance This Spring
- Musical Revivals: Why do the worst characters in musicals get the best tunes? In upcoming revivals, world leaders both real and mythical get an image makeover they may not deserve, our critic writes.
- Rising Stars: These actors turned playwrights all excavate memories and meaning from their lives in creating these four shows, which arrive in New York in the coming months.
- Gustavo Dudamel: The New York Philharmonic’s new music director, will conduct Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in May. It will be one of the hottest tickets in town.
Here are a dozen highlights of the coming season, chosen by critics for The New York Times. JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, Oct. 25
You can safely bet on a few things whenever the conductor John Eliot Gardiner comes to town: agile, historically informed performance; obsessively precise articulation; and virtually ideal readings of beloved repertoire. In early 2020, he led his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in just about as good a Beethoven symphony cycle as you could imagine. And now he brings the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir to Carnegie for Bach’s Mass in B minor and, on Oct. 26, Handel’s “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.” JOSHUA BARONE
Lea Desandre and Thomas Dunford, Nov. 2
These two artists — Desandre, a clarinet-mellow mezzo-soprano who can burst with bright agility, and Dunford, an eloquent lutenist — are among the brightest lights of a young generation of early-music specialists. They join in Weill Recital Hall, ideally intimate for this repertory, for “Lettera Amorosa,” a program of love-focused Baroque works by Monteverdi, Frescobaldi and Handel, alongside names like Tarquinio Merula (his songs exquisite) and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (a specialist in music for lute). ZACHARY WOOLFE
American Composers Orchestra, Nov. 9
This essential organization has brought music by George Lewis to Carnegie’s various spaces before — the most notable instance being his Virtual Concerto (for a “computer-driven” piano soloist) back in 2004. The orchestra will continue its productive relationship with the composer to perform one of his latest orchestral works. No title for the piece is available yet; the same goes for a few other new works on the bill (including those from the likes of Guillermo Klein and Augusta Read Thomas). We do have one title: “Out of whose womb came the ice,” by the up-and-coming composer Nina C. Young, whose premiere was co-commissioned by Carnegie. SETH COLTER WALLS
Staatskapelle Berlin, Nov. 30
When the Staatskapelle Berlin and its longtime music director, Daniel Barenboim, last appeared at Carnegie, in 2017, it was an epic nine-performance stand that paired Mozart piano concertos and Bruckner symphonies. A lot has happened since then; most recently, in January, Barenboim stepped down from the orchestra’s podium because of health problems. So their return will be poignant: just two nights, and the four symphonies of Brahms, a composer Barenboim performed as a pianist in this space in 1962. ZACHARY WOOLFE
English Concert, Dec. 10
The British soprano Lucy Crowe’s expertise and imagination in Baroque music gives her the freedom to turn da capo arias into feats of feeling. That exhilarating sense of spontaneity uplifted the English Concert’s performance of Handel’s “Serse” at Carnegie last year, and it will be exciting to hear Crowe apply her gifts to more dramatic material when she takes the title role in “Rodelinda.” OUSSAMA ZAHR
Daniil Trifonov, Dec. 12
Arguably the mightiest of the under-40 generation of superstar pianists meets the mightiest of repertoire in this recital, as Daniil Trifonov takes on Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata. It’s a banner year for youngish soloists in ambitious repertoire, in fact: Vikingur Olafsson plays the “Goldberg” Variations (Feb. 7); Beatrice Rana does the Liszt Sonata (Feb. 28); and Seong-Jin Cho journeys through the second book of the same composer’s “Années de Pèlerinage” (May 17). DAVID ALLEN
Met Orchestra, Feb. 1
Yannick Nézet-Séguin has decided not to share next season. Rather than engage a guest conductor, he helms all three of the Met Orchestra’s concerts himself, embracing opportunities to bask in the tonal floodgates of Lise Davidsen’s soprano in Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder” and, later, the heavenliness of Lisette Oropesa’s Mozart arias (June 11), and the intense standoff of Bartók’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” with Elina Garanca and Christian Van Horn (June 14). OUSSAMA ZAHR
Yunchan Lim, Feb. 21
This precociously mature pianist, still in his teens, played Liszt’s deliriously difficult “Transcendental Études” on the way to becoming the youngest-ever winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition last year. He’ll reprise the Liszt as part of his recital introduction on Carnegie’s main stage. By this point, another pianist, the spectacularly creative Igor Levit, needs no introduction at this point to this hall’s audience; on Jan. 20, he’ll play two symphony transcriptions (Liszt’s of Beethoven’s Third and Ronald Stevenson’s of Mahler’s 10th) alongside Hindemith’s Suite “1922,” raucous and very Roaring Twenties. ZACHARY WOOLFE
Vienna Philharmonic, March 1
Most of the five concerts in Welser-Möst’s Perspectives series — Jan. 20 and 21 with the Cleveland Orchestra, March 1-3 with Vienna — are emblematic of his thoughtful, idiosyncratic, ultimately endearing approach to programming, but the March 1 performance looks especially constructive, full of connections and contrasts to draw: Hindemith’s Konzertmusik for Wind Orchestra, Strauss’s Symphonic Fantasy from “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra and, as if to bid farewell to a whole world of music, Ravel’s “La Valse.” DAVID ALLEN
Jason Moran, March 9
In addition to being an elite improvising pianist, Jason Moran is a keen programmer; his Carnegie survey of Black American music from the Great Migration was a well-attended success. You can all but bank on the same when Moran brings his latest concert concept to Zankel Hall. This time, the focus will be on the music of the early 20th-century American original James Reese Europe. You might expect some of the same expert arrangements heard on Moran’s latest album, “From the Dancehall to the Battlefield.” But prepare also for some surprises; this restless innovator rarely does anything the same way twice. SETH COLTER WALLS
Ensemble Modern, April 12
Much of the festival “Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice” is more confusing than informative. This period in history produced so much excellent and overlooked music; why are we seeing Beethoven, Wagner and Mahler (among other head-scratchers)? At least there are engagements like that of Ensemble Modern, which will perform works including a lithe but still barbed smaller arrangement of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s “The Seven Deadly Sins,” led by HK Gruber, one of our greatest living Weill interpreters. The group returns April 13 as part of León’s residency, playing her “Indígena” and “Rítmicas” alongside pieces by Conlon Nancarrow and others. JOSHUA BARONE
Danish String Quartet, April 18
A highlight of Carnegie’s spring months in recent seasons has been the Danish String Quartet’s Doppelgänger project, which juxtaposes Schubert quartets with premieres. Coming this April: a new work by Anna Thorvaldsdottir. And, for the fourth installment next year, the group is adding the cellist Johannes Rostamo to perform Schubert’s endlessly moving, even sublime String Quintet in C, paired with a commission from Thomas Adès. JOSHUA BARONE