Every year, I put together a little pocket guide to the Seattle Symphony subscription season for my symphony friends to help them decide which ticket package they want. As before, you might find it helpful, you might not, but here it is anyway.

Weekend Program Comments 22 13 10A 10B 7AB 7CD 7EF 7G 4A 4B MS BB MM PC BS
09/25/2008 Mahler: Symphony #8 Polarizing                              
10/02/2008 Albert: Anthems and Processionals
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto #1
R. Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
Nervous?
Good
Good
                             
10/09/2008 Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #2
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
Good
Awesome
                             
10/17/2008 Handel: Concerto Grosso Op. 6, #6
Vivaldi: Violin Concertos
Bach/Respighi: Three Choral Preludes
Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances #1
Bach/Schwarz: Art of the Fugue, Nos. I, III, VII, IX
Good
Excellent
Good?
Excellent
Good?
                   
 
 
 
 
 
       
10/23/2008 Haydn: Symphony #16
Mozart: Horn Concerto #4
Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Haydn: Symphony #82 "The Bear"
Excellent
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
                             
11/06/2008 Mozart: Overture to Le nozze di Figaro
Mozart: Symphony #39
Vaughan Williams: Symphony #5
Awesome
Awesome
Okay?
                             
11/13/2008 Gerschwin: Concerto in F
Beethoven: Symphony #7
Excellent
Awesome
                             
11/20/2008 Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Sibelius: Symphony #2
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
                             
12/11/2008 Handel: Concerto Grosso
Vivaldi: Oboe Concerto in C, RV 447
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #1
Good
Awesome
Excellent
                   
 
 
       
01/02/2009 Beethoven: Symphony #1
Beethoven: Symphony #9
Excellent
Awesome
                             
01/09/2009 Bach: Orchestral Suite #1
Bach: Violin Concerto #1 in a
CPE Bach: Symphony
Leclar: Suite from Scylla et Glaucus
Excellent
Awesome
Good
Wildcard
                             
01/15/2009 M. Haydn: Symphony in G, MH 334
Mozart: Piano Concerto #24, K 491
Haydn: Symphony #60 "Il distratto"
Excellent
Awesome
Good
                             
01/21/2009 Tilson Thomas: Street Song
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #5
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5
Wildcard
Polarizing
Awesome
                             
01/29/2009 Borodin: Symphony #2
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations
Shostakovich: Symphony #9
Awesome
Awesome
Okay
                             
02/05/2009 Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict Overture
R. Strauss: Burleske
Liszt: Piano Concerto #1
Hanson: Symphony #1 "Nordic"
Good
Excellent
Awesome
Nervous
                             
02/12/2009 Ravel: La Valse
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto #1
Fauré: Requiem
Awesome
Awesome
Good
                   
 
 
 
       
02/19/2009 Mozart: Symphony #41 "Jupiter"
Vanhal: Double Bass Concerto
Schubert: Symphony #5
Awesome
Nervous?
Awesome
                             
03/06/2009 Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Patterson: Lusławice Variations
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons
Awesome
Wildcard
Nervous
                             
03/12/2009 Elgar: Violin Concerto
Dvořák: Symphony #6
Okay
Excellent
                             
03/19/2009 Friedman: Revelation
Stravinsky: Violin Concerto
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Wildcard
Wildcard
Excellent
                             
03/26/2009 Grieg: Piano Concerto
Bruckner: Symphony #3
Awesome
Polarizing
                             
04/02/2009 Diamond: Rounds for String Orchestra
Samuel Jones: Trombone Concerto†
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Nervous?
Nervous?
Awesome
                             
04/16/2009 Schumann: Symphony #4
Hovhaness: Lousadzak "The Coming of Light"
Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite
Excellent
Nervous?
Okay
                             
04/23/2009 Liszt: Mazeppa
Schubert-Liszt: Wanderer Fantasy
Liszt: Totentanz
Schubert: Symphony #3
Okay
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
                             
05/07/2009 Donizetti: Concertino
Ravel: Tzigane
Saint-Saëns: Havanaise
R. Strauss: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Good?
Excellent
Excellent
Polarizing?
                             
05/28/2009 D. Stock: Cello Concerto†
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Nervous?
Awesome
                             
06/04/2009 Stravinsky: Song of the Nightingale
Conus: Violin Concerto
Liadov: Baba Yaga, Kikimora, A Musical Snuff-Box
Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy
Nervous
Nervous
Nervous
Nervous
                             
06/11/2009 Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Adès: Violin Concerto "Concentric Paths"
Stravinsky: The Firebird
Awesome
Nervous
Excellent
                             
06/18/2009 J. S. Bach: Violin Concerto #2 in E
Schnittke: Rondo
Schubert: Rondo in A
Prokofiev: Symphony #5
Awesome
Nervous
Good
Polarizing
                             
06/25/2009 Kernis: New Work†
Holst: The Planets
Nervous
Awesome
                             
      22 13 10A 10B 7AB 7CD 7EF 7G 4A 4B MS BB MM PC BS
† Premiere
MS Musically Speaking
BB Basically Baroque
MM Mainly Mozart
PC Popular Classics
BS Boeing Symphony

Notes:

This chart doesn't include "one-off" concert series such as the Visiting Orchestras or Distinguished Artists series.

Explanations for the partial blocks: The Musically Speaking concert on 10/19 includes only one of the Vivaldi concertos, and the concert on 2/12 omits the Rachmaninov.

The comments column very crudely categorizes the works to assist my less-classically-aware friends. This is, of course, a highly subjective rating system, but I tried to view each piece from the ears of somebody new. Thus, I rated downward pieces that I personally like but which others might not and rated up pieces that I may not find musically satisfying but which nevertheless tend to be crowd-pleasers. These predictions have, of course, proven wrong in the past. For example, last season, my rating of "Okay" for Copland's Music for the Theatre was too optimistic.

Here's what the comments mean. Note that they do not indicate whether the piece is significant in a musicological sense; they're just my guess as to whether my friends are going to like it.

  • Awesome: Guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
  • Excellent: You will definitely like this piece.
  • Good: You will probably like this piece.
  • Okay: You may like this piece.
  • Nervous: I have a bad feeling about this one.
  • Polarizing: Some people will love it; others will hate it.
  • Wildcard: I have no idea what will happen.

A question mark means that I am not familiar with the piece and am basing my evaluation on what I know about the composer (or am just guessing).

And who knows, maybe by next season they'll know who their concertmaster is.