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 either way, you're going to have to suffer through it. Here's the at-a-glance season guide for Gerard Schwarz's final season as the orchestra's music director.

Week Program Comments 18 12 9A 9B 6AB 6CD 6EF 6G 4B BB MM RA RB BS SS
09/23
2010
Foote: Francesca da Rimini
Brahms: Symphony #3
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #2
Okay?
Awesome
Good
                             
09/30
2010
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite
Kernis: Air
Bloch: Baal Shem
Dvořák: Symphony #7
Okay
Good?
Nervous?
Excellent
                     


 
     
10/07
2010
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Ravel: Concerto for Left Hand
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements
Excellent
Awesome
Excellent
Okay
                             
10/15
2010
Bach: Orchestral Suite #1, BWV 1066
Handel (arr. Schwarz): Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 9
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #1
Handel: Water Music Suite #2
Excellent
Awesome
Excellent
Awesome
                             
10/23
2010
Gabrieli: Due Canzoni
Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Handel: Organ Concerto The Cuckoo and the Nightingale
Widor: Symphony #6 Allegro, Op 42 No 2
Hanson: Concerto for Organ and Harp
Poulenc: Organ Concerto in G minor
Excellent?
Awesome
Good?
Good?
Wildcard
Nervous
                             
10/28
2010
Mozart: Symphony #33, K319
Copland: Clarinet Concerto
Schnittke: Moz-Art à la Haydn
Haydn: Symphony #45 Farewell
Awesome
Nervous
Nervous
Excellent
                             
10/31 Debussy: La Mer (lecture-concert) Excellent                              
11/04
2010
Yannatos: Ritual Images
Debussy: La Mer
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5, Emperor
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                             
11/11
2010
Liszt: Mephisto Waltz #1
Prokofiev: Symphony #3
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1
Awesome
Okay
Awesome
                     
 

     
11/18
2010
Rossini: Overture to Semiramide
Glass: Violin Concerto
Bizet: Symphony #1
Ravel: Boléro
Awesome
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                             
12/09
2010
Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane Suite #2
Lieberson: Neruda Songs
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Excerpts
Good?
Nervous
Excellent
                     
 

 
     
01/06
2011
Sheng: Shanghai Overture
Bartók: Violin Concerto #2
Borodin: Symphony #1
Nervous
Nervous
Excellent
                             
01/20
2011
Mozart: Symphony #28, K189K [200]
Mozart: Horn Concerto #2, K417
Mozart: Requiem, K626
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
                             
01/27 Operatic highlights: Dramatic moments Excellent            
 
               
01/29 Operatic highlights: Comedic moments Excellent            
 
               
02/03
2011
Berlioz: Overture to Benvenutto Cellini
Lalo: Symphonie espagnole
Bruckner: Symphony #6
Good
Awesome
Nervous
                             
02/10
2011
Debussy: Prélude à l'aprèes-midi d'un faune
Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques
Mozart: Rondo for Piano in D, K382
Brahms: Symphony #4
Excellent
Nervous
Awesome
Awesome
   
 


 
                 
 


 
   
02/17
2011
Telemann: Viola Concerto in G, TWV 51:G9
Brahms: Serenade #2
Berlioz: Harold in Italy
Good?
Excellent
Good
                             
02/27 Vivaldi: Four Seasons (lecture-concert) Awesome                              
03/11
2011
Graun: Overture and Tra le procelle assorto from Cleopatra e Cesare
Hasse: Morte, col fiero aspetto from Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra
Handel: Water Music Suite #1
Handel: Overture and Piangerò la sorte mia from Guilio Cesare
Handel: Concerto Grosso in G, Op 6 No 1
Matheson: The Death of Cleopatra from Cleopatra
Excellent?
Excellent?
Awesome
Good?
Excellent
Wildcard
                             
03/17
2011
Borodin: Polovtsian Dances
Khachaturian: Violin Concerto
Shostakovich: Symphony #5
Excellent
Okay?
Excellent
   
 

 
                 
 

 
   
03/24
2011
Hovhaness: Symphony #7, Nanga Parvat
Hovhaness: Prelude and Quadruple Fugue
Hovhaness: Symphony #2, Mysterious Mountain
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Nervous
Nervous
Nervous
Awesome
 



     
 



                   
03/26
2011
Hovhaness: Symphony #14, Ararat
Hovhaness: Symphony #50, Mount St. Helens
Elgar: Cello Concerto
Nervous
Nervous
Excellent
 


     
 


                   
03/31
2011
Brahms: Schicksalslied
R. Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra
Saint-Saëns: Symphony #3, Organ
Excellent
Polarizing
Awesome
                             
04/07
2011
Ravel: Ma Mère L'Oye Suite
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto #1
Rachmaninov: Symphony #3
Awesome
Polarizing
Good
   
 

 
                 
 

 
   
04/21
2011
McTee: Double Play
Gershwin: Concerto in F
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5
Wildcard
Awesome
Awesome
                             
04/28
2011
Sibelius: Symphony #7
Britten: Violin Concerto #1
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
Good
Nervous
Excellent
                             
05/05
2011
Martinů: Toccata e due canzoni
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto #1
Honegger: Pastorale d'été
Haydn: Symphony #60, Il distratto
Nervous
Good
Excellent?
Excellent
                             
05/13
2011
CPE Bach: Symphony for String Orch. in G, Wq 183/4
CPE Bach: Double Harpsichord Concerto in F, Wq 47
CPE Bach: Symphony for String Orch. in D, Wq 183/1
Bach: Sinfonia from Cantata 42 Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats
Telemann: Tafelmusik III Suite and Conclusion
Awesome
Good?
Excellent
Good?
Good?
                             
05/19
2011
Mendelssohn: The Hebrides
Mozart: Violin Concerto #4, K218
Beethoven: Symphony #8
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
                             
05/22 Dvořák: Symphony #9 (lecture-concert) Awesome                              
06/02
2011
Jones: Symphonic Poem
Liszt: Piano Concerto #2
Shostakovich: Symphony #10
Wildcard
Excellent
Nervous
                             
06/16
2011§
Schubert: Symphony #8, Unfinished
Mahler: Symphony #2, Resurrection
Awesome
Polarizing
                             
      18 12 9A 9B 6AB 6CD 6EF 6G 4B BB MM RA RB BS SS
† Premiere
§ Schwarz farewell concert
18 Masterworks 18AB
12 Masterworks 12AB
9A Masterworks 9A
9B Masterworks 9B
6AB Masterworks 6AB
6CD Masterworks 6CD
6EF Masterworks 6EF
6G Masterworks 6G
4B Masterworks 4B
BB Baroque
MM Mainly Mozart
RA Rush Hour A
RB Rush Hour B
BS Beyond the Score
SS Symphony Specials

For those not familiar with the Seattle Symphony ticket package line-ups: Most of the ticket packages are named Masterworks nX where the number is the number of concerts in the package, and the letter indicates which variation. Ticket packages which are identical (or near-identical) have been combined. For example, 6C and 6D are the same concerts; the only difference is that 6C is for Thursday nights, while 6D is for Saturday nights. Split boxes are used for concert differences between near-identical series. (For example, the 18A series gets the Dvořák Cello Concerto whereas the 18B series gets the Elgar.) Some concerts (such as the Rush Hour series) are reduced-program; partially-filled boxes show which works are included.

Changes from last season:

  • The Masterworks 18 series has two bonus concerts (for a total of 20), down from four bonus concerts last yet. (The 12, 9, and 6 series each have one bonus concert; same as last year.)
  • Discontinued series: 4A.
  • The Popular Classics series became the Rush Hour series (and there are now two of them).
  • The Musically Speaking series became the Beyond the Score series and has become a "one-off" series.
  • The Basically Baroque Series has been renamed the Baroque and Northwest Wine Series. (Tastings take place before the concerts.) It too has become a "one-off" series.

This chart doesn't include "one-off" concert series such as the Visiting Orchestras or Distinguished Artists series. A "one-off" series is a concert series which shares no concerts with any other series. (Beyond the Score and Baroque and Northwest Wine are grandfathered in; I'll probably omit them in future years.)

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 my symphony friends. 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. Though I finally overcame my Bruckner jinx, and my symphony friends actually liked the Bruckner Fourth, except for the fact that it went on too long. One of my friends described it as "It's like a conversation that starts out really nice, but then it starts to drag on and get repetitive, and they just won't shut up." (How was I to know that Masur would not only use the Hass revision, but also take all the repeats? The work is already too long at 60 minutes; the right thing to do is to cut 20 minutes of it, not to add another 20!)

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. (For example, I know that my friends hate minimalism, so I rated the Glass down even though I myself would enjoy 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.

In many cases, I am not familiar with the piece and am basing my evaluation on what I know about the composer (or am just guessing).