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Beethoven's 250th is the heart of the 2019-2020 San Diego Symphony season.

Beethoven's 250th is the heart of the 2019-2020 San Diego Symphony season.

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The San Diego Symphony has announced its 2019-2020 season and it is a rambunctious list of symphonic music. For the past few seasons, I’ve felt as though the San Diego Symphony has been getting away from the symphony. I’m sure if I counted the number of symphonies performed I would be proven to be incorrect.

I only bring it up because 2019-2020 is symphony-centric. 2020 is, after all, the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Right out of the gate we get music director Rafael Payare conducting Mahler Symphony No. 5.

Jacobs Masterworks: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

The next symphony up is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6: Pathetique. We get Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 later in the season. His Symphony No. 5 is coming up this season on May 18 and 19.

As we might expect, Beethoven symphonies are at the heart of the 2019-2020 season. San Diegans get to hear his symphonies numbers three, four, five, six, and nine. The ninth is the season closer with a strong group of soloists joining maestro Payare and the San Diego Master Chorale.

One symphony I’m not excited about is Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 on December 6, 7, and 8. We just heard this piece in December of 2017. It’s a nice symphony but hardly worthy of two performances in as many years. We haven’t had Dvorak seven or nine (gasp!) in quite a while so a repeat of the eighth has me puzzled.

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 is on a two-year repeat cycle. We heard music director laureate Jahja Ling conduct that in April of 2018. It will be performed by current music director Payare in April of 2020. I believe that will be the fifth time I’ve heard Shostakovich five at the San Diego Symphony.

Now is the time for me to list worthy symphonies which aren’t on a two-year repeat cycle: All nine Bruckner symphonies, Hans Rott Symphony No. 1, Borodin Symphony No. 2, Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 5 (even though Copland hated it), Cesar Franck Symphony in D Minor, Bizet Symphony in C Major, Gorecki Symphony No. 3. There are others.

Another piece making an early repeat, in my opinion, is Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote. We had this piece in May of 2016 with Johannes Moser as the cellist. This time around we have cellist Alisa Weilerstein, spouse of music director Payare. Since 2016 the San Diego Symphony has performed Till Eulenspiegel and Ein Heldenleben but no Also Sprach Zarathustra, Eine Alpensinfonie (last heard in 2010) or Tod und Verklärung.

Not on a two-year repeat is Shostakovich Symphony No. 11 which is scheduled in 2019-2020. Sibelius Symphony No. 7 Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3, and Mendelssohn Symphony No. 5 are all making welcome appearances. It should be noted Mendelssohn’s fifth is being performed by Mainly Mozart in June of this year. Of all the symphonies which could be randomly performed twice within six months, Mendelssohn’s fifth is not the one which comes to mind.

I notice that the conductor rotation has been tightened significantly. There are three guest conductors. The remaining concerts are all conducted by music director Payare, music director laureate Ling, or principal guest conductor Edo de Waart. To see the entire schedule click here.

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