A multi-date celebration of Pierre Boulez's 90th birthday is one of the the highlights of a largely dreary and predictable 2014-15 classical music season from the Barbican. Yes, we love Kissin, Perahia and DiDonato, but how about a bit more variety? Visiting orchestras are thin on the ground too, with just the New York Philharmonic to add to the already-announced Berlin Philharmonic. If the Barbican want to know why their visitor numbers are down they should stop blaming 'the economy' and start looking a little closer to home.
Operatic must-sees include concert versions of L’incoronazione di Poppea on 4 October 2014 (Anna Caterina Antonacci, Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies), Handel's Alcina on 10 October 2014 (Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote, Anna Christie, Christine Rice) and Hercules on 4 March 2015 (Matthew Rose, Alice Coote, Lucy Crowe). Boris Godunov on 3 November 2014, conducted by Gergiev, is the highlight of a short Mariinsky residency.
A more high risk proposition is a choreographed staging of two Rameau ballets by Les Arts Florissants on 18 November 2014.
As this season, much of the more interesting programming comes from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland on 8 March 2015, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle on 13 March 2015 and Smetana's Dalibor on 2 May 2015 add to some orchestral offerings you don't hear every day.
On top of his Berlin Philharmonic residency, Sir Simon Rattle makes four appearances with the LSO, including one with Krystian Zimerman on 2 July 2015. Only Gergiev conducts them more next year. Make of that what you will. Haitink's Bruckner 8 on 23 October 2014 offers a counterbalance.
Online booking opens on 27 January for members and 10 February for the general public. No dates have been given for telephone/in-person booking, but they are usually later.