… recently announced 110th-anniversary season is certainly one of the starriest in years. The “gala atmosphere” opening concert goes this year to the Finnish diva Karita Mattila, a superstar since her Cardiff Singer of the World win in 1983, and other big vocal names include Jonas Kaufmann — singing Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin for the first time in London — Cecilia Bartoli, Thomas Hampson, Susan Graham and Simon Keenlyside. Gilhooly’s big coup, however, is securing Daniel Barenboim for a recital of late Liszt in 2011 (his 200th birthday year).
“It seemed appropriate to invite him for this anniversary year, as he made his London recital debut at the Wigmore, and played regularly here when he was 15 to 20. He hasn’t been here much since then, so I thought now would be a good time to invite him back.”
If tickets for Barenboim’s Festival Hall concerts were hot, those for his Wigmore recital are going to be like molten gold dust. Gilhooly is keeping his fingers crossed that the world’s most popular pianist will do more than one gig. “I’m optimistic that Daniel will be willing to repeat his concert,” he says, cautiously, but with a smuggish-looking grin.
Martha Argerich makes a rare return to the hall, and Alfred Brendel, officially retired, is booked for a series of lectures at which, Gilhooly assures me, “he will certainly play”.