Alan Gilbert Conducts Nielsen and HELIOS OVERTURE, Now thru 3/15
Music Director Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic will continue The Nielsen Project-the Philharmonic's multi-year focus on Danish composer Carl Nielsen launched in the 2010-11 season-with performances of Nielsen'sHelios Overture and Symphony No. 1, both in their first-ever performances at the Philharmonic, and Symphony No. 4, tonight, March 12, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, March 14 at 2:00 p.m.; and Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m. The works will be recorded for later release on Denmark's Dacapo label.
"During my years in Sweden, I grew to love Nielsen, and I believe his canon deserves to be better known by American audiences: he speaks to everybody. There's something wonderfully craggy and natural about the sound he creates, but it's always couched in a romantic warmth. The Philharmonic plays Nielsen incredibly well-with insight, stylistic purity, and passion," said Alan Gilbert, who, through The Nielsen Project, builds on Philharmonic Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein's championing of Nielsen's music by exploring the cycle of his major orchestral works, some of which the Orchestra has never performed previously.
Upon its completion, The Nielsen Project will comprise four recordings, released by Dacapo and distributed by Naxos, to be released both individually and in a boxed set. The first recording- featuring Nielsen's Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments, and Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia espansiva, led by Alan Gilbert with baritone Joshua Hopkins and soprano Erin Morley-was released in September 2012 and selected by The New York Times as one of the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012.
The March 2014 program replaces the previously announced program that included Nielsen's Clarinet
Concerto, which will be performed and recorded on a future concert, to be announced at a later date. When The Nielsen Project concludes, the New York Philharmonic will have performed and recorded the composer's six symphonies and three concertos.
Author and lecturer Fred Plotkin will introduce the program. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts available for multiple talks, students, and groups. They take place one hour before each performance in the Helen Hull Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org/preconcert or (212) 875-5656.
The program will be broadcast the week of March 26, 2014,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated weekly to more than 300 stations nationally, and to 122 outlets internationally, by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Brothers Fund, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org. The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Information subject to change. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Music Director Alan Gilbert began his New York Philharmonic tenure in September 2009, the first native New Yorker in the post. He and the Philharmonic have introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence; CONTACT!, the new- music series;
and, beginning in the spring of 2014, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. "He is building a legacy that matters and is helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be," The New York Times praised.
In addition to inaugurating the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in the 2013-14 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mozart's three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Frieze coupled with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; four world premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer's centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film was screened; and a staged production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. He continues The Nielsen Project - the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer's symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012 - and presides over the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour. Last season's highlights included Bach's B-minor Mass; Ives's Fourth Symphony; the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour; and the season-concluding A Dancer's Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.
Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award. Renée Fleming's recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. His recordings have received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. In May 2010 Mr. Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music and in December 2011, Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for his "exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music."
Carl Nielsen composed the Helios Overture in 1903 while in Athens, Greece, with his wife, the sculptress Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, who was working at the Acropolis Museum at the time. A programmatic work, Helios (named for the Greek god of the sun) depicts the sun's movement in the sky over the Aegean Sea from dawn to dusk. Its first performance was in Copenhagen that October, conducted by Johan Svendsen. A showpiece for orchestra, today the Helios Overture is considered one of the composer's most famous works. This program marks the Philharmonic's first performances of Nielsen's Helios Overture.
Nielsen's Symphony No. 1 (1891-91) marked the notable orchestral debut of the then-27 year-old composer, as he was among the second violins at the 1894 premiere, which was attended by the King and Queen of Denmark. The beautifully crafted opening movement of this work (which is dedicated to the composer's wife, the sculptor Anne-Marie Carl-Nielsen), Allegro orgoglioso ("proudly"), has an exciting urgency in its headlong rush; in contrast, the second movement displays long-breathed sweeping lines with brasses ringing out majestically. The work ends with powerful declamations, leaving no doubt that Nielsen was a fresh new Nordic voice on the symphonic horizon. This program marks the Philharmonic's first performances of Nielsen's Symphony No. 1.
Nielsen completed his Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable, in 1916. The work, composed in the midst of World War I, is centered on the idea that "Music is Life, and inextinguishable like it." Upon commencing his composition, the composer wrote that it wasn't programmatic, but would "express what we understand by the spirit of life or manifestations of life, that is: everything that moves, that wants to live ... just life and motion, though varied - very varied - yet connected, and as if constantly on the move, in one big movement or stream." Leonard Bernstein led the Orchestra's first presentation of the Fourth Symphony in 1970; Sakari Oramo conducted its most recent performances in 2002.
Tickets for the concerts start at $39. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $20. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple talks, students, and groups (visit nyphil.org/preconcert for more information). All other tickets may be purchased online at nyphil.org or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office. The Box Office opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. On performance evenings, the Box Office closes one-half hour after performance time; other evenings it closes at 6:00 p.m. A limited number of $13.50 tickets for select concerts may be available through the Internet for students within 10 days of the performance, or in person the day of. Valid identification is required. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.] More information is available at nyphil.org/all-nielsen.