Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic to Continue THE NIELSEN PROJECT, 10/1-3
The New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert continue The Nielsen Project - the Philharmonic's acclaimed multi-season survey of the six symphonies and three concertos by Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) - with performances of Nielsen's Maskarade Overture and Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6, Sinfonia semplice, as well as the second release of the Philharmonic's series of recordings of Nielsen's complete symphonies and concertos.
Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in Nielsen's Maskarade Overture and Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6, Sinfonia semplice, the latter in its first-ever performance by the Orchestra, Wednesday, October 1, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, October 3 at 2:00 p.m. The symphonies will be recorded for future release on Denmark's Dacapo label.
"The New York Philharmonic has the perfect sound and perfect approach to Nielsen's music," Alan Gilbert said. "The Fifth Symphony, which is an undeniable masterpiece, hasn't been played by the New York Philharmonic for 11 years, and, amazingly, the Orchestra has never before performed the Sixth Symphony. Both symphonies are tonal, romantic, expressive, exciting, and vivid."
The second recording in The Nielsen Project - featuring Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic's March 2014 performances of Nielsen's Symphonies No. 1 and No. 4, The Inextinguishable - will be released in the United States September 9, 2014, by Denmark's Dacapo label and distributed by Naxos. The recording is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com and will be available for download and streaming on September 2, 2014, from
iTunes, Spotify, and other digital streaming and download services. It will be released outside the United States on October 1, 2014. Visit official.fm to stream the entire album. To request a download of the album, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic will present the final program of The Nielsen Project January 8-10 and 13, 2015, when Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill performs Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto, marking his Philharmonic debut.
Upon its completion, The Nielsen Project will comprise four recordings, released by Dacapo and distributed by Naxos, to be released in a boxed set coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth, June 9, 2015. 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 subsequently selected by The New York Times as one of the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012. This will be the first time the New York Philharmonic has recorded Nielsen's complete symphonies and concertos. More information on The Nielsen Project is available at nyphil.org/nielsen.
A devotee of the Danish composer, Alan Gilbert launched The Nielsen Project in the 2010-11 season. Philharmonic Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein famously championed Nielsen's music; before Alan Gilbert, Bernstein was the only Philharmonic conductor ever to record Nielsen with the Orchestra.
- Pre-Concert Insights
Composer Daniel Felsenfeld will introduce the program October 1-3. Pre-Concert Insights are $7; discounts available for multiple talks, students, and groups. They take place one hour before these performances in the Helen Hull Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org/preconcert or (212) 875-5656.
- National and International Radio Broadcast
The October 1-3 program will be broadcast the week of November 2, 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 program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., and will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org.
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. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information, which is subject to change.
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-Jose?e Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and the Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today's music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers inaugurated in spring 2014. As New York magazine wrote, "The Philharmonic and its music director Alan Gilbert have turned themselves into a force of permanent revolution."
In the 2014-15 season Alan Gilbert conducts the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, alongside Mahler's First Symphony; La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema; Verdi's Requiem; a staging of Honegger's Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; World Premieres; a CONTACT! program; and Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. He concludes 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 EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour. Last season's highlights included the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Mozart's final three symphonies; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey alongside the film; a staging of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson; and the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour.
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. Rene?e Fleming's recent Decca recording Poe?mes, 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." In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Though Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is perhaps most acclaimed for his symphonies, he is also known for his Maskarade (1904-06), which is today considered Denmark's national opera. The second of Nielsen's works in the genre, Maskarade is a comedy based on Ludvig Holberg's 1724 play and follows Leander and Leonora's tale of love and mistaken identity framed against a series of masked balls in Copenhagen. The composer, a great admirer of Mozart (whose 150th birthday occurred the year Maskarade was completed), created in it a work reminiscent of The Marriage of Figaro, filled with high spirits and captivating storytelling. The Overture, a preview of the opera's key melodies, also sets up the musical tone of the entire score, reflecting the opera's librettist Vilhelm Andersen's exploration of the Dionysian side of comedy, and avoiding any possible tragedy in favor of brief, witty, punchy numbers. The Philharmonic first performed the Maskarade Overture in 1962, led by John Canarina; Alan Gilbert most recently led the work in July 2014 during the Orchestra's Bravo! Vail residency.
Born into a peasant family, Nielsen grew up surrounded by the folk music his village-fiddler father would play. Such rustic music would inform the composer's mature style - clear, roughhewn, and unsentimental. Despite his explicit rejection of program music, some of his symphonies - including his Symphony No. 5 (1921-22) - have programmatic aspects, however non-specific or non-pictorial. Nielsen never provided a commentary on the work, but the British composer Robert Simpson provided a description in his book Carl Nielsen, Symphonist, seeing the work as a reaction to World War I: "Here is man's conflict, in which his progressive, constructive instincts are at war with other elements (also human) that face him with indifference or downright hostility." Nielsen led the work's premiere on January 24, 1922, in Copenhagen. The New York Philharmonic's first performance of the work was at Carnegie Hall in 1962, conducted by Leonard Bernstein; Osmo Vanska led the most recent performances in October 2003.
Nielsen began work on what would be his final orchestral work, Symphony No. 6, Sinfonia semplice, in the summer of 1924, setting out to create something that would, he wrote, "be different from my other symphonies: more amiable and smooth ... but it is impossible to tell as I do not know at all what currents I may run into during the voyage." He worked on the symphony over the course of a year, while taking a break to work on other projects, finally completing it in December 1925, when it was premiered by the Chapel Royal Orchestra. Composed in a different style from his other works, it was met with mixed reviews and has remained the least performed of the six symphonies. Some scholars suggest that the work may have been partially autobiographical: happy that his Fifth Symphony had been so well received, Nielsen had unfortunately also suffered a series of heart attacks, which may have ultimately influenced a more introspective style for this simpler Sinfonia semplice.
Tickets for these performances start at $30. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $20. Pre-Concert Insights are $7; discounts are available for multiple talks, students, and groups (visit nyphil.org/preconcert for more information).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 $16 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.]