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Manfred Honeck to Make NY Philharmonic Debut; Jean-Yves Thibaudet to Perform Grieg's Piano Concerto, 1/3-5

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Manfred Honeck to Make NY Philharmonic Debut; Jean-Yves Thibaudet to Perform Grieg's Piano Concerto, 1/3-5

Manfred Honeck will make his Philharmonic debut conducting Braunfels's Suite from Fantastic Apparitions on a Theme by Berlioz; Grieg's Piano Concerto, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 on Thursday, January 3, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 4 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, January 5 at 8:00 p.m.

Manfred Honeck is an ardent champion of German composer Walter Braunfels. As the conductor told The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Braunfels is extremely honest in his attitude and artistry. He's a master of instrumentation. A great composer." The program concludes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, of which the Orchestra performed the U.S. Premiere on November 18, 1843. These concerts take place almost 200 years after Beethoven conducted the work's premiere on December 8, 1813, in Vienna.

The third movement of Grieg's Piano Concerto utilizes the rhythms of two Norwegian folk dances: the lalling and the springdans. Wagner called Beethoven's rhythmically driven Symphony No. 7 the "apotheosis of the dance," and early inspiration for Braunfels's Fantastic Apparitions initially also came from the world of dance. The composer recalled: "During my young years [German playwright] Frank Wedekind had spoken to me about his flea ballet. Nothing came of the composition at the time. But when I later heard La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, I could not stop thinking of Mephisto's flea song, and I began to compose a piece: life, deeds, and opinions of a flea. The Fantastic Apparitions later developed from this."

RELATED EVENTS

Pre-Concert Talks
Harvey Sachs, The Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, will introduce the program. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts available for multiple concerts, 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 or (212) 875-5656.

National and International Radio Broadcast
The program will be broadcast the week of January 23, 2013,* 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 Foundation, 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 9:00 p.m. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information.

ARTISTS

Manfred Honeck was appointed the ninth music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in January 2007 and began his tenure at the start of the 2008–09 season. In February 2012 his contract was extended a second time, to run through the 2019–20 season. Following a tour of Europe in 2011, which included appearances at major music festivals such as BBC Proms, Lucerne, Grafenegg, Rheingau, Schleswig-Holstein, and Musikfest Berlin, Mr. Honeck and the PSO returned to Europe in October–November 2012 for performances that included a four- concert residency at Vienna's Musikverein.

Born in Austria, Mr. Honeck began his career in Vienna as conductor of the Jeunesse Orchestra, which he co-founded, and as assistant to Claudio Abbado at the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Subsequently he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he received the prestigious European Conductor's Award in 1993. In 1996 he began a three-year stint as one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and, in 1997, served as music director at the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo.

A successful tour of Europe with the Oslo Philharmonic marked the beginning of his close collaboration with this orchestra, which appointed Mr. Honeck principal guest conductor. He was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2006 and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2011, a position he will resume from 2013 to 2016. As music director of the Stuttgart Staatsoper from 2007 to 2011, he conducted premieres of Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal.

As a guest conductor, Manfred Honeck has appeared with the leading ensembles in the world, such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestre de Paris, and the London Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, and Boston Symphony orchestras.

Mr. Honeck's work with the PSO is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton. Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 5; Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5; and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim including a 2012 International Classical Music Award for the recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 4.

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet's career includes 30 years of performances and more than 40 recordings. Highlights of his 2011–12 season included performances of Ravel and Liszt concertos with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony; playing Liszt and Brahms Lieder with mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager at Carnegie Hall; tours of Europe with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw and the U.S. with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performing works by Saint-Saëns; and recitals in Germany and France celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy's birth. He last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in 2011 in A New Yorker's New Year's Eve, performing Gershwin's Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue, conducted by Alan Gilbert and televised on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center.

Mr. Thibaudet is a recording artist for Decca. His recordings have earned the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d'Or, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, a Gramophone Award, two Echo Awards, and the Edison Prize. In the spring of 2010 he released Gershwin, a collection of the composer's works performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, led by Marin Alsop. His most recent album is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. At age 12 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age 15 Mr. Thibaudet won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and three years later won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001 the Republic of France awarded him the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2010 the Hollywood Bowl inducted him into its Hall of Fame. Known for his style and elegance, Mr. Thibaudet wears a concert wardrobe designed by Vivienne Westwood.

REPERTOIRE

Walter Braunfels (1882–1954) was an educator, pianist, composer, and the head of the Cologne (Germany) Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. Interest in him and his work has grown recently, and one of his champions is Manfred Honeck, who performed the Suite from Fantastic Apparitions on a Theme by Berlioz on a European tour in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Braunfels was a German contemporary of Richard Strauss. He completed this virtuosic showpiece for orchestra in 1917 and later became one of the most popular opera composers of the 1920s, one who owed an artistic debt to Wagner. The full 50-minute work consists of 12 "apparitions" of the theme (derived from "The Song of the Flea," a sardonic tune sung by Mephistopheles in Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust), plus an introduction and a finale; the Suite presents several sections from the score. These concerts mark the Philharmonic's premiere of the Suite, but the New York Symphony (which would merge with the New York Philharmonic in 1928) performed the complete work at Carnegie Hall in 1925, with Bruno Walter conducting.

Edvard Grieg was 25 years old when he composed his Piano Concerto. He wrote it as a vehicle for himself, a fine pianist who often performed both as a soloist and as an accompanist for his wife, a soprano. The concerto earned him an international reputation as well as the admiration of such masters as Tchaikovsky and Liszt. It was composed while Grieg was influenced by the musical nationalism of the 19th century, and its third movement explores the rhythms of two Norwegian folk dances: the duple-meter lalling and the triple-meter springdans. The composer revised the concerto - his only completed effort in the genre and one of his best-known compositions - in 1906–07, shortly before his death. The New York Symphony (which later merged with the New York Philharmonic) first performed it in 1879, with Leopold Damrosch conducting and Franz Rummel as soloist. Its most recent performance was in May 2012, with Alan Gilbert conducting and Evgeny Kissin as soloist.

Ludwig van Beethoven conducted the first performance of his Symphony No. 7 on December 8, 1813, in Vienna, at a charity concert for soldiers wounded during the defense of the city against Napoleon's invading forces. The premiere was so successful that popular demand called for a repeat performance of the symphony four nights later. The work was completed in 1812, an eventful year for the composer: he met the German philosopher Goethe, penned the mysterious "immortal beloved" letter, interfered in his estranged brother's personal affairs, composed the last of his piano sonatas, and completed two symphonies. While Weber stated that the Seventh Symphony suggested that Beethoven was "ripe for the madhouse," Wagner praised its Dionysian spirit and termed it the "apotheosis of the dance." The New York Philharmonic performed the symphony's U.S. premiere on November 18, 1843, led by the Orchestra's founder, Ureli Corelli Hill. Most recently it was performed in March 2012 as part of The Modern Beethoven: A Philharmonic Festival, led by David Zinman.

TICKETS

Tickets for these concerts start at $41. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $18. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple concerts, 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 Saturday, and 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on 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.]

Photo Credit: Jason Cohn

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