NY Philharmonic Presents THE BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTOS, Featuring Yefim Bronfman, Now thru 6/21
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival will continue with Music Director Alan Gilbert conducting Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3, featuring The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman as soloist, and the World Premiere-New York Philharmonic Commission of Sean Shepherd's Songs, tonight, June 18, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 20 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, June 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Sean Shepherd was named the 2012 Kravis Emerging Composer - bestowed on an up-and-coming composer as part of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music - and Songs is his work commissioned by the Philharmonic as part of the honor. The work explores why and where song occurs in three connected sections: Fair, Chapel, and Cradle. The idea of exploring song came out of Shepherd's conversations with Alan Gilbert, who conducted the World Premiere of his These Particular Circumstances, commissioned by the Philharmonic, on the inaugural season of CONTACT!, the Philharmonic's new-music series, in 2010. "Alan wanted me to develop the inherent lyricism he saw in the music I wrote for CONTACT!," Sean Shepherd said. "What's more lyrical than song? The obvious challenge is decide how to create a song with just an orchestra - no singer and no words."
Mr. Shepherd dedicated Songs to Alan Gilbert. "I have consistently felt buoyed and embraced by Alan and the Philharmonic," Mr. Shepherd said. "Alan has very deep, musical, committed reasons for supporting the kinds of composers he does, and he takes big risks. I've really appreciated seeing members of the Orchestra appreciate new music; I think they have a lot of fun."
"It was always a dream of mine to play the Beethoven cycle with a major orchestra like the New York Philharmonic," Yefim Bronfman said. "I've practiced this music every day since I was a child, and the more I practice it, the more I struggle, and the more questions I have, and the fewer answers I get."
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival concludes June 24-28, 2014, when Alan Gilbert leads Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist, and Beethoven's Triple Concerto, with Yefim Bronfman, Principal Cello Carter Brey, and Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow in his final appearances as Concertmaster before concluding his 34-year tenure.
The Beethoven Piano Concertos is the first confluence of the Philharmonic's multi-week festival and Artist-in-Residence position, two initiatives Alan Gilbert launched at the beginning of his tenure in the 2009-10 season. In past seasons, Philharmonic festivals have included The Russian Stravinsky (conducted by Valery Gergiev), Hungarian Echoes (conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen), The Modern Beethoven (conducted by David Zinman), and The Bach Variations (conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, Alan Gilbert, András Schiff, and Bernard Labadie).
Composer Victoria Bond will introduce the program. Pre-Concert Talks 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. For more information, visit nyphil.org/preconcert or visit (212) 875-5656.
The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman discusses The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival, his first-ever cycle of this august oeuvre with the New York Philharmonic, which includes the Triple Concerto, the work with which he made his Philharmonic debut 35 years ago, on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 7:30pm. Tickets for Insights Series events are free; subscribers, Friends at the Affiliate level and above, and Patrons may request reserved seating by e-mailing AdultEd@nyphil.org. Space is
The program will be broadcast the week of July 13, 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 is hosted by actor Alec Baldwin. 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.
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-Josee 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.
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; 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."
As the 2013-14 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, Yefim Bronfman plays concertos by composers ranging from Tchaikovsky to Magnus Lindberg; appears in chamber concerts featuring works by Marc-André Dalbavie, Marc Neikrug, Schubert, Bartók, and others; traveled on the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour, performing Magnus Lindberg's Piano Concerto No. 2; and concludes the season with The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival. Other highlights of Mr. Bronfman's 2013-14 season
include a tour with Pinchas Zukerman to Ottawa, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley, and Vancouver; performing Beethoven with conductor Zubin Mehta at the Berlin Philharmonic's new spring residency in Baden-Baden; returns to the orchestras of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston, as well as Paris, Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam; and a tour of Australia with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as part of its worldwide centenary celebrations. Mr. Bronfman was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Piano Concerto, with Mr. Salonen conducting (released on Deutsche
Grammophon), having received a Grammy in 1997 for his recording of the three Bartók piano concertos with Mr. Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His performance of Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto with Andris Nelsons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from the 2011 Lucerne Festival is now available on DVD. His most recent CD release is Lindberg's Piano Concerto No. 2, commissioned for him and performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert, on the Dacapo label. Born in Tashkent, in the Soviet Union, in 1958, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973. There he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. He later studied in the United States, at The Juilliard School, Marlboro, and The Curtis Institute of Music, and with Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin. He became an American citizen in July 1989. He last appeared with the Philharmonic in January 2014 and on the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour performing Magnus Lindberg's Piano Concerto No. 2, led by Alan Gilbert. On May 23, 2014, Mr. Bronfman will perform a chamber music concert, co-presented with 92nd Street Y, alongside Philharmonic musicians in works by Schubert, Bartók, and Brahms.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) premiered his Piano Concerto No. 2 (1793-95) at his public debut during a charity event for widows and orphans in 1795. He worked on the score until the last minute, completing it a mere two days before the performance, and the solo part was not fully written out (a situation he would repeat in later works). This concerto is strongly reminiscent of Mozart's works in the genre that Beethoven admired, though perhaps with a more robust orchestration and a bit more drama; while he admired his predecessor, he wanted to make his own mark. Despite its number, the Second Piano Concerto was actually composed first, but not published until 1801 while it underwent frequent and considerable revisions. The Orchestra's first presentation of the Second Concerto was in 1920, when Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony (which later merged with the Philharmonic) and pianist Alfred Cortot at Carnegie Hall; Lorin Maazel conducted the work's most recent performance in Seoul, South Korea, with soloist Yeoi-Eum Son in 2008.
Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Sean Shepherd approached Songs (2013) as "a piece that essentially starts and ends in the same place." Designed as a sort of palindrome, it is also a journey both inward and outward, a sort of divertissement that links the two Beethoven works to each other. The final product is a single-movement piece in three parts, each representing the places where someone might sing a song - Fair, Chapel, and Cradle - and touches upon forms such as the chanson and rondo as initial points of reference. The Orchestra has previously presented Mr. Shepherd's These Particular Circumstances in 2010 as part of CONTACT!, the new-music series, and Philharmonic musicians performed Aperture in Shift on the New York Philharmonic Ensembles series in 2011.
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 (1803) was another one of his works that wasn't quite finished in time for its first performance. The composer conducted from the keyboard, while Ignaz von Seyfried turned pages: "I saw almost nothing but empty pages; at the most, on one page or another a few Egyptian hieroglyphs.... He gave me a surreptitious nod whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages, and my scarcely concealable anxiety not to miss the decisive moment amused him greatly, and he laughed heartily at the jovial supper afterwards." The concerto was presented during a spring 1803 benefit marathon for the composer himself that also included premieres of the Second Symphony, the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, and a reprise of the Symphony No. 1. The Piano Concerto No. 3 is a masterpiece that reveals a new voice - a personal statement from the heart of its creator and a showcase for his prodigious pianistic abilities, but sadly also one of the last in which he himself would appear as soloist: his increasing deafness would soon make ensemble playing nearly impossible. The Philharmonic first presented the complete Third Concerto in 1865 at the Academy of Music, featuring soloist Richard Hoffman and conductor Carl Bergmann; Alan Gilbert most recently led pianist Da Sol and the Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea, during the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour.
Tickets for these performances start at $31. 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). Tickets for Insights Series events are free; subscribers, Friends at the Affiliate level and above, and Patrons may request reserved seating by e-mailing AdultEd@nyphil.org. Space is limited. 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. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.]