David Zinman Conducts NY Philharmonic in Works by Sibelius and Schumann, Now thru 12/15

In 2010 the Fryderyk Chopin Institute released Jan Lisiecki's live recordings of Chopin's two piano concertos with Sinfonia Varsovia and Howard Shelley, which received the prestigious Diapason Découverte award in May 2010. Also a dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Lisiecki has collaborated with the New Zealand String Quartet, Quatuor Ébène, and the Penderecki String Quartet. He was featured in the CBC Next! series as one of the most promising young artists in Canada and was the subject of a 2009 CBC National News documentary titled The Reluctant Prodigy. In June 2008 he was appointed a National Youth Representative by UNICEF Canada. Having graduated from high school in Calgary in January 2011, Jan Lisiecki is studying for a bachelor's of music degree at the Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto on a full scholarship.


Although Jean Sibelius was an established member of the international musical community, and despite the sizeable royalties and an annual stipend from the Finnish government, he was continually mired in debt. The distractions of Helsinki disrupted his creative endeavors, and by early 1904 he determined that he needed a change of scenery. A rustic retreat 60 miles from Helsinki renewed his creativity, and he soon began his Symphony No. 3. The project was set aside to undertake conducting tours in Germany and Britain. While in London, he agreed to lead the London Philharmonic in the symphony's premiere in March 1907. However, it was not completed until the summer of 1907, three years after its conception, so the piece wasn't unveiled until September 1907 in Helsinki, where it was led by the composer. The symphony was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in April 1934, conducted by Hans Lange, and most recently in May 2006, conducted by Sir Colin Davis.

At the age of 33 Robert Schumann had already achieved fame for his songs, but his wife Clara (an eminent pianist) urged him to expand his compositional endeavors and venture into the world of orchestral music. In 1841 he began composing a single-movement piece for piano and orchestra, referring to it as "something between a symphony, a concerto, and a large sonata." The result was titled Phantasie for Piano and Orchestra. However, the work interested neither publishers nor orchestras, and Schumann expanded it into the present three-movement concerto. Clara was the soloist at the first performance in 1845 and became an effective advocate for the work. The concerto was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in March 1859, led by Carl Bergmann with S. B. Mills as soloist. It was most recently performed by the Orchestra in April 2004, led by Riccardo Muti with Radu Lupu at the piano.

The first mention of Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 7, often considered his greatest, occurs in 1918. However, the realization departed so radically that his initial plan is nearly unrecognizable in the finished score of 1924. Whether Sibelius threw his first plans overboard and started afresh, or whether the final product was the result of a long and painstaking developmental process, we may never know. Not only is the work unusual in its one-movement form, but its highly original thematic interrelationships were such that Sibelius himself was at first uncertain whether to call it a symphony or a symphonic fantasy. The Seventh Symphony was first performed by the Philharmonic in January 1927, conducted by Otto Klemperer. It was most recently performed by the Orchestra in April 2004, led by Sir Colin Davis.

Tickets for these concerts start at $27. 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.]

Pictured: David Zinman. Photo Credit: Chris Lee.