Alan Gilbert To Conduct The New York Philharmonic In Two Contrasting Works By Webern
Music Director Alan Gilbert - in his first subscription concerts since opening the New York Philharmonic's 168th season and leading the Orchestra on a major tour to Asia - will conduct the Philharmonic in two contrasting works by Webern; Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, featuring the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes; and Schumann's Symphony No. 2, Tuesday, December 29, at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, December 30, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, January 2, 2010, at 8:00 p.m.
The program will open with Webern's youthful Im Sommerwind - a work of late- Romantic sensibility that the composer wrote in 1904 when he was 20 - followed by the Mozart piano concerto. Webern's eight-minute Symphony, Op. 21 - written after he had broken with traditional harmony and a work that is considered a 20th-century masterpiece- will be performed after intermission. The program will conclude with Schumann's Symphony No. 2. "The reason to put Mozart and Webern in the program," explained Mr. Gilbert, "is that I think that Schumann's music directly alludes to so many other types of music, and this particular piece does so even more strongly than other works, with the obviously old-fashioned counterpoint of Bach [in the slow movement] and the sort of forward-looking melodic elements that Webern picked up."
Mr. Gilbert, who has often professed his love for the music of Mozart, has worked frequently with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. "He is a thoughtful, deep artist, and his Mozart is particularly touching," Mr. Gilbert has said. "He has a way of playing with the simplicity that is informed by a very, very deep emotion. That's why I think his Mozart is so satisfying."About Schumann's Symphony No. 2, Mr. Gilbert has said: "It's a piece that I think is a real confessional for Schuman. It really tells a story - it has to do with his quest for love but also his struggle with composition. If you really look at it you see that this piece is kind of an autobiography of Schumann."
• Pre-Concert Talk
Dr. Arbie Orenstein, author and professor of music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, will introduce the program one hour before each performance. Tickets are $5 in addition to the concert ticket. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656
• New York Philharmonic Podcast
Elliott Forrest, Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, producer, and afternoon host of 109.5 FM WQXR, will host this podcast. These award-winning previews of upcoming programs - through musical selections as well as interviews with guest artists, conductors, and Orchestra musicians - are available at nyphil.org/podcast or from iTunes.
• National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of January 11, 2010,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated nationally to more than 295 stations by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by the Emmy Award-winning 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.
Alan Gilbert began his tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in the 2009-10 season, the first native New Yorker to hold the post. For his inaugural season he has introduced a number of new initiatives: The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in- Residence Magnus Lindberg; The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson; an annual three-week festival; and CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic's new-music series. He led the Orchestra on a major tour of Asia in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi; will take the musicians on a
European tour in January-February 2010; and is conducting performances of world, U.S., and New York premieres. Also in the 2009-10 season Mr. Gilbert becomes the first to hold the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School, a position that will include coaching, conducting, and performance master classes. Highlights of Mr. Gilbert's 2008-09 season with the New York Philharmonic included the November 14, 2008, Bernstein anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall, and a performance with the Juilliard Orchestra, presented by the Philharmonic, featuring
Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Kaddish. In May 2009 he conducted the World Premiere of Peter Lieberson's The World in Flower, a New York Philharmonic Commission, and in July 2009 he led the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, and four concerts at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado.
In June 2008 Mr. Gilbert was named conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, following his final concert as its chief conductor and artistic advisor. He has been principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra (NDRSO) since 2004. Mr. Gilbert regularly conducts other leading orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco symphony orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra; Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw; and Orchestre National de Lyon. In 2003 he was named the first music director of Santa Fe Opera, where he served for three seasons.
Born and raised in New York City, Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School; he was a substitute violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra for two seasons, and assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. In November 2008 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Dr. Atomic. His recording of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is devoting much of his current season to Pictures Reframed, a project with South African artist Robin Rhode sponsored by Norway's StatOilHydro. At the heart of this collaborative work is Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which Mr. Andsnes plays while Rhode's illustrations and films, inspired by the piece, are projected onto a specially designed stage set. The international Pictures Reframed tour opened at AlIce Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on November 13. Mr. Andsnes began his 2009-10 season performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard. Other season highlights include Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra led by Stéphane Denève; the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra with Gustavo Dudamel; and the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, with Antonio Pappano. In May 2010 he will perform and record the work with Mr. Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. The season also includes the world premiere of a work written by the Danish composer Bent Sørensen; performances of Mozart and György Kurtág in Salzburg; and a recital tour of Europe. In March he will tour Asia with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, leading concerts of Mozart piano concertos from the piano.
As an exclusive EMI Classics artist, Mr. Andsnes has recorded more than 30 discs spanning repertoire from Bach to the present day; he has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and has received many international prizes, including four Gramophone Awards. Shadows of Silence, his most recent disc, was released in spring 2009.Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway, in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory. He lives in Copenhagen and Bergen and is a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, a visiting professor at the Royal Music Conservatory of Copenhagen, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in January 2008, performing Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2 conducted by Riccardo Muti.
Anton Webern is best known for his uncompromising serial compositions, but like his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, his earliest compositions are written in the Romantic idiom of turn-of-the-century Vienna, influenced by Wagner and Richard Strauss. Im Sommerwind, composed in 1904 when Webern was 20 years old, is a lush and essentially Romantic work, a sensuous orchestral evocation of a summer idyll, inspired by the poem of the same name by Bruno Wille. Im Sommerwind was first performed by the Philharmonic in January 1984, led by Zubin Mehta, and most recently, in January 2003, also led by Mr. Mehta.
The Piano Concerto No. 23 was the second of three keyboard concertos written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the winter of 1785-86, while he was also putting the finishing touches on his opera Le nozze di Figaro. Noted for its understated eloquence, this concerto features a particularly poetic and melancholy second movement Adagio, followed by a buoyant rondo finale. The Piano Concerto No. 23 was first performed by the Philharmonic in May 1872, with Richard Hoffman as soloist and Carl Bergmann conducting. The Orchestra's most recent performance was on tour in Munich in November 2005, with pianist Margarita Höhenrieder, led by Lorin Maazel.
The eight minutes of Anton Webern's 1928 Symphony, Op. 21 - his only symphony- are packed with an emotional and intellectual high tension, and each individual note carries a sense of electric charge. The result is an austere, uniquely 20th-century masterpiece, the first work in which Webern's original and hugely influential style stands fully revealed. The symphony received its first performance by the League of Composers in New York City on December 18, 1929, and was first performed by the Philharmonic in January 1950 under Dimitri Mitropoulos. The Orchestra performed it most recently in March 2002, conducted by Bramwell Tovey.
Until his marriage to Clara Wieck in 1840, Robert Schumann composed exclusively for the instrument on which he was most proficient: the piano. But after his marriage he wrote surprisingly little for the piano, instead turning his attention to other genres in quick succession. By 1845, the year he wrote his Symphony No. 2, Schumann had gained considerable experience as an orchestral composer, but getting the notes on paper was not easy at first. In September 1845, weighed down by illness and depression, he wrote to Mendelssohn: "All writing is a severe strain on me... I itch and twitch every day in a hundred different places. A mysterious complaint - whenever the doctor tries to put his finger on the thing, it seems to take wings. But better times will come again; and to
look at my wife and children is joy enough." Suddenly, in the second week of December, Schumann was struck with inspiration, and in the space of about three weeks he composed the entire symphony. The New York Philharmonic first performed the Symphony No. 2 in January 1854, led by Theodore Eisfeld, and most recently, on tour in Dresden in November 2005, conducted by Lorin Maazel.