Alan Gilbert to Lead NY Phil in World Premiere of HK Gruber's Piano Concerto, Today

Alan Gilbert to Lead NY Phil in World Premiere of HK Gruber's Piano Concerto, Today

Music Director Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in the World Premiere of HK Gruber's Piano Concerto - a Philharmonic co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras - with pianist Emanuel Ax as soloist; Weill's Little Threepenny Music for Wind Orchestra; and Schubert's Symphony No. 2. The performances will take place Thursday, January 5, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 6 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, January 7 at 8:00 p.m.

HK Gruber said: "Just knowing that you are writing for Emanuel Ax is inspiration enough for a composer's life. To know that the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, will perform this commission makes me indescribably lucky. When I was about 12, the New York Philharmonic became my favorite orchestra after I heard them with Lenny Bernstein playing Mahler's Fifth in the Vienna Konzerthaus, and when I was looking in my childhood for good recordings of 20th-century music, mostly the New York Philharmonic saved me! When I write for a soloist, I always ask, 'Who is your favorite concerto composer?' to get a picture of the personality of my magician. Manny's answer was: Brahms. Behind his hint I felt a fullblooded musician's massive dose of vitamins - an essential help for a composer!"

Emanuel Ax served as the Philharmonic's Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence in the 2012-13 season. In April 2011 he was named an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York in recognition of his 100th performance with the Orchestra.

Alan Gilbert led Philharmonic musicians and HK Gruber, as chansonnier, in a performance of the composer's "pan-demonium" Frankenstein!! as part of CONTACT!, the new-music series, in

December 2011. In May-June 2014, during the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, Alan Gilbert conducted the Philharmonic co-presentation of HK Gruber's two-act comic opera Gloria - A Pig Tale, staged by Giants Are Small, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This Austro-German program pairs HK Gruber's Piano Concerto, evoking "the 'shimmy' music played by the cabaret band," in the composer's words, with another work evoking cabaret, Weill's Threepenny Music for Wind Orchestra, which draws on the 1920s Berlin cabaret scene.

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  • Philharmonic Free Fridays

The New York Philharmonic is offering 100 free tickets to young people ages 13-26 for the concert Friday, January 6 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays. Information is available at nyphil.org/freefridays. Philharmonic Free Fridays offers 100 free tickets to 13-26-year-olds to each of the 2016-17 season's 16 Friday evening subscription concerts.

Artists
As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic since 2009, Alan Gilbert has introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today's music; and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, partnerships with cultural institutions to offer training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. The Financial Times called him "the imaginative maestro-impresario in residence."

Alan Gilbert concludes his final season as Music Director with four programs that reflect themes, works, and musicians that hold particular meaning for him, including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony alongside Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw, Wagner's complete Das Rheingold in concert, and an exploration of how music can effect positive change in the world. Other highlights include three World Premieres, Mahler's Fourth Symphony, Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, and Manhattan, performed live to film. He also leads the Orchestra on the EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour and in performance residencies in Shanghai and Santa Barbara. Past highlights include acclaimed stagings of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Janá?ek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson (2015 Emmy nomination), and Honegger's Joan of Arc at the Stake starring Marion Cotillard; 28 World Premieres; a tribute to Boulez and Stucky during the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL; The Nielsen Project; the Verdi Requiem and Bach's B-minor Mass; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey, performed live to film; Mahler's Resurrection Symphony on the tenth anniversary of 9/11; performing violin in Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time; and ten tours around the world.

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and former principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, Alan Gilbert regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. This season he returns to the foremost European orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He will record Beethoven's complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Inon Barnatan, and conduct Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, his first time leading a staged opera there. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award, and he conducted Messiaen's Des Canyons aux étoiles on a recent album recorded live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. His honors include Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music (2010) and Westminster Choir College (2016), Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award (2011), election to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2014), a Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy (2015), Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2015), and New York University's Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City (2016).

Born in modern-day Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. A winner of the Young Concert Artist Award, Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, Michaels Award, and the Avery Fisher Prize, Mr. Ax is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Always a committed exponent of contemporary composers, with works written for him by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and MeLinda Wagner already in his repertoire, Mr. Ax performs the World Premiere of HK Gruber's Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in January 2017, followed in March by the work's European Premiere with the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle. Also in the 2016-17 season, Mr. Ax will return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Toronto, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Detroit symphony orchestras. A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Piano Trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Richard Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of music for two pianos by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. In 2015 Deutsche Grammophon released a duo recording with Itzhak Perlman of violin-and-piano sonatas by Fauré and R. Strauss, which the two artists presented on tour during the 2015-16 season. A frequent and committed chamber music partner, he has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern. Mr. Ax holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities. Emanuel Ax served as the Philharmonic's Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence in the 2012-13 season. In April 2011 he was named an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York in recognition of his 100th performance with the Orchestra. He made his New York Philharmonic debut in September 1977 performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, conducted by Andrew Davis; he most recently joined the Orchestra for Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, led by Alan Gilbert, in October 2015.

Repertoire
In 1928 Kurt Weill (1900-50) and Bertolt Brecht premiered The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper), a play with music inspired by John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, which follows the story of a group of crooks and hoodlums, perhaps most famously Mackie Messer (Mack the Knife). Weill's style drew heavily upon the popular music of the 1920s Berlin cabaret scene, which in turn had been inspired by American jazz. Written in 1928 and premiered in 1929, Little Threepenny Music for Wind Orchestra is an instrumental suite of eight numbers in concert form in which Weill himself drew on highlights and themes from the opera, including "The Ballad of Mack the Knife," "Cannon Song," and "Polly's Song." In a letter to his publisher, Weill wrote: "I heard the Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (I deliberately avoided using the word "suite") yesterday at rehearsal; I am very content with it.... I believe the piece can be played an awful lot, since it is precisely what every conductor wants: a snappy piece to end with." The Philharmonic presented Little Threepenny Music for Wind Orchestra as part of a June 1977 Rug Concert led by Erich Leinsdorf.

Austrian composer HK Gruber (b. 1943) used the nightclub scene from his opera Tales from the Vienna Woods as the starting point for his new Piano Concerto, a New York Philharmonic co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras. He writes that he "was intrigued how the 'shimmy' music played by the cabaret band is itself simple and emotionless, but forms an effective counterpoint to the powerful drama in the foreground. This was the bud from which my concerto grew." On developing the concerto, he continues, "I've never been interested in virtuosity for its own sake, though the work is written specifically for the hands and musical gifts of Manny Ax. In all my concertos I've viewed the soloist as at the tip of a symphonic iceberg. The orchestra provides an echo chamber for the material of the pianist, whose 'factual' discourse is resonated through tuned percussion and harp. The work, progressing through a chain of developing variations, is closest in form to a Sinfonietta with piano solo."

Franz Schubert (1797-1828) began work on his Symphony No. 2 in December 1814, when he was only 17 years old. He completed it in March 1815, and the symphony may have been given a private read-through in 1816 at the home of Otto Hatwig, who was a violinist in the Burgtheater Orchestra. Comprising four movements in the traditional Classical style, the Second Symphony nods to Haydn and Mozart, although the lyrical, graceful, and exuberant work still bears the hallmarks of Schubert's voice. The Symphony No. 2 did not receive its public premiere until well after Schubert's death, when August Friedrich Manns led it at London's Crystal Palace in 1877. John Barbirolli led the New York Philharmonic's first presentation of the work in November 1936; Kurt Masur conducted the Orchestra's most recent performances, in September 1994.

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