Hannu Lintu Leads Stephen Hough, BSO in Liszt's Second Piano Concerto, Now thru 2/9

Conductor Hannu Lintu will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and pianist Stephen Hough in Liszt's Second Piano Concerto tonight, February 7, 2013 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, February 8, 2013 and Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 8pm at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Also on the program are Tchaikovsky's symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini and Sibelius' Second Symphony. Please see below for complete program details.

Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu's 2010 BSO debut prompted Tim Smith of The Baltimore Sun to rave, "Even in the finale [of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony], at max tempo, the conductor ensured subtle varieties of expression so that the sound was never monochromatic. Lintu was no less engaging in the other movements, balancing propulsion with warmth, and his efforts drew some of the most cohesive, colorful and electrifying playing I've heard from the BSO in my 10 years here."

The late-Romantic composer Franz Liszt's dazzling technical mastery of the piano and charismatically winsome public persona made him an incredibly popular performer throughout his career. But Liszt the extroverted performer was quite a different man than Liszt the introspective and meticulous composer. The first draft of this work was completed in 1849, but it was not until some seven years later in 1857 that pianist Hans von Bronsart premiered it, with the composer leading the orchestra. The delay was worth the wait, as the final version contains plenty of the showy, brilliant virtuosic passages for which Liszt is known; but these passages are contrasted with lovely opportunities for the piano to volley the main theme with smaller sections of the orchestra. Stephen Hough, the first classical performing artist to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, will perform the work. Hough earned critical acclaim for his 2011 recording (on the Hyperion label) of Liszt's virtuosic piano concertos, which celebrated the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth. This spring on March 4th, he will perform a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in which he will perform the New York premiere of his own composition: Piano Sonata No. 2, "Notturno Luminoso."

Finnish composer Jean Sibelius rose to prominence at the beginning of the 20th century, just as his fellow Finns began to endure oppression under Russian rule. As a result, an impassioned Finnish nationalism emerged throughout the country, with Sibelius' ' music as his compatriots' voice. His grand Finlandia served as an unofficial national anthem for his people. In contrast, his Second Symphony was composed while in Italy. This dramatic, victorious symphony therefore reflects the sunny, brighter weather of that country. Said Sibelius of the work's creation, "It is as though the Almighty had thrown the pieces of a mosaic down from the floor of heaven and told me to put them together."

Tchaikovsky's symphonic poem, Francesca da Ramini is an interpretation of the tragic tale of the beautiful Francesca da Ramini who was immortalized by Dante in his Divine Comedy. Her tragic tale has been the subject matter for many musical and theatrical works. Tchaikovsky's use of tragic gothic material and his treatment of it show the possible influences of Liszt on this work.

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