Houston Symphony Performs Beethoven's EROICA; Janina Fialkowska Plays Chopin, Now thru 5/12

Houston Symphony Performs Beethoven's EROICA; Janina Fialkowska Plays Chopin, Now thru 5/12

Tonight, May 9 and May 11 & 12, Maestro Hans Graf will conduct the Houston Symphony in a moving program beginning with Weber's Overture to Euryanthe and ending with Beethoven's epic Symphony No. 3, Eroica. Graf's good friend, Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska, who recently won the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Award for her Chopin Recital 2 disc, will appear in the middle of the program to perform Chopin's emotional Piano Concerto No. 2.

This is Graf's second of three performance weekends this month before he concludes his 12-year tenure as Music Director at his farewell concert on May 17 and 18. Graf will return as Conductor Laureate in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, leading four concerts in total.

Hailed as a glorious example of the early German romantic period, Weber's Overture to Euryanthe is an overview of the opera's complex conflict between good and evil. Because Weber wrote the overture after composing the rest of the opera, he was able to include elements from the dramatic storyline including a heroic fanfare and a haunting love song.

Following Weber's overture, Graf will invite Fialkowska onstage for a riveting performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2. Written when Chopin was only 20, some say that the powerfully raw piano part is what elevates the early-romantic concerto to a level of greatness. Chopin was known for his ability to reinterpret the influence of famous classical composers, and this concerto is a wonderful exhibit of that with elements of Rossini opera and Mozart melodic structures.

After a brief intermission, the Symphony will return to the stage for a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. Also known as Eroica, or "heroic," the work is known for its emotional depth and complex rhythmic structures. The Symphony is presented in four movements and features contrasting themes including a lively opening, a funeral march and a section of variations on a familiar theme of Beethoven.

Houston Symphony Classical Series takes place at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX, with performances Thursday, May 9, 2013, 8:00pm, Saturday, May 11, 2013, 8:00pm and Sunday, May 12, 2013, 2:30pm. Tickets from: $29

Chopin and Beethoven

Hans Graf, conductor
Janina Fialkowska, piano

Weber: Overture to Euryanthe

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, Eroica

About Hans Graf: Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is the Houston Symphony's 15th Music Director and will stand as its longest serving music director when his tenure closes in May 2013. As one of today's most highly respected musicians, he is a frequent guest with all of the major North American orchestras, and regularly conducts in the foremost concert halls of Europe, Japan and Australia.

Graf has appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He was awarded the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria in 2007 and France's Chevalier de l'ordre de la Legion d'Honneur in 2002. Maestro Graf and his wife, Margarita, have homes in Salzburg and Houston.

About Janina Fialkowska: Beloved the world over for her exquisite pianism, Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyrical sound, her sterling musicianship and her profound sense of musical integrity. Blending her vast experience with her refreshingly natural approach "Fialkowska has become an artist of rare distinction as well as retaining all the virtuosity of her youth" (La Presse, Montreal).

Fialkowska began to study the piano with her mother at the age of 5 and then studied at the Ecole de Musique Vincent d'Indy under the tutelage of Mlle. Yvonne Hubert and at The Julliard School of Music under Sascha Gorodnitzki. In 1969, Fialkowska won the first prize in the Radio Canada National Talent Festival which allowed her to travel to Paris to study with Yvonne Lefebure.

She has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as with all of the principal Canadian orchestras including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, Calgary Philharmonic and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Fialkowska was the Founding Director of the hugely successful "Piano Six" project and its successor "Piano Plus." This latest project brings together some of Canada's greatest classical pianists, instrumentalists and vocalists with Canadians who, for either geographical or financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to hear this caliber of live classical performance. In 2000 "Piano Six" won one of Canada's top Arts' awards, the Chalmers Award.

In 1992, the CBC produced a sixty-minute television documentary, The World of Janina Fialkowska, that aired to great acclaim throughout Canada. This program won a Special Jury Prize at the 1992 San Francisco International Film Festival. In October 2002, Fialkowska was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2006, Acadia University, one of Canada's oldest and finest educational institutions awarded her an honorary doctorate. And in November 2011, she received her second honorary degree from Queen's University.

The 2012-13 season includes Janina Fialkowska's Berlin recital debut at the Konzerthaus Berlin, a recital at Wigmore Hall, a tour with the Royal Philharmonic, a follow-up performance with Toronto's Tafelmusik and a recital at New York City's Frick Collection.

During the 2013-14 Season, the Houston Symphony will be in its 100th year as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $28.7 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 280 concerts for 280,000 people, including 84,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.