Mario Venzago Leads Cellist Sol Gabetta and BSO in Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Now thru 12/1

Audience-favorite Mario Venzago will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and Argentinian-born cellist Sol Gabetta in Elgar's Cello Concerto tonight, November 29, 2012 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, November 30, 2012 and Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8pm at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Maestro Venzago and Ms. Gabetta's recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto (released on the RCA label in 2010) earned praise from music critics. Also on the program are Liszt's lively Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and Franck's Symphony in D Minor.

Elgar's Cello Concerto is one of the most significant works in the cello repertoire. Elgar completed his cello concerto in 1919, just after the first World War, following a four year period in which he withdrew from composing almost entirely. The ravages of the War depressed him and it is in this stirring work that he bids a touching adieu to England's lost era of simplicity and peace. Award-winning Argentinean cellist Sol Gabetta makes her BSO debut with this monumental work.

Liszt's musical retelling of Hungarian poet Nikolaus Lenau's account of the Faust legend so scandalized Liszt's early listeners that it was banned in London following its premiere in 1861. As the Faust legend goes, the title character sold his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for enduring youth, wisdom and pleasure. In the Mephisto Waltz No. 1, or "Dance at the Village Inn," Faust and Mephistopheles stumble upon a peasants' wedding. Finding the music lacking, Mephistopheles takes a violin from one of the musicians. While he plays, Faust flirts with the innkeeper's daughter. Mephistopheles' music becomes increasingly erotic as Faust lures her away for their woodland tryst.

César Franck's musical idols were Bach, Beethoven, and Liszt. It was his reverence for Beethoven that inspired him to write a symphony which is a form French composers of the 19th century rarely attempted. Franck determined to write a "traditional" symphony, based on thematic development and following the established German symphonic forms. But it is Liszt's influence we hear most. Franck prominently uses Liszt's and Berlioz's principle of a motive or "idée fixe": a theme that recurs in different guises throughout the work. In Franck's hands, several motives and themes return in later movements to unify the work.

Sol Gabetta, cello

Internationally acclaimed since her 2004 debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker and winner of the Crédit Suisse Young Artist Award, cellist Sol Gabetta already holds several impressive awards.

Born in Cordoba, Argentina, she won her first competition at the age of 10. This was soon followed by the Natalia Gutman Award and commendations at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition. A Grammy Award nominee, Sol Gabetta became the youngest winner of the Aargau Kulturpreis in 2008. She has also been awarded Argentina's Konex prize and, in 2010, received the renowned Gramophone Young Artist of the Year Award. Additionally, she has won three Echo Klassik Awards (2007, 2009, 2011).

Gabetta's performances include appearances with Bamberger Symphoniker, hr-Sinfonieorchester, kammerorchesterbasel, Orchestre National de Radio France, and the Czech Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and Russian National orchestras. She has also played with the Bolshoi, Finnish Radio Symphony, The Philadelphia, Detroit Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic orchestras, plus the Orchestre National de Belgique and Orquesta Nacional de España.

In addition to her career as a soloist, Sol Gabetta is a chamber musician and performs with distinguished partners such as Yo-Yo Ma, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Hélène Grimaud. She has also founded her own chamber music festival "Solsberg" in Switzerland.

Thanks to a generous stipend by the Rahn Kulturfonds, Sol Gabetta is in a position to play one of the very rare and precious cellos by G.B. Guadagnini from 1759.

Mario Venzago, conductor

Mario Venzago was born in Zurich, studied in Zurich and Vienna with Hans Swarovsky and started his career as pianist of the Swiss broadcast station in Lugano. From 1986–1989 he was music director of the Heidelberg Opera House and Philharmonic Orchestra and later served as chief conductor of the German Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Graz Opera, Basque National Orchestra, Basel Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish National Orchestra in Gothenburg. He was artistic director of the Baltimore Summer Music Fest and from 2002–2009, music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 2010 he was named principal conductor of the Northern Sinfonia in Newcastle and in the same year was appointed chief conductor of the Bern Symphony Orchestra, as well as artist-in-association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta. He is also Schumann Guest Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker and holds the position of Conductor Laureate of the Basel Symphony Orchestra.

Venzago's distinguished conducting career includes engagements with the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, La Scala di Milano, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony in Tokyo. In North America he has appeared with the Boston Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony. He has also conducted, among other prestigious festivals, at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals.

Several of his CDs, which include orchestral works of Robert Schumann, Luigi Nono, Othmar Schoeck, Alban Berg and Maurice Ravel, have been awarded international prizes (including the Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d'or and the Edison prize). Venzago has worked with famous stage directors Ruth Berghaus, Peter Kowitschny and Hans Neuenfels. At present, he is preparing a complete recording of Bruckner Symphonies for the CPO label.

Mario Venzago last appeared with the BSO in March 2011, conducting Schubert's Symphony No. 5, Berg's Violin Concerto featuring Baiba Skride and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.


Classical Concert Series: Elgar Cello Concerto

Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1

Elgar: Cello Concerto

Franck: Symphony in D Minor

TONIGHT, November 29, 2012 at 8 p.m.-The Music Center at Strathmore

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 8 p.m.-Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)

Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8 p.m.-JMSH

Tickets range from $28 to $90 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or


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claire bilyard Claire is a London based photographer with a passion for theatre. Work covers many aspects of portraiture and live performance. Recent work includes press photography for Save the Rhino Douglas Adams Virtual 60th birthday party at Hammersmith Apollo, the promotional image campaign for Children of Eden West End gala performance, portrait commissions for The Sunday Times Travel Supplement and promo, press and production photography published in national and international print and digital media. Recent work can be seen at