David Robertson To Conduct NY Philharmonic; Pianist Nicolas Hodges To Make Debut 2/18-20
David Robertson will conduct the New York Philharmonic in a program that begins and ends with ballet music - Dance Figures (Nine choreographic scenes for orchestra, premiered in 2004) by the British composer, George Benjamin, and Dances from Estancia, op. 8a (1943) by the late Argentinean composer, Alberto Ginastera. In between, he will lead the Orchestra in two works from the late 19th- and early 20th-century French repertoire: Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, performed by pianist Nicolas Hodges in his Philharmonic debut. The concerts will take place Thursday, February 18-20, 2010, Friday, February 19 at 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 20, at 8:00 p.m.
• Pre-Concert Talk
Author and Queens College professor Arbie Orenstein 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 weekend host on Classical 105.9 FM WQXR, is the producer of 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 March 1, 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.
American conductor David Robertson began his fifth season as music director of the 130-year-old St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in fall 2009, while continuing as principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 2005. Highlights of his 2009-10 season in St. Louis include tours to Carnegie Hall and four cities in California. Guest engagements include performances with the San Francisco and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, Cleveland Orchestra, and, internationally, with the BBC Scottish Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras, Dresden Staatskapelle, Berlin Philharmonic, and Israel Philharmonic.
Mr. Robertson has made numerous recordings for the Sony Classical, Naive, EMI/Virgin Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Atlantic/Erato, Nuema, Adès, Valois, and Naxos labels, in addition to his recent, first-ever recording of the Doctor Atomic Symphony for Nonesuch. His download-only "Live from Powell Hall" releases, recorded with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, include works by John Adams, Scriabin, and Szymanowski.
Other recordings feature works by composers such as Bartók, Elliott Carter, Dvo?ák, Ginastera, Steve Reich, and Saint-Saëns. Born in California, David Robertson was educated at London's Royal Academy of Music, where he studied French horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. He has received numerous awards, including Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award (2006) and the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award (1997). He and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra were honored with the 2008- 09 Award for Programming of Contemporary Music, and the 2005-06 Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. Musical America named him Conductor of the Year for 2000. Mr. Robertson is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Webster University (2009) and Maryville University (2007), as well as the 2010 Excellence in the Arts award from the St. Louis Arts and Education Council.
British pianist Nicolas Hodges has appeared with the orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, and with The Met Orchestra. In Europe he has performed with the BBC, City of Birmingham, and Bamberg symphony orchestras, as well as the London Philharmonic, Basel Sinfonietta, Helsinki Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Tokyo Philharmonic, among numerous others. A frequent guest at leading festivals, Mr. Hodges has appeared at the Lucerne Festival, in Paris (Festival d'Automne) and in Vienna (Wien Modern), as well as at all the major United Kingdom festivals, including the BBC Proms. He also has performed in chamber music or recital - in Scandinavia, Japan, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Orchestra Hall in Chicago.
Nicolas Hodges is active in contemporary music, and has premiered concertos written for him by composers including Thomas Adès, Elliott Carter, Beat Furrer, Wolfgang Rihm, and Salvatore Sciarrino. Future engagements include appearances with the WDR Symphony, SWR Symphony Freiburg/Baden-Baden, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Stockholm Philharmonic. This season also marks the beginning of relationships with the Berlin Philharmonic with Daniel Barenboim; San Francisco Symphony; National Orchestra of Spain; BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and London Philharmonic with Marin Alsop. He gives recitals at Tanglewood, the Salzburger Festspiele, and Muziekgebouw Amsterdam; chamber music with Jörg Widmann at the Mozarteum Salzburg; and a recording of piano quintets with the Arditti String Quartet. Mr. Hodges is currently professor of piano at the Hockschule für Musik in Stuttgart, Germany. This is his Philharmonic debut.
George Benjamin (b. 1960), one of Britain's most prominent composers, composed his Dance Figures in 2004 for the Belgian choreographer Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker. The work received its concert premiere in Chicago in 2005, and its premiere as a ballet inBrussels in 2006. The composer writes: "This work - my first conceived for dance - consists of nine short movements which contrast strongly in character, form and color. The first six play almost without break, as do the final three, so the piece basically divides into two parts." Thus the work's relatively brief duration holds a wide range of moods and effects, suggested by the movements' titles, which include "Spell," "Recit," "Song," "Hammers," "Alone," and "Whirling." As the Financial Times wrote in response to the British premiere of Dance Figures, conducted by David Robertson in 2006: "In 15 minutes it expressed more than most composers do in an hour." These will be the first performances of Dance Figures by the New York Philharmonic.
The music of Claude Debussy was influenced as much by the artistic and literary currents of the 1890s as it was by his musical training. It was thus no accident that he chose a poem - "L'Après-midi d'un faune," one of Stéphane Mallarmé's most famous works - as the subject for one of his earliest masterpieces. The words are assumed to be the monologue of a faun, the rural deity of Roman mythology whose body was part man, part goat. The musical cadences of Mallarmé's verse, with its sensuous appeal and purposefully blurred descriptions, must have appealed strongly to Debussy. In his Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune), first performed in 1894, Debussy virtually reinvented the orchestra, finding new harmonies, new rhythms, and new ways of ordering events, and created a lush, sensual sound-world that had not been heard before. The New York Philharmonic first performed the work in November 1905, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony (which later merged with the New York Philharmonic to form today's New York Philharmonic). The most recent performance was led by Roberto Minczuk in January 2004. Maurice Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand was written in response to a commission from Paul Wittgenstein, a pianist who had lost his right hand in World War I and who subsequently commissioned major composers to compose left-handed works for his own
use. Ravel's concerto was written in 1929 and 1930, the very same period in which he was composing his only other piano concerto, for two hands. Both works are influenced by jazz and both display Ravel's impeccable craftsmanship, but while the other concerto is all lightheartEd Grace and charm, the left-hand concerto creates a somewhat more melancholy and solemn impression, with intimations of profundity. The New York Philharmonic first performed the Concerto for the Left Hand in March 1938, with Robert Casadesus as soloist and Sir John Barbirolli conducting. Most recently it was performed in May 2004 with soloist Leon Fleisher and conducted by Lorin Maazel.
In 1941, when composer Alberto Ginastera was only 25 years old, he was commissioned by Lincoln Kirstein to compose a ballet "based on Argentine country life," to be performed by the American Ballet Caravan (a precursor to the New York City Ballet). The American Ballet Caravan, however, dissolved the following year before a performance could take place, and Ginastera's ballet, Estancia, would go unperformed for another 10 years. The composer accordingly extracted an orchestral suite of dances from the score and it was premiered in that form in Buenos Aires in 1943, helping to establish Ginastera as the most prominent of Argentine composers. The preface to the score describes the work: "The deep and bare beauty of the land, its richness and natural
strength, constitutes the basis of Argentine life. This ballet presents various aspects of an estancia's (Argentinian ranch) activities during a day, from dawn to dawn, with a
symbolic sense of continuity." The New York Philharmonic first performed the Dances from the Ballet Estancia in February 1969, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. Most recently it was performed in July 2003, in Vail, Colorado, led by Roberto Minczuk.