Houston Symphony Revives Concerto With Performance With BRINTON AVERIL SMITH, 4/13-15

By: Apr. 02, 2017
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The Houston Symphony and Principal Cello Brinton Averil Smith will perform Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto for the first time in more than 80 years at 8 p.m. April 13-15 at Jones Hall.

Despite being launched by powerful advocates - cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and conductor Arturo Toscanini - and being the work of a gifted composer, Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto hasn't had a professional performance since its 1935 world premiere with the New York Philharmonic. Because the work was never recorded and the music was available only by rental, it quickly lapsed into obscurity.

"We had to put this together from almost nothing," said Smith. "The only way to find out what it sounded like was to learn it and play it with the piano reduction, which my pianist wife Evelyn did. It was a new experience for me to learn a score with no recording to reference, no metronome marks, no ability to ask the composer, and only musical intuition and general markings to go by."

After years of infatuation with the unfamiliar piece, Smith will finally premiere the concerto for a new generation of classical music concertgoers April 13-15 in a program led by Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada, who will be making his Houston Symphony conducting debut. For Yamada, reviving and sharing unknown works with new audiences is a one-of-a kind opportunity.

"Having the opportunity to perform music that has been hiding in a drawer somewhere for decades is a privilege," said Yamada. "I believe it is absolutely essential to revive music that is not as well known yet and share it with the audience. And who knows when and where this fabulous cello concerto will be performed again."

The composer's granddaughter, Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco, will join Saturday's pre-concert discussion, Prelude, to share her views and historical context on the piece. In addition to a communications career in New York City, Diana is dedicated to managing the musical archives of her grandfather. During the concert weekend, the work will be recorded for the first time in history on the NAXOS label.

The concert will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston's Theater District. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.


Thursday, April 13, 2017, 8 p.m.

Friday, April 14, 2017, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 15, 2017, 8 p.m.

Kazuki Yamada, conductor

Brinton Averil Smith, cello

Chabrier: España

Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Cello Concerto

Falla: The Three-Cornered Hat (complete)

Tickets from $25

About Kazuki Yamada
Kazuki Yamada is Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Designate of Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, a post that began in the 2016-17 season. He additionally holds the title of Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande since his sensational debut with the orchestra in 2010, which was one of his first appearances in Europe. In Japan, he holds further titles of Permanent Conductor of Japan Philharmonic, Music Partner with both Sendai Philharmonic and Ensemble orchestral Kanazawa, and Music Director of Yokohama Sinfonietta, an ensemble he founded while still a student.
Yamada appears regularly as a guest with such orchestras as Orchestre de Paris, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Utah Symphony and Tonkünstler-Orchester at the Vienna Musikverein. Soloists with whom he has worked include Emmanuel Ax, Boris Berezovsky, Håkan Hardenberger, Nobuko Imai, Daishin Kashimoto, Alexander Kniazev, Xavier de Maistre, Steven Osborne, Vadim Repin, Baiba Skride, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Simon Trp?eski and Frank Peter Zimmermann.
He is active in the field of opera and will be performing 'La Traviata', 'Carmen' and 'Rusalka' in Japan in coming seasons. He is strongly supported by Seiji Ozawa and in August 2012 he conducted a semi-staged production of Honegger's 'Jeanne d´arc', with Saito-Kinen Orchestra. The 'Jeanne d'Arc' project was also a huge hit in spring 2015 in Côme de Bellescize's staged version at the new Philharmonie hall in Paris, with Orchestre de Paris. The character of Joan of Arc was performed by the French actress Marion Cotillard and the production received high critical praise.
Yamada and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are releasing a series of CDs inspired by dance on the Pentatone label. This continues in the current season with a recording of French ballet works, and another of works by Manuel de Falla. Furthermore, a disc of works by Glazunov, Kalinnikov and Khatchaturian with Czech Philharmonic was released in 2014. Yamada is also Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus's Music Director and the chorus has released ten CDs on Fontec.
Now a resident of Berlin, Yamada was born in Kanagawa, Japan, in 1979. In 2009 he was the winner of the 51st Besancon International Competition for young conductors.

About Brinton Averil Smith
Hailed for "stunningly beautiful" performances by the American Record Guide, cellist Brinton Averil Smith continues to garner rave reviews, praising virtuosic performances with musical ideals rooted in the golden age of string playing. His debut recording of Miklós Rózsa's Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra won international critical acclaim, with Gramophone praising Smith as a "hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist," and his recording of chamber music of Fauré with Gil Shaham was chosen by numerous critics as one of the year's best albums. A passionate advocate of compelling unfamiliar repertoire, Mr. Smith recently gave the North American premiers of rediscovered works of Jean Sibelius and Alexander Zemlinsky, and his performances have been broadcast on CBS's Sunday Morning and on the radio throughout the U.S., including American Public Media's Performance Today and Symphonycast.
Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was the first musician chosen by Lorin Maazel to join the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. In addition to his solo activities, he has collaborated in chamber music performances with musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Cho-Liang Lin, James Ehnes, Lynn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Dawn Upshaw and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets. Mr. Smith is also a faculty member of the Shepherd School of music at Rice University and the Aspen Music Festival.
The son of a mathematician and a pianist, Brinton Averil Smith was admitted to Arizona State University at age 10, where he took courses in mathematics and German and, at age 17, completed a B.A. in mathematics. He then became a student of Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California, where he was also a teaching assistant in the mathematics department and completed work for an M.A. in mathematics at age 19. He subsequently studied with the renowned cellist Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann. Mr. Smith resides in Houston with his wife, the pianist Evelyn Chen, their daughter, Calista, and two slightly evil, but kind-hearted dogs. For further information, please visit

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2016-17 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its third season with Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada, and continues its second century as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony's four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston. For tickets and more information, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.

(Photo Credit: Houston Symphony)


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