Performance Sunday, April 10, 2011 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
This is a team that Carnegie Hall audiences love. Kissin was astounding when he played Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto on Opening Night in 2009. Here, he performs the First Piano Concerto with the stellar MET Orchestra, a group whose concerts are regularly among the highlights of the season.


  • Evgeny Kissin, Piano
  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director and Conductor


  • SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra
  • CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor
  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 2

  • Encore:
  • CHOPIN Scherzo No. 2


  • Evgeny Kissin

    Born in Moscow, Evgeny Kissin began to play by ear and improvise on the piano at the age of two. At six years of age, he entered a special school for gifted children, the Moscow Gnessin School of Music, where he was a student of Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who has been his only teacher. At the age of 10, he made his concerto debut playing Mozart's Piano Concerto, K. 466, and gave his first solo recital in Moscow one year later.

    Mr. Kissin came to international attention in March 1984 when, at the age of 12, he performed Chopin's First and Second piano concertos in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic. His first appearances outside Russia were in 1985 in Eastern Europe, followed by his first tour of Japan in 1986; in December 1988, he performed with Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker in a New Year's concert broadcast internationally. In 1990, Mr. Kissin made his first appearance at the BBC Proms in London and, in the same year, made his North American debut, performing both Chopin piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta. The following week, he made his Carnegie Hall debut, opening the Hall's Centennial Season.

    Mr. Kissin was a special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards, broadcast live to an audience estimated at more than one billion, and three years later became Musical America's youngest Instrumentalist of the Year. He is the recipient of several Grammy Awards, most recently in 2010 for his recording of Prokofiev's Second and Third piano concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

    Engagements this season include his fourth appearance with the MET Orchestra today at Carnegie Hall, as well as engagements in London, Milan, Paris, and Salzburg; a North American tour that includes recitals at Carnegie Hall, Chicago's Symphony Center, and Boston's Symphony Hall; appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra; and chamber concerts with violist Yuri Bashmet in Chicago and Miami, and at Carnegie Hall later this month.
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  • The MET Orchestra

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world's finest orchestras. From the time of the company's inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with leading conductors in both opera and concert performances and has developed into an orchestra of enormous technical polish and style.

    The MET Orchestra (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its 32-week New York season, when the company performs seven times a week in repertory that normally encompasses approximately 27 operas.

    Arturo Toscanini conducted almost 500 performances at the Met, and Gustav Mahler, during the few years he was in New York, conducted 54 Met performances. More recently, many of the world's great conductors have led the orchestra: Walter, Beecham, Reiner, Mitropoulos, Kempe, Szell, Böhm, Solti, Maazel, Bernstein, Mehta, Abbado, Karajan, Dohnányi, Haitink, Tennstedt, Ozawa, Gergiev, Barenboim, and Muti. Carlos Kleiber's only US opera performances were with the MET Orchestra.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the Met Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moritz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler. Since the orchestra resumed symphonic concerts in 1991, instrumental soloists have included Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has performed five world premieres: Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Shen's Legend (2002), and Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009).

    The orchestra's high standing led to its first commercial recordings in nearly 20 years: Wagner's complete Ring cycle, conducted by James Levine. Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon over a period of three years, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Götterdämmerung were winners of an unprecedented three consecutive Grammy Awards in 1989, 1990, and 1991 for Best Opera Recording. Other recordings under Maestro Levine include L'elisir d'amore, Idomeneo, Le nozze di Figaro, Der fliegende Holländer, Parsifal, Erwartung, Manon Lescaut, and seven Verdi operas. Maestro Levine has also led the orchestra for recordings of Wagner overtures, Verdi ballet music, an all-Berg disc with Renée Fleming, and aria albums with Bryn Terfel, Kathleen Battle, and Ms. Fleming. The orchestra's first symphonic recordings are pairings of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps; Beethoven's "Eroica" with Schubert's "Unfinished" symphonies; and Richard Strauss's Don Quixote and Tod und Verklärung.

    In spring 1991 the orchestra, under the leadership of Maestro Levine, began concert touring. They have since traveled across the US and to Europe (including their debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2002), as well as annually to Carnegie Hall. This May, the orchestra returns to Japan for its sixth tour in 23 years.

    James Levine

    Marking his 40th consecutive season at the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine conducts eight operas in 2010-2011, including opening night's Das Rheingold premiere; the new production in April of Die Walküre; revivals of Don Pasquale, Simon Boccanegra, and Wozzeck; three performances of The Bartered Bride at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater (with the Juilliard Orchestra and members of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program); and a June tour to Japan with Don Carlo and La bohème. He and the MET Orchestra are heard in three concerts at Carnegie Hall and one in Tokyo with soloists Simon O'Neill, Michelle DeYoung, Evgeny Kissin, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko, and Mariusz Kwiecien.

    Maestro Levine's seventh, and final, season as Music Director of the BSO began with an all-Wagner program with Bryn Terfel on October 2, and included the first BSO performances of John Harbison's Second Symphony (as part of a two-season cycle of all five Harbison symphonies as well as the world premiere of a newly commissioned Sixth), and Mahler's Second and Fifth symphonies for the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1860 and the 100th of his death in 1911.

    James Levine makes his debut in May with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Mahler's Sixth Symphony in the German capital, before joining the Met company for a three-week tour of Japan (where he will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his debut on June 5 with Don Carlo in Nagoya) and returning to the BSO's Tanglewood Festival, where his summer season ends on August 3 with the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen's It Happens Like This on texts of James Tate with Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center-some 10 weeks before he leads the MET Orchestra in the world premiere of Harbison's Closer to My Own Life on texts of Alice Munro here at Carnegie Hall.
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Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11 (III. Rondo. Vivace)
Evgeny Kissin, Piano / Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra

At a Glance

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG  Five Pieces for Orchestra
Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16, are primary documents from a crucial time in music history. Written after Schoenberg entirely abandoned traditional tonal structures but before he began to experiment with strictly 12-tone or serial methods, the Five Pieces capture the composer in his freest, most capricious state—committed to blazing a new path, but not knowing exactly which of the infinite possible tracks to choose.

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN  Piano Concerto No. 1
When Chopin composed his two piano concertos, he was just 19 years old and barely finished with his formal training at the Warsaw Conservatory. He had studied Bach and some solo works of Mozart, but it is unlikely that he heard much, if any, Beethoven or Schubert, and he almost certainly was unfamiliar with many of the piano concertos that form the backbone of the repertory today. Nevertheless, Chopin’s ability to combine operatic techniques with a love for and mastery of counterpoint set his concertos apart.

There are two conflicting interpretations of the Symphony No. 2: on the one hand, a sunny and cheerful counterpoint to the dramatic, carved-in-granite First Symphony; on the other, a bittersweet elegy for a lost paradise. Notoriously coy about works-in-progress—often telling incomplete truths or outright lies about their status, nature, and quality—Brahms leaves us no definitive answer for the Second Symphony. In any case, there is no question that this enigmatic work, which begins with touching melancholy and ends with one of music’s most exhilarating finales, stands alongside his greatest masterpieces.

Program Notes
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra.