Performance Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | 8 PM

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra returns to Carnegie Hall! Its two-night stay begins with Leonidas Kavakos performing Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto, and concludes with a Mahler symphony certain to showcase the group that classical music authority Gramophone magazine calls “the world’s greatest orchestra.”


  • Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Mariss Jansons, Chief Conductor
  • Leonidas Kavakos, Violin


  • BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
  • MAHLER Symphony No. 1

  • Encore:
  • YSAŸE Allemanda from Sonata in E Minor, Op. 27, No. 4 "Fritz Kreisler"


  • Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam

    The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world, having collaborated with leading conductors and soloists since it was founded in 1888. Indeed, such composers as Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler conducted the orchestra on more than one occasion, often in performances of their own works. To this day, the orchestra continues to foster long-term relationships with contemporary composers through such initiatives as its AAA Music and Arts Festival, a thematically programmed festival series that explores present-day extramusical trends and contexts.

    Since its inception, the orchestra has cultivated a very distinct, individual sound-one which is due in part to the unique acoustics of the Concertgebouw itself. The influence of the musicians and the orchestra's chief conductors, of whom there have been only six in the last 125 years, has also been important. Willem Kes introduced audiences to a varied repertoire, including many contemporary works. Willem Mengelberg laid the foundation for the orchestra's acclaimed Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum introduced Bruckner's symphonies and French music. The Christmas matinee concerts conducted by Bernard Haitink were televised in many European countries, earning him wide acclaim. During his tenure, Riccardo Chailly gave great impetus to the performance of contemporary music and opera. Under the direction of Mariss Jansons since 2004, the orchestra has focused on composers such as Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss, and Brahms, as well as a number of major 20th-century composers.

    On the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 1988, the orchestra officially received the appellation "Royal." Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima is the orchestra's patroness. The orchestra has its own Orchestra Academy, which provides instruction in orchestral playing to young, talented musicians. Each year, the orchestra reaches some 250,000 concertgoers through approximately 90 concerts in Amsterdam and 40 performances in some of the world's leading concert halls. The orchestra participates in residencies in Paris (Salle Pleyel), Brussels (BOZAR), and London (Barbican Centre). RCO societies of friends have been established in the United States, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. In 2004, the orchestra launched its own in-house record label, RCO Live.

    In 2013, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra celebrates its 125th anniversary with an exciting array of special activities in Amsterdam and a world tour.

    Mariss Jansons

    "It's my task to find out the orchestra's special qualities and preserve them. Then, if through a natural process my own individuality adds something-and theirs to me-that will be fine," said Mariss Jansons. And fine it most certainly is, a fact that became readily apparent after his appointment as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2004. Music is in Mr. Jansons's blood. His father was a conductor and his mother an opera singer in his native Latvia. He studied violin and conducting in Leningrad, continuing his studies with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1973, Mr. Jansons was appointed Yevgeny Mravinsky's assistant with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, which Mr. Jansons's father Arvīds had also conducted. From 1979 to 2000, he served as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing it great international acclaim. He has made numerous appearances throughout the world as a guest conductor of the Berlin, Vienna, and London philharmonic orchestras, as well as the leading orchestras of the US.

    Mr. Jansons was appointed music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1997 (a post he held until 2004) and music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2003. Making his first guest appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1988, he returned nearly every year thereafter and was appointed its chief conductor in 2004. He is the sixth conductor to hold the post since the orchestra was founded in 1888. Mr. Jansons has received various distinctions for his achievements, including honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. He is also the recipient of the Austrian Decoration of Honour for Science and Art, the Latvian Three-Star Order, and the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In June 2013, Mr. Jansons will be awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for his life and work in the service of music.

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  • Leonidas Kavakos

    Leonidas Kavakos has established himself as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship, and the integrity of his playing. Mr. Kavakos first received international recognition first came while still in his teens when he won the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in 1985 and, three years later, the Premio Paganini competition.

    Mr. Kavakos now works with the world's major orchestras and conductors, including the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In the 2012-2013 season, he is the focus of the London Symphony Orchestra's UBS Soundscapes LSO Artist Portrait  and is also the Berlin Philharmoniker's Artist in Residence. 

    With his probing and analytical approach, coupled with a rare virtuosity, Mr. Kavakos brings authority and depth of expression to the great concertos of the 19th and 20th centuries and is also known for his interpretations of Bach and Mozart. He is a committed chamber musician and recitalist and is a favored artist at the Verbier, Montreux-Vevey, Bad Kissingen, and Edinburgh festivals, as well as at the Salzburg Festival, where in August 2012 he played the complete violin sonatas by Beethoven together with Enrico Pace. He and Mr. Pace have recorded the sonatas for Decca Classics, to be released in January 2013, and the cycle was also recorded as part of a television documentary about Mr. Kavakos by Bavarian Broadcasting, to be shown in autumn 2012.

    During the 2012-2013 season, Mr. Kavakos and Emanuel Ax play the Beethoven sonata cycle in Vienna's Musikverein, as well as a single Beethoven sonata program in Berlin. He also performs the cycle with Mr. Pace at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Mr. Kavakos's distinguished chamber music partners include Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Antoine Tamestit, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Kozhukhin, and Yuja Wang, with whom he will give a series of recitals in Europe during the 2013-2014 season.

    Leonidas Kavakos plays the 1724 "Abergavenny" Stradivarius.

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Mahler's Symphony No. 1 (Stürmisch bewegt)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra | Mariss Jansons, Chief Conductor
RCO Live

At a Glance

This concert presents an early symphony and a mature concerto by two composers who struggled for recognition during their lifetimes but whose works are now firmly in the standard repertory. Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2, premiered by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, is an exciting showpiece with a subtle variation structure. Mahler's First already has his signatures, including a memorable funeral march and a vivid evocation of nature. Separated by half a century, these pieces would appear to have little in common, yet both have manic emotional shifts, strikingly colorful orchestration, an injection of folk music into epic symphonic structures, a juxtaposition of caustic irony with fervent lyricism, and complex finales that recapitulate disparate parts from earlier movements and wind things up with heroic codas.
Program Notes
KPMG 124X46
Sponsored by KPMG LLP
This performance is part of Concertos Plus, and The Late Romantics.