Performance Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 8 PM

Staatskapelle Dresden

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Referring to a recent performance by violinist Lisa Batiashvili, Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote that “she seems to have everything it takes for a major career: thorough musicianship, virtuosity, charisma, and a lovely stage presence.” The young Georgian violinist joins the Staatskapelle Dresden and conductor Christian Thielemann for an all-Brahms evening.


  • Staatskapelle Dresden
    Christian Thielemann, Principal Conductor
  • Lisa Batiashvili, Violin


  • Academic Festival Overture
  • Violin Concerto
  • Symphony No. 4


  • Staatskapelle Dresden

    In 2008, the Staatskapelle Dresden celebrated its 460th jubilee. Founded by Prince Elector Moritz von Sachsen in 1548, it is one of the oldest orchestras in the world and is steeped in tradition. Over its long history, many distinguished conductors and internationally celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on this one-time court orchestra.

    Previous directors include Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber, and Richard Wagner, who called the ensemble his "miraculous harp." The list of the orchestra's prominent conductors of the last 100 years includes Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Reiner, Fritz Busch, Karl Böhm, Joseph Keilberth, Rudolf Kempe, Otmar Suitner, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt, and Giuseppe Sinopoli. The orchestra was directed by Bernard Haitink from 2002 to 2004 and most recently by Fabio Luisi from 2007 to 2010. Christian Thielemann took up the post of principal conductor of the Staatskapelle in the 2012-2013 season. Sir Colin Davis has been the orchestra's conductor laureate since 1990. The current season also sees the introduction of the new position of principal guest conductor, the first holder of which will be Myung-Whun Chung.

    Richard Strauss and the Staatskapelle were closely linked for more than 60 years. Nine of the composer's operas were premiered in Dresden, including Salome, Elektra, and Der Rosenkavalier, and Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie was dedicated to the orchestra.

    Countless other famous composers have written works either dedicated to the orchestra or first performed in Dresden. In 2007, the Staatskapelle reaffirmed this tradition by introducing the annual position of Capell-Compositeur, successively held by composers Isabel Mundry, Bernhard Lang, Rebecca Saunders, Johannes Maria Staud, and Lera Auerbach. The Capell-Compositeur for the 2012-2013 season is Hans Werner Henze.

    The Staatskapelle's home is the Semperoper, where it performs approximately 260 operas and ballets each season. In addition, the ensemble presents another 50 symphonic and chamber concerts in the opera house, as well as playing at various musical events in Dresden's Frauenkirche. As one of the world's most celebrated and popular symphony orchestras, the Staatskapelle regularly travels abroad to the world's leading classical venues.

    The Staatskapelle also does valuable work to support the local region: Since October 2008, it has been the patron orchestra of Meetingpoint Music Messiaen in the double city of Görlitz-Zgorzelec. In September 2010, the orchestra helped found the International Shostakovich Festival in Gohrisch (Saxon Switzerland), which is the only such annual event dedicated to the music and life of Shostakovich.

    At a ceremony in Brussels in 2007, the Staatskapelle became the first-and so far only- orchestra to be awarded the European Prize for the Preservation of the World's Musical Heritage.

    Christian Thielemann

    Born in Berlin, Christian Thielemann comes from a family of music lovers. He began his professional career in 1978 as a rehearsal pianist at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Following positions in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe, and Hanover, he joined the conducting staff of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf in 1985. Three years later, he moved to Nuremberg to become Germany's youngest music director, then returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1997, holding the position of music director there for seven years. Mr. Thielemann conducted the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. In the summer of 2012, he took up the baton as principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden.

    Mr. Thielemann's repertoire is extensive, ranging from Bach to Henze and Gubaidulina. His interpretations of German Romantic music, both in opera and on the concert stage, are regarded around the world as exemplary. Since his Bayreuth debut in the summer of 2000 (in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), his annual appearances have set new standards in conducting. He has been musical advisor to the Bayreuth Festival since 2010. At the Salzburg Festival of 2011, Mr. Thielemann directed a new, highly acclaimed production of Die Frau ohne Schatten.

    Mr. Thielemann's discography with Deutsche Grammophon encompasses numerous symphonic works and operas. Together with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, he has recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies, released both on CD and DVD. To date, his recordings with the Staatskapelle include Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, Beethoven's Missa solemnis, the ZDF New Year's Eve Concerts of 2010 and 2011, Faust-related compositions by Wagner and Liszt, and Brahms's First Piano Concerto with Maurizio Pollini.

    Beginning in 2013, Mr. Thielemann will assume the position of artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, and the Staatskapelle Dresden will become the festival orchestra.

    Made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2011, Mr. Thielemann has also been awarded honorary doctorates by the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar and the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).

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  • Lisa Batiashvili

    Few young soloists command the degree of warmth and respect from fellow musicians all over the world as violinist Lisa Batiashvili. She is featured season after season with many of the world's greatest orchestras. In the US, she performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. In Europe, she works with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, and Orchestre de Paris.

    Ms. Batiashvili has an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Her debut album for the label, released in February 2011, includes Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

    Chamber music has always played an important part in Ms. Batiashvili's schedule, with invitations from the Salzburg, Edinburgh International, Aldeburgh, Tanglewood, Schleswig-Holstein, and Verbier festivals. This season, she tours as part of a quartet with François Leleux, Lawrence Power, and Sebastian Klinger, including concerts in Antwerp, Paris, Vienna, and Neumarkt. Other regular chamber music partners are Adrian Brendel and Till Fellner. Ms. Batiashvili's commitment to new music has seen her give several world premieres in recent seasons, including Magnus Lindberg's Violin Concerto and Nicolas Bacri's Double Concerto for Violin, Oboe, and Chamber Orchestra and Capriccio for Three Violins and Orchestra.

    In 1995, as the youngest ever competitor at age 16, Ms. Batiashvili was awarded second prize in the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki. In 2003, she was named winner of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival's Leonard Bernstein Award and was later awarded the Beethoven Ring Prize from the Beethoven Festival Bonn. In 2008, Ms. Batiashvili was honored with the MIDEM Classical Award and the Choc de l'année for her Sony recording of Sibelius's and Lindberg's violin concertos. That same year, she received an ECHO Klassik award. She was recently announced as the winner of the prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana International Prize in Siena.

    Ms. Batiashvili studied with Ana Chumachenko at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, having previously worked with Mark Lubotsky. She plays the 1709 Engleman Stradivarius, kindly loaned by the Nippon Music Foundation.

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Brahms's Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 77 (Allegro non troppo)
Batiashvili Staatskapelle Dresden Thielemann
Brahms's Symphony No. 4 (Andante moderato) 
Cleveland Orchestra | George Szell, Conductor

At a Glance

The most classical of the great Romantics, Brahms was a preserver of the Haydn-Beethoven tradition in the age of Liszt and Wagner. His melodies, however, are as ravishing as those of any Romantic, and his structural subtleties were admired by modernists, including Arnold Schoenberg. This concert takes in the entire range of Brahms's style: the boisterous wit of the Academic Festival Overture, the passionate lyricism of the Violin Concerto, and the formal mastery of the composer's final symphony. Brahms's sober classicism emerges in this concert alongside drinking songs (the overture) and gypsy fiddle tunes (the finale of the concerto), revealing a larger range of sensibility than is commonly supposed. What is consistent is a perfect merging of form and emotion, design and content. In his time, Brahms was often regarded as too cerebral for large audiences, but he is now one of the most beloved of all composers. Indeed, an appreciation of Brahms is almost a test of character, as illustrated by A. N. Wilson's comic novel Love Unknown, which depicts a marriage breaking up over one partner's inability to appreciate Brahms. "One might like a person who saw no point in Brahms," says the disillusioned hero, "but one could never respect or take them seriously."
Program Notes


Lisa Batiashvili discusses her violin and her work on Brahms's Violin Concerto with Christian Thielemann and Staatskapelle Dresden and reveals an affinity with Clara Schuman.

Sneak Peeks

A couple of snippets of what the audience for this concert and the Brahms Violin Concerto, in particular, can expect.

This performance is part of Carnegie Hall Classics, The Three Bs, and German Masters.