Performance Sunday, May 19, 2013 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
“So compelling is Evgeny Kissin’s pianism,” writes The Times of London, “so fresh his response to even the most familiar phrases, that one hangs on every note.” He performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the outstanding MET Orchestra on this program, which also marks the return of Music Director and Conductor James Levine after a two-year hiatus. The legendary conductor leads the ensemble through excerpts from Wagner’s Lohengrin and Schubert’s “Great” Symphony.


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


  • WAGNER Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin
  • BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
  • SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9, "Great"

  • Encore:
  • BEETHOVEN Rondo a capriccio in G Major, Op. 129

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • 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 33-week New York season, when the company performs seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 28 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: Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), and Charles 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.

    James Levine

    Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with the Metropolitan Opera that is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. Since his company debut in 1971, he has led nearly 2,500 performances of 85 operas at the Met, both in New York and on tour. Next season, he returns to the company to conduct the new production of Falstaff and revivals of Così fan tutte and Wozzeck. He also returns to Carnegie Hall for three concerts with the MET Orchestra.

    Maestro Levine inaugurated the Metropolitan Opera Presents television series for PBS in 1977, founded the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 1980, and returned Wagner's complete Ring to the repertoire in 1989 (in the first integral cycles in 50 years at the Met). He and the MET Orchestra began touring in concert in 1991, and since then have performed around the world, including at Expo '92 in Seville, in Japan, across the United States and Europe, and regularly during and after the opera season here at Carnegie Hall.

    In addition to his responsibilities at the Met, Mr. Levine has been a distinguished pianist and an active and avid recital collaborator, especially in lieder and song repertoire. He began accompanying such artists as Jennie Tourel, Hans Hotter, and Eleanor Steber more than 50 years ago, and has since given recitals with most of the great singers of our time. He was music director of the Ravinia Festival (summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) from 1973 to 1993, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra from 1999 to 2004, and music director of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra from 2000 to 2004. He was also music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. Between 1996 to 2000, Mr. Levine led more than a dozen concerts on the "Three Tenors" World Tour, and he was conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia 2000. He has conducted every major orchestra in America and Europe.


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    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 concert debut, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto, K. 466; and one year later, he gave his first solo recital in Moscow.

    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 that was 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 its 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 fifth appearance with the MET Orchestra today at Carnegie Hall, as well as spring recital and orchestral appearances throughout the United States.

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Beethoven's  Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major (Rondo: Vivace)
London Symphony Orchestra | Sir Colin Davis, Conductor | Evgeny Kissin, Piano
EMI Classics

At a Glance

RICHARD WAGNER  Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin

Drawing upon the same medieval Germanic stories of the Holy Grail and its knightly protectors that would later inspire Parsifal, Lohengrin was composed in Dresden between 1846 and 1848 and represents a point in Wagner's development at which he had moved away from the more traditional operatic aspects of his earlier works but had not yet fully realized his goal of creating the all-encompassing Gesamtkunstwerk. According to the composer, the sublime and ethereal Prelude to Act I is a musical depiction of the Holy Grail being borne down from the heavens by a host of angels.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58

Compared to the preceding Third Concerto (which speaks in a mostly traditional though stormy language) and the "Emperor" Concerto that followed (which raises that language to a previously unknown degree of grandeur and ambition), the Concerto No. 4 is a sharply contrasting interlude, a less imposing but more original sideways step in which Beethoven explored the lyrical and discursive possibilities of the form. The work received just one dreadfully under-rehearsed and poorly received performance during Beethoven's lifetime, but has since become one of the most popular and often performed of the composer's works for piano and orchestra.

FRANZ SCHUBERT  Symphony No. 9 in C Major, "Great," D. 944

When Schubert died in 1828, he left behind numerous unpublished works, many of which had never been performed. The manuscripts eventually ended up with Schubert's brother Ferdinand, who sold off many of the smaller-scale works but paid little attention to the large-scale symphonic and choral works, allowing them to silently collect dust on his shelves for nearly a decade. Finally, in 1837, Robert Schumann persuaded Ferdinand to show him the remaining manuscripts. Discovering among them the "Great"  C-Major Symphony, Schumann knew he was looking at a masterpiece arranged for the work's long-overdue premiere the following year under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn. Overflowing with hummable tunes and flowing lyrically from beginning to end, Schubert's "Great" Symphony—so nicknamed to differentiate it from the much shorter and more modest Symphony No. 6, with which it shares its C-major key signature—is identifiably the product of history's greatest composer of art song.

Program Notes
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra.