Performance Sunday, January 17, 2016 | 7 PM

The Cleveland Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by its Music Director Franz Welser-Möst gives the New York premiere of let me tell you—a new work which earned Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen the 2016 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition—and Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony No. 4. Soprano Barbara Hannigan collaborated closely on let me tell you, a series of lyrical contemplations set to a text by British writer Paul Griffiths that use only the words Ophelia speaks in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Shostakovich’s great admiration of Mahler is evident in his symphony, particularly the colossal arc of its closing movement. Intense and touching, Shostakovich’s symphony is one of his finest creations.


  • The Cleveland Orchestra
    Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director and Conductor
  • Barbara Hannigan, Soprano


  • HANS ABRAHAMSEN let me tell you (NY Premiere)
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.


  • Franz Welser-Möst

    One of today's most distinguished conductors, Franz Welser-Möst has served as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra since 2002, with his tenure now extended to 2022. He holds the orchestra's Kelvin Smith Family Endowed Chair.

    The Cleveland Orchestra, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2018, has reached new heights under Mr. Welser-Möst's direction, and has been repeatedly praised for its innovative programming, support for new musical works, and success in semi-staged and staged opera productions, including 2014's critically acclaimed performances of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, which combined computer-animated stage design with live action. In addition to recurring residencies in the US and Europe, Mr. Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra are frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals, including the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals. The orchestra has been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, young audience through groundbreaking programs involving students and by working closely with universities.

    Mr. Welser-Möst served as music director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1990 to 1996, and of the Zurich Opera from 1995 to 2008. From 2010 to 2014, he held the position of general music director of the Vienna State Opera, one of the world's most important repertoire houses. In addition to cultivating the traditional German, Italian, and Slavonic repertoire, including a significant spotlight on the works of Janáček, Mr. Welser-Möst placed a strong focus on 20th-century works, including the operas of Richard Strauss. He has an annual presence on the operatic stage at the Salzburg Festival, and after triumphant successes with Rusalka, Der Rosenkavalier,  and, this past summer, Fidelio-which marked  his 72nd opera premiere-he leads a new production of Strauss's Die Liebe der Danae in 2016.

    As a guest conductor, Franz Welser-Möst has developed a particularly close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He has twice appeared on the podium at the orchestra's New Year's Concert, and conducts the orchestra regularly in subscription concerts at the Musikverein, as well as in Lucerne, at the BBC Proms, and on tour in the United States, Scandinavia, and Japan. His close association with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was honored in spring 2014 when he was presented with the orchestra's Ring of Honor. Mr. Welser-Möst has received many other honors and awards, while his numerous CDs and DVDs have been awarded many international prizes, including the ECHO Klassik in 2015 for Best Opera Recording for the Salzburg Festival's production of Der Rosenkavalier.

    Upcoming and recent engagements include concerts with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Filarmonica della Scala of Milan, and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2015 Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm.

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has become one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, setting standards of artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement. The strong and ongoing financial support of the ensemble's home region is driving the orchestra forward with renewed energy and focus, increasing the number of young people who attend concerts and bringing fresh attention to the orchestra's legendary sound and committed programming.

    The partnership with Franz Welser-Möst, begun in 2002 and entering its 14th year with the 2015-2016 season, has earned The Cleveland Orchestra unprecedented residencies in the US and around the world, including one at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra. The orchestra's annual residency in Miami, Florida, presented under the name Cleveland Orchestra Miami, is entering its 10th year in 2015-2016, and involves four weeks of full programming in South Florida, including concerts, community presentations, education programs, and collaborative partnerships.

    The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of DVD and CD recordings under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of audio recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble's earlier music directors. In addition, Cleveland Orchestra concerts are heard in syndication each season on radio stations throughout North America and Europe.

    Seven music directors-Nikolai Sokoloff, Artur Rodziński, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Franz Welser-Möst-have guided and shaped the ensemble's growth and sound since its founding in 1918. Through tours, residencies, radio broadcasts, and recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and loyal constituency around the world. Visit for more information.

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  • Barbara Hannigan

    Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is a frequent guest with the Berliner Philharmoniker and has appeared with many of the world's other leading orchestras. She is making her Cleveland Orchestra debut with performances this week in Cleveland and New York.

    Much sought-after in contemporary music, Ms. Hannigan has devoted an extraordinary amount of her life to singing the music of our time, and has given more than 80 world premieres. She has worked extensively with composers who have included György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Henri Dutilleux, Gerald Barry, George Benjamin, Pascal Dusapin, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Hans Abrahamsen. Her recording of Abrahamsen's let me tell you will be released in 2016 on the Winter & Winter label.

    Ms. Hannigan made her conducting debut in 2011 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Stravinsky's Renard, and she has since conducted orchestras that include the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Her conducting debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam was awarded the Ovatie Prize for best classical music concert of 2014.

    As a singing actor, her operatic repertoire includes Berg's Lulu at La Monnaie in Brussels; La voix humaine at Opéra de Paris; Marie in Zimmermann's Die Soldaten at the Bavarian State Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, also at La Monnaie; and Agnes in Benjamin's Written on Skin at the Paris's Opéra Comique, Lincoln Center, and London's Royal Opera House. She makes her role debut as Mélisande in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in summer 2016 in a new production at Aix-en-Provence directed by Katie Mitchell and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

    For her performances in 2012 and 2013, Ms. Hannigan was named Singer of the Year by Opernwelt magazine and Musical Person of the Year by the Syndicate of the French Press. Her 2013 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Dutilleux's Correspondances won the Gramophone Award, an Edison, and France's Victoires de la Musique. She was awarded Germany's Faust Theatre Prize in 2015 for her portrayal of Marie in Die Soldaten.

    Ms. Hannigan earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Toronto. She is the subject of two recent documentary portrait films (by Swiss TV/Accentus and NTR Nederland) and the subject of Mathieu Amalric's short film C'est presque au bout du monde. Visit for more information.

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SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4 (Moderato con moto)
Bernard Haitink, Conductor | Chicago Symphony Orchestra

At a Glance

This concert features two works written more than 74 years apart. The first is an important new work by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen, who received the 2016 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for let me tell you. The workreceived its first US performances in Cleveland earlier this week, and this evening receives its first New York hearing. The text, created by British writer Paul Griffiths, is a set of lyric contemplations using only the words—rearranged and remixed into new or extending thoughts—that the character Ophelia speaks in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

This is coupled with Shostakovich’s enormous Fourth Symphony, much less well-known than the favorite symphony that followed it, yet still a gripping and rewarding challenge for both orchestra and audience. Written in the mid-1930s just as Shostakovich’s music was publicly abused by Soviet government officials, the work was withdrawn and thought lost after World War II. Orchestral parts turned up and provided for a late world premiere of this hourlong musical canvas in Moscow in 1961. The score, infused with ideas somewhere between Mahlerian excess and Shostakovich’s own later acerbic stylings, gives us an intriguing look into the composer’s developing art. This is the ninth of Shostakovich’s 15 symphonies that Franz Welser-Möst has explored with The Cleveland Orchestra.
Program Notes


Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts let me tell you with soprano Barbara Hannigan and the Rotterdam Philharmonic in March 2014.