Performance Thursday, May 19, 2016 | 8 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
It’s an evening abundant with passion, melodic splendor, and dazzling color—elements that make Russian music thrilling. Glinka’s energetic Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila sets the stage for his festive grand opera. Superstar pianist Evgeny Kissin is on hand for one of most beloved concertos in all music: Rachmaninoff’s famous Piano Concerto No. 2. The program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s impassioned Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique.”


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


  • GLINKA Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila
  • RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"

  • Encores:
  • RACHMANINOFF Étude-tableau in E-flat Minor, Op. 39, No. 5
  • TCHAIKOVSKY PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY "Natha Waltz" from Six Pieces, Op. 51, Op. 4

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, 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 as many as seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 24 operas.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Arturo 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 six world premieres: Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009), and John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life (2011).

    James Levine

    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 more than 2,500 performances of nearly 90 operas at the Met, both in New York and on tour. This season at the Met, he conducted revivals of Tannhäuser (transmitted live in HD), Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Fledermaus, and Simon Boccanegra, as well as two performances by the MET Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall.

    Mr. Levine 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; they have since performed around the world, including at Expo '92 in Seville, in Japan, across the US, and throughout Europe. With the conclusion of the 2015-2016 opera season, Maestro Levine retired as music director and has taken on the new position of music director emeritus.

    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 since that time has given recitals with most of the great singers of our time. From 1973 to 1993, he was music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; became chief conductor from 1999 to 2004 of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; and served as music director of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2011, he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Between 1996 and 2000, he led more than a dozen concerts around the world with the Three Tenors, 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

    Evgeny Kissin's musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have earned him the veneration and admiration deserved only by one of the most gifted classical pianists of his generation and, arguably, generations past. He is in demand the world over and has appeared with many legendary artists, including Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph von Dohnányi, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, and Seiji Ozawa.

    Mr. Kissin began playing piano by ear at age two. At age six, he entered the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow, where he was a student of Anna Kantor. He came to international attention in 1984 when, at age 12, he performed Chopin's First and Second piano concertos in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Dmitri Kitaenko. In 1990, Mr. Kissin made his North American debut, performing both Chopin piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and the following week opening Carnegie Hall's centennial season with a spectacular debut recital, recorded live by BMG Classics. In addition to this evening's concert with the MET Orchestra, Mr. Kissin performed with the New York Philharmonic, and appeared in two recitals, a chamber music program, and a Jewish poetry program as part of his Carnegie Hall Perspectives series throughout the 2015-2016 season.

    Mr. Kissin has received a number of musical awards and accolades from around the world. He was special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards ceremony, broadcast live for an audience estimated at more than one billion, and three years later was named Musical America's youngest Instrumentalist of the Year. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by the Manhattan School of Music, the Shostakovich Award, and an honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London.

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RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2 (Adagio sostenuto)
Evgeny Kissin, Piano | London Symphony Orchestra
RCA Victor Red Seal

At a Glance

MIKHAIL GLINKA  Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila

Glinka’s reputation as the father of Russian art music was cemented through the posthumous gratitude and acknowledgment he received from many famous Russian composers of the generations that followed. Ruslan and Lyudmila, composed between 1837 and 1842,is the second of Glinka’s two operas and is based on Pushkin’s poem of the same name. Though the full opera has achieved a comfortable place in the repertoire only in its native land, its infectiously energetic overture is a popular concert piece the world over.

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF  Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18

For several years following the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony in 1897, Rachmaninoff found efforts at composition futile and distracted himself with other activities. His cousins eventually sent him to a specialist in hypnosis; after a few months of treatment, Rachmaninoff was considerably improved, and he traveled to the Crimea and then to Italy, returning to Russia bearing detailed sketches for a piano concerto. By December 1900, the concerto’s last two movements were finished, and Rachmaninoff played them in concert. Encouraged by the reception, he finished the first movement on May 4, 1901, and introduced the complete work the following November to thunderous acclaim.

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74, “Pathétique”

Tchaikovsky called this his most “sincere” symphony, and indeed it brought a new emotional honesty to music. The gloom of the outer movements—made all the more convincing by the groping toward light in the inner ones—is gripping and emotionally real. The darkness of this symphony (dubbed the “Pathétique” by Tchaikovsky’s brother) looks forward to desolate moments in Mahler, Shostakovich, and others, yet the work carries a feeling of profound isolation. In Lawrence Gilman’s words, it remains “a lonely and towering masterpiece. Where, indeed, is there anything at all like it?”

Program Notes


Perspectives: Evgeny Kissin
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra.

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