Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, Music Director and Conductor
Genia Kühmeier, Soprano
Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano
GRIEG Piano Concerto
MAHLER Symphony No. 4
GRIEG "Gangar" (Norwegian March) from Lyric Pieces, Op. 54, No. 2
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.
This performance is sponsored by Bank of America, Carnegie Hall's Proud Season Sponsor.
In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.
At a Glance
Edvard Grieg was 25 when he composed his only piano concerto during a summer holiday in Denmark. The young Norwegian composer was still under the spell of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto, which he had heard for the first time while he was a teenager studying at the Leipzig Conservatory. So it is no coincidence that Grieg cast his concerto in the same key as Schumann’s and sought to capture qualities similar to Schumann’s in his own—including what he called “its noble disdaining of an extrovert, virtuoso style.” Though Grieg’s concerto does include a rip-roaring first-movement cadenza—which prompted an ovation at the premiere that brought proceedings to a temporary halt—most of the music, like Schumann’s, requires sensitivity, variety of touch, poetry, finesse, lilt, and imagination as additional elements of virtuoso display. And to all of this Grieg added a crucial personal element, following upon his wish to create a specifically and distinctively Norwegian music.
Years after writing his Symphony No. 4, Mahler famously stated that for him, the idea of “symphony” encompassed the entire world. Completed in 1900, the Fourth is the last of his three Wunderhorn symphonies—so-called for their use of texts from the German folk-poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn). Here Mahler takes us on a journey beginning with the sound of earthly sleigh bells and moving ultimately through the gloriously unfolding third-movement variations that lead us to the finale’s winsome depiction in song of “Life in Heaven.” Throughout this symphony, Mahler’s use of his large orchestra is strikingly airy, kaleidoscopic, even chamber-musical, rarely calling for the entire ensemble to play simultaneously at full volume. The initial tempo markings for each movement—“ Pretty easygoing”; “Without haste”; “Serene”; “Very cozy”—also say much about his overall conception.
The 2019–2020 season marks Andris Nelsons’s sixth as the Ray and Maria Stata Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons leads 15 of the BSO’s 26 weeks of concerts this season, encompassing repertoire favorites, world and American premieres of BSO–commissioned works, the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists. In addition, February 2020 brings a major tour to Asia in which Mr. Nelsons and the BSO give their first concerts together in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. They have previously made three European tours together, as well as a tour to Japan. In February 2018, Mr. Nelsons became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (GHO), in which capacity he also brings the BSO and GHO together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance, a major highlight being a focus on complementary programming through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig.” For this season’s “Leipzig Week in Boston,” under Mr. Nelsons’s leadership last month, the entire Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra came to Symphony Hall for joint concerts with the BSO as well as two concerts of its own.
The 15th music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, his contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021–2022 season. His recordings with the BSO include the complete Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics; Grammy-winning recordings on Deutsche Grammophon of Shostakovich’s symphonies nos. 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11, “The Year 1905”; and a recent two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies nos. 6 and 7, “Leningrad.” A Naxos release due this month features Mr. Nelsons and the BSO in the world premieres of BSO–commissioned works by American composers Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis.
During the 2019–2020 season, Mr. Nelsons continues his ongoing collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Born in Riga into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015; principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009; and music director of the Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.
Leif Ove Andsnes
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has won wide acclaim, playing concertos and recitals worldwide, and building an extensive discography. He is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Chamber Music Festival for nearly two decades, and has also served as music director of California’s Ojai Music Festival. A Gramophone Hall of Fame inductee, he holds honorary doctorates from Norway’s University of Bergen and The Juilliard School. Mr. Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, following the success of their Beethoven Journey collaboration, have reunited for another major, multi-season project: Mozart Momentum 1785/1786. This season, they focus primarily on the composer’s piano concertos nos. 20–22, which Mr. Andsnes also performs with the Berliner Philharmoniker, San Francisco Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Oslo Philharmonic, as well as the Gothenburg Symphony, where he is this season’s artist-in-residence. A highlight of his Gothenburg residency is Grieg’s Piano Concerto, which he reprises with the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg and Bergen philharmonic orchestras. In recital, he joins Matthias Goerne for Schumann lieder at Milan’s La Scala and tours Europe with a solo program of works by Dvořák, Bartók, and Schumann. Now recording exclusively for Sony Classics, which released acclaimed albums from his Beethoven Journey project, Mr. Andsnes recently received his ninth Grammy nomination and has been recognized with no fewer than six Gramophone Awards. His other accolades include the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award, the Gilmore Artist Award, and Norway’s Peer Gynt Prize and Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. He has been honored as a New York Philharmonic artist-in-residence, as the first Scandinavian to curate a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, and as the subject of a London Symphony Orchestra Artist Portrait series. Mr. Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory. He is currently an artistic adviser for the Prof. Jirí Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen, where he lives with his partner and their three children.
Salzburg-born soprano Genia Kühmeier began her international career at La Scala in Milan, and has since been a frequent guest at such prestigious houses and festivals as the Salzburg Festival, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, London’s Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra Bastille, Bayerische Staatsoper, and Semperoper Dresden. Having shifted the main focus of her artistic endeavors to the concert stage, she is one of the most sought-after concert singers of our time. Recent performances have included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Mass in C Minor with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Missa solemnis at the Elbphilharmonie under Thomas Hengelbrock; Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem at the Salzburg Pentecost Festival; Haydn’s Die Schöpfung in Madrid and at La Scala; Mahler’s Second Symphony in Copenhagen under Mariss Jansons and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Mikko Franck; Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Munich Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev in Munich and on tour at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and the Philharmonie de Paris; Schubert’s Mass in G Major at the Musikverein in Vienna under Riccardo Muti; and Strauss’s Four Last Songs at the Grafenegg Festival and with the Orchestre National de Lyon. Current and future projects include numerous concerts in Berlin, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Vienna, Florence, Osaka, and Boston, as well as her role debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Vienna State Opera. In addition to those already mentioned, Ms. Kühmeier has worked with such esteemed conductors as Sir Colin Davis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Marek Janowski, Zubin Mehta, Marc Minkowski, Sir Roger Norrington, Seiji Ozawa, Kirill Petrenko, Sir Simon Rattle, and Christian Thielemann.