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Carnegie Hall Presents

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Sunday, February 27, 2022 2 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage

Please note that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in place of Valery Gergiev. The program remains unchanged.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin by Hans van der Woerd
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet—his first large-scale ballet—deftly embraces the essence of Shakespeare’s tragedy. The balcony scene’s sweet lyricism and the driving rhythms propelling the fights between the rival families excite with cinematic power. Tchaikovsky’s symphony has a turbulent heart and meditates on death without being maudlin. It roils with emotion in its opening, dances and marches in the inner movements, and says a poetic farewell to life in a heart-wrenching finale. 

Performers

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor

Program

PROKOFIEV Selections from Romeo and Juliet

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"

Event Duration

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

Major support for this concert is provided by the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation.

The Vienna Philharmonic Residency at Carnegie Hall is made possible by a leadership gift from the Mercedes T. Bass Charitable Corporation.

Rolex is the Exclusive Partner of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

At a Glance

This concert presents two contrasting works by Russian masters, one from the 19th century, the other from the 20th. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, written mid-career, is a kaleidoscopic compilation of the composer’s many styles, from delicately neoclassical to crushingly dissonant. There is plenty of passion, as befits its subject, but Prokofiev inserts his own acrid irreverence, reflecting Shakespeare’s vision of young love assaulted by harsh reality. Critics thought the music too cold and lacking sensuality, and Prokofiev had to fight for six years starting in 1934 to get his “undanceable” ballet produced in Russia. Nonetheless, this massive score has always been popular as concert music, offering tremendous color, variety, and a Wagnerian tissue of motifs that represent not only specific characters, but also their thoughts and fantasies. Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony, his final work, is more emotionally unified. It is his darkest symphony, heralding a new emotional honesty. It embraces despair rather than heroically struggling against it, as with his Fourth and Fifth symphonies. Yet it has Tchaikovsky’s unmistakable sound, his uninhibited Russianness, and his incomparable gift for melody. Typical of Tchaikovsky’s composition process, it cost him considerable angst in its creation, although he came to regard it as his best and “most sincere” creation. At one point, he contemplated destroying the finale, perhaps his most powerful and original symphonic movement. In keeping with Tchaikovsky’s bad luck, the symphony was received indifferently at its 1893 premiere, but was enthusiastically embraced at subsequent performances a month later—right after his sudden, tragic death. Despite its profound melancholy, it has been popular ever since.

Bios

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera. His intensely collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and ...

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera. His intensely collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. Yannick has been artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal since 2000, and in 2017 he became an honorary member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He also served as music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, where he is now an honorary conductor. In 2018, he signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.

Yannick has worked with many leading European ensembles and has enjoyed many close collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was principal guest conductor from 2008 to 2014. He has appeared several times at the BBC Proms and many European festivals, among them Edinburgh, Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg. North American festival appearances include New York’s Mostly Mozart, Lanaudière, and Bravo! Vail. Once chorus master, assistant conductor, and music adviser at Opéra de Montréal, he has since conducted at the Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

A native of Montreal, Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at Montreal’s Conservatoire de musique du Québec and continued his studies with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini; he also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. Among Yannick’s honors are an appointment as Companion of the Order of Canada; Companion to the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec; an Officer of the Order of Quebec; an Officer of the Order of Montreal; Musical America’s 2016 Artist of the Year; ECHO Klassik’s 2014 Conductor of the Year; a Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s National Arts Centre Award; the Virginia Parker Prize; the Prix Denise-Pelletier; the Oskar Morawetz Award; and honorary doctorates from the Université du Quebec, Curtis Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, McGill University, Université de Montréal, University of Pennsylvania, and Laval University.

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Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

There is perhaps no other musical ensemble more closely associated with the history and tradition of European classical music than the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the past 179 ...

There is perhaps no other musical ensemble more closely associated with the history and tradition of European classical music than the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the past 179 years, the orchestra has experienced and influenced the course of music history around the world, and to this day, prominent soloists and conductors refer to the unique “Viennese Sound” that sets it apart from other orchestras. 

Since its founding by Otto Nicolai in 1842, the orchestra has held a fascination for composers and conductors because of its conscious maintenance of a consistent musical style that is carefully bequeathed from one generation to the next, as well as its unique history and organizational structure. The two pillars of the orchestra’s “Philharmonic Idea” are a democratic structure that places the entire artistic and organizational decision-making process in the hands of the musicians themselves, and a close symbiotic relationship with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Vienna Philharmonic statutes stipulate that only musicians from the opera orchestra can become members of the philharmonic. The orchestra itself is solely responsible for the organization of concerts and the selection of repertoire, as well as the engagement of conductors and soloists. 

In 1860, the Vienna Philharmonic introduced the Subscription Concert series, for which one conductor leads an entire season. Beginning in 1933, the orchestra created a system of engaging guest conductors that promotes a wide spectrum of artistic encounters with the most prominent conductors of each generation. Touring activities began at the turn of the 20th century and have since taken the orchestra to every continent. In recent years, this has included regularly scheduled concerts in Germany, Japan, the US, and China. 

From the beginning, the orchestra has displayed a strong social mission characterized by a commitment to individuals in need and the fostering of young musicians. In 2018, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Academy was founded. The academy students are selected in accordance with a strict, internationally oriented audition process, and trained at the highest level during a two-year course of study. The orchestra also engages its humanitarian spirit by performing benefit concerts and developing initiatives for disadvantaged people. 

The Vienna Philharmonic performs approximately 40 concerts in Vienna annually, among them the New Year’s Concert and Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn, which are broadcast around the world. The orchestra also has an annual summer residency at the Salzburg Festival and performs more than 50 concerts a year on its international tours. Since 2008, it has been supported by its exclusive sponsor, Rolex.

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