15.Kent Nagano Conducts the Viennese Classics
Maison symphonique de Montréal
Kent Nagano, conductor
Paul Lewis, piano
Classical Spree Ensemble
Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro [The Marriage of Figaro]: “Overture” (4 min.)
Mozart, Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat major, K. 595 (32 min.)
J.Strauss II, Kaiser-Walzer [Emperor Waltz], op. 437 (arr. A. Schoenberg) (12 min.)
Video excerpt from the Wiener Symphoniker and Fabio Luisi
This program spans three genres and almost one hundred and fifty years of Viennese music, but still only scratches the surface of the musical wealth of the Austrian capital. Mozart’s opera buffa Le Nozze di Figaro premiered in Vienna in 1786. Although opera overtures did not usually anticipate themes from the opera at the time, this short prelude succeeds spectacularly in building anticipation. The music begins with an unforgettable hushed, hurrying rustle – marked pianissimo and presto – and eventually builds to a triumphant climax after a slow but unstoppable crescendo.
The Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat major was Mozart’s last. Composed in 1791, eleven months before the composer’s death, it has a more intimate character than many of the earlier concertos. The work is scored with no trumpets and no percussion, and the piano part is noble and lyrical rather than sensational and flashy. The orchestra introduces the classically Mozartean initial theme – elegant, self-assured, and sometimes tinged with sadness. Throughout the opening Allegro, the piano plays delicate, swirling embellishments without losing sincerity and expression. The Larghetto, meanwhile, features a very spare but very touching piano line. Cast in tripartite form, this movement is serene and wistful, sometimes melancholy but never morose. The final Allegro is a free and happy rondo, with an irresistible, skipping main theme and an easy, graceful finish.
Johann Strauss II’s hugely popular dance compositions earned him the title “The Waltz King.” Originally entitled Hand in Hand, the Kaiser-Walzer was composed for the 1889 meeting of the Austrian and German Emperors in Berlin; Strauss’s publisher later shrewdly suggested the name Emperor Waltz, such that the title could allude to either monarch. The work comprises four different complementary waltzes. Another famous Viennese composer, Arnold Schoenberg, created this chamber version in 1925 while on tour with his song cycle Pierrot lunaire. This arrangement for string quartet, piano, flute, and clarinet (an instrumentation very similar to that of Pierrot Lunaire) gives the quintessential Viennese waltz an unusual lightness and clarity of sound.
© Ariadne Lih, 2018
Kent Nagano has established an international reputation as one of the most insightful and visionary interpreters of both the operatic and symphonic repertoire. He is Music Director of the OSM since 2006. Maestro Nagano was General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich from 2006 to 2013. He became Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 2013. Since 2015, he has been General Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in California, Kent Nagano spent his early professional years in Boston, working in the opera house and as Assistant Conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was Music Director of the Opéra national de Lyon (1988-1998), Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000), Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1990-1998) and Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (2000-2006) and remains their Honorary Conductor. Kent Nagano was also the first Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera (2003-2006). As a much sought-after guest conductor, Maestro Nagano has worked with the Berlin, New York and Vienna Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus, and at leading opera houses including the Opéra national de Paris, Berlin State Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Semperoper Dresden. He has won two Grammy awards for his recording of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and for Busoni’s Doktor Faust, recorded with the Opéra national de Lyon, among other awards. Maestro Nagano was named Commander of the Ordre de Montréal, Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, and he was decorated with the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.
Recent recordings with the OSM: A Quiet Place (Decca, 2018); Danse macabre (Decca, 2016); L’Aiglon (Decca, 2015); Saint-Saëns, Moussa, Saariaho: Symphony and New Works for Organ and Orchestra (Analekta, 2015); Complete Violin Concertos of Saint-Saëns (Analekta, 2015).
Recent tours with the OSM: Krakow and Salzburg (2018); United States (March 2016); China and Japan (October 2014); Europe (March 2014); and South America (April-May 2013).
Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the leading musicians of his generation. His cycles of core piano works by Beethoven and Schubert have received unanimous critical and public acclaim worldwide, and consolidated his reputation as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the European classical repertoire. His numerous awards have included the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, two Edison awards, three Gramophone awards, the Diapason d’or de l’année, the Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and the South Bank Show Classical Music award. He holds honorary degrees from Liverpool, Edge Hill, and Southampton universities, and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Paul Lewis studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London before going on to study privately with Alfred Brendel.
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