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In 2017-18, Leif Ove Andsnes Is Artist-in-Residence of New York Philharmonic and Releases Sibelius Album on Sony Classical

Having developed a close musical partnership with the New York Philharmonic through two decades of collaboration, Leif Ove Andsnes has now been chosen as the orchestra’s 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence. Marking his only New York City appearances of the new season, the residency sees him give a solo recital at David Geffen Hall, perform chamber music with members of the orchestra, and join the full Philharmonic for works by Britten, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy. All three concertos figure prominently in the celebrated Norwegian pianist’s programming with other orchestras this season too, including the New World Symphony, Tonhalle Zurich, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Oslo Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In recital, he embarks on an extensive European tour to such key cities as London, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Madrid, Milan, and Amsterdam, with a program that features a selection of pieces by Sibelius, whose unjustly neglected oeuvre for solo piano is also the focus of the six-time Gramophone Award-winning pianist’s September 1 Sony Classical release. To round out the season, he reunites with his regular recital partner, baritone Matthias Goerne, for Schubert’s Winterreise at the new Boulez Saal in Berlin. As the New York Times observes, “Andsnes has entered an elite circle of pianistic stardom. … When he sits in front of the keyboard, … extraordinary things happen.

In live performance: New York Philharmonic residency and more

Since making his New York Philharmonic debut in February 1997 with a “stunning performance” (New York Times) of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, Andsnes has appeared with the orchestra a remarkable 28 times. High points include a “staggering account” (New York Times) of Prokofiev’s Third concerto, and a performance of Lutoslawski’s that was “commanding, elegant, incisive, rich with wondrous colors and full of imagination” (New York Times). He most recently headlined the Philharmonic’s 2012-13 opening-night gala, playing both Kurtág and Beethoven under Alan Gilbert, and prompting the New York Times to report:

“True to form, Mr. Andsnes’s performance of [Beethoven’s] Third Concerto here combined effortless brilliance and scrupulous integrity. … [His] playing had affecting naturalness and self-effacing beauty. Every note spoke; every phrase was shaped with grace; every rhythmic detail and harmonic twist came through vibrantly without anything seeming fussed over or underlined: qualities matched by the lithe, emphatic playing of the orchestra.”

Looking forward to his season-long tenure as the Philharmonic’s 2017-18 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, the pianist explains:

“What I love with these kinds of residencies is that you can engage with musicians and with the audience in a closer way, and you can show the diversity of your musical persona. I decided to revisit some lesser-known pieces that I performed a long time ago. I am particularly looking forward to spending so much time with the New York Philharmonic: I’ve had wonderful experiences on stage with this orchestra. I was 27 the first time I played with them, and, my goodness, it was such a feeling of event for me. I felt tremendous support from the orchestra. There is lyricism to the playing and diversity. And I think New York is my favorite city: I’ve been so welcomed over the years. It’s really an artistic home to me. I love the people and the directness of spirit.”

For the first concerto collaboration of their partnership, Andsnes joins the orchestra for Rachmaninoff’s rarely-programmed Fourth Concerto (Oct 12–17) under Paavo Järvi, with whom he previously made a recording of Shostakovich and Enesco. Rachmaninoff’s jazz-inflected concerto is also the vehicle for the pianist’s fall engagements with the Bergen Philharmonic (Sep 7 & 8) and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Sep 21 & 22). He previously recorded all four Rachmaninoff Concertos for EMI (now Warner) Classics, with Antonio Pappano leading the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. Calling their pairing of the Third and Fourth concertos “superb,” BBC Music magazine declared: “Among contemporary accounts these new versions by Andsnes are without doubt in the front rank.”

Andsnes partners Pappano once again when he rejoins the Philharmonic in the New Year for Britten’s Piano Concerto (Feb 8–10). The pianist’s 1999 recording of the work with Järvi and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was heralded as “ravishing” (Gramophone), and he reprises it with multiple European orchestras this season, namely Zurich’s Tonhalle (May 16–22), the Vienna Symphony (March 21 & 22), the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (March 15–17), and the Oslo Philharmonic with Alan Gilbert (Jan 17 & 18).

For the third and final orchestral program of his Philharmonic residency, Andsnes plays Debussy’s Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra under the leadership of Edward Gardner (April 26–28). Again, the work is one that he returns to many times this season, taking him to the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski (April 18); the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (June 8); and the New World Symphony (Feb 17 & 18) and Oslo Philharmonic (April 12 & 13), both led by Michael Tilson Thomas.

To conclude the residency (which will include chamber collaborations too), Andsnes gives a solo recital at David Geffen Hall, where his program combines Nielsen’s Chaconne, Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, and Jörg Widmann’s Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences) with works by Schubert and Sibelius (May 2). He performs a variation on the program, with Chopin’s B-major Nocturne and G-minor Ballade in place of Nielsen, on an extensive European recital tour this fall; Andsnes then previews the complete NY Phil residency program for the Gilmore Recital in Kalamazoo, MI (April 30) and repeats it in Berkeley, CA (May 4). Ambitious in scope, this season’s tour takes him to ten countries, 16 cities, and such high-profile venues as the Vienna Konzerthaus, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Cologne Philharmonie, and London’s Royal Festival Hall, where he appears in the International Piano Series (Oct 2 & 3; Oct 23–Dec 3).

Leif Ove Andsnes: Sibelius on Sony Classical

Sibelius’s solo piano music – too long in the shadow of his symphonic writings – is the focus of Andsnes’s new Sony Classical recording, his first since the award-winning Beethoven Journey series. Recorded in Berlin last December, and due for release on September 1, the album gathers together some of the Finnish composer’s lesser-known gems that Andsnes, who scoured the composer’s entire piano output to select them, calls “intriguing works with the wonderful Sibelius qualities we know.”

They include the composer’s own piano arrangement of his famous Valse triste, and excerpts from the popular Ten Pieces, Op. 24 and the piano score that is often considered his finest, Kyllikki (Three Lyric Pieces), Op. 41. Also featured are “The Birch” and “The Spruce” from his five “tree” pieces, and the final pair of his Six Impromptus, Op. 5, early pieces from the 1890s that reveal the influence of Finnish folklore. Andsnes explains: “There is an impressionistic, watery feel while Sibelius can almost feel like a Nordic Satie. It’s quite clear he experimented with very different approaches.” The album also includes the first of the Three Sonatinas, Op. 67, composed during the early 1910s, when Sibelius famously compared his music – by contrast with the “cocktails” of other composers – to “pure cold water.” Andsnes says:

“The first Sonatina is a real masterpiece – so simple and so sophisticated at the same time. It inhabits a very private world and is almost not a piece for the public, but something to play for a friend or even alone.”

Likewise, the pianist describes the Five Sketches, Op. 114 as “again, real masterpieces – unique in the way they describe Sibelius’s development as a composer.” All told, he explains:

“There has been such a feeling of discovery. Everyone was astonished that there can be a major composer out there with such beautiful, accessible music that people don’t know. The fact that many will be hearing it for the first time, that’s a wonderful feeling. I really, really believe in this music and I want people to hear it. I feel like I’m on a mission here!”

Click here to see the video trailer for Leif Ove Andsnes: Sibelius, and see below for a full track listing.

Highlights of 2016-17

These engagements follow a full 2016-17 season for the pianist, who played Rachmaninoff’s Fourth concerto with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and Boston Symphony; Mozart with the Vienna Philharmonic and on tour with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; and Schumann with Japan’s NHK Symphony, where – for the second time in the prize’s 20-year history – he was subsequently named “Most Memorable Soloist of 2016.” In recital, he gave his first solo tour of South America, performing Sibelius, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin in Brazil and Chile, before reprising a similar program for dates in Japan and South Korea; reunited with Goerne for complete trios of Schubert song cycles in Paris and Brussels; and joined fellow pianist Marc-André Hamelin for a substantial U.S. and European tour of music for two pianos that the Washington Post called “a meeting of two champions at the top of their game.” A centerpiece of their program was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which is among the works they recorded for release in early 2018 on the Hyperion label. In August, Andsnes presented the second annual Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, at which Anne Sofie von Otter, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann, Martin Fröst, and a host of other world-class guest artists helped him celebrate Mozart’s chamber music. As Founding Director, it was Andsnes who inaugurated the festival last summer, when it was hailed as “a utopian place for utopian musicians” (Arts Desk, UK).  To conclude the season, he reprises Rachmaninoff’s Fourth with the Oslo Philharmonic in Norway and at London’s BBC Proms.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Leif Ove Andsnes: Sibelius

Sony Classical

Release Date: September 1, 2017

Six Impromptus for Piano, Op. 5

Impromptu V

Impromptu VI

Kyllikki (Three Lyric Pieces for Piano), Op. 41

  1. Largamente-Allegro
  2. Andantino

III. Commodo

Ten Piano Pieces, Op. 24

No. 9, Romance

No. 10, Barcarola

Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 58

No. 4, “The Shepherd”

Valse triste, Op. 44, No. 1 (arranged for piano)

Sonatina No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 67, No. 1

  1. Allegro
  2. Largo

III. Allegro moderato

Five Pieces (The Trees), Op. 75

No. 4, “The Birch”

No. 5, “The Spruce”

Two Rondinos for Piano, Op. 68

Rondino II

13 Pieces for Piano, Op. 76

No. 10, Elegiaco

Six Bagatelles, Op. 97

No. 2, Song

No. 4, Humorous March

No. 5, Impromptu

Five Sketches, Op. 114

  1. “Landscape”
  2. “A Winter Scene”

III. “A Woodland Pond”

  1. “A Song in the Woods”
  2. “A Vision in Spring”

Leif Ove Andsnes: 2017-18 engagements

Sep 7 & 8

Bergen, Norway

Bergen Philharmonic / Edward Gardner

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4

Sep 21 & 2

Munich, Germany

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Dima Slobodeniouk

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4

Oct 1

Hobro, Norway

Solo recital: Sibelius, Widmann, Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin (see Oct 23)

Oct 3

Trondheim, Norway

Solo recital: Sibelius, Widmann, Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin (see Oct 23)

Oct 6

Stord, Norway

Gala concert

Oct 12, 13, 14, 17

New York, NY

New York Philharmonic / Paavo Järvi

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4

Oct 16

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers University


Oct 23–Dec 3

European solo recital tour

Sibelius: The Birch, Op. 75, No. 4; Impromptu, Op. 97, No. 5; Rondino in C-sharp minor, Op. 68, No. 2; The Shepherd, Op. 58, No. 4; Romance in D-flat, Op. 24, No. 9

Jörg Widmann (b. 1973): Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)

Schubert: Three Piano pieces, D.946

Beethoven: Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (“Tempest”)

Chopin: Nocturne in B, Op. 62, No. 1; Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23

Tour Dates:

Oct 23: Bilbao, Spain

Oct 24: Madrid, Spain

Oct 26: Lugano, Switzerland

Oct 30: Vienna, Austria (Konzerthaus)

Oct 31: London, UK (International Piano Series, Royal Festival Hall)

Nov 8: Leipzig, Germany (Gewandhaus)

Nov 10: Cologne, Germany (Philharmonie)

Nov 11: Amsterdam, Holland (Muziekgebouw)

Nov 25: Luzern, Switzerland

Nov 27: Turin, Italy

Nov 28: Milan, Italy (Conservatorio di Musica)

Nov 30: Antwerp, Belgium

Dec 1: Berlin, Germany (presented by the Berlin Philharmonic)

Dec 3: Munich, Germany

Jan 17 & 18

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Philharmonic / Alan Gilbert

Britten: Piano Concerto

Feb 8–10

New York, NY

New York Philharmonic / Antonio Pappano

Britten: Piano Concerto

Feb 17 & 18

Miami, FL

New World Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra

Feb 23 & 24

Bergen, Norway

Schumann: Piano Concerto

March 8

Berlin, Germany

Pierre Boulez Saal

Schubert: Winterreise, D. 911 (with Matthias Goerne)

March 15–17

Berlin, Germany

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Alain Altinoglu

Britten: Piano Concerto

March 21 & 22

Vienna, Austria

Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Jakub Hrůša

Britten: Piano Concerto

April 6 & 7

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger Symphony / Eiving Gulberg Jensen

Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2

April 12 & 13

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Philharmonic / Michael Tilson Thomas
Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra

April 18

London, UK

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski

Royal Festival Hall

Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra

April 26 & 28

New York, NY

New York Philharmonic / Edward Gardner

Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra

April 30

Kalamazoo, MI

The Gilmore Recital

Nielsen: Chaconne

Sibelius: Selected works

Schubert: Two scherzos in B-flat and D-flat, D. 593; Three Piano Pieces, D. 946

Jörg Widmann (b. 1973): Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)

Schubert: Three Piano pieces, D. 946; Two Scherzos D. 593

May 2

New York, NY

David Geffen Hall

Solo recital (presented by the New York Philharmonic):

Nielsen: Chaconne

Sibelius: Selected works

Schubert: Two scherzos in B-flat and D-flat, D. 593; Three Piano Pieces, D. 946

Jörg Widmann (b. 1973): Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)

Schubert: Three Piano pieces, D. 946; Two Scherzos D. 593

May 4

Berkeley, CA

Solo recital

Nielsen: Chaconne

Sibelius: The Birch, Op. 75, No. 4; Impromptu, Op. 97, No. 5; Rondino in C-sharp minor, Op. 68, No. 2; The Shepherd, Op. 58, No. 4; Romance in D-flat, Op. 24, No. 9

Beethoven: Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (“Tempest”)

Jörg Widmann (b. 1973): Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)

Schubert: Three Piano pieces, D. 946; Two Scherzos D. 593

May 16–22

European tour with Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich

Britten: Piano Concerto

May 16 & 17: Zurich, Switzerland

May 18 & 20: Katowice, Poland

May 22: Prague, Czech Republic

June 8

Paris, France

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France / Santtu Matias Rouvali

Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra

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© 21C Media Group, August 2017

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