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Leif Ove Andsnes embarks on second leg of “The Beethoven Journey”

The new year sees Leif Ove Andsnes embark on the second leg of “The Beethoven Journey,” his multi-season focus on the master composer’s five piano concertos. After devoting much of the past 18 months to the First and Third Concertos, with extensive touring and his highly successful Sony Classical label debut, now Andsnes turns to Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4. Over the coming months, this new phase of his journey takes the Norwegian pianist to important collaborations on three continents, crowned by performances of the poetic Fourth with the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti (June 13–18) and of both concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO). As before, Andsnes will direct the MCO from the keyboard, both on their upcoming European tour (May 16–24) and their subsequent recording together for Sony Classical.
It is his partnership with the MCO that anchors “The Beethoven Journey,” and their close musical rapport has continued to develop along the way. As the pianist put it: “By the autumn I felt like we had built a trust in performance that made us able to be very spontaneous and free.” This rare synergy is communicated to their audience; the UK’s Telegraph describes how, live in concert, “the orchestra reveal[s] an extraordinary empathy with Andsnes’s way of music-making.” No doubt reflecting this, their first recording for the project, of the First and Third Concertos, was recognized as iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012.
As Andsnes comments:
“I am extremely excited because I have played the First and Third Concertos so much now and am looking forward to taking the next step in our adventure. I love the Second Concerto, and to get to the Fourth, which is so different from what we’ve worked on thus far, will be very special. It will be curious doing the Fourth without a conductor, but I think we can do something compelling. It’s all about listening and finding the right colors – and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra can really do that.”
As he does with the MCO, Andsnes will direct from the keyboard when he plays the Second and Fourth Concertos with the Danish National Symphony (May 9) and with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra on a Scandinavian tour (Feb 20–24).
Andsnes also looks forward to playing the Fourth Piano Concerto with a number of eminent conductors, including Riccardo Muti, who directs the pianist’s return to the Chicago Symphony (June 13–18). After a previous engagement with the orchestra, the Chicago Classical Review declared that it was “Andsnes as soloist who delivered the clear highlight of the evening,” and the Chicago Tribune agreed:
“It all flowed beautifully. Not for a long while has one heard such technically immaculate playing. The pianist’s sonorities reached deep into the keys without turning hard or clattery, while the evenness of his leggiero playing was a joy to the ear. Nor was the beautiful finish of his pianism achieved at the expense of emotional depth.
Besides his four high-profile appearances in Chicago, Andsnes undertakes Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto under Vasily Petrenko for his debut at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Jan 24 & 27); with Finnish composer/conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who directs him with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra on tour in Japan (Feb 3–8); and under Herbert Blomstedt with the Mahler Youth Orchestra on a ten-city European tour (March 16–28).
Andsnes’s immersion in Beethoven’s music extends also to the recital stage, where he has been described as “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight” (New York Times); the Piano Sonata in F, Op. 54 and Sonata in A major, Op. 101 figure prominently on his upcoming ten-stop solo recital tour of Europe (April 4–24). Meanwhile, following his appearance at The Greene Space last fall, the pianist may be seen here, performing Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata and discussing the genesis of “The Beethoven Journey.”
A complete list of the pianist’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his web site:
Leif Ove Andsnes: upcoming engagements (2013)
Jan 17, 18
Stavanger, Norway
Stavanger Symphony / Steven Sloane
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2
Jan 24, 27
Liverpool, UK
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Feb 2
Yokohama, Japan
Recital with Akiko Suwanai (violin)
Repertoire to include:
   Bartók: Sonata for violin and piano No. 2
   Webern: Four Pieces, Op. 7
   Beethoven: Sonata for violin and piano No. 9 in A, Op. 47, “Kreutzer”
Feb 3–8
Philharmonia Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen, Japanese tour
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
   Feb 3: Hyogo Performing Arts Center
   Feb 7: Tokyo Opera City
   Feb 8: Toyko Suntory Hall
Feb 15, 17
Falun, Sweden
Vinterfest Chamber Music Festival
Feb 20–24
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (directing from keyboard), Scandinavian tour
Beethoven: Concertos Nos. 2 and 4
   Feb 20: Drammen, Norway
   Feb 21: Kristiansand, Norway
   Feb 23: Gothenburg, Sweden
   Feb 24: Oslo, Norway
March 6
Aalesund, Norway
Recital: Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin
March 8
Stavanger, Norway
Recital: Beethoven, Bartók, Liszt, Chopin
March 16–28
Mahler Youth Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt, European tour
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
   March 16: Lisbon, Portugal
   March 18: Barcelona, Spain
   March 19: Paris, France
   March 21: Bratislava, Slovakia
   March 22: Vienna, Austria
   March 23: Zagreb, Croatia
   March 24: Interlaken, Switzerland
   March 26: Birmingham, UK
   March 28: Aix-en-Provence, France
April 4–24
European recital tour
Beethoven: Sonata in F, Op. 54; Sonata in A major, Op. 101
Bartók: Suite Op. 14
Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
Chopin: Nocturne in C minor
   April 4: Bruges, Belgium
   April 5: Paris, France
   April 9: London, UK
   April 10: London, UK
   April 12: Pavia, Italy
   April 14: Munich, Germany
   April 20: Lisbon, Portugal
   April 21: Oviedo, Spain
   April 23: Madrid, Spain
   April 24: Bilbao, Spain
May 9
Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish National Symphony Orchestra (directing from keyboard)
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4
May 16–24
Mahler Chamber Orchestra tour
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4
   May 16: Pavia, Italy
   May 17: Lugano, Italy
   May 19: Torino, Italy
   May 21, 22: Prague, Czech Republic
   May 24: Bergen, Norway
June 13, 14, 15, 18
Chicago, IL (Orchestra Hall)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Riccardo Muti
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
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