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Leif Ove Andsnes Plays Dvořák, Bartók and Schumann in London, Vienna, Amsterdam and More on Nine-City European Recital Tour (March 9–April 2)

Leif Ove Andsnes (photo: Oezguer Albayrak)

In solo recital, Leif Ove Andsnes has consistently proven himself to be “one of the finest musicians working today” (Washington Post). This spring, the celebrated Norwegian pianist plays Dvořák’s Poetic Tone Pictures, Bartók’s Three Burlesques and Schumann’s Carnaval on a European recital tour (March 9–April 2). Crowned by returns to the Vienna Konzerthaus and London’s Wigmore Hall, the tour takes him to Amsterdam, Lisbon, Heidelberg, Copenhagen, Norway’s Spitsbergen and Oslo, and Sweden’s Gothenburg, where he serves as 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the Gothenburg Symphony. Click here to see Andsnes’s recent interview with NYC-ARTS.

Two seasons ago, when Andsnes undertook a similar artistic residency at the New York Philharmonic, he “resurrected rarities and dazzled audiences with revelatory interpretations,” winning praise for his willingness “to take chances and get audiences thinking” (New York Times). This same “intelligent programming” (Seen and Heard International) informs the pianist’s upcoming tour. He opens his program with Dvořák’s little-known Poetic Tone Pictures, comprising 13 short pieces that the composer intended for performance as a single cycle. Andsnes explains:

“My parents had an LP recording of these pieces, so I’ve known them from childhood and I’ve always loved them. It’s a mystery to me that they’re not better-known outside the Czech Republic, because they’re really prime-time Dvořák. The pieces date from 1889, around the time of his Eighth Symphony, Second Piano Quartet and famous Piano Quintet, when his melodic invention was so great! And I love the titles. Some are descriptive, like ‘Night Journey’, ‘Spring Song’ and ‘At the Hero’s Grave’. Some are fiery dances, like ‘Furiant’ and ‘Bacchanalia. And some are about really small, everyday things, like, ‘Joking’ and ‘Tittle-tattle’. I find it so touching that for each one he came up with a very simple folksong-like musical idea, but then in the middle of each piece, it changes character and he elevates it into something poetic, spiritual and deep. After starting from a simple idea, each piece ends up telling a big story. With his harmonies and characterization, Dvořák has a very special talent for that.

   On completing the Poetic Tone PicturesDvořák wrote in a letter to a friend: ‘Regrettably, precious few pianists will have the courage to play them all one after another, but only thus can the listener form the right picture of that which I may have had in mind, since this time I am not only an absolute musician but a poet.’  It feels exciting to take Dvořák at his word, and I think he is absolutely right.”

For his recital’s second half, Andsnes pairs Bartók’s Three Burlesques, which draw on the composer’s research into the folk traditions of Bulgaria, Slovakia and his native Hungary, with Schumann’s ebullient and virtuosic Carnaval. The pianist says:

“Whereas the Dvořák is like a very intimate conversation with the listener, my second half is more theatrical: first Bartók’s Burlesques and then a piece that I think fits very well with it: Carnaval. It’s very well-known, and for good reason, as it’s ingenious, especially when you remember that it was created when Schumann was still in his twenties, not long after Beethoven’s death. With his ‘carnaval’ of imaginary figures, he created such a new world, with its poetic references to figures from theater and literature. He captures other composers too, in the famous Chopin piece, for example, or the Paganini one, which is the most virtuosic in the whole cycle. Schumann wanted to combine stories, poetry and music, like a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk for piano, and the results are really incredible. It’s so alive, and has such dancing rhythms! Each piece is restless, changing from one character to another. It’s an ever-fascinating work.”

Andsnes recorded music by Schumann’s close contemporary Chopin for his Sony Classical album Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes, named one of the “Best Classical Albums of 2018” (WQXR) and nominated for an International Classical Music Award. Click here to see Andsnes play Chopin’s Ballade in G minor.

For his next Sony Classical release, the six-time Gramophone Award-winner looks forward to recording Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20–22 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as part of “Mozart Momentum 1785/1786,” their second major multi-season partnership. When Andsnes played Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 21 and 22 with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra last month, the Star-Tribune marveled:

He would be on many critics’ shortlists of the top ten pianists in the world at present, and these opalescent, intellectually pleasing performances of Mozart concertos showed why.

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Leif Ove Andsnes: European recital tour

DVOŘÁK: Poetic Tone Pictures, Op. 85

BARTÓK: Three Burlesques, Op. 8 (Sz.47)

SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op. 9

March 9

Spitsbergen, Norway

Longyearbyen Kulturhus

March 11

Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg Konserthuset

March 12

Vienna, Austria

Vienna Konzerthaus

March 14

Oslo, Norway

University Aula

March 21

Copenhagen, Denmark

Konservatoriets Koncertsal

March 24

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberger Frühling

March 27

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ

March 29

Lisbon, Portugal

Gulbenkian Music (sold out)

April 1 & 2

London, UK

Wigmore Hall

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© 21C Media Group, March 2020

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