Press Room

Leif Ove Andsnes & Robin Rhode: “Pictures Reframed”

“Modest Mussorgsky’s famous suite ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ of 1874 is one of the most demanding pieces for solo piano.  It proved so experimental that, over the years, hundreds of artists have taken the work as a starting point for new interpretations. Robin Rhode and I have joined forces and embarked on our journey – a new approach … It’s an amazing adventure, and not without risks, but hopefully they are risks worth taking.” 

                                                                                             – Leif Ove Andsnes

Leif Ove Andsnes embarks on a major project that marks a new departure for the internationally acclaimed pianist and exclusive EMI Classics artist.  Together with South African-born visual artist Robin Rhode he has created a special program entitled “Pictures Reframed,” which centers around Mussorgsky’s epic piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition and combines music, film and still imagery. EMI Classics will release the project on both DVD and CD in fall 2009 and the world premiere takes place on November 13 (with a second performance on November 14) at New York’s Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall), followed by live performances in the United States and throughout Europe during November and December. StatoilHydro is the project’s commissioning sponsor and New York’s Lincoln Center is the commissioning arts institution. 

Leif Ove Andsnes is usually alone and center stage in recital; however, for “Pictures Reframed” he will be flanked by an installation of five screens that will surround the piano, evoking a room within an exhibition. “There are pieces of music where you feel everything’s there, everything is said,” comments Andsnes. “Pictures at an Exhibition, however, is the opposite, making it a perfect composition to experiment with, since Mussorgsky’s music is incredibly strong but also very open and experimental. The main thing isn’t the notes themselves, but the composer’s grand vision. For me, therefore, the original version of the work remains almost as a sketch that is open for transformations and changes.  You have this wild narrative of a person walking into an exhibition and he crashes into the first picture and is faced with various strong images and textures. Later in the cycle he becomes a part of the picture and it takes on so many aspects. It’s psychologically challenging.” 

Leif Ove Andsnes and Robin Rhode share a fascination for Pictures at an Exhibition.  Rhode had already been experimenting with images based on Mussorgsky’s work, and his 2008 digital animation “Promenade” has become the opening sequence for “Pictures Reframed”.  With its colorful and constantly changing interplay between actor and drawing, it sets the scene fittingly for the musical narrative to follow. “I have always worked very closely with music,” Rhode says, “playing with the notion of rhythm and sound.  This new project is not, therefore, so distant from my regular practice, although classical music has such an intense history and that will be a difficult challenge. 

Robin Rhode and Leif Ove Andsnes met for the first time in Munich in September 2007 and ideas for the program have been evolving ever since, moving from piano to studio and back to piano.  One of their early meetings took place in a derelict Berlin factory where Rhode started to draw on a bare wall – a backdrop that is often featured in his work, stemming from his introduction to art on the streets of Johannesburg. As Rhode embellished the imaginary instrument, Andsnes stepped forward to perform on it, bringing another dimension to Rhode’s playful and often illusionary work.

Recently their adventure took them to Bergen where Andsnes performed in a disused shipyard as water rushed in. How a flooded piano (the same instrument that Leif Ove had previously played on top of a mountain, an image of which was used to promote his Grieg anniversary release) brings their collaboration to a climax will be revealed this fall as music and art converge on stage.

In addition to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, “Pictures Reframed” will include Andsnes playing Schumann’s Kinderszenen and a new commission by Austrian composer Thomas Larcher, with whom Andsnes and Rhode have both worked in the past.  

EMI Classics will release a special luxury collector’s edition of “Pictures Reframed”.  It will include a DVD and CD packaged together in an exhibition-catalogue-style hardback book with a wide selection of images from the creation and final performance version of the project.  In addition, EMI will release a standard CD of a studio recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and other solo piano works by Mussorgsky, coupled with Schumann’s Kinderszenen.

Robin Rhode’s new solo exhibition in the U.S., entitled “Catch Air”, opened at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio on 2nd April and runs until 26 July. He will also have a large-scale solo exhibition of new work at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York during November 2009, in conjunction with the world premiere of “Pictures Reframed” at Lincoln Center on 13 November. 

Norwegian TV (NRK) will film a preview performance of “Pictures Reframed” in Norway this summer, to be broadcast in the fall together with a documentary about the making of the project. The documentary will be syndicated for worldwide broadcast. 

Norway’s StatoilHydro has a long tradition of supporting musical talent; it presented Leif Ove Andsnes with the StatoilHydro Award for musical excellence in 1990. This was the starting point for an ongoing affiliation, and as part of this relationship StatoilHydro is proud to be the commissioning sponsor for “Pictures Reframed”.

Special media note:  The “Pictures Reframed” preview will take place on June 24 at the Risør Chamber Music Festival in Norway.  Both Leif Ove Andsnes and Robin Rhode will be there and available to meet with journalists and discuss the project on June 25.  “Revolution” is the theme of this year’s Festival, of which Andsnes is co-artistic director.

Tour dates for “Pictures Reframed”


13 & 14 November:  Premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York

16 November:      Calgary, Jack Singer Concert Hall

18 November:      University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

20 November:      Washington, Terrace Theatre, Kennedy Center

22 November:      Houston, Cullen Hall (matinee concert)

24 November:      Brussels, Palais des Beaux–Arts

27 November:      Moscow, Tchaikovsky Hall

29 November:      Stockholm, Konserthuset

1 December:        Hamburg, Kampnagel

2 December:        Munich, Prinzregententheater Theater

4 December:        London, Queen Elizabeth Hall (2 concerts)

7 December:        Naples, venue tbc

9 December:        Berlin, Radial System (2 concerts)

11 December:      Paris, Theatre des Champs-Elysées

13 December:      Copenhagen, Koncerthuset

17 December:      Stavanger, Concert Hall

18 December:      Oslo, Concert Hall

20 December:      Cologne, Philharmonie


16 March:             Beijing

29 March:             Abu Dhabi

(tour schedule subject to change)

Sponsors and partners:

Commissioning sponsor – StatoilHydro

Commissioning arts institution – Lincoln Center presents

Project and tour management – IMG Artists

CD & DVD partner – EMI Classics

TV partner – nrk

Artistic curator – Laurence Dreyfus

The Artists

The internationally acclaimed pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has been described as “the most accomplished pianist of the new generation” by the New York Times, and he was saluted for his many achievements by Vanity Fair, which named him one of the “Best of the Best“ in its appraisal of leading politicians, businessmen and artists from around the world in 2005.  

Born in 1970 on an island off the West Coast of Norway, Andsnes gave his first professional concert at the age of 17 and soon after began his international career. Still only 38 years old, Leif Ove Andsnes has enjoyed a career that has spanned nearly 20 years and led him to perform at all the major concert halls in recital, chamber music concerts and concerto programs with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. His repertoire spans from Bach to the present day and, as an exclusive EMI Classics artist, he has recorded more than 30 discs, won three Gramophone Awards and been awarded many international prizes.  

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Born in Cape Town and raised in Johannesburg, the 32-year-old South African artist Robin Rhode has emerged as one of the most exciting young artists in his field, avoiding the limitations of working in one artistic realm. Rhode regularly uses performance and drawing to create multi-disciplinary masterpieces. His work often consists of physical human interaction with the images he creates. He draws commonplace objects on walls or on the floor, then takes photographs or films “using” these objects to create a sequence of events, a fluid action or interaction.  Rhode’s work is convincing especially because of its ability to straddle both these opposite worlds: the real and the imaginary. He considers the world as a huge sheet of paper; every place is a potential framework for his drawings.

Based in Berlin since 2002, Rhode has shifted his guerilla tactics from the street to museums and galleries, although he continues to work in any and all locations that inspire him. In 2005 he was the youngest artist ever to be featured at the Venice Biennale’s Italian Pavilion in the company of Francis Bacon, William Kentridge, and Stan Douglas, and since then he has mounted solo exhibitions at a number of  leading galleries and institutions, including Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York, Haus der Kunst in Munich, White Cube and the Hayward Galleries in London. His recent Hayward Gallery exhibition marked him out as the youngest solo artist to have exhibited there. Previewing the show, The Times wrote, “Rhode is a new kind of voice – a young, post-apartheid, mixed race South African making art that engages both with modern art and street culture.” 

Project updates, images and other special preview materials will be posted regularly at 

An electronic press kit for the project is available on You Tube: 

For more information on Leif Ove Andsnes: 

For more information on Robin Rhode: 

For an introductory film on Robin Rhode, created for his 2009 Wexner Center for the Arts exhibition:

For further information contact:

Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group:           (212) 625-2038,  [email protected]

Mariko Tada, EMI Classics:      (212) 786-8964,  [email protected]

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