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Leif Ove Andsnes Tours Carnegie, Kennedy Center, and Other North American Venues with Solo Recital Program of Sibelius, Chopin, Debussy & Beethoven (Nov 14–22)

Marking a change of pace for the Norwegian pianist, whose past four seasons were dedicated almost exclusively to his epic “Beethoven Journey,” Leif Ove Andsnes – “an artist at the peak of his powers” (The Arts Desk, UK) – returns to North America next month with a richly varied recital program. Taking him to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (Nov 14), New York’s Carnegie Hall (Nov 16), San Francisco’s Davies Hall (Nov 18), the University of Michigan (Nov 20), and the Vancouver Recital Society (Nov 22), this combines mature works by Chopin and Debussy with Beethoven’s spirited “Hunt” Sonata and rarely performed vignettes that span 25 years of Sibelius’s career.

Explaining the thinking behind his new recital program, Andsnes says:

“After ‘The Beethoven Journey,’ … it was appealing to think of doing a program consisting of shorter pieces. … I am on a mission right now to focus attention on the piano music of Sibelius. … His best pieces are really haunting … . They have a deep feeling for nature, and even if most pieces are intimate, they give the feeling of vast landscapes. …

“After the Sibelius, the program turns very classical with one of the middle period sonatas of Beethoven. … It’s often nicknamed ‘The Hunt,’ because of the fun last movement, which gives you the feeling of being on horseback. The minuet has one of the loveliest melodies I can think of. …

“My second half is decidedly more pianistic in nature. The Debussy set reveals two very different sides of this composer. The first work shows his ability to evoke nature and places, in this case an evening in Granada. … Then I will play three of his Études, which were his last works for piano solo … . It’s incredible how taking one technical aspect of piano playing as a limitation, and seeing what he could do about that, made him so creative. …

“And then finally, we turn to Chopin. … When I was twelve I got a cassette tape of the four Chopin ballades and got totally obsessed. They rank amongst the greatest piano music there is, and the Fourth Ballade has a particular place in my heart. Just unbelievable what he says in twelve minutes. … I always wanted to do this piece as an ending to a program!”

Click here to read his comments in full.

The tour represents the pianist’s second American visit of the season. Earlier this month he wowed the Chicago press with his account of Mozart’s 20th Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti. “Andsnes’ unhurried attention to the singing line had me hanging on every note,” wrote the Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein. The Chicago Classical Review agreed: “Andsnes is one of those rare artists who seem completely convincing no matter what repertory they are playing. The pianist has a way of subtly illuminating Mozart’s music with an unexpected pause or dynamic that always feels right.” As the Chicago Sun-Times expanded:

“A master of elegant understatement, Andsnes’ immaculate, sublimely fluid, unfussy playing turned Mozart’s virtuosic piano interludes into emotionally varied conversations, and served as a subtle reminder that this composer wrote extraordinary operas, as well, and was fine-tuned to the musicality of the human voice.

“Andsnes made the piano speak – with deft emotional shifts, a lightness of touch, and rippling arpeggios that suggested the point at which words become music. He beautifully captured the formal dance-like quality of the concerto’s second movement, the ‘Romanza,’ and then moved seamlessly into its slower, more meditative section, all the while stretching time so that you could hear a pin drop in the hall. Conductor, orchestra and soloist were one sublime unit throughout, with a great ribbon of sound for the final Rondo.”

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Although “The Beethoven Journey” has reached its end, Andsnes’s monumental four-year focus on the master composer’s music for piano and orchestra has been captured for posterity, both in Concerto – A Beethoven Journey (2015), a new documentary from award-winning British director and filmmaker Phil Grabsky that is slated for U.S. release this spring, and on the three Sony Classical albums Andsnes recorded with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. As a boxed set, these were named among the “Best of 2014” by the New York Times, while that of Beethoven’s second and fourth concertos won the pianist BBC Music magazine’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award.”

High resolution photos are available here.



Leif Ove Andsnes: North American recital tour

Kyllikki, Three Pieces Op. 41
The Birch, Op. 75, No. 4
The Spruce, Op. 75, No. 5
The Forest Lake, Op. 114, No. 3
Song in the Forest, Op. 114, No. 4
Spring Vision, Op. 114, No. 5

Sonata No. 18 in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3

“La soirée dans Grenade” from Estampes
Étude No. 7 pour les degrés chromatiques
Étude No. 11 pour les arpèges composés
Étude No. 5 pour les octaves

Impromptu in A-flat, Op. 29
Étude in A-flat from Trois nouvelles études
Nocturne in F, Op. 15, No. 1
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

Nov 14
Washington, DC
Kennedy Center

Nov 16
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)

Nov 18
San Francisco, CA
Davies Hall

Nov 20
Ann Arbor, MI
University Musical Society of the University of Michigan

Nov 22
Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Recital Society

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© 21C Media Group, October 2015

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