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Leif Ove Andsnes’s “Beethoven Journey” continues

Starting in September, 2012, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes resumes “The Beethoven Journey,” his multi-season focus on Beethoven’s music.  Anchoring his “Beethoven Journey” project will be Andsnes’s performance and recording of all five of the master composer’s piano concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO); he will also play these works with other top ensembles and conductors around the world. The project enters its second year with the release, on September 11, of The Beethoven Journey, a CD marking the Norwegian pianist’s Sony Classical label debut on which he directs the MCO from the keyboard in the First and Third Piano Concertos. He opens the New York Philharmonic’s season on September 19 with the Third Piano Concerto as well, and then goes on to perform Beethoven concerti with the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Danish National Symphony; on tours of England and Japan with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and of Scandinavia with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; and on European tours with the MCO and Mahler Youth Orchestra. Beethoven’s music also figures prominently on the pianist’s upcoming European solo recital tour and on a duo European recital tour with violinist Christian Tetzlaff. Andsnes’ immersion in the music of Beethoven has been widely acclaimed; after ascribing to Andsnes’s Beethoven interpretations “a masterly refinement that was a privilege to hear,” the New York Times entreated: “Now that he has found his way into Beethoven, may he keep on going.”
“Beethoven’s music is for me the most human and deeply spiritual music there is,” says Andsnes. “Beethoven believed that changing the world is possible and that music is truth. This touches me deeply.” New Yorkers can hear Andsnes discuss his relationship with the composer’s music at a special event at the city’s Greene Space, where WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon will engage him in conversation about the “Beethoven Journey” before introducing his only New York solo appearances of the season, comprising performances of Beethoven sonatas including the “Waldstein” (Sept 22).
In addition to Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, Andsnes will also perform György Kurtág’s …quasi una fantasia…, in four performances with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert (Sept 19–22). The music director comments: “When Leif Ove plays a serious piece such as Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, there is a stylistic rigor that he brings to it but also a contemporary whimsy. He has a really probing musical mind and I love that he asked us to combine the Beethoven concerto with the Kurtág. It will be a fascinating journey for all our audience.” It is with the same program that Andsnes joins the Munich Philharmonic and Thomas Dausgaard (Oct 24–28), as well as England’s Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the great Finnish composer/conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen (Sept 25-27). The pianist reprises the Third Concerto with Berlin’s Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester under Gianandrea Noseda (Nov 28–29), besides coupling it with Beethoven’s First, as on his forthcoming Sony album release, for dates with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel (Oct 4–7) and on his five-country European tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Nov 14–21).
Another major component of the coming season is Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, which Andsnes performs in 2013 four high-profile appearances with the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti (June 13–18), as well as with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko (Jan 24 & 27); on tour in Japan with Salonen and the Philharmonia (Feb 3-8); and on a ten-city European tour with the Mahler Youth Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt (March 16-28). Directing from the keyboard, the pianist also pairs Beethoven’s Fourth concerto with the Second for a European tour with the MCO (May 16–24), a Scandinavian tour with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Feb 20–24), and a date with the Danish National Symphony (May 9).
Described as “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight” (New York Times), Andsnes is equally renowned as a recitalist and chamber musician. Additional highlights of his 2012-13 season include a ten-stop European solo recital tour, with a program of Beethoven, Bartók, Liszt, and Chopin (April 4–24) and a duo European recital tour (December 9-17), featuring music by Beethoven, Dvorák, and Bartók, with long-time collaborator violinist Christian Tetzlaff. As the Seattle Times observes of their partnership, “Both superb players in their own right, their duo is more than the sum of its parts.”
“The Beethoven Journey” was launched in the 2011-12 season, when Andsnes performed Piano Concertos No. 1 and 3 extensively across Europe and North America with ensembles including the BBC, Vienna, Montreal, and Boston Symphony Orchestras; the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; and with the MCO on a seven-city European tour crowned by appearances at the Prague Spring Festival. Other season highlights included performances of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto with Hannover’s NDR Radiophilharmonie, Japan’s NHK Symphony, and the pianist’s hometown orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic. Music by Chopin, Debussy, Bartók, and Haydn was featured on a solo recital tour program in North America and Europe while the songs of Mahler and Shostakovich were the focus of a further tour with baritone Matthias Goerne. Summer highlights included his curatorial debut at California’s Ojai Music Festival where, as the New York Times observed, “the superb Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes was a natural choice to be music director.” Inviting close musical friends like the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Martin Fröst, and Marc-André Hamelin, Andsnes made his mark with creative and original programming that included such experimental works as John Luther Adams’s monumental Inuksuit.
As the summer 2012 season came to a close, Andsnes stepped in at short notice to replace the acclaimed Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman in a recital at the Salzburg Festival.  Die Presse reported on the occasion“In him all things balance; the clear presentation of the structure is in the beautiful pianistic balance of the whole. And he is able to put into practice a wonderful technique, which he never uses pretentiously.”  Under the headline, “A consistent and elegant narrator at the piano,” the Salzburger Nachrichten observed, “Andsnes is one of the most exemplary and serious musicians – not just of his generation.”  A reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek added, “The best thing I saw during a week of festival going was in the Grosses Festspielhaus, the big theater, where pianist Leif Ove Andsnes played a program of Beethoven sonatas, Chopin and Debussy with dazzling technique and subtle passion. I couldn’t have had a better sendoff.
A complete list of the pianist’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his web site:
Leif Ove Andsnes: engagements, 2012-13
Sept 19, 20, 21, 22; New York, NY (Avery Fisher Hall)
New York Philharmonic / Alan Gilbert
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
Kurtág: …quasi una fantasia
More information
Sept 22 (1pm); New York, NY (The Greene Space)
WQXR presents Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey (performance and discussion)
Beethoven: Sonata No. 21, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”); Sonata No. 22, Op. 54
Sept 25-27; Philharmonia Orchestra UK tour / Esa-Pekka Salonen
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1
Kurtág: …quasi una fantasia
Sept 25: Leicester, UK – De Montfort Hall
Sept 27: London, UK- Royal Festival Hall
Oct 4, 5, 6, 7; Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Gustavo Dudamel
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 3
More information
Oct 24, 25, 27, 28; Munich, Germany
Munich Philharmonic / Thomas Dausgaard
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1
Kurtág: …quasi una fantasia
More information
Nov 14-21; Mahler Chamber Orchestra tour
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 3
   Nov 14: Reggio Emilia
   Nov 15: Perugia, Italy
   Nov 18: Cologne, Germany
   Nov 19: St Pölten, Austria
   Nov 20: Birmingham, UK
   Nov 21: Brussels, Belgium
More information
Nov 28, 29; Berlin, Germany
Deutches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Gianandrea Noseda
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
More information
Dec 9-17; European Recital with Christian Tetzlaff
Bartók: Violin Sonata No. 2
Dvorák: Violin Sonata, Op. 57
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9
   Dec 9: Stavanger, Norway 
   Dec 10: Hanover, Germany
   Dec 12: Brussels, Belgium
   Dec 14: Rome, Italy
   Dec 15: Florence, Italy
   Dec 17: Zurich
More information
Jan 17,18; Stavanger, Norway
Stavanger Symphony / Steven Sloane
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2
More information
Jan 24, 27; Liverpool, UK
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
More information
Feb 2; Yokohama, Japan
Recital with Akiko Suwanai (violin)
Repertoire to include:
Bartok: Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 
Webern: 4 pieces Op.7
Beethoven: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, “Kreutzer”
More information
Feb 3-8; Philharmonia Orchestra, Japanese tour / Esa-Pekka Salonen
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
   Feb 3: Hyogo, Prefuctural Arts Theater 
   Feb 7: Tokyo Opera City      
   Feb 8: Toyko Suntory Hall   
Feb 15,17; Falun, Sweden
Vinterfest Chamber Music Festival
More information
Feb 20-24; Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Scandinavian tour
Beethoven: Concertos Nos. 2 and 4 (directing from keyboard)
   Feb 20: Drammen, Norway
   Feb 21: Kristiansand, Norway
   Feb 23: Gothenburg, Sweden
   Feb 24: Oslo, Norway
More information  
March 6, 2012; Aalesund, Norway
Recital: Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin
More information   
March 8; Stavanger, Norway
Recital: Beethoven, Bartók, Liszt, Chopin
More information   
March 16-28; Mahler Youth Orchestra, European tour / Herbert Blomstedt
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
More information   
April 4-24; European recital tour
Beethoven: Sonata In F
Bartók: Suite Op.14
Liszt: Harmonies poetiques 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
More information 
May 9; Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Beethoven: Concertos Nos. 2 and 4 (directing from keyboard)
More information
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
More information    
June 13, 14, 15, 18, 2013; Chicago, IL (Orchestra Hall)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Wagner: Rhine Journey from Gotterdammerung
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.4
Bruckner Symphony No.1
More information
© 21C Media Group, September 2012
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