Press Room

March 3–8: Montreal Symphony & MD Rafael Payare Perform Mahler’s Fifth on New Pentatone Release & Live at Kennedy Center & Carnegie Hall, Marking First Album & U.S. Dates of Partnership

(February 2023)—For the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) and its new Music Director, Rafael Payare, next month brings their collaborative album debut on the Pentatone label (March 3) followed by their first U.S. appearances together at Washington’s Kennedy Center (March 6) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 8). The vehicle for all three landmark events is Mahler’s monumental Fifth Symphony. Payare’s approach to the work has been called “riveting celebration” (Los Angeles Times), and the recording and U.S. dates continue the multi-season immersion in Mahler’s music that he and the orchestra launched last fall. After inaugurating their partnership with a season-opening account of the Bohemian composer’s “Resurrection” Symphony that “will be remembered as a major milestone in the history of the OSM” (Le Devoir, Canada), they showcased their interpretation of Mahler’s Fifth on a high-profile European tour, prompting Austria’s Wiener Zeitung to liken them to “an organism whose voice groups interact as smoothly as the muscles in the body of a top athlete.” As The Times of London declared: “The Canadians have made a cracking appointment.”

Also serving as Music Director of California’s San Diego Symphony, Principal Conductor of Virginia’s Castleton Festival and Conductor Laureate of Northern Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra, Rafael Payare is “a musician to watch” (Wall Street Journal). Already known for his “spectacular Mahler” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), the Venezuelan conductor has long had a special place in his heart for the composer’s music. In an insightful liner note that accompanies the new album, he explains:

“Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is a deeply personal work, written at the prime of the composer’s life. The extremes in the music – from the darkness of the funeral march to the ecstatic joy of the finale – very much reflect the highs and lows of his own life at the time, which range from surviving a near-death experience to marrying his beloved Alma and becoming director of the Vienna Court Orchestra.

“The Fifth is the last of Mahler’s symphonies to have an almost naïve quality; his subsequent symphonic works would take a much darker, more existential turn. But in the Fifth, we have a composer who, while a fully mature artist, is still looking forward to what the future might bring. This is music brimming with exuberant energy, hope and a deep love of life.”

The forthcoming release not only marks the Montreal Symphony’s first recording with its new Music Director, but also its first on the Pentatone label. This being its 132nd release, the ensemble is no stranger to the recording world, however. The winner of two Grammys and 110 international awards, OSM is the only Canadian nominee in the history of Gramophone’s “Orchestra of the Year” award.

The Montreal Symphony is no less familiar with Carnegie Hall, having already performed there some 44 times since making its house debut in 1976. For next month’s returns to the New York venue and Washington’s Kennedy Center, where it will be presented by Washington Performing Arts, OSM combines Mahler’s symphony with Precipice by Canadian composer Dorothy Chang and the Second Piano Concerto by Bartók, featuring powerhouse Grammy-winner Yefim Bronfman as soloist.

After reprising the same program at home in Montreal (March 9), Payare and OSM look forward to continuing their Mahler cycle later this spring. Drawing their inaugural season together to a momentous close, they undertake the composer’s longest and most life-affirming symphony, the Third, in collaboration with multi-Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung (May 31–June 3).

About the Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1934 by Wilfrid Pelletier, Antonia Nantel and Athanase David, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) is a distinguished leader of Canadian musical life and an essential cultural ambassador. Under the leadership of Venezuelan Music Director Rafael Payare, the orchestra continues its commitment to far-reaching projects and international tours, as well as to its superb discography and long history of community engagement. Firmly anchored in today’s world, OSM’s innovative approach to artistic programming brings modern-day relevance to the symphonic repertoire, both live and on disc, while strengthening the orchestra’s place at the heart of its Quebec metropolis home. Over the years, the Montreal Symphony has toured throughout Canada as well as to the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. Totaling more than a hundred recordings on the Decca, Analekta, CBC Records, ECM, EMI, Philips and Sony labels, OSM’s discography has been recognized with 110 national and international awards.

High-resolution photos are available here, and advance physical/digital copies of the new recording are already available to the media on request.

Montreal Symphony Orchestra & Rafael Payare

Album release:
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Label: Pentatone
Official physical and digital release date: March 3, 2023
Early purchases may be made at Pentatone’s website from Feb 6.

Upcoming engagements:

March 6–8: U.S. concerts
     March 6: Washington, DC (Kennedy Center; presented by Washington Performing Arts)
     March 8: New York (Carnegie Hall)
Dorothy CHANG: Precipice
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

March 9
Montreal, Canada
Dorothy CHANG: Precipice
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

March 28 & 30
Montreal, Canada
MÜLLER-HERMANN: Heroische Ouvertüre
MAHLER: Rückert-Lieder (with Sonya Yoncheva, soprano)
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben

April 26 & 27
Montreal, Canada
R. STRAUSS: Don Quixote (with Alisa Weilerstein, cello)
Ana SOKOLOVIĆ: Melita (world premiere of OSM commission)
ESTÉVEZ: Cantata criolla (with Aquiles Machado, tenor; Gustavo Castillo, baritone; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorus master)

May 31; June 2 & 3
Montreal, Canada
OSM Closing Concert
MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 (with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorus master; children’s choir)

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© 21C Media Group, February 2023


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