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Summer Sees Leif Ove Andsnes Return to NYC’s Mostly Mozart Festival (July 28–30) and Launch Norway’s Inaugural Rosendal Chamber Music Festival (Aug 11–14)

On the heels of accepting an Honorary Doctorate from the Juilliard School, Leif Ove Andsnes returns to New York City for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival, where he reunites with Louis Langrée for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 (July 28–30). Summer also sees the celebrated Norwegian pianist launch a new festival in his homeland, as Founding Director of the inaugural Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, at which guest artists include Vilde Frang, Sol Gabetta, Matthias Goerne, and the Brentano String Quartet (Aug 11–14). And he kicks off the summer with solo recitals at European venues including London’s Barbican Hall (June 10), Brussels’ BOZAR (June 14), and the Essen Philharmonie (June 19), reprising the program of Sibelius, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin with which, at the Kennedy Center earlier this season, he impressed the Washington Post as “one of the finest musicians working today.”

Mostly Mozart Festival (July 28–30)
When Andsnes played Mozart’s 20th Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti last October, the Chicago Tribune described his performance as “finely poised [and] full of musical grace.” Critic John von Rhein went on to observe:

“The Norwegian pianist paid Mozart’s most darkly tragic concerto the compliment of respecting the letter of the score, never asserting willful ego in the name of interpretive freedom. … Andsnes’ unhurried attention to the singing line had me hanging on every note.”

The pianist enjoys an exceptionally long history with the concerto. He recalls:

“This is the first piano concerto I ever played professionally – when I was 14 years old. I’ll never forget it. It was such a shock to have this animal of sound – that is, the orchestra – behind me! So it’s always a homecoming for me to play this piece. I’ve lived with it longer than any other concerto and have come back to it quite regularly.”

The concerto holds moreover especial interest for him. As he explains:

“This is the concerto where things really start happening for Mozart! This is where the piano concerto becomes psychologically more of a complex journey. What’s new in this concerto … is that when the soloist enters, he enters with a different theme from the one we’ve heard at the beginning, with the orchestra in a very different mood and character. The orchestra is playing with this restlessness in D minor … but when the piano enters it has a singing, solitary quality, with a sense of loneliness. So you have this image of this solitary figure facing the crowds. This first movement is a very dramatic scene.”

The Mostly Mozart Festival is also one with which Andsnes has an especially long and rich association. He was the soloist when music director Louis Langrée first took the podium with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and his subsequent returns to the festival include the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra’s memorable 2003 debut, and his acclaimed season-opening rendition of Beethoven six years later.

First Rosendal Chamber Music Festival (Aug 11–14)
Andsnes, whose six Gramophone Awards include a Chamber Music Award for Brahms and Schumann piano quintets, has long made chamber music a major focus of his career. In his homeland, he has served as co-director of the Risør Chamber Music Festival for more than two decades, and this summer sees the launch of the inaugural Rosendal Chamber Music Festival in the picturesque setting of Western Norway’s historic Rosendal estate, where the pianist – a Rosendal regular for more than 20 years – now serves as Founding Director. He says:

“Of course it’s terribly exciting to start a festival for the first time. I have a long history with Rosendal, playing concerts at the Manor House and Gardens for the past 20 years. It’s such a beautiful place! For me, the most exciting thing is the new hall that will be opening – a 470-seat chamber hall in the old barn of the farm connected to the manor. I’ve been hugely involved in the planning of that, and of the acoustics, and I’m extremely eager to hear how it turns out. Of course, I’m very excited for the music we have planned for our first festival there, and so proud to be able to invite musicians to such a special place surrounded by the beauty of nature.”

For the festival’s first theme, Andsnes chose the year “1828.” Franz Schubert died on November 19, 1828 at just 31 years old, leaving behind him an extraordinary legacy of more than 1,500 works. Despite severe illness, he produced some of his most remarkable works in his last months. Each of the festival’s seven concerts will feature at least one of the pieces Schubert composed during his final year, including his Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2 and the transcendent String Quintet in C, for which the Brentano Quartet will join forces with cellist Sol Gabetta. Andsnes himself will perform the second of the Three Piano Pieces; join baritone Matthias Goerne for Schwanengesang; play the Fugue in E minor and Fantasie in F minor for piano four-hands with Jie Zhang and Bertrand Chamayou, respectively; and collaborate with soprano Mari Eriksmoen and clarinetist Sharon Kam on the touching and life-affirming song “The Shepherd on a Rock,” all of which also date from Schubert’s last year. Related repertoire includes Jörg Widmann’s Idyll and Abyss (2009), an intriguing contemporary piece inspired by Schubert’s piano writing and expressive style, and John Harbison’s haunting piano quartet November 19, 1828 (1988), a depiction of the day Schubert died. Festival highlights also include the Brentano’s account of his “Death and the Maiden” quartet; his Octet in F; violinist Vilde Frang, Gabetta, and Chamayou in Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor; and Andsnes and Kam’s interpretation of Four Pieces by Schubert’s compatriot Alban Berg. As Andsnes put it, “I think the programs will work out beautifully.”

Past season highlights
These summer festivals crown a rich and varied season for the pianist. Last summer saw the triumphant conclusion of “The Beethoven Journey,” his monumental four-season focus on the master composer’s music for piano and orchestra, and spring brought the U.S. release of Concerto – A Beethoven Journey, a new documentary from award-winning British director and filmmaker Phil Grabsky that followed the project’s progress with exclusive concert and interview footage. As Gramophone magazine declared: “Concerto demands to be seen. It is a wonderfully uplifting and rewarding experience.”

Andsnes also undertook complete Brahms Piano Quartet cycles with Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann and Clemens Hagen, on an international tour that included Carnegie Hall’s Annual Isaac Stern Memorial Concert, and played Schumann with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, prompting the Philadelphia Inquirer to name him “one of the top pianists of his generation.”

To cap the season, the pianist was chosen as one of five artists to receive honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School this year. The doctorates were conferred at the conservatory’s 111th Commencement Exercises on May 20, when Andsnes joined his fellow honorees – actress and Juilliard alumna Christine Baranski; jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter; actress Cicely Tyson; and former dancer, Alvin Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita, and Juilliard alumna Sylvia Waters – for a livestreamed ceremony at New York’s Alice Tully Hall.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.


Leif Ove Andsnes: summer engagements


June 9–19: Solo recital tour
Program: Sibelius, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin

June 9: Basingstoke, UK (Anvil Arts)
June 10: London, UK (Barbican Centre)
June 14: Brussels, Belgium (BOZAR Palais des Beaux-Arts)
June 17: Tours, France (La Grange de Meslay)
June 19: Essen, Germany (Philharmonie Essen)

July 28-30
New York, NY
Mostly Mozart Festival
Lincoln Center
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra / Louis Langrée

Aug 11–14
Rosendal, Norway
Rosendal Chamber Music Festival (Founding Director)

Aug 11
SCHUBERT: Schwanengesang (with Matthias Goerne, baritone)
Aug 12
BERG: Four Pieces (with Sharon Kam, clarinet)
Aug 12
JOHN HARBISON: Nov 19, 1828 – Hallucinations in four episodes for piano and string trio (with Guro Kleven Hagen, violin; Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad, viola; and Frida Fredrikke Vaaler Waervågen, cello)
Aug 13
SCHUBERT: Sonatina No. 1 in D, D. 384 (with Guro Kleven Hagen, violin)
SCHUBERT: No. 2 in E-flat from Three Piano Pieces, D. 946
Aug 13
SCHUBERT: Fugue in E minor for piano four hands (with Jie Zhang, piano)
Aug 14
SCHUMANN: Märchenerzählungen, Op. 132 (with Sharon Kam, clarinet; Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad, viola)
Aug 14
SCHUBERT: “Suleika I” D. 720; “Sei mir gegrüsst” D. 741 (with Mari Eriksmoen, soprano)
SCHUBERT: Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock), D. 965 (with Mari Eriksmoen, soprano; Sharon Kam, clarinet)
DEBUSSY: Cello Sonata (with Sol Gabetta, cello)
SCHUBERT: Fantasie in F minor for piano four hands, D. 940 (with Bertrand Chamayou, piano)

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© 21C Media Group, June 2016

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