Norwegian Chamber Orchestra

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Photo by Mona Ødegaard)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor | Edward Elgar: Symphony No.2 in E flat major – Saleem Ashkar, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Nikolaj Znaider – Saturday, January 27, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, January 28, 2018, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream

Saleem Ashkar (Photo by Peter Rigaud)

Edward Elgar's enigmatic nature fuels speculation as to the true inspiration for his Symphony No.2. Publicly, he dedicated the work to King Edward VII, but personal comments hint that his true muse was a close friend rumored to be a romantic partner. Still, different inscriptions in the music simultaneously point to his time in Venice, poetry, and even his favorite flower.

Saturday, January 27
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Sunday, January 28
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

♪ Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K.466 (1785)


ii. Romance
iii. Allegro vivace assai

Saleem Ashkar, piano

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

♪ Symphony No.2 in E flat major, Op.63 (1911)

i. Allegro vivace e noblimente

ii. Larghetto
iii. Rondo: Presto
iv. Moderato e maestoso

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Nikolaj Znaider

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, January 27, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, January 28, 2018, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream

Photo by Peter Rigaud
Saleem Ashkar (b. 1976, Nazareth) made his New York Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 22 and has since worked with many of the World's leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, La Scala Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, NDR Hamburg, DSO RSB and Konzerthaus orchestras in Berlin, Maggio Musicale Firenze, Santa Cecilia Rome, Mariinsky Orchestra St Petersburg, and Danish Radio Orchestra among others.

He performs regularly with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti, Ricardo Chailly, Fabio Luisi, Lawrence Foster, Philip Jordan, Nikolaj Znaider, Pietari Inkinen and Jaakub Hrusa. Following a highly successful debut with Christoph Eschenbach and NDR Hamburg, Eschenbach invited Saleem to play the Schumann Concerto with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra in the special Schumann Birthday Concert in June 2010. He toured extensively with Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performing Mendelssohn's First Piano Concerto in appearances that included the Proms and Lucerne Festivals, in a tour celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the composer's birth. Chailly re-invited Saleem for concerts and to record with him the Mendelssohn Concerti for Decca.

A dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, Saleem's current focus is a complete Beethoven Sonata Cycle presented by the Konzerthaus, Berlin which spans the 2016-2017 season. Saleem will perform the cycle in parallel in Prague and Osnabrück and his home country of Israel. He has appeared in series at venues including the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, Mozarteum Salzburg, Musikverein Vienna, Conservatorio Guiseppe Verdi Milan, Florence and at festivals including Salzburg with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Proms with Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, at Tivoli with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, in Lucerne, Ravinia, Risor, Menton and the Ruhr Klavier Festival, collaborating with artists including Daniel Barenboim, Nikolaj Znaider and Waltraud Meier.

Highlights of the current and future seasons include performances with Bamberg Symphoniker and Eschenbach, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Znaider, a tour to Australia to include the Adelaide Symphony and a third consecutive re-invitation to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He will also travel to Canada and the US for a re-invitation to the National Arts Centre Ottawa with Alexander Shelley, an appearance at Cal Performances, San Francisco and a residency at Brown University.

Saleem's second Decca CD released in Spring 2014 features both Mendelssohn Piano Concertos recorded with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra. His first Decca release included Beethoven's First and Fourth Piano Concertos recorded with Ivor Bolton and the NDR Hamburg Orchestra.

Saleem is Ambassador to Music Fund, which supports musicians and music schools in conflict areas and developing countries.


Nikolaj Znaider (b. 1975, Copenhagen) performs at the highest level as both conductor and virtuoso violin soloist with the world's most distinguished orchestras. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Mariinsky Orchestra Saint Petersburg since 2010, and was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

Following a triumphant return to the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony and Juanjo Mena, the 2017-2018 season sees Znaider continue his Mozart recording project with the London Symphony Orchestra with the second and third concertos directed from the violin. He has a particularly strong relationship with the LSO; an orchestra he conducts and performs as soloist with every season. Their recording of Mozart's Violin Concertos Nos. 4 and 5 will be released on the LSO Live label in March 2018. Working at the highest level as both as conductor and as soloist, Znaider appears regularly with orchestras such as the Staatskapelle Dresden, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Chicago Symphony.

Znaider's extensive discography includes the Nielsen Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, Elgar Concerto in B minor with the late Sir Colin Davis and the Staatskapelle Dresden, award-winning recordings of the Brahms and Korngold concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonic, the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, the Prokofiev Concerto No.2 and Glazunov Concerto with Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and the Mendelssohn Concerto on DVD with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Znaider has also recorded the complete works of Brahms for violin and piano with Yefim Bronfman.

He is passionate about supporting the next generation of musical talent and spent ten years as Founder and Artistic Director of the annual Nordic Music Academy summer school, and is now President of the Nielsen Competition, which takes place every three years in Odense, Denmark.

Nikolaj Znaider plays the "Kreisler" Guarnerius "del Gesu" 1741 on extended loan to him by The Royal Danish Theater through the generosity of the VELUX Foundations, the Villum Fonden and the Knud Højgaard Foundation.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K.466

Mozart completed this work on February 10, 1785, and played the first performance the next evening in Vienna. Scoring adds a flute and two trumpets to winds, horns, timpani, and strings.

On February 11, 1785, Leopold Mozart arrived in Vienna after a wintry, bone-rattling, coach journey from Salzburg – his first visit to the capital in 12 years and his last. On the same night he attended an Akademie by his celebrated son, who had just turned 29 and was at the peak of his popularity in ever-fickle Vienna. Leopold wrote to daughter Nannerl that, in the Casino on the Mehlgrube, he beheld "a vast concourse of people of rank... The concert was incomparable, the orchestra excellent". After two arias by a singer from the Italian opera, there "came a new, superb piano concerto by Wolfgang, which the copyist was still writing when we arrived, and the rondo of which your brother hadn't time to play because he had to revise copies [of the orchestral parts]". This was the trailblazing D minor Concerto that survived the neglect of so much of Mozart's music during the nineteenth century. Beethoven, both smitten and influenced, played it publicly, with his own cadenzas in the first and last movements, where Mozart had improvised. No reports have survived of the audience's acceptance, but had they been hostile or even cool, surely Leopold would have reported this to Nannerl. His son's marriage without paternal permission in 1782 to Constanze Weber still rankled; so did their newfound independence. However, Papa's immediate and unreserved acceptance of Wolfgang's departures from tradition in the new concerto – beginning immediately with an agitated, subtly changing bass line beneath the throbbing syncopation of violins and violas – revealed a flexibility otherwise missing in his personal character. One can almost admire the manipulative Leopold for that.

In the first movement, Allegro (D minor, common time), Mozart's themes are motivic rather than conventionally melodic; more than two centuries later it remains a miracle that the soloist never plays exactly what the orchestra sets forth in the exposition, despite a rock-solid sonata structure throughout. When the piano finally enters in measure 77, it does so as an alien in a threateningly troubled land. Nor does the soloist take complete charge until the coda of the finale where, half-an-hour later, he coaxes the music into D major.

The second movement is a Romanza (B flat major, common time). Not to underrate Mozart's incomparable genius in music before this, nothing had equaled the unity of expression achieved in 1785 and after. Beyond integrating the outer movements, he made the slow movement part and parcel of the whole. This Romanza without tempo marking (but clearly Andante) is a rondo in ABACA form that plunges dramatically into G minor before the end couplet – a significant harmonic departure not just here but in the concerto's overall context.

Mozart returns to D minor ion the third movement (Allegro assai; alla breve). Until the coda, we hear one of Mozart's rare rondos in a minor key. More precisely, it is an extended sonata-rondo (ABACDA, plus coda), since C is a development, with the reprise in section D. The development again as before in the second movement seeks out G minor – the darkest key in Mozart's harmonic lexicon – before D major is finally allowed to break through, albeit a whitish and wintry sun.

Source: Roger Dettmer (

Edward Elgar: Symphony No.2 in E flat major, Op.63

Although the second symphony followed the first by only three years, in the intervening period the world and Elgar had changed. The ebullient, confident mood of the early years of the century was dying, the tensions that culminated in the First World War were beginning to emerge and, by the time of the Symphony's first performance, King Edward VII had also died.

While the Symphony was well received by most standards, the audience's response to the first performance was polite and restrained in comparison to the uninhibited reception given to its predecessor, leading Elgar to liken them to stuffed pigs. In some respects, this symphony has never fully recovered from that start – it is probably the less popular and less frequently performed of the two symphonies despite being melodically more inventive and varied than the First symphony. This may be because it is the more complex work. Rather than a single theme recurring in all four movements, structural unity is achieved through extensive cross-references between movements, most dramatically when the rather ghostly theme from the first movement re-emerges as a frenzied outburst in the middle of the rondo.

And there is a marked contrast in mood. In place of the lyrical dreaminess of the First Symphony's adagio, the second contains a somewhat sombre funeral march. (Many assumed this to be in memory of the recently deceased king, but sketches of the movement exist from some years before. Elgar probably composed the theme as a tribute to his friend Alfred Rodewald, the Liverpool businessman who conducted the first performance of the first two Pomp and Circumstance marches in 1901 and who died two years later at the age of 43.) And in contrast to the jaunty confidence of the First Symphony, the Second has an inner restlessness and mood of conflict which is only resolved when, in the closing minutes, the "spirit of delight" theme which opens the Symphony returns to bestow a satisfying tranquility.


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