Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Edvard Grieg: Piano concerto in A minor – Leif Ove Andsnes, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Santtu-Matias Rouvali (4K Ultra High Definition)

The celebrated Santtu-Matias Rouvali opens his third season as the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor stronger than ever: Edvard Grieg's forever fresh, vernal Piano Concerto with phenomenal pianist Leif-Ove Andsnes. Recorded at Gothenburg Concert Hall, on September 5, 2019.

This is the very first 4K concert recording with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

When nationalism emerged as a major force within the 19th century romantic style, it attracted the competent young creative artists from countries or areas that were, or had once been, subservient to foreign powers. For them, nationalism was an expression of their unique cultural heritage. The movement was felt most strongly in Czechoslovakia and Scandinavia. In Czechoslovakia, Smetana and Dvorak were the overpowering figures and, although the Scandinavian movement witnessed the contributions of many highly accomplished Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish composers; the figure of Edvard Grieg stands above them all.

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway, into a family that strongly encouraged his early musical studies. As happened with virtually all young composers who would eventually embrace nationalism, Grieg had no choice but to complete his musical education at a German conservatory – in this case, the one in Leipzig. Although he later complained bitterly about his four years there, he did gain an intimate knowledge of the music of Schumann that would affect his style. In 1864, he moved to Copenhagen, then the center of Scandinavian nationalism. It was there that his nationalist style was to begin its development. He later returned to Norway, where his songs, piano music, and incidental music became indelibly linked with the spirit of Norwegian folk music and literature. Grieg once modestly described his music in the following terms: "Artists like Bach and Beethoven erected churches and temples on ethereal heights... I want to build homes for people in which they can be happy and contented".

The "homes" Grieg built were small and few. Many, including Debussy and George Bernard Shaw, faulted him for his small output and the relative lack of powerful works. The former referred to Grieg as "...a pink bon-bon wrapped in snow". On the other hand, the influential Liszt became a powerful ally, encouraging Grieg to follow his natural instincts. Perhaps because of support from such an important figure, Grieg's biggest work in terms of power and gesture is the Piano Concerto in A minor. Only 25 at the time of its composition, Grieg was able to exhibit a degree of maturity in his handling of the concerto form that few have equaled. A drum roll followed by a brilliantly descending passage in the piano sets the stage perfectly for what follows – a succession of lyrical, reflective, and sometimes dramatic themes that extend throughout the three movements. The melancholy second movement concludes with a dialogue between the piano and the solo horn. Only in the final movement does one hear the color and movement of Norwegian folk dance. Not surprisingly, Liszt championed the work and was largely responsible for making it one of the most frequently performed of all piano concertos.

(First performance: April 3, 1869, Copenhagen. Edmund Neupert, piano. Holger Simon Paulli, conductor.)

Source: James Keays (redlandssymphony.com)

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

♪ Piano concerto in A minor, Op.16 (1868)

i. Allegro molto moderato
ii. Adagio
iii. Allegro moderato molto e marcato

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Gothenburg Concert Hall, September 5, 2019

(4K Ultra High Definition)

The New York Times calls Leif Ove Andsnes "a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight", and the Wall Street Journal names him "one of the most gifted musicians of his generation". With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won acclaim worldwide, playing concertos and recitals in the world's leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, while building an esteemed and extensive discography. An avid chamber musician, he is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Festival of Chamber Music for nearly two decades, and served as music director of California's Ojai Music Festival in 2012. He was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in July 2013, and received honorary doctorates from New York's Juilliard School and Norway's University of Bergen in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Following the success of their "Beethoven Journey" collaboration, Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra have joined forces once again for "Mozart Momentum 1785/86", another major multi-season project that sees them explore one of the most creative and seminal periods of the composer's career. This season, besides touring a program of Mozart's chamber music to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and London's Wigmore Hall, they head into the studio to record the composer's Piano Concertos Nos. 20-22 for future release by Sony Classical. Andsnes also performs No.22 with both the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony under Manfred Honeck, Nos. 21 and 22 with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Nos. 20 and 21 with the Oslo Philharmonic, and all three concertos with Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony, where he serves as 2019-2020 Artist-in-Residence. Another highlight of the multi-faceted Gothenburg residency is Grieg's Piano Concerto, which Andsnes reprises with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony; Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony, both in Boston and at New York's Carnegie Hall; Alan Gilbert and Hamburg's NDR Elbphilharmonie, at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival; Yuri Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic; Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic, on tour in South Korea and China; and Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic, on a European tour that culminates at London's Barbican Hall. In recital, besides joining his regular partner, bass-baritone Matthias Goerne, for an all-Schumann lieder evening at Milan's La Scala, the pianist performs a colorful solo program of Dvořák, Bartók, and Schumann at the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Wigmore Hall, and other destinations in Europe.

Andsnes bookended his 2018-2019 season with performances of Britten's Piano Concerto, first in season-opening concerts with the Bergen Philharmonic and then with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London's BBC Proms. Another key focus of the season was Brahms's First Piano Concerto, which he performed with London's Philharmonia Orchestra and toured with the Staatskapelle Dresden in Germany and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) in Asia. He rejoined the RSB for Mozart, whose concertos were also the vehicle for his returns to the Munich Philharmonic and Budapest Festival Orchestra. Besides joining Goerne for Schubert lieder in Paris, Essen, and Barcelona, Andsnes debuted a solo program of Schumann, Bartók and Janáček in recitals in Paris, Oslo, and Frankfurt. His summer engagements included a residency at his own Rosendal festival in Norway, where guest artists included Andrei Bondarenko, Marc-André Hamelin, Igor Levit, Anthony McGill, Tabea Zimmermann, and the Quatuor Danel.

Perhaps the Norwegian pianist's most ambitious achievement to date is "The Beethoven Journey", his epic four-season focus on the master composer's music for piano and orchestra, which took him to 108 cities in 27 countries for more than 230 live performances. He led the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard in complete Beethoven concerto cycles at high-profile residencies in Bonn, Hamburg, Lucerne, Vienna, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bodø, and London, besides collaborating with such leading international ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Philharmonic, and Munich Philharmonic. The project was chronicled in the documentary Concerto – A Beethoven Journey (2016), and Andsnes's partnership with the MCO was captured on the hit Sony Classical three-volume series The Beethoven Journey. The first volume was named iTunes' Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and awarded Belgium's Prix Caecilia, the second recognized with BBC Music's coveted "2015 Recording of the Year Award", and the complete series chosen as one of the "Best of 2014" by the New York Times.

Andsnes now records exclusively for Sony Classical. His previous discography comprises more than 30 discs for EMI Classics – solo, chamber, and concerto releases, many of them bestsellers – spanning repertoire from the time of Bach to the present day. He has been nominated for eight Grammys and awarded many international prizes, including six Gramophone Awards. His recordings of the music of his compatriot Edvard Grieg have been especially celebrated: the New York Times named Andsnes's 2004 recording of Grieg's Piano Concerto with Mariss Jansons and the Berlin Philharmonic a "Best CD of the Year", the Penguin Guide awarded it a coveted "Rosette", and both that album and his disc of Grieg's Lyric Pieces won Gramophone Awards. His recording of Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 18 was another New York Times "Best of the Year" and Penguin Guide "Rosette" honoree. He won yet another Gramophone Award for Rachmaninov's Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 with Antonio Pappano and the Berlin Philharmonic. A series of recordings of Schubert's late sonatas, paired with lieder sung by Ian Bostridge, inspired lavish praise, as did the pianist's world-premiere recordings of Marc-André Dalbavie's Piano Concerto and Bent Sørensen's The Shadows of Silence, both of which were written for him. As well as Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes and the Billboard best-selling Sibelius, both recorded for Sony, his recent releases include Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & other works for two pianos four hands, recorded with Marc-André Hamelin for Hyperion, and Schumann: Liederkreis & Kernerlieder, recorded with Matthias Goerne for Harmonia Mundi.

Andsnes has received Norway's distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav, and in 2007, he received the prestigious Peer Gynt Prize, awarded by members of parliament to honor prominent Norwegians for their achievements in politics, sports, and culture. In 2004-2005, he became the youngest musician (and first Scandinavian) to curate Carnegie Hall's "Perspectives" series; in 2015-2016 he was the subject of the London Symphony Orchestra's Artist Portrait Series; and in 2017-2018 he served as Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic. He is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist Award and the Gilmore Artist Award, and, saluting his many achievements, Vanity Fair named Andsnes one of the "Best of the Best" in 2005.

Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory under the renowned Czech professor Jirí Hlinka. He has also received invaluable advice from the Belgian piano teacher Jacques de Tiège who, like Hlinka, has greatly influenced his style and philosophy of playing.  He is currently an Artistic Adviser for the Prof. Jirí Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen where he gives an annual masterclass to participating students. Andsnes lives in Bergen with his partner and their three children.

Source: imgartists.com

More photos

See also

Santtu-Matias Rouvali – All the posts

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – All the posts

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, arr. for Viola and String Orchestra – Richard O'Neill, New York Classical Players, Dongmin Kim (HD 1080p)

Accompanied by the New York Classical Players under the baton of the South Korean conductor Dongmin Kim, the American violist Richard O'Neill performs Franz Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821, arranged for Viola and String Orchestra by Dobrinka Tabakova. The concert was recorded at W83 Concert Hall, New York, on May 1, 2015.

In 1824, disappointed by the recent failure of his opera, Alfonso und Estrella (despite the fact that he considered it one of his finest works), Schubert returned to instrumental music on a smaller scale. As Bach had been stimulated by the recent invention of a five-string cello (with a top E string) to emphasise the Sixth Suite's position as the crowning glory of the set by writing in a higher register for the instrument than in the previous five suites, Schubert was clearly motivated by the arrival of the six-stringed arpeggione, a strange hybrid of a bowed instrument with the extended range and possibility of fast and accurate leaps and runs facilitated by its Classical-guitar-like stringing (E-A-D-G-B-E). The incorporation of frets was designed to make playing easier and intonation more accurate – Schubert was obviously unaware of the potential flaws of this new instrument, namely the difficulty of crossing strings cleanly due to a reduced differential angle at the bridge, the limited dynamic range, (the arpeggione was a smaller-bodied and quieter instrument than the cello, one on which application of too much downward pressure of the bow would result in hitting adjacent strings) and the restriction of expressive powers that was the inevitable consequence of the use of frets. It seems likely that Schubert typically wrote this sonata largely as a friendly gesture towards the instrument's inventor, Vincenz Schuster. The increasing dynamic range of the piano would have made balance and projection even more problematic – no wonder that, after little more than ten years, the arpeggione succumbed to rapid extinction.

Schubert was born into a musical world dominated by the colossal figure of Beethoven. It is a mark of how much the younger man was in awe of the great master that on his deathbed he asked that his body should be buried in a grave next to that of his idol (which it was). Compositionally there are many similarities between these two composers, most obviously their use of predominantly Classical forms and their prowess in almost all areas of instrumental and vocal writing with the notable exception of opera. This said, Schubert appears the more introverted and perhaps the more sensitive and fragile of the two, generally more at home in the smaller, more intimate forms of music-making (quartets, sonatas and of course Lieder) than in larger scale works. And while Schubert's later symphonic works are second to none, it is interesting to note that he was one of very few Classical composers never to write a concerto – it was against his nature to write a piece with the intention of showing off his own ability or those of the performer and instrument he was writing for. And while Beethoven would frequently struggle to find a theme or melody for his work, with Schubert this was an apparently effortless process – all came from song (Schubert wrote more than 600 Lieder). Beethoven's later experimentation with form made him a revolutionary, but with Schubert it is the predominance of melody, and especially the emotion it conveys, that sees him moving towards Romanticism.

The Arpeggione Sonata was written in 1824, soon after the Schöne Müllerin song cycle and shortly before the Great C major Symphony of 1825-1828 and the C major String Quintet of 1827, perhaps his finest instrumental works. It is written on a smaller scale, with three movements: a sonata form allegro moderato, a heartfelt, singing adagio and an allegretto rondo movement whose interludes are bursting with variety and energy.

The first movement, in A minor, is imbued throughout with a touching blend of sadness and joy (as was Schubert's own life), the beauty, sensitivity and lyricism of its first theme contrasting with the carefree nonchalance of the second, a shattering outburst of pain (like Gretchen's scream) at the climax of the development section leading through the recapitulation to the last breaths of the instruments and culminating in the death sentence of the two closing chords.

The theme of the second movement in E Major, unfolding like a love song, is clearly derived from the Larghetto of Beethoven's Second Symphony and for a while shares the simplicity of the Largo of Chopin's later Cello Sonata. However, a sinister undercurrent emerges, threatening the tranquil beauty of this world and anticipating the icy bleakness of the Winterreise. The movement ends, like its predecessor, in an experience close to death, the pace slowing almost to a complete stop before finding the most fragile of lifelines to carry the music through to the finale.

The last movement begins as an ecstatic rondo, the gushing theme predominantly bathed in the sunshine of A Major, interspersed with energetic, lively interludes with traces of folk idioms and demanding considerable virtuosity from both performers. A nostalgic piano solo temporarily eclipses the spotlight on the string instrument before the final return of the rondo theme, ending with one of the many rising arpeggios that characterise this work, a positive and satisfying end to a composition that has reflected the whole gamut of human experience.

Source: David Kenedy (hyperion-records.co.uk)

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

♪ Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821, arranged for Viola and String Orchestra by Dobrinka Tabakova (1824)

i. Allegro moderato [00:36]*
ii. Adagio [09:43]
iii. Allegretto [14:14]

Richard O'Neill, viola

The New York Classical Players
Conductor: Dongmin Kim

W83 Concert Hall, New York, May 1, 2015

(HD 1080p)

* Start time of each part

Why Do String Players Still Love Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata?

By Inge Kjemtrup

April 1, 2018

Schubert's delicate "Arpeggione" Sonata was written for an instrument that is virtually extinct. Why has this piece endured and why do modern players like violist Antoine Tamestit and cellist Gautier Capuçon love to play it?

Within the three movements of Franz Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata in A minor, D.821, are poignant melodies from the great master of the lieder set alongside sparkling virtuosic passages. The sonata is a satisfying piece for performer and audience. It's hugely popular, even though the arpeggione, the instrument for which it was originally composed, is now almost forgotten.

The best performances of the sonata make it sound effortlessly beautiful, a result that can only come about through long hours of practice. "The most difficult thing is to reach simplicity with beautiful expression", says Madrid-based violist Wenting Kang. "It's easy to do too much and it's easy to do too little." It's also essential to capture the tender character of the sonata, which was written when Schubert was already ill with what was almost certainly syphilis, which would kill him four years later. "You can feel the fragility in the music and I think it's very touching", comments cellist Gautier Capuçon. Violist Antoine Tamestit, who made the sonata the centerpiece of his 2010 release, says that it is "not a showpiece. It's an intimate piece".

Schubert wrote the sonata in 1824 and dedicated it to Vincenz Schuster, a virtuoso and champion of the arpeggione. The fretted, six-stringed arpeggione  then known as bowed guitar, violoncello guitar, or guitarre d'amore – is connected to the viol family. The instrument seems to have been devised concurrently in 1823 by Viennese luthier Johann Georg Staufer (or Stauffer) and Hungarian luthier Peter Teufelsdorfer. Tuned E-A-D-G-B-E like a guitar, the arpeggione is held between the knees without the support of an endpin. A scant handful of the original instruments have survived, and can be seen in museums, including the music collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Schuster commissioned other composers to write for the arpeggione and even wrote a tutorial himself, but the instrument's fame was fleeting. After Schubert's death in 1828, the sonata was also forgotten. It did not appear in print until 1871, and included a transcription for cello.

British viol maker Shem Mackey was commissioned to build an arpeggione by a viol player and shares some of his extensive research with me. Mackey observes that Staufer's arpeggiones reflect his work as a guitar maker (Schubert owned one of his guitars) and his first arpeggiones had guitar-shaped bodies and sound holes. By 1825, however, his arpeggiones had taken on cello attributes, such as the body shape and f-holes (the Met Museum arpeggione, from 1831, is of this type). All of Staufer's arpeggiones had flat backs, like the viol.

Today the arpeggione is played by a very small number of people around the world. UCLA music professor, guitarist, and composer Peter Yates is one of them, though he didn't set out to be an arpeggione player. "I needed a bowed guitar", he explains, and so he built his own. Talking to Yates, I begin to understand why the arpeggione didn't endure. "Finding the right strings and stringing them is difficult", he says. Plus "holding the instrument is awkward".

But Yates enjoys performing Schubert's sonata on his arpeggione. "The fingerings, the shape of the arpeggios all fall gracefully." The instrument is softer than a modern stringed instrument and the strings resonate sympathetically. "With six strings you can't play as aggressively", Yates says. "You can't set a degree of pressure on one string because you'd get two strings instead of one." Unfortunately, the arpeggione's gentle sound also contributed to its short life, as it couldn't compete against increasingly louder violin-family instruments, nor could it be heard in the new, bigger halls.

I ask Yates what advice he would give a modern player, based on his experience on the arpeggione. He advises "articulated nuance", something that's easier to accomplish on a fretted instrument. He also urges that a modern player "stay away from bel canto, smeared-on sound as much as possible" and study Schubert's articulations in the manuscript. "There's lots of detail in the notation", he says.

All of the modern players I speak to have studied Schubert's manuscript. Tamestit takes it one step further. "I play directly from the manuscript. It is so full of information", he says, although he finds the Henle iPad app, with its many links and notes, to be useful, too. Capuçon works from the latest Bärenreiter edition, though he comments that "even if you have an urtext edition, some things are still unclear. I teach my students that they have to use their brains!"

Composers, like doctors, have a reputation for illegible writing, and Schubert is no exception. His accents, which resemble a child's drawing of a bird in the sky, are a puzzle. "Some are crescendos, some are accents", says Tamestit. "That accent plus fortepiano: Is it a double accent? Is it a decrescendo?" asks Capuçon. "All this is written by the composer to emphasize one syllable in a phrase. It's like when we talk and we take more time with one word. So does the accent fit in a phrase, does it work? Do you do crescendo until ff or until the middle of the phrase? The music gives us the answer."

Like so much of Schubert's music – especially the lieder – the "Arpeggione" sonata's mood shifts rapidly. "It goes between A minor and A major", says Tamestit. "It's hopeful, sad, nostalgic, and sweet." It's also very quiet throughout. "The fortes are moments of great passion that don't last", he adds.

How much or how little vibrato to use is another issue for a performer. Kang uses little vibrato, adding expression with the bow instead. "I always imagine how the composer heard it. [The arpeggione] is not a Romantic instrument. The right hand can do so much with sound and color change."

The sonata's first movement shifts between the tender melody and brilliant virtuoso passages, making it hard to decide on the opening tempo. For Kang, her sense of the "foggy, rainy mood" and her view that "Allegro moderato means never too fast" helps her with this. Capuçon uses his tempo in the virtuoso passages to determine the tempo of the opening. Tamestit's tempo choice is based on his observation that the opening melody is in four, while the virtuoso passages, which must be "made as fluid and light as possible", are in two.

A modern player must diverge from the score at several points because of the tessitura of the original instrument. This comes into play particularly with multi-octave runs (m. 79 in the first movement, for example) and octave jumps (m. 115 in the first movement). At m. 115, some players go an octave higher to underscore the drama of a rare ff moment, which is then followed by a mini-cadenza. "For me it has to work musically", says Kang. She does all she can to avoid breaking up Schubert's "beautiful long slurs".

The second movement is an Adagio in E major and it requires the long legato line be maintained. The Adagio is followed immediately by the Allegretto third movement. The Allegretto's rondo form provides plenty of opportunity for contrast, from a Hungarian style to a Viennese dance – in the latter "you need a little delay and lift", says Tamestit. The arpeggios in the third movement would have a rolling barcarolle effect on the arpeggione and modern players must work harder to achieve this. Unlike the arpeggione players, Tamestit notes, "we cannot play full chords – it's awkward".

Would the sonata be less awkward in a different key? That was the idea of German violist Hartmut Lindemann, who transcribed it from A minor to G minor. In G minor, he writes on his website, "The open strings of the viola assume the same role as did those of the arpeggione in the original A minor". Furthermore, "most of the difficult passage work can now be more easily executed".

Many professional musicians begin their study of the "Arpeggione" early in their careers. "The ‘Arpeggione’ has been one of my favorites since I was little", Tamestit explains. "At 12, I wasn't allowed to play it, but I did anyway, just to find the right sound." Capuçon comments that "Schubert is a composer that I always felt close to as a child".

For Kang, after having put the sonata to one side for many years, it was playing through the sonata recently with a sympathetic pianist – Paul Coker who had worked with Yehudi Menuhin – that made her return to it. "If the pianist doesn't understand Schubert, then it's just not good", she says.

Like Kang, Tamestit's interest in the sonata was revived by a pianist, in this case his long-time collaborator Markus Hadulla. Hadulla works with many singers, and when Tamestit came to rehearse at Hadulla's home, he found his gaze straying to the lieder scores atop the piano. He and Hadulla began playing the lieder "just for practicing" and then hit upon several that suited viola and piano, "making our own little lieder cycle". The two eventually recorded the "Arpeggione", along with a handful of lieder, and the stirring Der Hirt auf dem Felsen ("Shepherd on the Rock"), D.965, with French soprano Sandrine Piau.

Were he alive today, Vincenz Schuster would no doubt be disappointed by the arpeggione's limited popularity. But he could only be delighted that Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata – "a propaganda piece for an instrument", jokes Tamestit – lives on.

Source: stringsmagazine.com

One of the few violists to ever be awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant as well as a 48th Annual GRAMMY Award Nomination (Best Soloist with Orchestra), Richard Yongjae O'Neill (born on December 31, 1978 in Sequim, Washington) is rising to international prominence as one of the most promising artists of his generation. Highlights from this season include appearances with the London Philharmonic led by Vladimir Jurowski, the Asian premiere of the Brett Dean Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic led by Francois Xavier Roth, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra with Constantine Orbelian, a Live from Lincoln Center television broadcast for PBS with the Chamber Music Society, an appearance with the Emerson String Quartet and Leon Fleisher at the Mostly Mozart Festival in Avery Fisher Hall, and the release of his third album for Deutsche Grammophon. In recent seasons he has made debuts at the world's most prestigious halls including New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, Paris' Salle Cortot and Seoul Arts Center. In 2008-2009 he will make his recital debut at the Kennedy Center, tour South Korea with Concerto Köln celebrating the release of his fourth album for ARCHIV/DG, and will return to London to perform with the London Philharmonic at the South Bank Centre. O'Neill has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles and Euroasian Philharmonics, and the KBS Symphony Orchestra among many others.

A highly accomplished chamber musician, he has collaborated with the Juilliard and Emerson String Quartets, Ensemble Wien-Berlin, Gil Shaham, Cho-Liang Lin, Kyung-Wha and Myung-Wha Chung, Kyoko Takezawa, Elmar Oliviera, Jamie Laredo, Joshua Bell, James Ehnes, Nicola Benedetti, Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffmann, Carter Brey, Edgar Meyer, Barry Douglas, Jon Nakamatsu, Garrick Ohlsson and Andre-Michel Schub, among others. He was a member of Chamber Music Society Two of Lincoln Center, a residency that features the world’s most gifted young chamber musicians, and frequently returns to the Society. He also serves as principal violist of Santa Barbara-based Camerata Pacifica. He frequently tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as well as with Musicians from Marlboro. He has held the position of principal violist and soloist with Sejong (Opus 3 Artists). Festival appearances include Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, Casals, Chamber Music Northwest, IMS Prussia Cove, La Jolla, Mostly Mozart, Seattle as well as Bargemusic and Brooklyn.

A Universal Classics Recording Artist, his latest album "Winter Journey" for Deutsche Grammophon debuted this past October and has earned him a Platinum Disc Award: his debut album for Universal released in 2005 garnered him a Gold Disc Award. His second album was the unprecedented #1 Bestselling Classical (as well as International Pop) Recording for 2006, garnering him a Double Platinum Disc Award. In addition to his recording contract with Universal/DG, Mr. O'Neill is dedicated to recording lesser known music for labels such as Naxos, Bridge, Centaur and Tzadik: his recordings of Schoenberg and Webern for Naxos were the subject of an extensive New York Times article which described his performances as revelatory. His recording of Schoenberg's String Quartet Concerto as a member of the Fred Sherry String Quartet earned him a GRAMMY Nomination for Best Soloist with Orchestra. Recordings of Stravinsky's Elegy for Solo Viola as well as Schoenberg's String Trio, Ode to Napoleon and Third String Quartet are due to be released on Naxos in the coming year as well as his fourth solo album with Concerto Köln featuring Baroque repertoire for ARCHIV/DG.

No stranger to the media, he has been featured on television and radio broadcasts worldwide. A popular figure in Korea, he was the subject of a two-part, five-hour documentary for the Korean Broadcasting System that was broadcast to over 12 million people, and has been featured on all of the nation's major television networks, magazines and newspapers. He has also performed on CNN and PBS, served as a Young Artist-in-Residence for National Public Radio's Performance Today in Washington D.C., and has been broadcast on BBC-3, the CBC Live from the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, WQXR, WFMT, and most of the broadcast stations nationwide.

The first and only violist to receive the prestigious Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School, he received degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music (B.M.), graduating magna cum laude, and The Juilliard School (M.M.). He has studied with Paul Neubauer and Donald McInnes. Mr. O'Neill performs on a fine and rare viola made by Giovanni Tononi of Bologna, crafted in 1699.

Residing in New York City and Los Angeles, he was recently honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the arts. A dedicated teacher as well as performer, Mr. O'Neill serves on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles as its youngest member.

"Ravishing" — London Times

"An electric performance... a crackling, visceral, reading that held the audience in rapt attention" — New York Times

"First-rate" — New York Times

"Elegant, velvety tone" — New York Times

"A colorfully robust, expressive performance" — New York Times

"An astounding performance" — New York Sun

"Richard O'Neill was the real find of the evening" — New York Sun

"Technically immaculate" — Los Angeles Times

"Fierce virtuosity" — San Francisco Chronicle

"A rock solid performance that showcased the obvious ardency and skill of Richard Yongjae O'Neill" — Denver Post

"There was a new face that should be noted right away: violist Richard O'Neill made a smashing debut... the young musician is already making his way in the highly competitive world of music... O'Neill took every advantage with his big, resonant sound, facile technique and secure musicality. Over the past 25 years, the Seattle Chamber Music Society has introduced any number of important musicians to Seattle. O'Neill is the latest" — Seattle Post Intelligencer

Source: instantencore.com

More photos

See also

World renowned Takács Quartet announces the appointment of violist Richard O'Neill from June 2020, and the retirement of Geri Walther after fifteen remarkable years

Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.2 in D major – Alice Yoo, New York Classical Players, Dongmin Kim (4K Ultra High Definition)

Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.1 in C major – Michael Katz, New York Classical Players, Dongmin Kim (4K Ultra High Definition) 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

World renowned Takács Quartet announces the appointment of violist Richard O'Neill from June 2020, and the retirement of Geri Walther after fifteen remarkable years

Richard O'Neill, András Fejér, Harumi Rhodes and Edward Dusinberre

New York, October 9, 2019

As the Takács Quartet enters its 45th year, the internationally acclaimed string quartet continues to evolve with a change to its line-up. Violist Geraldine Walther will retire from the group this May, after a remarkable 15 years. Korean-American violist and celebrated chamber musician Richard O'Neill will join the quartet from June.

"We feel extremely grateful to have been able to share our musical lives with Geri since 2005, benefitting from her wonderful sound and vibrant musicianship in concerts and numerous recordings", say the continuing members of the Takács. "We are excited to welcome Richard, who is a friend and colleague of ours at the Music Academy of the West, and whose artistry we have admired for many years."

Geri Walther
Reflecting on her time in the quartet, Geri Walther says, "I have loved being a member of the Takács Quartet and am grateful for all the friends I've made along the way. I am very happy to hand the baton over to the wonderful violist and musician, Richard O'Neill, and wish the group every success for their future together!"

The quartet's latest appointment celebrates the extraordinary journey of the Takács since its foundation in 1975 by four Hungarian students at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Each member is steeped in the Hungarian/Central European roots and traditions of the quartet, absorbed over decades of collaboration and commitment, and they are now fêted as "arguably the greatest string quartet in the world" (The Guardian, May 2018).

O'Neill joins founding member, cellist András Fejér, English first violinist Edward Dusinberre and American second violinist Harumi Rhodes, who is of Japanese-Russian descent. The Takács affirms the power of the string quartet to foster communication and cooperation across cultures, nationalities and generations.

Richard O'Neill , who is renowned as both a chamber musician and Grammy-nominated soloist, adds, "Joining the Takács Quartet is the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, the great Geraldine Walther, whom I have listened to and adored since I was a child. I look forward to the joy of making music with Ed, Harumi and András and will do my best to uphold the esteemed tradition of the Takács Quartet".

Looking ahead

In the first season with O'Neill, the quartet has a busy schedule of concerts which will take them around the globe – performing at major chamber music series throughout North America and Europe followed by a tour to Australia in August 2021. An exciting commission from Music Accord will result in new pieces by Bryce Dessner and Clarice Assad for the Takács and the extraordinary bandoneonist/accordionist Julien Labro. Stephen Hough is writing a new string quartet for the Takács which they will premiere in 2022 and record for Hyperion. The ensemble will also record two contrasting albums for Hyperion. The first features quartets by Alban Berg and Béla Bartók, while the second encompasses the last quartets of Joseph Haydn.

Walther's last concert with the Takács will be at the Prague Spring Festival on 22nd May 2020. O'Neill will perform his first concert with the group at the Music Academy of the West in June, marking the next step in the evolution of a great quartet.

Richard O'Neill, András Fejér, Harumi Rhodes and Edward Dusinberre

About the Takács Quartet

The Takács Quartet is one of the world's pre-eminent string quartets, performing 80 concerts a year worldwide. In residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the members of the quartet are also Associate Artists at London's Wigmore Hall. The quartet is renowned worldwide for its innovative programming and first-class performances. The ensemble was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai and András Fejér, while all four were students. It first received international attention in 1977, winning First Prize and the Critics' Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. Since then, the group has earned international acclaim and won numerous awards – including a Grammy, three Gramophone Awards, three Japanese Record Academy Awards and a Classical Brit. In 2001 the Takács Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit of the Knight's Cross of the Republic of Hungary, and in March 2011 each member of the Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit Commander's Cross by the President of the Republic of Hungary. The Takács Quartet records for Hyperion Records, with repertoire ranging from Haydn and Schubert to Britten and Janácek.

About Richard O'Neill

Praised by the New York Times for his "elegant, velvety tone", violist Richard O'Neill has distinguished himself as one of the great instrumentalists of his generation. He has appeared as soloist with the world's top orchestras including the London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Euro-Asian Philharmonics, and he has worked with distinguished musicians and conductors including Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, Francois Xavier Roth, Leonard Slatkin and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He is in his 13th and final season as Artistic Director of Ensemble DITTO, as well as Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Principal Violist of Camerata Pacifica. O'Neill is a Grammy-nominated Universal Music/Deutsche Grammophon recording artist who has made 10 solo albums and many other chamber music recordings, earning multiple platinum discs. He has appeared on major TV networks in South Korea and enjoyed huge success with his 2004 KBS documentary "Human Theater" which was viewed by over 12 million people, and his 2013 series "Hello?! Orchestra" which featured his work with a multicultural youth orchestra for MBC and led to an International Emmy in Arts Programming and a feature length film. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, The Special Olympics and UNICEF, and serves on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.

Source: takacsquartet.com

Richard O'Neill

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Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, arr. for Viola and String Orchestra – Richard O'Neill, New York Classical Players, Dongmin Kim (HD 1080p)

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F major "Pastoral" – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra performs Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No.6 in F major, Op.68 ("Pastoral"). The concert was recorded at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, on September 18, 2016.

For roughly 175 years, the music appreciation racket has told us that Beethoven composed symphonies in contrasting odd-even pairs after 1803, none more startling than the heaven-storming Fifth and bucolic Sixth. Originally, however, he assigned the designation of "No.5" to the Pastoral for their shared debut on surely the most historic night in Western music, December 22, 1808. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the unheated Theater an der Wien, he premiered both symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto, "Choral" Fantasy, "Ah! perfido!" (a concert aria from 1796), and introduced a Viennese audience to excerpts from the C major Mass, an Esterházy commission of 1807 that Prince Nicolaus II disliked when he heard it.

Beethoven began making specific notes for a "Sinfonia pastorale" in 1806, but didn't complete the work until 1808, in the village of Heiligenstadt northwest of Vienna. If this had been an unlikely hatchery in 1807 for the fist-brandishing Fifth Symphony, it perfectly suited – as he noted in his sketchbook – "recollections of country life... more the expression of feeling than of painting" in his ensuing woodwind-drenched symphony (although violins get first crack at nine of its 12 significant themes).

"Cheerful impressions wakened by arrival in the country" (Allegro ma non troppo, in F major, 2/4) is the first movement. It is in sonata form, pretty much by the book, with violins introducing all themes. The second-movement "Scene by the brook" (Andante molto moto, in B flat major and 12/8 time) is a Sonata structure again, but more relaxed, with a limpid main theme for violins and a bassoon sub-theme. In the coda, the flute impersonates a nightingale, the oboe a quail, and the clarinet a cuckoo. The third movement, "Merry gathering of country folk" (Allegro, 3/4 time, F major), is an expanded song-and-trio, with a 2/4 section in "tempo d'Allegro" that creates the effect of an ABCABCA structure, leading without pause to the fourth movement, "Thunderstorm; tempest" (Allegro; F minor, 4/4). From the first raindrop to last, this is purely depictive music. It is followed by a 10-bar chorale that segues the final "Shepherd's song; glad and grateful tidings after the storm" (Allegretto; F major, 6/8), a sonata-rondo, whose C-section some have called a development section. The fun includes a sly parody of amateur musicians before the long, progressively tranquil coda that ends with a pianistic gesture: two fortissimo chords.

Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ Symphony No.6 in F major "Pastoral", Op.68 (1808)

i. Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of happy feelings on arriving in the country)
ii. Andante molto moto (Scene by the Brook)
iii. Allegro (Peasant's merrymaking)
iv. Allegro (The storm)
v. Allegretto (Shepherds' song. Joyous thanksgiving after the storm)

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, September 18, 2016

(HD 1080p)

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra: About

Vision. We envision a world where our commitment to a collaborative artistic process results in profound orchestral performances that inspire people to pursue cooperation and artistry in their own creative, professional and personal lives.

Mission. Kaleidoscope is a conductorless chamber orchestra dedicated to enriching lives through exhilarating concert experiences, artistic excellence, musician leadership, and connecting with the diverse communities of Los Angeles.

Core Values

• We believe that our collective of musicians has ideas that are worthy of respect and consideration; that each member has a voice worth hearing; that every person, given the chance and tools, can help to create great art.
• We believe that pursuing a democratic process within the orchestra will improve the quality of the performance, fulfill the collective vision of the ensemble, and create a unique experience not found in traditional orchestras.
• We believe in developing an infrastructure that supports, empowers, and values its musicians.
• We believe in bringing our performances and artistic process to audiences who have little or no exposure to symphonic music with the belief that the experience will enrich the lives of both the audience and the performers.

Artistic Intent. We perform orchestral music that speaks profoundly to our community and is both representative of its time and timeless, whether written today or centuries ago. We stretch the boundaries for what is thought possible without a conductor, both by musicians and audiences, to allow us all to grow through the process. We regularly collaborate with living composers because their music represents our time. We design programs that explore less conventional concert experiences and allow audiences to feel more personally connected to music and the musicians who perform it.

Community Engagement and Education. Kaleidoscope is committed to music education for all ages and is happy to offer a "pay what you can" model to eliminate the barrier of a set ticket price. We want everyone in Los Angeles to have the opportunity to experience great classical music in person by a professional orchestra, think about what that experience means, and pay what makes them happy. We also perform many additional free concerts in schools, hospitals, shelters, and other underserved parts of our community.

We recently started a music education program at a title I elementary school in Culver City, providing music instruction to 200 students each week. With additional funding, we are planning to expand this program to other grades and other schools in the future. Not only do we want every child in Los Angeles to love listening to music, we want every child to have the opportunity to read, play, and write music, too.

Source: kco.la

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Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 in D major "Classical" – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.4 in G major – Janai Brugger, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A major – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending – William Hagen, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No.39 in E flat major – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Irene Kim, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor – Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)

Kaleidoscope: Meet a different, colorful orchestra

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade – Viatcheslav Chestiglazov, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Leif Segerstam (HD 1080p)

Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam conducts Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral epic Scheherazade, Op.35. Recorded at the Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña, on May 15, 2015.

The composer's early life as a sailor informed his evocative music for Sinbad and other tales from the Arabian Nights.

I want to tell you a story... but there's more to this tale than words! It's a story which takes shape through one of the most colourful, evocative and descriptive scores in all classical music, guaranteed to capture the imagination of everyone who hears it, young or old.

Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade is itself a story about a storyteller – one of the greatest of all, who inspired this exotic music. Although the composer himself was in two minds about how far he should stick to the stories of the Persian Princess, his preface at the top of the score sets out the bare bones of the 45 minutes of music which follow:

"The Sultan Shahriar, convinced of the duplicity and infidelity of all women, vowed to slay each of his wives after the first night. The Sultana Scheherazade, however, saved her life by the expedient of recounting to the Sultan a succession of tales over a period of one thousand and one nights. Overcome by curiosity, the monarch postponed the execution of his wife from day to day, and ended by renouncing his sanguinary resolution altogether."

Immediately, the music does its job of introducing the two main characters with their own specific themes.  There’s no doubting the Sultan – his arrival is announced with the very first uncompromising notes – a bold, brash theme answered by the mesmerising solo violin. Within the opening minute we've met the pair who are at the centre of these tales of love, intrigue and adventure. It's as though the composer himself was captured by their spell. When he sat down to write his orchestral fantasy his inclination was to use the more conventional terms for each of the four movements – Prelude, Ballade, Adagio and Finale. He was definitely against using titles which would define or constrict his music, but ultimately, the nature of each story is revealed by his music. In his memoirs, Rimsky-Korsakov makes his intentions even clearer: "All I had desired was that the listener, if he liked my piece as symphonic music, should carry away the impression that it is beyond doubt an Oriental narrative of some numerous and varied fairy-tale wonders and not merely four pieces played one after another".

So now we have the characters in place and the musical motivation, what of the stories themselves? With a thousand and one tales to choose from, Rimsky-Korsakov begins with "The Sea and Sinbad's Ship" – perhaps a reflection on the composer's earlier career in the navy when the young officer sailed the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and those routes bound for the exotic east, discovering both the perils and the excitement of a voyage at sea. Aboard Sinbad's Ship all is well, as the orchestral waves gently rock us on our way with time to watch sea birds flying towards the horizon, the story's journey has begun.

"The Tale of the Kalendar Prince" is the second story, begun by Scheherazade as her violin theme opens the second movement. This is the first time that Rimsky-Korsakov leaves us in no doubt that we're heading east, with exotic solos for the woodwind instruments there's a real sense of the mystery of the Orient. It's a little less certain which of the three Kalendar Princes who appear in the original tales is the subject here, and suddenly it's clear why Rimsky-Korsakov didn't want to be wholly bound by the ancient tales, since he obviously had some ideas of his own!

There's such a tender opening to the third movement, you’re in no doubt that this is a love story featuring the "Young Prince and the Young Princess". It's no less effective than the orchestral fanfares and imaginative passages of the earlier movements, but we are drawn into their love affair with some of the loveliest, sensual music of the entire work, making it an unsurprising favourite amongst these pieces.

Then it's back to the action for the finale, and you can hear the Sultan's impatience for the story to continue. We're back on board ship, but the calm of the opening movement is forgotten amidst the turbulence of the waves and the encroaching storm. This story is an adventure packed thriller – culminating in the crashing waves and the destruction of the ship, breaking up on the cliffs. The shipwreck coincides with the end of the Sultan's deadly intent to kill each of his wives, his musical theme banished and replaced with a clever tying together of the earlier themes, as Scheherazade herself reminds us of the stories she’s told. It’s her melody which returns for the concluding moments of this outrageous fantasy, and her triumph over her wicked husband is finally and sweetly acknowledged.

These ancient folk tales have inspired poets and writers, artists and composers for centuries but the immediate impact of this so called "narrative in sound" from Rimsky-Korsakov has the potential to transport you to a fairy tale world with such forceful emotion, its an exhilarating journey.

Source: classicfm.com

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

♪ Scheherazade, Op.35 (1888)

i. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship (Largo e maestoso – Lento – Allegro non troppo – Tranquillo)
ii. The Kalandar Prince (Lento – Andantino – Allegro molto – Vivace scherzando – Moderato assai – Allegro molto ed animato)
iii. The Young Prince and the Young Princess (Andantino quasi allegretto – Pochissimo più mosso – Come prima – Pochissimo più animato)
iv. Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman (Allegro molto – Lento – Vivo – Allegro non troppo e maestoso – Tempo come I)

Viatcheslav Chestiglazov, violin

Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia
Conductor: Leif Segerstam

Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña, May 15, 2015

(HD 1080p)

Born in 1944, Leif Segerstam is recognised internationally as a conductor, composer, violinist and pianist. He studied at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki and The Juilliard School. He is chief conductor emeritus of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and holds honorary titles with the Malmö Opera, the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also been chief conductor of the Austrian and Finnish Radio Symphony orchestras plus the Royal Swedish Opera and director of the Finnish National Opera. He has also conducted most of the world's most prestigious orchestras and was one of the most important ambassadors for Sibelius' 2015 anniversary year. Segerstam began his conducting career in the opera houses of Helsinki, Stockholm and Berlin, and has made guest appearances at international opera houses and festivals.

His many recordings have been critically acclaimed and feature works by contemporary composers as well as the complete symphonies of Mahler, Sibelius and Nielsen among many others. Segerstam is a voracious composer, notably developing a free-pulsative style in Rosenkranz form for his later symphonies which are performed without conductor. He was professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki. Segerstam was awarded the 1999 Nordic Council Music Prize and the Swedish Cultural Foundation's Prize for Music in 2003. In 2004 he was given the annual Finnish State Prize for Music and in 2005 the Sibelius Medal.

Source: naxos.com

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Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade – Matjaž Bogataj, Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra, Nejc Bečan (HD 1080p)

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.6 in A minor "Tragic" – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Dima Slobodeniouk (HD 1080p)

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Eliahu Inbal (HD 1080p)

Richard Strauss: Don Quixote – Pablo Ferrández, Francisco Regozo, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Dennis Russell Davies (HD 1080p)

Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No.2 in A major – Nikolai Demidenko, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Otto Tausk (HD 1080p)

Johann Sebastian Bach: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Ton Koopman (2015, HD 1080p)