|Pekka Kuusisto (Photo by Kaapo Kamu)|
Tchaikovsky poured his soul into symphonies that would express his anguish and passions as no music had ever dared to. John Storgårds conducts Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, and Pekka Kuusisto plays Daníel Bjarnason's new Violin Concerto. "Defining music's brave new world", says Time Out NY of Bjarnason. "The David Bowie of the fiddle", raves The Times of London of Kuusisto.
Saturday, November 17
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto, Lima: 08:00 PM
Brasília: 11:00 PM
Sunday, November 18
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw, Stockholm, Oslo: 02:00 AM
Athens, Kiev, Jerusalem, Beirut, Cape Town: 03:00 AM
Moscow, Ankara: 04:00 AM
Abu Dhabi: 05:00 AM
New Delhi: 06:30 AM
Beijing, Manila, Hong Kong: 09:00 AM
Tokyo, Seoul: 10:00 AM
Live on Livestream
George Antheil (1900-1959)
♪ Over the Plains (1945)
Daníel Bjarnason (b. 1979)
♪ Violin Concerto (2017) *
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
♪ Symphony No.4 in F minor, Op.36 (1877-1878)
i. Andante sostenuto – Moderato con anima – Moderato assai, quasi Andante – Allegro vivo
ii. Andantino in modo di canzone
iii. Scherzo. Pizzicato ostinato – Allegro
iv. Finale. Allegro con fuoco
Pekka Kuusisto, violin *
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: John Storgårds
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Saturday, November 17, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (GMT-5) / Sunday, November 18, 2018, 03:00 AM EET (GMT+02:00)
Live on Livestream
|Pekka Kuusisto (Photo by Mohai Balázs)|
Described as "one-of-a-kind" by Toronto's The Globe and Mail, Pekka Kuusisto (b. 1976, Espoo, Finland) is renowned for his fresh approach to repertoire. Widely recognised for his flair in directing ensembles from the violin, Kuusisto is Artistic Partner with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director of ACO Collective – a string ensemble of Australia's most talented young professional musicians delivering innovative projects across the country. In 2017 he became Artistic Best Friend of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and in 2018 became an Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Other directing engagements include the Tapiola Sinfonietta, and the Scottish and Swedish chamber orchestras.
Concerto highlights of the 2018-2019 season include debuts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Aurora Orchestra, with whom he will be embark on tour playing Adès Violin Concerto under the baton of Nicholas Collon in the UK and on tour to Singapore. He returns to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, and tours throughout Europe with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Kuusisto also takes up a season-long residency at Wigmore Hall.
The Finnish violinist is an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music and has recently premiered new works by Sauli Zinovjev, Philip Venables and Andrea Tarrodi. Following last season's Hollywood Bowl premiere of Daníel Bjarnason's Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, this season Kuusisto performs the work with the Iceland and Detroit symphony orchestras, as well as its Finnish premiere with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He also performs the Austrian premiere of Anders Hillborg's Bach Materia with the Camerata Salzburg. As a composer, together with Samuli Kosminen, Kuusisto is composing, performing and recording the music for a new animated television series of Tove Jansson's Moomin stories.
Kuusisto is a gifted improviser and regularly engages with people across the artistic spectrum. Uninhibited by conventional genre boundaries and noted for his innovative programming, recent projects have included collaborations with Hauschka and Kosminen, Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder, pioneer of electronic music Brian Crabtree, eminent jazz-trumpeter Arve Henriksen, juggler Jay Gilligan, accordionist Dermot Dunne and folk artist Sam Amidon.
Other recent highlights have included appearances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris, and a European tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has play-directed the Karajan-Akademie der Berliner Philharmoniker with tenor Mark Padmore and completed a mini-residency at Pierre Boulez Saal with REDDRESS; a collaborative project with South-Korean artist Aamu Song that blurs the boundaries between performance and visual art.
Kuusisto has released several recordings, notably for Ondine and BIS. Recent releases include Erkki-Sven Tüür's Noesis, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra for Ondine, and Sebastian Fagerlund's violin concerto Darkness in Light for BIS both recorded with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu. This season he records Hillborg's Bach Materia and Bach's Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard for BIS.
Pekka Kuusisto plays a fine 18th century Italian instrument generously loaned to him by the Beares International Violin Society.
|John Storgårds (Photo by Heikki Saukkomaa)|
Chief Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa and Artistic Partner of the Münchener Kammerorchester, John Storgårds (b. 1963, Helsinki) has a dual career as a conductor and violin virtuoso and is widely recognised for his creative flair for programming. He additionally holds the title of Artistic Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland.
Storgårds appears with such orchestras as WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Bamberger Symphoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as all the major Nordic orchestras including Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra where he was Chief Conductor 2008-2015. Further afield, he appears with the Sydney, Melbourne and NHK Symphonies as well as the Boston, St Louis, Toronto and Vancouver symphony orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Yefim Bronfman, Sol Gabetta, Håkan Hardenberger, Kari Kriikku, Gil Shaham, Baiba Skride, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Storgårds's vast repertoire includes all symphonies by Sibelius, Nielsen, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. He gave a historical cycle of all 54 symphonies by Mozart (including the unnumbered works) and conducted Finnish premieres of Schumann's only opera "Genoveva", his early "Zwickau" symphony, plus world premieres of Sibelius' Suite Op.117 for violin and strings and the Late Fragments. As a violinist, Storgårds gave the Finnish premiere of Schumann's own violin version of the Cello Concerto and his Violin Sonata No.3. Storgårds regularly performs world premieres of works by contemporary composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Brett Dean, Per Nørgård and Pēteris Vasks. Many of these composers have dedicated their works to him. In opera he conducted the Finnish premiere of Haydn's Orlando Paladino at the Finnish National Opera, a production which remains one of the most successful in Finland. He conducted major titles by Strauss, Verdi and most Mozart operas. Recently he led a new production by Paul-Emile Fourny of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Highlights of his 2017-2018 season include Storgårds' return to the BBC Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He will give debut appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien at Vienna's prestigious Musikverein and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall. Following their recent touring success, Storgårds is taking the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland on tour to Ottawa. In opera Storgårds will give the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund's new opera Höstsonaten / Autumn Sonata at the Finnish National Opera with Anne Sofie von Otter in the leading role of Charlotte.
Storgårds' award winning discography includes recordings of works by Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn but also rarities by Holmboe and Vasks' featuring him as soloist. Two cycles of symphonies by Sibelius (2014) and Nielsen (2015) with the BBC Philharmonic were released to critical acclaim by Chandos. Their latest recording, released earlier this year, includes works by American avant-garde composer George Antheil. Other successes include discs of works by Nørgård, Korngold and Rautavaara, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Award in 2012. Storgårds's recording with the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland of Concertos for theremin and horn by Kalevi Aho received the distinguished ECHO Klassik award in 2015.
Storgårds studied violin with Chaim Taub and subsequently became concert master of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, before studying conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas. He received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002 and the Pro Finlandia Prize 2012.
|Pekka Kuusisto (Photo by Mohai Balázs)|
George Antheil: Over the Plains
Over the Plains (1945), inspired by the composer's visit to Texas. It's pure Antheil in its unabashed weirdness, veering between rollicking cowboy music, Impressionist tone-painting and (near the end) what appears to be a homage to Mahler's Seventh.
Daníel Bjarnason: Violin Concerto
In the realm of innovative popular music, Iceland – a country of some 330,000 citizens – has gained international note for such rock groups as The Sugarcubes (after it disbanded, its star singer, Björk, went on to individual fame) and Sigur Rós. In the past decade or so, a new generation of young Icelandic "classical" composers has also taken the world by storm.
Daníel Bjarnason has emerged as an important figure among them. Born in Copenhagen to Icelandic parents, he was raised in Denmark and Iceland. After studying piano, composition, and conducting in Reykjavik, he headed for the University of Music Freiburg to pursue advanced work in conducting. His career has been international since then, but he also remains deeply involved in the Icelandic music scene. He is associated with Bedroom Community, a music collective and recording label founded there in 2006; it includes in its circle not only Icelandic composers but also musicians from abroad, including the Americans Nico Muhly and Nadia Sirota (who has been named Creative Partner for the New York Philharmonic's 2018-2019 season).
As a conductor, Bjarnason has led many esteemed ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic (he was co-curator, with Esa-Pekka Salonen, of that organization's Reykjavik Festival in 2017), Iceland Symphony Orchestra (where he served for three years as artist-in-residence), BBC Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, and Tokyo and Toronto symphony orchestras, as well as The Icelandic Opera. In the 2016-2017 season he was named composer-in-residence at the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
His compositions range widely in character, sometimes employing tonally based themes, often following a freer approach to tonality, sometimes using electronicacoustic combinations. Formal clarity would seem to be the watchword in his scores, which are filled with specificity of momentary gestures and long-term trajectory; while they employ an advanced musical vocabulary, their narratives are within reach of engaged listeners.
Bjarnason has contributed compositions in many genres, including chamber music, choral works,film scores, and music for dance (such as his Frames, choreographed by Alexander Whitley for the contemporary dance company Rambert). He has written collaborative works with the Australian composer Ben Frost and has made arrangements for albums by Sigur Rós and Ólöf Arnalds, and Olivia Pedroli. His first opera, Brothers (based on a film by Susanne Bier), was premiered by the Danish National Opera in Aarhus, Denmark, last August; it will receive its Icelandic premiere tomorrow night, June 9, performed by the Icelandic Opera in Reykjavik.
|Daníel Bjarnason (Photo by Börkur Sigthorsson)|
Prior to his performance of the Violin Concerto last fall with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, soloist Pekka Kuusisto stated: "I was... really excited by the language and by the handling of really massive elements – tectonic plates of music – but also the level of detail in the orchestrations; and the music having a really heavy natural flow, but its being super-detailed at the same time.
In a video interview made for the Philharmonia Orchestra in London last fall, soloist Pekka Kuusisto explained how he showed Daníel Bjarnason some special techniques he has used in his playing: "One of them was a thing I do quite often when I improvise, which is doubling my own playing either with my voice or with whistling. So when it's a pizzicato note, in general it's quite a short sound. But if you [play the note and whistle it simultaneously], you can create a sustain".
Bjarnason embraced the idea and ended up using it selectively in both the solo line and the orchestral string parts, as he noted in an interview leading up to the New York Philharmonic premiere: "This piece is in many ways very lighthearted and not too serious, even though it may have a serious undercurrent. But it is playful and theatrical and that is also true of the opening. It is the violinist who is leading the orchestra and us on a journey with his first magic trick".
Kuusisto also pointed out the change of tuning – an adjustment known as scordatura: "It always takes a little while for the string to get used to it, so you get this kind of raunchy [sound] that you don't normally get on a violin... It changes the whole resonance of the violin... And it's lovely".
Bjarnason was himself surprised by how scordatura tuning took over the concerto, saying, "I wasn't planning on using it for the whole piece, but then I got completely fascinated by it".
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4 in F minor, Op.36
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed his Fourth Symphony between 1877 and 1878, dedicated to his patroness and "best friend" Nadezhda von Meck.
Following his catastrophic marriage to former student Antonina Miliukova, lasting a mere two months, Tchaikovsky made a start on his fourth symphony. After emerging from a profound period of writer's block, struggling with his sexuality and battling with a heavy bout of depression, it's perhaps unsurprising that the music is urgent, supercharged and violent at points. Even the opening bars of the first movement are intended to represent a metaphor for Fate, or, as poor old Tchaikovsky put it: "the fatal power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness".
Between the moments of anguish and melancholy, Tchaikovsky proves he knows how to write a great tune – even the plaintive oboe melody at the beginning of the second movement, the Andantino in modo di canzone, swells with a poignancy and optimism, helped along by lush strings and booming brass.
The Finale, complete with frenzied plucking from the strings and rushing scales bursting through the texture, is certainly a highlight. The doom-laden Fate theme comes back once more – a cyclical feature Tchaikovsky went on to use in the two symphonies that followed, Manfred, and Symphony No.5, completed in 1885 and 1888 respectively.
|John Storgårds (Photo by Marco Borggreve)|
“What happens to forests, happens to us all” – New Greenpeace campaign featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto
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