Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier

Under the baton of French conductor Lionel Bringuier, one of the most promising conductors of his generation, the Camerata Salzburg performs the "Rhapsody in Blue" by American composer George Gershwin, interpreted by Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Yuja is especially recognized for her playing which combines the fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist.

Υπό τη διεύθυνση του Γάλλου μαέστρου Lionel Bringuier, ενός από τους πλέον υποσχόμενους διευθυντές ορχήστρας της γενιάς του, η Καμεράτα του Σάλτσμπουργκ παρουσιάζει τη «Γαλάζια Ραψωδία» του Τζορτζ Γκέρσουιν. Ερμηνεύει η διάσημη Κινέζα πιανίστρια Γιούτζα Ουάνγκ. Η συναυλία δόθηκε στο πλαίσιο του Φεστιβάλ του Σάλτσμπουργκ στην Αυστρία, στο θέατρο Haus für Mozart, στις 12 Αυγούστου 2016.

George Gershwin (1898-1937)

♪ Rhapsody in Blue (1924)

Yuja Wang, piano

Camerata Salzburg
Conductor: Lionel Bringuier

Austria, Salzburg Festival, Haus für Mozart, August 12, 2016

(HD 720p)

Late at night on 3 January 1924, George Gershwin, his brother Ira and lyricist Buddy DeSylva were having a game in the Ambassador Billiard Parlor at 52nd Street on Broadway, when an item in the amusement section of the New York Tribune caught Ira's attention. It was about a concert of new American music to be given by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Band at Aeolian Hall on 12 February – Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

"George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto", ran the article, "Irving Berlin is writing a syncopated tone poem…"

It was all news to George. His musical comedy, Sweet Little Devil, was set to open in just three weeks. And now he had to write a concerto by 12 February as well?

Paul Whiteman was the most popular bandleader of the 1920s and enjoyed the title "King of Jazz" – although this was no jazz band; rather it was a large dance orchestra that used jazz musicians from time to time.

But Whiteman twisted Gershwin's arm that all he had to do was supply a piano score. Ferde Grofé, Whiteman's brilliant in-house arranger, would be able to orchestrate the work tailored to the band's line-up.

While he was on the train to Boston for rehearsals of his musical, Gershwin sketched out a framework for the new piece, which he began writing on 7 January. Over the next few days, while he also made last-minute changes to ready Sweet Little Devil for its New York opening on 24 January, the genius completed a two-piano score.

What Gershwin produced was not a "jazz concerto" but a rhapsodic work for "piano and jazz band" incorporating elements of European symphonic music and American jazz with his inimitable melodic gift and keyboard facility.

Gershwin's original title for it was American Rhapsody. But, by chance, Ira had been to an exhibition of Whistler's paintings and saw the painter's Nocturne In Blue And Green of the Thames at Chelsea. Why not call the new piece Rhapsody In Blue instead, he suggested. The title would reflect the European and American influences. Also at Ira's suggestion, George contrasted the syncopated character that dominates the tune with an expressive romantic theme the composer had previously improvised at a party.

The Rhapsody, with its composer as soloist, was premièred in front of a packed house that included such musical luminaries as the composer Rachmaninov , the violinist Fritz Kreisler and the conductor Leopold Stokowski.

Despite not yet having written down much of the piano part, Gershwin scored a triumphant success with the work which today is hailed as a landmark in American music.

Source: Jane Jones (

Η «Γαλάζια Ραψωδία» για πιάνο και ορχήστρα, του Τζορτζ Γκέρσουιν, αποτελεί  το «σήμα κατατεθέν» της συνθετικής ιδιοφυΐας του σπουδαίου Αμερικανού δημιουργού, που έφυγε νωρίς από τη ζωή, το 1937, σε ηλικία μόλις 39 ετών. Το εισαγωγικό μέρος με το γκλισάντο* του κλαρινέτου είναι τόσο οικείο στο αφτί του μέσου ακροατή, όσο οι πρώτες νότες της «Πέμπτης» του Μπετόβεν.

Ο  πρωτότυπος τίτλος του έργου στα αγγλικά είναι "Rhapsody in Blue". Στα ελληνικά αποδόθηκε εσφαλμένα ως «Γαλάζια Ραψωδία», αλλά επικράτησε. Το "blue" του τίτλου παραπέμπει στις λεγόμενες «μπλου νότες» (blue notes) του μπλουζ και της τζαζ, που για εκφραστικούς λόγους παρεκκλίνουν από το τονικό ύψος μιας νότας της μείζονος κλίμακας.

Η «Γαλάζια Ραψωδία» γράφτηκε σε διάστημα τριών εβδομάδων το 1924, κατόπιν παραγγελίας του Πολ Ουάιτμαν, διακεκριμένου μαέστρου τζαζ μπάντας, που ζήτησε από τον Γκέρσουιν ένα τζαζ κοντσέρτο και εκείνος του παρέδωσε μία ραψωδία, δηλαδή μια μουσική σύνθεση με σχετική δομική και μελωδική ελευθερία. Ο συνθέτης εμπνεύστηκε το έργο μέσα σ' ένα τρένο στη διαδρομή Νέα Υόρκη - Βοστόνη. «Μέσα από τους θορύβους ενός τρένου πάντα ακούω μουσική», έλεγε στον βιογράφο του.

Η πρώτη εκτέλεση του έργου δόθηκε από την μπάντα του Πολ Ουάιτμαν στις 12 Φεβρουαρίου 1924 στη Νέα Υόρκη, με καταπληκτική επιτυχία. Αργότερα, ο συνεργάτης του Γκέρσουιν, Φερντ Γκροφέ (1892-1972), το μετέγραψε για συμφωνική ορχήστρα, όπως είναι σήμερα γνωστό.

Ο Γκέρσουιν στο έργο του συνδυάζει τρία βασικά στοιχεία της βορειοαμερικανικής μουσικής: τη βασισμένη στο πιάνο λαϊκή παράδοση, τη μουσική για το θέατρο ποικιλιών (βαριετέ) και ό,τι περιλαμβάνεται στην ατμόσφαιρα της αφροαμερικανικής μουσικής (μπλουζ και τζαζ).

* Το «γκλισάντο» είναι η εντύπωση της ολισθήσεως που παράγεται όταν παίζονται σε γρήγορη διαδοχή παρακείμενες νότες.


Yuja Wang was born in Beijing on February 10, 1987, and encouraged at a young age to make music by her dancer mother and percussionist father, starting the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her musical development. Yuja began piano lessons at the age of six and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Gary Graffman.

By the time Yuja graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 2008, she had already gathered momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past ten years of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.

In January 2009 Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the yellow label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concertos with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier. Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical prowess, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched stamina.

She was recently described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique". In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous". The combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm the 29-year old pianist's status as one of this century's most compelling artists.

The international reach and artistic breadth of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 schedule reflects the strong demand for her work. She unveils her new season in the summer of 2016 with a run of recitals, chamber concerts and concerto performances at the Salzburg, Wolftrap, Tanglewood, Verbier and Baltic Sea festivals including collaborations with Matthias Goerne, Leonidas Kavakos, Lionel Bringuier, Gustavo Gimeno and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following her initial NCPA residency concerts, Wang embarks on an extensive recital tour of China and Japan in September before traveling to the United States to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's season with three performances of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in partnership with Yannick-Nézet-Séguin.

Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad audience. It appeals to everyone, from newcomers to the concert hall to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recently recognised by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge convention and win fresh converts to classical music. She is set to broaden her audience throughout the 2016-2017 season, not least through her term as Artist-in-Residence at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The Beijing-born pianist returns to her home city in August for the first of six specially curated concerts at the NCPA, where she will explore programmes of Romantic and 20th-century repertoire in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her time in Stockholm will be filled by chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Bartok with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Sakari Oramo as well as a recital programme.

Other bold highlights of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 season include a nine-concert Asian tour with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas; performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda at New York's Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and an extensive spring tour of Europe with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano. In December she joins forces with percussionist Martin Grubinger for concerts in Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and marks the new year with extensive recital tours of Europe and the United States with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Wang will also undertake a major solo European recital tour in March and April, complete with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, and many other cities.

Over the next season's course, Yuja will explore everything from chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms to concertos by Chopin and Shostakovich. Her profound affinity for Bartók falls under the spotlight when she explores each of the composer's three piano concertos, with performances of individual works in Beijing, Cleveland, Dallas, Guangzhou, Stockholm, Taiwan and Toronto, and of the complete set with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel over two consecutive weeks in May and June.


More photos

See also

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & Summertime – Fazıl Say, Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie, Alexander Shelley (HD 1080p)

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Lionel Bringuier (HD 1080p)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique" – hr-Sinfonieorchester, Lionel Bringuier


Gautier Capuçon and Yuja Wang play Ludwig van Beethoven: Seven variations for Cello and Piano in E flat major on Mozart's "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" – Verbier Festival 2013

Gautier Capuçon and Yuja Wang play Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov and Astor Piazzolla – Verbier Festival 2013 (HD 1080p)

Frédéric Chopin: 24 Préludes, Op.28 – Yuja Wang (HD 1080p)

Béla Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 in A major – Yuja Wang, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor | Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel (Audio video & Download 96kHz/24bit)

George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Yuja Wang, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Yuri Termikanov (HD 1080p)

Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concertos – Yuja Wang, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Lionel Bringuier (Audio video)

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi

Yuja Wang plays Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven at Verbier Festival 2016

Yuja Wang, the pianist who will not go quietly

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Yuja Wang, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

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