1985 (2018) – A film by Yen Tan – Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Robert Schumann: Symphony No.1 in B flat major "Spring" | Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor | Claude Debussy: Printemps – Ray Chen, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu – Friday, April 13, 2018, 10:45 AM EDT (GMT-4) – Livestream

Ray Chen (Photo by Sophie Zhai)

Trumpets begin Schumann's First Symphony announcing an awakening – Spring! The air is filled with sounds of a world turning green as everything bursts to life. Woven with the colors and vitality of Winter's end, Schumann sought to cure our longing for a new season. Hannu Lintu leads the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on a program featuring Ray Chen, one of the most compelling young violinists today, who's sparking his own musical awakening, with millions of followers online.

Friday, April 13
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Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

♪ Printemps, L.68 (1887)

i. Très modéré
ii. Modéré

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77 (1947-1948)*

i. Nocturne (Moderato)
ii. Scherzo (Allegro)
iii. Passacaglia (Andante)
iii(a). Cadenza
iv. Burlesque (Allegro con brio – Presto)

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

♪ Symphony No.1 in B flat major "Spring", Op.38 (1841)

i. Andante un poco maestoso – Allegro molto vivace – Animato
ii. Larghetto
iii. Scherzo: Molto vivace – Trio I: Molto più vivace – Tempo I –  Trio II – Coda
iv. Allegro animato e grazioso

Ray Chen, violin*

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Hannu Lintu

(HD 720p)

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

Friday, April 13, 2018, 10:45 AM EDT (GMT-4) / 05:45 PM EEST (UTC+3)

Live on Livestream

Ray Chen is a violinist who redefines what it is to be a classical musician in the 21st Century. With a media presence that enhances and inspires the classical audience, reaching out to millions through his unprecedented online following, Ray Chen's remarkable musicianship transmits to a global audience that is reflected in his engagements with the foremost orchestras and concert halls around the world.

Initially coming to attention via the Yehudi Menuhin (2008) and Queen Elizabeth (2009) Competitions, of which he was First Prize winner, he has built a profile in Europe, Asia, and the USA as well as his native Australia both live and on disc. Signed in 2017 to Decca Classics, the summer of 2017 has seen the recording of the first album of this partnership with the London Philharmonic as a succession to his previous three critically acclaimed albums on SONY, the first of which ("Virtuoso") received an ECHO Klassik Award. Profiled as "one to watch" by the Strad and Gramophone magazines, his profile has grown to encompass his featuring in the Forbes list of 30 most influential Asians under 30, appearing in major online TV series "Mozart in the Jungle", a multi-year partnership with Giorgio Armani (who designed the cover of his Mozart album with Christoph Eschenbach) and performing at major media events such as France's Bastille Day (live to 800,000 people), the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm (telecast across Europe), and the BBC Proms.

He has appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Munich Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra Nazionale della Santa Cecilia, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and upcoming debuts include the SWR Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, and Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra. He works with conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Vladimir Jurowski, Sakari Oramo, Manfred Honeck, Daniele Gatti, Kirill Petrenko, Krystof Urbanski, Juraj Valcuha and many others. From 2012-2015 he was resident at the Dortmund Konzerthaus and in 2017-2018 will be an "Artist Focus" with the Berlin Radio Symphony.

His presence on social media makes Ray Chen a pioneer in an artist's interaction with their audience, utilising the new opportunities of modern technology. His appearances and interactions with music and musicians are instantly disseminated to a new public in a contemporary and relatable way. He is the first musician to be invited to write a lifestyle blog for the largest Italian publishing house, RCS Rizzoli (Corriere della Sera, Gazzetta dello Sport, Max). He has been featured in Vogue magazine and is currently releasing his own design of violin case for the industry manufacturer GEWA. His commitment to music education is paramount, and inspires the younger generation of music students with his series of self-produced videos combining comedy and music. Through his online promotions his appearances regularly sell out and draw an entirely new demographic to the concert hall.

Born on March 6, 1989 in Taiwan and raised in Australia, Ray was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at age 15, where he studied with Aaron Rosand and was supported by Young Concert Artists. He plays the 1715 "Joachim" Stradivarius violin on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. This instrument was once owned by the famed Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim (1831-1907).

Source: raychenviolin.com

With a "scrupulous ear for instrumental color and blend" (Washington Post) and bringing "a distinctive dynamism to the podium" (Baltimore Sun), the 2017-2018 season marks Hannu Lintu's fifth year as Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Last season's highlights include a concert tour to Russia, with performances at the Moscow Conservatory, Vyborg's House of Culture and St Petersburg's Philharmonic Grand Hall, and a performance of Väinö Raitio's opera Princess Cecilia (the first in 80 years) at the Helsinki Festival – both part of celebrations marking 100 years of Finnish independence. On Independence Day (6 December 2017) the Orchestra honours its 90th anniversary and 100-year-old Finland, premiering newly commissioned works by longtime FRSO collaborator Magnus Lindberg and Lotta Wennäkoski. Seven more premieres are scheduled throughout the season, along with performances of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle and Beethoven's Fidelio among others. In March 2018 the FRSO tours Spain and Germany with cellist Sol Gabetta, taking in such venues as the Berlin Philharmonie and the Cologne Philharmonie.

Highlights of Lintu's 2017-2018 season include returns to the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony and Detroit Symphony orchestras. Lintu also makes his debut with the Naples Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony and Hiroshima Symphony orchestras. Recent engagements include the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and the St Louis Symphony, Baltimore and Toronto Symphony orchestras, as well as three acclaimed European debuts: Staatsorchester Stuttgart Opera, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester.

A regular in the pit, Lintu returns to the Savonlinna Opera Festival in July 2018 to conduct Verdi's Otello – in 2017 he conducted Aulis Sallinen's Kullervo as part of Finland's centenary celebrations. The Finnish National Opera and Ballet also honoured 100 years of independence in a special collaborative project with director/choreographer Tero Saarinen of Sibelius's Kullervo, with Lintu receiving rave reviews: "No other conductor – including several distinguished Sibelians – I have heard in this music has been quite so willing to show what makes [Kullervo] so original" (Opera Magazine, May 2017). Previous productions with Finnish National Opera include Parsifal, Carmen, Sallinen's King Lear, and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in spring 2016. Lintu has also worked with Tampere Opera and Estonian National Opera.

Hannu Lintu has made several recordings for Ondine, Naxos, Avie and Hyperion. His recording of selected works by Erkki-Sven Tüür (with Christoffer Sundqvist, Pekka Kuusisto and the FRSO) was released in February 2017; Prokofiev's Piano Concertos with Olli Mustonen, Mahler's Symphony No.1, and Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony with Angela Hewitt and Valerie Hartmann-Claverie are among other recent releases. Lintu has received several accolades for his recordings, including a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Opera CD, plus Gramophone Award nominations for his recordings of Enescu's Symphony No.2 with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and the Violin Concertos of Sibelius and Thomas Adès with Augustin Hadelich and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Hannu Lintu was born on October 13, 1967 in Rauma, Finland, and studied cello and piano at the Sibelius Academy, where he later studied conducting with Jorma Panula. He participated in masterclasses with Myung-Whun Chung at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and took first prize at the Nordic Conducting Competition in Bergen in 1994.

Source: hannulintu.fi

Claude Debussy: Printemps, L.68

One of Debussy's assignments as a Prix de Rome scholar at the Villa Medici in 1887 was to send back to the Fine Arts Academy in France an orchestral score so his benefactors could judge his professional progress. All Debussy managed to turn in was a piano duet called Printemps, or "Spring"; he claimed that the full score, complete with humming chorus, had been destroyed in a fire. Not until 1913 did he get around to generating an orchestral version, and even then the work was assigned to Henri Büsser who, working from the keyboard original, had no access to any original choral material. In a nod to the music's origins, Büsser included a prominent but not quite concertante keyboard part in the finished score.

The Academy committee found the piece to be excessively progressive, which in the late 1880s meant little more than Wagnerian in its chromaticism. (The committee's condemnation includes the first recorded application of the term "Impressionism" to Debussy's music.) Only in the orchestration did the music begin to sound like mature, Impressionistic Debussy, that effect achieved through timbre rather than harmony. The composer said he intended to compose a work "of a particular color, covering as wide a range of sensations as possible". Actually, in terms of sensations, Printemps is limited to two: yearning, giving way to relaxed happiness. Debussy described the music's program as "the slow, laborious birth of beings and things in nature, and then their blossoming outward and upward, and finally a burst of joy at being reborn to new life". Consequently, the piece falls into two movements, both at moderate tempo, and neither employ particularly straightforward or memorable melodic material; the emphasis is entirely on mood.

Source: James Reel (allmusic.com)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77

As many know, Shostakovich wrote two violin concertos. But his work list suggests two separate versions of the First, the Op.77 and the Op.99. The Violin Concerto No.1 was originally completed in 1948, but withheld for seven years by the composer, owing to the oppressive climate for artists in the Soviet Union at the time. Any new work might have drawn the wrath of Stalin and his cronies in the arts. Shostakovich returned to the score in 1955 and then assigned the higher opus number to it. Actually, the only documented change he made came not as a result of second thoughts, but as a matter of consideration for the soloist. During rehearsals in 1955, the virtuoso violinist David Oistrakh requested of Shostakovich that the opening statement of the fourth movement's main theme be given to the orchestra, so that the soloist could take a rest following the long cadenza which leads right into the finale, and Shostakovich agreed to make the change.

The First Violin Concerto begins as a dark work, full of that gloom and dread that pervade so many of Shostakovich's serious works. The first movement Nocturne starts off with an ominous theme that is both inwardly reflective and filled with foreboding. Midway through, a thinly veiled Dies Irae appears as the music becomes more tense. Yet, a climactic release never quite arrives and the suggested conflicts remain unresolved.

The second movement is a rather diabolical Scherzo that contains some interesting allusions, first to the third movement of the Tenth Symphony (1953) and later to the first movement of the Second Piano Concerto (1957). The violin and woodwinds scurry about to deliver the playful yet menacing material, but gradually the character of the movement becomes more sarcastic, eventually breaking into a hallucinatory folk dance. The latter part of the Scherzo sounds less acidic, the diabolic and sarcastic elements surrender to the driving, insistent energy.

The third movement is a Passacaglia that has a chorale-like quality at the outset, as the woodwinds deliver a mournful theme. The violin enters playing the main theme, one of the composer's loveliest and warmest creations. Shostakovich's 1943 Eighth Symphony's fourth movement also featured a passacaglia, though of a decidedly grimmer character. Here, there is tension, but also much beauty. The latter third of the movement is taken up by a brilliant cadenza, which leads directly into the brief finale, a Burlesque of a mostly festive nature. The mood is similar to that of the faster music in the Tenth Symphony's finale, though there are no clear thematic references. While the work ends triumphantly, its manic qualities suggest a discomfort by the composer, as though the happy resolution might have been disingenuous.

Shostakovich eliminated trumpets and trombones from the orchestration of this Concerto, and his writing is otherwise sensitive to the limited tone of a solo violin playing amid a large ensemble. A typical performance of this work lasts about 35 minutes.

Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)

Robert Schumann: Symphony No.1 in B flat major "Spring", Op.38

Schumann's First Symphony came with astonishing speed. He noted "beginning of a symphony in C minor" on 21 January 1841, but the work was abandoned. Two days later, however, inspired by a poem by Adolf Böttger, he wrote "Spring Symphony started". On 24 January, the first movement of the new work was sketched and the "adagio and scherzo made ready"; on 25 January "Symphony fire – sleepless nights – on the last movement" and on the fourth and final day, "Hurrah! Symphony finished!". Orchestration would occupy him till 20 February, but in four days and nights – "it mostly seems to have been written at night" – he had effectively written the Symphony in B flat that would become his Op.38. Clara wrote in their joint diary: "I am infinitely happy that Robert has at last arrived where, with his great imagination, he belongs".

It fell to Felix Mendelssohn to premiere the work, at a concert that March when Clara would be performing for the first time since her wedding. On 6 and 10 March, Schumann went through the Symphony with Mendelssohn. The late beginner was deeply impressed by his friend's understanding: "He always sees the right thing and fastens on to it". There was, for example, a problem with the horn calls at the very opening of the symphony – valved horns were just coming in – and at a rehearsal Schumann had to rewrite the passage to obtain something more like the effect he wanted. After some furious copying of parts, the "Spring" Symphony was given at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 31 March 1841, just over nine weeks after Schumann had started it. The evening was a triumph, with congratulations coming from all sides. The work was performed again in Leipzig on 13 August, after still further revisions.

Source: John Worthen (hyperion-records.co.uk)

More photos

See also

Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor – Ray Chen, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano

Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor – Ray Chen, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano

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