Alice Sara Ott

Alice Sara Ott
Alice Sara Ott (Photo by Ester Haase)

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor | Jean Sibelius: Symphony No.7 in C major | Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra) | Carl Nielsen: An Imaginary Trip to the Faroe Islands – Louis Lortie, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, John Storgårds – Saturday, May 5, 2018, 08:00 PM EDT (GMT-4) – Livestream

Louis Lortie (Photo by Hiroyuki Ito)

Having moved to Vienna in 1792 intending to study with Haydn, Beethoven soon grew weary of his lessons, and was left uninspired. More alluring were Mozart's melodies and rhythms. Beethoven found himself more at home following the late Mozart's footsteps, whose spirit still echoed throughout the city. That influence is evident in Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto, which pays tribute to Mozart, while still blazing its own trail.

French Canadian pianist Louis Lortie performs Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37.

Saturday, May 5
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Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)

♪ En fantasirejse til Faerøene (An Imaginary Trip to the Faroe Islands), rhapsodic overture for orchestra, FS 123 (1927)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37 (1800)*

i. Allegro con brio

ii. Largo
iii. Rondo. Allegro

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016)

♪ Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra), Op.61 (1972)

i. The Bog
ii. Melancholy
iii. Swans Migrating

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

♪ Symphony No.7 in C major, Op.105 (1918-1924)

i. Adagio
ii. Vivacissimo – Adagio
iii. Allegro molto moderato – Allegro moderato
iv. Vivace – Presto – Adagio – Largamente molto – Affettuoso

Louis Lortie, piano*

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: John Storgårds

(HD 720p)

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

Saturday, May 5, 2018, 08:00 PM EDT (GMT-4) / Sunday, May 6, 2018, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3)

Live on Livestream

French Canadian pianist Louis Lortie (b. 1959, Montreal) has extended his interpretative voice across a broad range of repertoire rather than choosing to specialize in one particular style. The London Times has identified the artist's "combination of total spontaneity and meditated ripeness that only great pianists have".

He is in demand internationally. In 2017-2018, he is Artist in Residence of the Shanghai Symphony and performs four different programs with them throughout the season. He performs with the OSESP Sao Paulo and the complete Liszt "Annees de Pelerinage" in recital for them. In Australia, Mr. Lortie performs with WASO/Perth and with the Adelaide Symphony. He performs Liszt "Annees" for the Chicago Symphony and for the annual Liszt Festival in Raiding, Hungary. There will be two Lortie recitals at London's Wigmore Hall and an extensive recital tour in Italy. He performs and records with Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony, was selected by Jaap Van Zweden to play Mozart K.466 for one of Mr. Van Zweden's final Dallas Symphony concerts as Music Director. He returns to the National Symphony Taipei, the Philadelphia Orchestra with Nézet-Séguin, the Toronto Symphony, Budapest Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. His play/conduct engagements are with great orchestras world-wide.

Louis Lortie's long-awaited LacMus International Festival on Lake Como, Italy, makes its debut July 9-16, 2017.

He has made more than 45 recordings for the Chandos label, covering repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky, including a set of the complete Beethoven sonatas and the complete Liszt "Annees de Pelerinage", which was named one of the ten best recordings of 2012 by the New Yorker Magazine.  His recording of the Lutosławski Piano Concerto with Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony received high praise, as did a recent Chopin recording (he is recording all of Chopin's solo piano music for Chandos), which was named one of the best recordings of the year by the New York Times. Recently released recordings are Chopin Waltzes ("This is Chopin playing of sublime genius" — Fanfare Magazine), Saint-Saëns' Africa, Wedding Cake, and Carnival of the Animals with Neeme Jarvi and the Bergen Philharmonic, and Rachmaninov's complete works for two pianos with Hélène Mercier. Future recordings are Poulenc works for piano and orchestra with the BBC Philharmonic, Fauré piano works, and Scriabin piano works. For the Onyx label, he has recorded two acclaimed CDs with violinist Augustin Dumay.

Mr. Lortie is the Master in Residence at The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel of Brussels. He studied in Montreal with Yvonne Hubert (a pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot), in Vienna with Beethoven specialist Dieter Weber, and subsequently with Schnabel disciple Leon Fleisher. In 1984, he won First Prize in the Busoni Competition and was also prizewinner at the Leeds Competition.  Mr. Lortie is a citizen of Canada and has homes in Montreal, Berlin and Italy.


Photo by Marco Borggreve
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 2017/18 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.


John Storgårds

Carl Nielsen: En fantasirejse til Faerøene (An Imaginary Trip to the Faroe Islands)

As one of his country's most famous musicians, by 1927 Nielsen led a very busy life of composing, travelling, and conducting. His only orchestral work of that year was the Rhapsodic Overture, subtitled "An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands". It was written for a pair of concerts in which a group of fifty Faroese singers were to perform some of their national songs at Copenhagen's Royal Theatre. Typically, Nielsen worked right up to the last minute on his contribution to the concerts; his Overture was premiered at the first of the two, on November 27, 1927. It turned out that the Faroese singers themselves were unable to make the concerts due to a flu epidemic. Then, ironically, travelling to Denmark for the rescheduled concerts, they were held up by a hurricane in the Atlantic (Nielsen's Overture depicts in part a stormy sea voyage).

Nielsen thought little of his Overture, calling it "only a piece of jobbery". Written in between the Flute and Clarinet Concertos, the Overture (more properly a symphonic poem, of which Nielsen wrote very few) is in fact an interesting work and very typical of his late style. Soft timpani rolls establish a sense of mystery and gloom. Gradually, the strings intone an unsettled melody, and a lonely French horn sings out. Brass fanfares threaten, but a noble tune wins out and builds to an impressive climax. Nielsen here employs a Faroese folk song, "Easter bells chime softly", which at the time was well known in Denmark. The music is cheerful, even triumphant towards the end, but ends quietly.

Source: Chris Morrison (

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37

Beethoven composed this work in 1799-1800, and introduced it at Vienna on April 5, 1803. The first sketches go back to 1797  after he'd composed the B flat Piano Concerto (published as No.2), but before composition of the C major Concerto (in 1798, published as No.1). Although Beethoven played the first performance of No.3 in 1803 from a short score – no one was going to steal it from him! – he'd actually completed the music prior to April 1800, apart from a few last-minute adjustments. In other words, before he wrote the Second Symphony (Op.36), the Moonlight Piano Sonata (Op.27/2), or the Op.31 triptych for keyboard.

The model for this startlingly dramatic concerto was Mozart's C minor (K.491), which Beethoven played in public concerts. But "model" does not mean he merely imitated; indeed, the orchestra's traditional first exposition is so extensively developed that the soloist's repetition risks sounding anticlimactic. Otherwise, as Charles Rosen has written with formidable insight in The Classical Style, "There are many passages in the first movement, Allegro con brio, which allude to Mozart's concerto in the same key... particularly the role of the piano after the cadenza. But the striking development section, with [a] new melody half-recitative [and] half-aria, is entirely original, as is the new sense of weight to the form". Beethoven wrote down that cadenza several years later, to preserve the work's character and momentum, when implacable deafness seriously disadvantaged his public appearances at the keyboard.

To his contemporaries the slow movement came – and can still come – as a shock. Not only did he mark it Largo (which is to say very slowly), in 3/8 time, but chose the remote key of E major (four sharps, vs. C minor's three flats). Alone, the piano leads off for 11 measures, introducing both the main theme and ornamentation that accompanies it throughout. Here Beethoven anticipated the solo opening of his G major Fourth Concerto five years down the road, although in that work he dispensed with thematic decorations, beautiful as they were (and are) in the Largo of No.3.

Characteristically, the finale is a rondo Allegro, again in tonic C minor, with a pair of principal themes introduced by the soloist. This movement is rich in humor yet also dramatic, with a passage midway in E major to remind us where we've been. Following another (but brief) cadenza, Beethoven switches to C major, accelerates the tempo to Presto, and gives the orchestra the last word.

Source: Roger Dettmer (

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra), Op.61

In 1972, Einojuhani Rautavaara was commissioned by the University of Oulu, Finland, to write a piece for its first doctoral degree ceremony. Tradition would have him create a ceremonial festive cantata, but Rautavaara responded instead with the unusual Cantus Arcticus, often referred to as a Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, in which taped bird songs (some recorded in the vicinity of Oulu, others around the Arctic Circle and the marshlands of Liminka) interact with the orchestra.

The work is in three movements, each of which features a different set of bird songs. The first movement, titled "Suo" ("The Marsh"), opens with an impressionistic melody for two solo flutes, later joined by other woodwinds and by a recording of bog birds in springtime. A slow, rich, melody in the strings is superimposed over the winds and bird songs as the mood mellows, and the movement dies out with a reminiscence of the opening flute melody. The song of the shore lark, lowered by two octaves to turn it into what Rautavaara has called a "ghost bird", opens the second movement, "Melankolia" ("Melancholy"). A quiet melody in the strings enters tentatively and spins itself out, gaining in intensity as it goes. The movement ends as it began, with the shore lark. The final movement, "Joutsenet muuttavat" ("Swans Migrating"), opens with the chaotic sound of a large group of swans, combined with string tremolos and bird imitations in the woodwinds. This complex texture was described by Rautavaara thus: "I imagined they [the swans] fly straight to the burning sun". As in the first movement, a slow, chorale-like melody in the strings emerges. The swan sounds increase in volume, and after a climactic cymbal crash and brass calls, the music and the swans' songs fade into the distance amid the gentle sounds of harp and percussion.

Source: Chris Morrison (

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No.7 in C major, Op.105

Sibelius originally intended his Seventh Symphony to be in three movements, but in the end fashioned it into a single movement. It is cast in four distinct sections, however: a substantial opening Adagio is followed by a scherzo-like section, and then another, larger scherzo (which may have been spawned by the "Hellenic Rondo" idea that Sibelius had originally spoken of in regard to this work), and finally a recall of materials from the Adagio section. Initially entitled "Fantasia sinfonica", the work was subsequently restored to its status of symphony by the composer and would serve as his last foray in this genre.

The Seventh Symphony came as the climax of a lifetime's work for Sibelius. His ongoing search for new formal procedures that began with his Second Symphony reaches its acme in this sweeping, motivically concentrated and highly integrated work, containing elements of both sonata form and of rondo form. While many scholars have attempted to come up with different ways to classify the Seventh, it is a futile mental exercise to fit the work into traditional formal schemes, so complete is Sibelius' mastery of transition and control of simultaneous tempos.

The Adagio begins darkly, the strings rising from their bass range but soon reaching brighter terrain as motivic bits are assembled and the main thematic material begins to unfold. Soon a somewhat somber passage begins in the lower strings, building slowly and taking on an increasingly passionate manner, culminating in a powerfully epiphanic declaration, where strings soar and then trombones gloriously resound the symphony's main theme. The Adagio section ends in a relatively subdued and bright mood.

The scherzo-like section begins almost seamlessly, evolving subtly out of the Adagio's closing material. The tempo gradually quickens and the music works up a dark intensity, but the resulting mood is generally playful and light in the first half, but menacing in the latter portion, where churning strings incite the orchestra to a torrent that culminates in a recall of the Adagio's trombone theme, now given a more somber treatment. The ensuing section is playful and lighter, but also develops some tension in its middle portion. The scoring here is fairly light and the tempo markings, Allegro molto moderato/Poco a poco meno moderato, come across as leisurely, but not brisk or driven.

Early on, the final section features another statement of the trombone theme, which is now confident and overpowering in its sense of triumph. The music thereafter moves from an angelic, almost rapturous passage for mostly unaccompanied strings toward near-stasis, before finally building from quivering strings to a resounding, all-conquering conclusion. This Symphony typically has a duration of between 20 and 25 minutes.

Source: Robert Cummings (

Louis Lortie (Photo by Elias)

More photos

See also

Franz Schubert: Fantasie in F minor – Louis Lortie, Hélène Mercier (HD 1080p)

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