Modeste Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel) - Pictures at an Exhibition
Frederic Chopin Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65: Largo
Giuseppe Verdi Il Trovatore: Act III
Igor Stravinsky Apollo Musagete
Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
by Melinda Bargreen posted Apr 5 2016 10:49AM
Difficult to spell; easy to enjoy.

That’s the case with guest artists coming to the Seattle Symphony in the next few weeks – starting off April 7 and 9, when violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja makes her Seattle debut. She will soon be followed by cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, playing one of the great concerti of the repertoire – the Dvorak – on April 14 and 16. Both are highly praised, prize-winning soloists whose arrival is eagerly anticipated by string connoisseurs.

April is a month of debuts at the Symphony, and judging from the kudos these soloists have already earned, Benaroya Hall will be an exciting place to be. Both those programs (April 7/9, April 14/16) also will feature guest conductors in their first Seattle Symphony performances. The former program will be led by David Zinman, whose illustrious history includes directorships of the orchestras of Rotterdam, Rochester, Baltimore, Aspen Music Festival, and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (as well as a long list of award-winning recordings).

The April 14/16 concert features Russian maestro Mikhail Tatarnikov, who has conducted leading orchestras and opera productions in several countries; he is based in St. Petersburg, where he is music director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre. In Seattle, he’ll conduct a program of Liadov, Dvorak, and the U.S. premiere of Valentin Silvestrov's Symphony No. 8.

This month’s first soloist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, is of Moldovan/Austrian ancestry; born in 1977, she began violin lessons at six, studied in Vienna and Bern (Switzerland), and began a solo career that has extended from appearances with major European orchestras to engagements in Japan, China, Australia, South America, Russia, and the U.S. For her Seattle debut, she has chosen the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, a colorful 1935 work that presents several folkloric elements in a symphonic context – from a traditional Russian folk tune to a Spanish theme in which the orchestral accompaniment includes castanets.

Kopatchinskaja was once described as “the wild child of the violin” (London Telegraph, 2014), whose interviewer continued, “Whether it’s a Corelli sonata or a concerto by Ligeti, she plays with an astonishing, folk-like passion, throwing speaking looks at the other players that are just as expressive as the sounds she makes.” Strong-willed and outspoken, she also has confessed to the occasional bout of stage fright: “I still get so nervous, sometimes I have to be dragged from the toilet to the stage,” she told the Telegraph.
The second soloist (April 14/16), cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan (born in 1988), catapulted to fame when he won the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition. Earlier mentored by the great Mstislav Rostropovich, the young Armenian-born artist has gone on to win wildly favorable critical accolades (the Washington Post noted the “insolent ease” of his playing; the New York Times praised his "intense focus and expressive artistry,” and the Los Angeles Times observed that “his tone is as gorgeously sure as it is huge”). Seattle audiences will find out what he can do with the challenges and opportunities posed by the Dvorak Concerto. One thing seems certain: it won’t be “business as usual” this month in Benaroya Hall.
by Melinda Bargreen posted Mar 22 2016 3:32PM
It has long been obvious to Classical KING FM listeners and fans of the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival: Augustin Hadelich is one of the world’s greatest violinists. Grammy voters agreed last month, when the 31-year-old Hadelich won his first Grammy for his recording of Dutilleux’s Violin concerto (“l’Arbre des songes”) with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Ludovic Morlot. And he returns to the Seattle Symphony this week (March 24-26) for three concerto performances -- great news for local music lovers.
Known for his enthusiasm for new scores, Hadelich brought David Lang’s acclaimed “Mystery Sonatas” to the SCMS Summer Festival two years ago, only weeks after their New York premiere. He also is a proponent of such composers as Ligeti, Thomas Adès, and Piazzolla, among some of his more venturesome repertoire  .
Ever since his gold-medal victory ten years ago in the Indianapolis International Violin Competition, Hadelich has been considered one of the finest violinists of his generation. His further awards include an Avery Fisher Career Grant (2009), a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in the UK (2011), and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award (2012).
Now a U.S. citizen, he was raised by German parents in Italy, where a horrific 1999 farm accident resulted in serious burns to his upper body and face -- requiring more than a year’s hiatus from the violin while the 15-year-old Augustin underwent treatment and rehabilitation. A second year of professional preparation was required before he could restart his performance career.
Hadelich moved to New York to study at the Juilliard School with Joel Smirnoff. For four years after his Indianapolis victory, Hadelich had the loan of the 1683 Ex-Gingold Stradivarius (the instrument was once owned by Russian-born violinist Josef Gingold, who founded the Indianapolis Competition). He now plays on the 1723 “Ex-Kiesewetter” Stradivari violin, on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Here in Seattle, Hadelich arrives this week for three performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, possibly the best-known piece in the fiddle repertoire, and one he has recorded and frequently played. He’ll perform it with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. March 24, noon on March 25, and 8 p.m. March 26, in Benaroya Hall, with guest conductor Jesús López-Cobos on the podium.
The Tchaikovsky, composed in 1878, is such a beloved virtuoso piece that it probably will be played as long as there are violins and violinists. Hadelich, who gives the concerto the all-out, super-romantic treatment, has recently recorded it with the London Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko, and has been playing it since he was 12. Over the years, he has reexamined the Tchaikovsky score, which over the generations has been cut and altered, with some of the composer’s original indications ignored.
Hadelich hopes his audiences won’t be afraid to applaud at the end of some of the more exciting bravura passages in the Tchaikovsky Concerto, rather than waiting for the last notes of the final, third movement to sound. In his website essay, he observes:
“I will always remember the day in early 2007 when I performed the Tchaikovsky with the Fort Worth Symphony and Miguel Harth-Bedoya in front of large groups of high school students in South Lake, TX. (We repeated the performance three times in one day, for three groups of students!) These were not regular concertgoers and I found it wonderful how uninhibited they were, without much awareness nor concern about how to behave "appropriately" at a classical concert. At the end of the exposition of the first movement, where the first long violin solo ends and the orchestra plays the first theme, the students started clapping! When this music was written, it was customary for audiences to cheer whenever they liked something they were hearing (or to boo if they didn’t). And doesn’t it feel so artificial when people don't clap after the first movement of the Tchaikovsky? I found the unrestrained enthusiasm of the students very refreshing. To this day I still think back fondly to those performances whenever I play the Tchaikovsky.”
So now you have it: the soloist’s written permission to applaud when that spectacular first movement is over! After years of hearing performances of this concerto, it can be almost painful to sense the audience’s intense desire to applaud at the end of that movement, overcome by the knowledge that “one doesn’t applaud until the concerto is over.” This time, you have official approval to applaud – and this is very likely to be a performance well worth applauding.
by Melinda Bargreen posted Mar 7 2016 12:09PM
The applause last year for Thomas Dausgaard’s Sibelius-symphony cycle was so tumultuous that at several points, the audience appeared poised to charge the Benaroya Hall stage and hoist the Danish conductor to their shoulders. In a program of three symphonies, you don’t often get a rousing standing ovation after merely the first one. But there was the audience, shouting and cheering and leaping up to applaud with the zest of people who know they have heard something quite special. This seems to happen whenever the Dynamic Dane is in town, though the audiences were especially appreciative during the Seattle Symphony’s 2014 nod to Sibelius’ 150th birthday.

Now Dausgaard, who holds the principal guest conductor spot at the SSO (in addition to several other posts), is returning to Seattle for a trio of concerts with the orchestra on March 10, 12, and 13. The program is an enticing one: a little Mozart (the lovely Piano Concerto No. 23), some Haydn (the Symphony No. 88), and the wild card, Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht.”

Except that the Schoenberg isn’t really a wild card. Don’t expect 12-tone rows; instead, this is a late-Romantic minor masterpiece, full of lush harmonies and beautiful melodic lines. Originally a string sextet but later orchestrated, “Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”) is a programmatic work exemplifying a poem by Richard Dehmel, about a couple’s troubled journey to acknowledge their love in a wintry landscape. Positively Wagnerian in its surging, unresolved harmonies, the Schoenberg work dates from an early period when the composer had not yet sensed the “Luft von anderen Planeten” (the “air from other planets,” or serialism, the twelve-tone school of composition).

The soloist in the Mozart concerto is Boris Giltburg, a Moscow-born (1984) pianist who won first prize in Belgium’s prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition. Giltburg, who grew up in Tel Aviv, is a dynamic pianist who also is a thinker: fans of the keyboard may want to check out his blog, with his ruminations on what makes a good piano or a bad one (
Here is Giltburg describing the moment when a concert pianist first encounters the instrument he’s going to be playing in concert: “So, the promoter stands beside you, waiting politely, hopefully, expectantly, and you, fully aware of the importance of the moment, finally play something on the keyboard: a chord, a passage, a few bars from one of the works—and the piano immediately ceases being a generic and unknown something, a specimen of the grand pianos genus, and becomes the most concrete, tangible, real thing there is. This is the piano you are going to play on tonight, and your encounter has just begun.”

This 2015-16 season is Dausgaard’s second as the Seattle Symphony’s principal guest conductor, a job he combines with the post of Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Conductor Laureate of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Fans who enjoy Dausgaard’s athletic and adventurous approach to music will not be surprised to hear that he is similarly adventurous in real life, where he is intrigued by the life and culture of remote communities: He has visited head-hunting tribes in Borneo, volunteered as a farmer in China, and stayed with villagers on an island in the South Pacific. If you don’t know his work and are expecting a buttoned-down, reticent Scandinavian on the podium this weekend, Dausgaard will prove an exciting surprise.
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