Acclaimed Pianist André Watts Performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with Baltimore Symphony, March 27-30
Led by Marin Alsop, program also features Dvorák's Symphony No. 6 and Nocturne
Baltimore, Md. (March 5, 2008)-Acclaimed pianist André Watts will perform Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, March 27, 28 and 30 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and March 29 at the Music Center at Strathmore. Led by Music Director Marin Alsop, the program also includes Dvo?ák's Nocturne and Symphony No. 6, the latter of which will be recorded in these concerts as part of the BSO's three-disc Dvorák cycle for the Naxos label. The first disc in the cycle, featuring Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 and the Symphonic Variations, was recently released in February 2008. See below for complete program information.
Inspired by successive trips to Italy and the beauty he found there, Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 is considered one of the most challenging and virtuosic works in the entire piano repertoire. Originally performed by Brahms himself, the concerto was an immediate success. Brahms jokingly referred to the nearly fifty-minute work as "a tiny little piano concerto with a tiny wisp of a scherzo," though he also described it as "the long terror," a name by which the work is still known today. Written over three years, from 1879 to 1881, the concerto utilizes the full complement of the orchestra, prompting comparisons to a symphony rather than a concerto.
Heavily influenced by his contemporary and his avid promoter, Johannes Brahms, Dvorák wrote Symphony No. 6 in 1880 as he was still struggling for recognition. The symphony (originally published as his first) premiered in Prague in 1881 and was subsequently performed to acclaim throughout Europe, establishing Dvo?ák as a serious and respected composer. Symphony No. 6 is full of the drama, lyricism and rich orchestral colors which define the composer's later work. The third-movement scherzo, inspired by traditional Czech dances, exemplifies Dvorák's frequent nationalistic nods to the folk rhythms and melodies of his homeland. Though overshadowed by his Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World"), Symphony No. 6 is today considered one of Dvorák's crowning achievements.
The program opens with Dvorák's Nocturne, originally written as a part of a string quartet in the 1860s and later revised into a quintet. Ultimately, the composer removed the six-minute Nocturne, feeling it made the quintet too long. After years of revisions, Dvorák finally resurrected Nocturne as a stand-alone work in 1883.
Marin Alsop, Music Director
Hailed for her dynamic musicianship, artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concert in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra, mirroring her ongoing success in the United Kingdom as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony since 2002. Since becoming the BSO's Music Director, she has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. The New York Times recently said, "[Marin] Alsop has reinvigorated the orchestra, institutionally and artistically."
In summer 2005, Marin Alsop was named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this most prestigious American award. The first artist to win Gramophone's "Artist of the Year" award and the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor's Award in the same season (2003), Maestra Alsop recently won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist of 2005. In July 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women in European affairs.
Ms. Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with many distinguished orchestras worldwide including the London Philharmonic and the London Symphony. After a highly successful 12-year tenure as music director of the Colorado Symphony, Ms. Alsop continues her association as conductor laureate; she also continues as music director of the highly acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.
Marin Alsop is a native of New York City; and she attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she became a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York, and in the same year, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gustav Meier.
André Watts, piano
André Watts burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People's Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt's E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than 45 years later, André Watts remains one of today's most celebrated and beloved superstars. His performances each year with the world's great orchestras and conductors and his sold-out recitals at the most prestigious international festivals bring him to every corner of the globe.
During the 2006-2007 season, Mr. Watts celebrated his 60th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his debut (with the Philadelphia Orchestra). In honor of this milestone and his numerous achievements and contributions to the world of classical music, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in June 2006. During the 2007-2008 season, he made an eleven-city tour of the East Coast with the Bergen Philharmonic which included a concert at Carnegie Hall and a recital tour to Japan.
André Watts' Hamburg Steinway Piano is provided by Mary Schwendeman Concert Service.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Celebrity Series (Meyerhoff)/Classical Saturday (Strathmore): André Watts Performs Brahms
Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, March 28, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-JMSH
Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.- The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.-JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
André Watts, piano
Brahms: Piano Concerto No.2
Dvorák: Symphony No. 6
Special anniversary pricing at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.
Tickets for these concerts range from $15 to $84 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or BSOmusic.org.