Conductor Juanjo Mena Leads Pianist Louis Lortie and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, May 13—15
Program also includes Romantic works by Brahms and Strauss
Baltimore, Md. (April 20, 2010) – Spanish Conductor Juanjo Mena will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program celebrating the Romantic Era on Thursday, May 13 at 8 p.m. and Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, May 15 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. The BSO will perform Schumann’s Piano Concerto featuring internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie, Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Richard Strauss’ Don Juan. Please see below for complete concert details.
Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor features celebrated pianist Louis Lortie, who London’s Daily Telegraph praises as “one of the half a dozen pianists worth dropping everything to hear” and who is known for his interpretations of Romantic piano repertoire. The first movement’s lilting melody illustrates Schumann’s abiding love for his wife Clara Wieck Schumann. The joyfulness continues into the second movement, despite being written four years after the first movement and following Schumann’s period of serious mental illness.
While most of his works were composed while in the serenity of rural Germany, Brahms chose to write his Third Symphony in a sheltered studio in the German city of Wiesbaden. He could not bear to leave the city that inspired him to write the piece nor could he abandon his new love Hermine Spies. Symphony No. 3 relies on the F, A-flat, F three-chord pattern to represent Brahms own personal motto—frei aber froh, meaning “free but glad.” The piece emphasizes the melodic clarinet and bassoon, and in the last movement, the two unite in a dramatic duet adding a serene element to a feverishly passionate performance.
Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan premiered in Germany in 1988 and is regarded as the inception of his legendary career. Just before writing the piece, Strauss had fallen in love with soprano Pauline de Ahna. Feeling overwhelmed with romance, he consulted German poet Nikolaus Lenau’s poem “Don Juan,” that tells the infamous story of Don Juan’s search for female companionship and his antagonism towards anyone hindering his quest. While at first he is full of boldness and enthusiasm in his never-ending pursuit of new loves, his determination weakens after losing a duel against the wrath of one young woman’s father.
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Principal guest conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway) and chief guest conductor at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Juanjo Mena is one of the most distinguished and dynamic conductors of his generation. Born in Spain, he has appeared with most of the principal symphony and chamber orchestras of his native country.
Since Mr. Mena’s highly successful North American debut in 2004 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, his presence in the U.S. has steadily increased. Among his most recent and upcoming debuts are the Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Oregon and Philadelphia symphony orchestras.
Worldwide, Mr. Mena has appeared with the BBC Philharmonic, Bern Symphony, Bucharest Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, Oslo Philharmonic, RAI Symphony Orchestra, RSO/Berlin and the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. Festival appearances include Grant Park (Chicago), La Folle Journée (Nantes), White Nights Festival (St. Petersburg) and numerous festivals with the Bilbao Symphony.
He has recorded extensively for the Basque Radio, Basque Television (EITB), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Spanish National Radio (RNE) and the Spanish National Television (RTVE). He has also recorded a complete symphony collection of Basque music with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra for Naxos International. Mr. Mena has also served as music director of the Bilbao Symphony, artistic director of the Jesús Guridi Chamber Orchestra and associate conductor of the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra in Spain.
Louis Lortie, piano
Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has been praised for the fresh perspective and individuality he brings to a broad spectrum of the keyboard canon. He has performed with such conductors as Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Chailly, Kurt Sanderling, Sir Andrew Davis, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Osmo Vanska. He has also appeared in chamber music projects with musicians such as Gidon Kremer, Leonidas Kavakos, Renaud and Gautier Capucon, Jan Vogler, Augustin Dumay and the Takacs Quartet.
Recent concerts include a U.S. tour with Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, appearances with the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras; Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St. Louis, Cincinnati, Toronto and Atlanta symphonies; a European tour with the BBC Wales; and recitals at the Kennedy Center, Weimar, London, Milan and for the Cliburn Foundation. Future concert appearances include the Sydney, Dallas and Bournemouth symphonies; Dresden Staatskappelle, Santa Cecilia Orchestra and recitals at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Toronto and Gilmore Festival. To celebrate the 200th birthday of Liszt in 2011, Mr. Lortie will perform the complete Annees de Pelerinage in major recital venues all over the world. He has made more than 30 recordings on the Chandos label.
Born in Montréal, Louis Lortie studied with Yvonne Hubert, Dieter Weber and Leon Fleisher. He made his debut with the Montréal Symphony at age 13 and the Toronto Symphony three years later, including a historic tour of the People’s Republic of China and Japan. He won First Prize at the 1984 Busoni Competition and was a prizewinner at the Leeds Competition. He was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992 and received the Order of Quebec.
COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
Classical Concert: Three Romantics
Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Friday, May 14, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Louis Lortie, piano
R. Strauss: Don Juan
Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor
Brahms: Symphony No. 3
Tickets for these performances range from $25 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.