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Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano, music director
Daniil Trifonov, piano
Kent Nagano, Music Director of Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducts an evening with orchestral works by Debussy and Stravinsky and featuring La Jolla Music Society favorite, the internationally renowned Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
DANIIL TRIFONOV, piano:
Daniil Trifonov returns to La Jolla Music Society for a solo recital as part of the Frieman Family Piano Series on Sunday, February 28 at 8:00 PM, MCASD Sherwood Auditorium
|DEBUSSY||Jeux; poème dansé|
|PROKOFIEV||Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26|
|STRAVINSKY||The Rite of Spring|
PROGRAM NOTES: Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
by Eric Bromberger
Jeux: poème dansé (1912)
Born August 22, 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died March 25, 1918, Paris
A garden, at night: Bushes and brambles ducking in and out of the harsh light and deep shadows cast by an outdoor electric floodlight. A stray tennis ball bounces onto stage, chased by a frolicking young boy and two girls. As they search for the ball, they tease, laugh and play with each other, eventually falling into a furtive embrace. Such was the choreographic scenario to which Debussy composed Jeux for the Ballets Russes in 1912, though Sergei Diaghilev had originally imagined three boys in the main roles. With Vaslav Nijinsky in the principal role, the work premièred at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in May 1913, only two weeks before the same dancer would set the gossiping classes atwitter with his controversial choreography to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Nijinsky’s choreography for Jeux, which drew more heavily on postures from golf, tennis and jazz dance than it did from classical ballet, was not a great success. Even Debussy was non-committal, commenting only a couple of weeks later, “Among recent pointless goings-on I must include the staging of Jeux, which gave Nijinsky’s perverse genius a chance of indulging in a peculiar kind of mathematics.” But the music lived on independent of the dance, and is now universally praised as an important 20th century work in line with Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. As in that earlier piece, tone colour and orchestral texture take centre-stage. Inconclusive harmonies suggest atonality, while never fully taking the plunge. The musical themes are short, following quickly one upon the other, and the liberal use of woodwinds in various combinations makes for a character-driven and playful atmosphere.
Piano Concerto, No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26 (1921)
Andante - Allegro
Tema con variazioni
Allegro, ma non troppo
Born April 23, 1891, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Died March 5, 1953, Moscow
As a child growing up in the Ukrainian countryside, Sergei Prokofiev was naturally experimental when it came to piano playing. His juvenile compositions were often written in a different key for each hand, creating a jarringly novel effect. This rogue instinct would follow the young composer to the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he began his sketches for his Piano Concerto No. 3 while still a student. Completing the work in 1921, Prokofiev performed the solo part himself in the première that same year in Chicago. He also performed in the first recording of the work in 1932, proving for all posterity that the herculean technical challenges in the score grew at least partly out of his own aptitude as an exceptionally talented pianist. Prokofiev’s five essays in the piano concerto genre are significant for their total integration of soloist and orchestra, where each part is an active contributor to the essential character of the work. The lyrical opening clarinet theme of the first movement floats somewhere between tentative and serene, as it is joined by meandering harmonies in the strings. When the orchestra suddenly takes off with the locomotive rhythm of a speeding train, and the piano bursts into the texture with a joyful yelp, the first three notes of the clarinet melody are reversed in substance and effect, becoming motivic material for the ensuing figurations. A second theme is more sarcastic in nature, but the movement ultimately builds toward a romantic climax, recalling the opening melody in a grandiose tutti near the end. The second movement is a theme and variations, allowing for a full exploration of Prokofiev’s unique ability to bring out opposing characters in the same musical material – from lush and lyrical to grotesquely terrifying and exuberantly joyful. The final movement begins with a humorous topic in the orchestra, taken up and expanded by the piano, soon building to a great romantic climax. The hair-raising coda increases in energy, as piano and orchestra join in a janissary-like clamouring in the upper registers, insistent rhythms and hand-over-hand flourishes bringing the work to a powerful close in C major.
The Rite of Spring (1913)
Part I: The Adoration of the Earth
Part II: The Sacrifice
by © Marc Wieser
Born June 17, 1882, Oranienbaum
Died April 6, 1971, New York
Paris, May 29, 1913: a date that lives on in musical notoriety. That night, the capacity audience at the newly built Théâtre des Champs-Élysées collectively participated in the birth of a new era – or the violent death of an old one, depending on whom you asked. The trio of enfants terribles at the centre of the scandal were Sergei Diaghilev, the daring founder of Les Ballets Russes, Vaslav Nijinsky, his unruly choreographer, and Igor Stravinsky, Russian darling of the Parisian avant-garde; the work, The Rite of Spring.
A week after the première, a headline from The New York Times trumpeted “Parisians Hiss New Ballet,” going on to report that the house lights had to be turned up to quell “hostile demonstrations” in the audience, while at one point the ruckus was so loud that the dancers on stage could no longer hear the orchestra, Nijinsky himself shouting out the choreography from the wings. Popular myth remembers Stravinsky’s shocking new music as the cause of the riots, while the American scholar Richard Taruskin places the blame squarely on the “ugly earthbound lurching and stomping devised by Vaslav Nijinsky.” But principal dancer Lydia Sokolova recalled, “they had prepared in Paris for a riot… they had got themselves all ready.” On the eve of a great war, in a continent still grappling with class disparity, the people seemed primed to manifest: a row was inevitable.
Stravinsky’s frenetically propulsive score unfolds as a series of tableaux depicting imagined scenes of ancient Pagan rituals around the coming of spring. A young girl is chosen by elders and forced to dance herself to death in an act of sacrifice to the land. Fragments of Russian folk tunes are evidence of the composer’s efforts to express the elemental character of his homeland, while incessant motor-rhythms and terrifyingly unpredictable accented off-beats lend an aspect of mechanization to the essentially folkloric subject matter – an ominous contradiction at the heart of the work. In fact, this revolutionary ballet score, with its violent juxtapositions of rival tonalities, may be one of the most apt and profound expressions of the clash of the old world with an impending mechanical age.
The Rite of Spring holds a special place in the OSM repertoire. First performed in Montréal in 1957 under the direction of Igor Markevitch, Rite would go on to become a signature work for the Orchestra during the directorship of Charles Dutoit, representing the confluence of Russian and French influences at the heart of the OSM’s traditional programming. In 1984 it featured prominently on a tour of Canada, USA and Europe, and a recording made that same year was honoured with a Félix award in Quebec. Most recently, Kent Nagano led the OSM in Stravinsky’s masterpiece in 2012 and 2016 in performances at Maison symphonique de Montréal.
PRELUDE 7 PM
Lecture by Michael Gerdes:
Music in Times of Change</b>
In May of 1913, Paris was the scene of two momentous musical occasions, the premières of Debussy’s Jeux and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The former was virtually ignored and the latter triggered a riot. Why such different reactions to sounds that would change music forever?
Since its founding in 1934, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has distinguished itself as a leader in the orchestral life of Canada and Québec. A cultural ambassador of the highest order, the Orchestra has earned an enviable reputation internationally through the quality of its recordings and tours. The OSM carries on that rich tradition under the leadership of its Music Director, Kent Nagano, while featuring innovative programming aimed at underlining the relevance of orchestral repertoire in our lives and strengthening the Orchestra’s connection with the community.
The excellence and vision of the OSM have been shaped over the years by its music directors: Wilfrid Pelletier, a Montrealer by birth and first Artistic Director of the Orchestra, Désiré Defauw, Igor Markevitch, Zubin Mehta, with whom the Orchestra toured in Europe for the first time, Franz-Paul Decker, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, who collaborated with the Orchestra for close to 25 years, and, since 2006, Kent Nagano.
Over the years, the Orchestra has undertaken some 40 excursions and tours. The OSM has carried out ten tours in Asia, eleven tours in Europe and three in South America. In 2008, Kent Nagano and the OSM performed twice in Carnegie Hall (2008 and 2011), where the Orchestra played almost every year between 1982 and 2004 to sold out halls. In August 2011, they took part in the Edinburgh International Festival. After a critically acclaimed tour in South America in spring 2013, Kent Nagano and the OSM went on an extensive European tour in March 2014, which was a resounding success. The last OSM tour took place in Japan and in China in October 2014.
The OSM has made over 100 recordings for Decca, EMI, Philips, CBC Records, Analekta, ECM and Sony as well as on its own label, which have earned it a total of 50 national and international awards.
On September 7, 2011, the OSM under Kent Nagano inaugurated its new home, the Maison symphonique de Montréal. The construction of this concert hall was made possible thanks to the Government of Québec. The hall's acoustics and theatre design bear the signature of the firm Artec Consultants Inc. Its architecture was entrusted to a consortium consisting of Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. and Ædifica Architects.
Inaugurated on May 28, 2014, at Maison symphonique, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique was generously offered to the OSM by Mrs. Jacqueline Desmarais. It was manufactured by the house of Casavant on behalf of the OSM (and is the Orchestra’s property), with the collaboration of architects Diamond Schmitt + Ædifica for its visual design.
For more information visit www.osm.ca
Kent Nagano is renowned for interpretations of clarity, elegance and intelligence. He is equally at home in music of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras, introducing concert and opera audiences throughout the world to new and rediscovered music and offering fresh insights into established repertoire. Since September 2006, he is Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, a contract extended until 2020. He also became Artistic Advisor and Principal Guest Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony in September 2013. Since September 2015, he is the General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and the Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra. At the Hamburg State Opera, he will start his first season with the premiere of Berlioz' Les Troyens, the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawas Stilles Meer, and also Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie choreographed by John Neumeier.
A milestone at the helm of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal was the inauguration of the orchestra’s new concert hall la Maison symphonique de Montréal in September 2011. With the orchestra he performed the complete cycles of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, concert versions of Wagner's Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Das Rheingold, Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise, L’Aiglon by Honneger and Ibert as well as a concert series featuring the works of Dutilleux (2010-2011) and Boulez (2011-2012). Nagano has taken the orchestra on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada and also to Japan, China, South Korea, Europe and South America. In March 2014 embarked on an extensive European tour with concerts in Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Vienna, Madrid, Oviedo, Cologne, Essen and Munich. Their recordings together include the Juno award winning album Ideals of the French Revolution Mahler’s Orchestral Songs with Christian Gerhaher, and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos nos. 4 and 5. Kent Nagano and the OSM also completed the recording of all the Beethoven symphonies released under Sony Classical/Analekta.
At the Bayerische Staatsoper, where he was General Music Director from 2006 to 2013, Kent Nagano commissioned new operas such as Babylon by Jörg Widmann, Das Gehege by Wolfgang Rihm and Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin. New productions have included Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Idomeneo, Eugene Onegin, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Schweigsame Frau, Dialogues des Carmélites, Saint François d’Assise, Wozzeck, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and Der Ring des Nibelungen. With the Bayerisches Staatsorchester Kent Nagano has toured throughout Europe and in Japan and together they have recorded Bruckner Symphonies nos. 4, 7 and 8. In January 2014, Kent Nagano returned to the Bayerische Staatsoper to conduct a revival of Widmann’s Babylon.
As a much sought after guest conductor, he has worked with most of the world’s finest orchestras including the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus. He has an ongoing relationship with Sony Classical and has also recorded for Erato, Teldec, Pentatone and Deutsche Grammophon as well as Harmonia Mundi, winning Grammy awards for his recordings of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with Opéra National de Lyon, Peter and the Wolf with the Russian National Orchestra and Saariaho’s L’amour de loin with the Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin.
A very important period in Kent Nagano’s career was his time as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, from 2000-2006. He performed Schönberg’s Moses und Aron with the orchestra (in collaboration with Los Angeles Opera), and took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules and Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, as well as to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with Parsifal and Lohengrin in productions by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Recordings with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for Harmonia Mundi include repertoire as diverse as Bernstein’s Mass, Bruckner’s Symphonies nos. 3 and 6, Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge, Wolf Lieder, Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 and Schönberg’s Die Jakobsleiter and Friede auf Erden, as well as Brahms’s Symphony no. 4 and Schoenberg’s Variationen für Orchester op. 31. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, Kent Nagano was given the title Honorary Conductor by members of the orchestra, only the second recipient of this honour in their 60-year history.
Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003 having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. His work in other opera houses has included Shostakovich’s The Nose (Staatsoper Berlin), Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (Châtelet, Paris), Hindemith’s Cardillac (Opéra national de Paris), Dialogues des Carmélites (Metropolitan Opera) and at the Salzburg Festival Les contes d’Hoffmann, Zemlinsky’s Der Koenig Kandaules, Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten and the world premiere of Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. Other world premieres include Bernstein’s A White House Cantata and operas by Peter Eötvös (Three Sisters), and John Adams (The Death of Klinghoffer and El Niño).
Born in California, Kent Nagano maintains close connections with his home state and was Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra from 1978-2008. His early professional years were spent in Boston, working in the opera house and as assistant conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He played a key role in the world premiere of Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise at the request of the composer, who became a mentor and bequeathed his piano to the conductor. Kent Nagano’s success in America led to European appointments: Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998) and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000).
Kent Nagano last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2012.
Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov) has made a spectacular ascent to classical music stardom since winning First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more, ... tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” stated Martha Argerich, while the New York Times has observed, “Mr. Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair. He is also a thoughtful artist. … He can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors.”
The 2013-14 season promises to be a banner one for the young pianist. Deutsche Grammophon signed him as an exclusive recording artist, and his first album for the label, Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, was captured live at his recent sold-out Carnegie recital debut and is due for U.S. release this winter, to coincide with his return to the New York venue. The New York Times noted that Trifonov’s “soulful artistry and virtuoso chops were in full evidence” at his 2012 Carnegie debut. Further recital engagements take the pianist from Chicago to London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, and a host of other international musical hotspots. He looks forward to a similarly extensive lineup of orchestral collaborations, playing concertos by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Shostakovich, Chopin, and Mozart in dates with 19 of the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Washington’s National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Upcoming chamber music highlights include a duo recital tour with his teacher and fellow pianist, Sergei Babayan, that kicks off with a gala concert at the Dallas Chamber Music Society.
The 2012-13 season saw Trifonov make debuts with all the “Big Five” orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra – and with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and London’s Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, besides returning to the London Symphony and the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev, the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev, and the Warsaw Philharmonic with Antoni Wit. He made solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and the Salle Pleyel in Paris, and the summer brought further triumphs at the Verbier and Edinburgh Festivals and in the pianist’s BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Recent recitals have also taken Trifonov to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Boston’s Celebrity Series, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series), Berlin’s Philharmonie (the Kammermusiksaal), Munich’s Herkulessaal, Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Lucerne Piano Festival, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, and the Seoul Arts Center.
As an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Trifonov’s future plans with the label include recording Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos. His existing discography features a Chopin album for Decca and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra on the ensemble’s own label.
It was during the 2010-11 season that Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. Jury members and observers at these events included Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Van Cliburn, Emanuel Ax, Nelson Freire, Yefim Bronfman, and Gergiev, who personally awarded Trifonov the Moscow Grand Prix, an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category.
Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, and having begun his musical training at the age of five, Trifonov went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition, and continues to write music for piano, chamber, and orchestra.
Daniil Trifonov last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Freeman Family Piano Series on April 10, 2015.
For more information visit daniiltrifonov.com