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Boston Symphony OrchestraAndris Nelsons conducts Shostakovich and Brahms featuring Daniil Trifonov, piano

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons conducts Shostakovich and Brahms featuring Daniil Trifonov, piano

Tanglewood

Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA View Map

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Daniil Trifonov, piano
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton, conductor
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 3
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1

 

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Andris Nelsons, conductor
Andris Nelsons, conductor View biography in full page >

The 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons’ sixth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director, marks his fifth anniversary in that position. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons leads fifteen of the BSO’s twenty-six weeks of concerts this season, ranging from repertoire favorites by Beethoven, Dvoˇrák, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, Arturs Maskats, and HK Gruber. The season also brings the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists, including a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde, Act III—one of three BSO programs he will also conduct at Carnegie Hall—with Jonas Kaufmann and Emily Magee in the title roles. In addition, February 2020 brings a major tour to Asia in which Maestro Nelsons and the BSO give their first concerts together in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

In February 2018, Andris Nelsons became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester (GHO) Leipzig, in which capacity he also brings the BSO and GHO together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance including a BSO/GHO Musician Exchange program and an exchange component within each orchestra’s acclaimed academy for advanced music studies. A major highlight of the BSO/GHO Alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” thereby highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. For this season’s “Leipzig Week in Boston,” under Maestro Nelsons’ leadership in November, the entire Gewandhausorchester Leipzig comes to Symphony Hall for joint concerts with the BSO as well as two concerts of its own.

In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, Andris Nelsons’ contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In November 2017, he and the orchestra toured Japan together for the first time. They have so far made three European tours together: immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, when they played concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam; in May 2016, a tour that took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg; and, after the 2015 Tanglewood season, a tour that took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals.

The fifteenth music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. His recordings with the BSO, all made live in concert at Symphony Hall, include the complete Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics; Grammy-winning recordings on Deutsche Grammophon of Shostakovich’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905) as part of a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a recent two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). This November, a new release on Naxos features Andris Nelsons and the orchestra in the world premieres of BSO-commissioned works by Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis. Under an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Andris Nelsons is also recording the complete Bruckner symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.

During the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons continues his ongoing collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015, principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and music director of Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.

Andris Nelsons, conductor Daniil Trifonov, piano
Daniil Trifonov, piano View biography in full page >

Moments before Daniil Trifonov performs, profound silence invariably takes possession of his audience. Its intensity depends not on concert hall convention; rather, it arises naturally from the Russian pianist's power to transcend the mundane and communicate music's timeless capacity to bind communities together. Out of that silence comes a rare kind of music-making. "What he does with his hands is technically incredible," observed one commentator shortly after Trifonov's triumph in the final of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 2011. "It's also his touch - he has tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that." That view was expressed not by a professional critic but by one of the world's greatest pianists, Martha Argerich. She concluded that her young colleague was in possession of "everything and more", an opinion that has since been boldly underlined in print, online and over the airwaves by a succession of previewers and reviewers. The Washington Post wrote of the "visceral experience" of hearing Trifonov's playing; the Süddeutsche Zeitung, meanwhile, described his debut concert at last year's Verbier Festival as "a real culture shock", such was its blend of poetic insight, wit, nuance and inventive brilliance.

"The moment I signed to Deutsche Grammophon is, of course, perhaps the most significant event in my life to date" In February 2013, Deutsche Grammophon announced the signing of an exclusive recording agreement with Daniil Trifonov. His debut recital for the yellow label, recorded live at Carnegie Hall, combines Liszt's formidable Sonata in B minor, Scriabin's Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp Minor Op. 19, the "Sonata-Fantasy", and Chopin's 24 Preludes Op. 28. Future plans include concerto albums and further recital recordings.

"The moment I signed to Deutsche Grammophon is, of course, perhaps the most significant event in my life to date," he recalls. "It's the greatest honour to record my first CD for the label, especially in such a great hall as Carnegie Hall."

Since winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, Trifonov has travelled the world as recitalist and concerto soloist. His list of credits include debut recitals at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Tokyo's Opera City, the Zurich Tonhalle and a host of other leading venues. He has also appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra. Forthcoming debuts include concerto performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Moscow Philharmonic.

For all the demands of his busy performance schedule, Trifonov still finds time to study with Sergei Babayan and take composition lessons at the Cleveland Institute of Music. "I'm looking forward to future projects with Deutsche Grammophon," he says. Exploring the vast piano literature, he adds, is the work of a lifetime. "In the coming years I hope to learn as many new pieces as possible and also leave time for composition, as composing partly influences piano playing."

"I was going to a piano lesson. It was winter and very slippery, so I fell down and broke my arm and could not play normally for more than three weeks." Daniil Trifonov was born in Nizhny Novgorod on 5 March 1991. The old system of Soviet communism and the once mighty Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had been dissolved by the time Daniil's parents, both of them professional musicians, celebrated their son's first birthday. For all the social and economic upheavals of the time, the Trifonovs recognised their son's prodigious musical talents and supported his formal training. "I started playing piano when I was five and was also composing and always playing some concerts," Daniil recalls. He gave his first performance with orchestra at the age of eight, an occasion etched in the soloist's memory by the loss of one of his baby teeth midway through the concert. "It was quite an experience! But the first understanding of how important piano playing is for me came when I broke my left arm at the age of 13. I was going to a piano lesson. It was winter and very slippery, so I fell down and broke my arm and could not play normally for more than three weeks."

Physical injury focused young Daniil's mind on what making music meant to him. It also heightened his emotional connection to the piano and its repertoire. Scriabin's impassioned music - mystical, transcendent and technically demanding - became a near-obsession of Trifonov's early teens. The composer's harmonic language and vibrant tone colours touched the aspiring performer's soul and inspired him to enter Moscow's Fourth International Scriabin Competition, where the 17-year-old secured fifth prize. Inspiration also flowed from Trifonov's study of historic recordings of great pianists, which he borrowed from his teacher Tatiana Zelikman at Moscow's famous Gnessin School of Music. "When I was studying with Tatiana Zelikman in Moscow she had a great collection of old recordings and a lot of LPs, so I was fed by those recordings." Trifonov absorbed lasting lessons from the recorded legacy of Rachmaninov, Cortot, Horowitz, Friedman, Sofronitsky and other representatives of a golden age of pianism. "Among pianists who inspire me nowadays are Martha Argerich, Grigory Sokolov and Radu Lupu," he adds.

"Mr Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair," noted the New York Times. "He is also a thoughtful artist . . . [who] can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors." Daniil Trifonov himself became an inspiration in the summer of 2011. He began by winning the 13th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel-Aviv before returning home to secure first prize, the Gold Medal, and Grand Prix at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition. Trifonov also won the Audience Award and the Award for the best performance of a Mozart concerto. His work was already known to influential critics and concert promoters thanks to his appearance a year earlier at the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. The media's broad and deep response to his Moscow victory guaranteed that the whole world knew about the 20-year-old Russian. "Mr Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair," noted the New York Times. "He is also a thoughtful artist . . . [who] can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors." At the beginning of 2012, cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht heralded the young man's meteoric progress and neatly described him as "A pianist for the rest of our lives"

Daniil Trifonov, piano
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Poulenc’s Gloria led by Andris Nelsons (September 19-21, the opening program of the 2019-20 subscription season); Galina Grigorieva’s On Leaving and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2, also under Maestro Nelsons (November 21-26); Duruflé’s Requiem under Giancarlo Guerrero (February 27-March 3), and Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Thomas Adès conducting (March 26-28). In addition, to mark the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary in April 2020, James Burton leads the ensemble in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (April 17). Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Massled by Andris Nelsons, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. Mr. Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster.

Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with the BSO on tour in Hong Kong and Japan, and on two European tours, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on those two occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970 at Symphony Hall, in a BSO performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music marking the TFC’s 40th anniversary; Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms’s German Requiem, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). On July 4, 2018, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined Keith Lockhart for the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.

Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have also performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten’s Peter Grimes under Seiji Ozawa in Japan. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, John Sayles’s Silver City, and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area and beyond to sing with the chorus in Boston and at Tanglewood. For more information about the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and upcoming auditions, please visit www.bso.org/tfc.

 

James Burton
James Burton, conductor View biography in full page >

James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. He made his BSO subscription-series conducting debut in October 2018, leading the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna. In August 2019 he led the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his The Lost Words, a BSO co-commission, as part of the summer’s gala Tanglewood on Parade concert. In April 2020 he will conduct the Tanglewood Festival Concert in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil to celebrate the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary. Mr. Burton made his debut with the Boston Pops in December 2017, returned to the Pops podium last December—as he will again for Holiday Pops concerts in December 2019—and led the Pops this past June at Tanglewood in a program celebrating Queen with Marc Martel.

Born in London, James Burton holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister, and was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. Opera credits include performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, and the Prague Summer Nights Festival, and he has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera and Opera de Paris. Mr. Burton’s extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed in the inaugural season of Dubai’s Opera House in 2017. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford. Well known for his inspirational work with young musicians, he was director of the National Youth Choir of Japan in 2017 and founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir in 2018. Mr. Burton has given conducting master classes at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Tanglewood Music Center, and founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford. His growing composition portfolio includes works for commissioners including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Exon Festival, where he was composer-in-residence in 2015. His works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.

 

Program Notes Audio
SHOSTAKOVICH - Symphony No. 3
BRAHMS - Piano Concerto No. 1 (48 min)