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Andris Nelsons conducts Strauss and Mozart featuring pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton

Andris Nelsons conducts Strauss and Mozart featuring pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Andris Nelsons is joined by Philadelphia-based sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton for Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat for two pianos. Mozart probably wrote this elegant and brilliant concerto for himself and his sister Nännerl to play in about 1779; they had been performing together as siblings since early childhood. Maestro Nelsons continues his multi-season exploration of Richard Strauss’s music with both the BSO and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. A rarely heard scene from the composer’s legend-based 1901 opera Feuersnot— music not performed by the BSO since 1911—opens the program, followed by the composer’s beautiful and profound symphonic poem Death and Transfiguration.

Featured Performers

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

The 2020-2021 season is Andris Nelsons seventh as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, his contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In February 2018 Mr. Nelsons was also named Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. On October 5, 2020, the BSO and GHO jointly announced extensions to Mr. Nelsons current contracts. His contract with the BSO was extended until 2025, and his GHO contract until 2027. An evergreen clause in his BSO contract reflects a mutual intention for a long-term commitment between the BSO and Mr. Nelsons beyond the years of the agreement.

Mr. Nelsons’ two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between the institutions, have firmly established the Grammy Award-winning conductor as one of the most renowned and innovative artists on the international scene today. In fall 2019 Mr. Nelsons and the BSO hosted the Gewandhausorchester in historic concerts at Symphony Hall that included two performances by the GHO as well as concerts featuring the players of both orchestras together.

In the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons led the BSO in repertoire ranging from favorites by Beethoven, Dvořák, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, and the Latvian composer Arturs Maskats. The season also brought the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists. Mr. Nelsons’ work with the BSO resumes with his return to Boston at the start of 2021.

Andris Nelsons’ and the BSO’s ongoing series of recordings of the complete Shostakovich symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon has included the composer’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905), and most recently a two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). The cycle has earned three Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and one for Best Engineered Album. The next installment, featuring symphonies nos. 1, 14, and 15 and the Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Rudolf Barshai), is scheduled for release in summer 2021. Future releases will go beyond the symphonies to encompass the composer’s concertos for piano, violin, and cello, and his monumental opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Mr. Nelsons’ other recordings with the orchestra include the complete Brahms symphonies for the BSO Classics label and a Naxos release of BSO-commissioned world premiere works by four American composers: Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis.

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. In November 2017, Mr. Nelsons and the BSO 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. A scheduled February 2020 tour to East Asia was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

In his capacity as BSO Music Director and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Mr. Nelsons 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 aspect of the alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. The two orchestras have jointly commissioned and premiered works from Latvian, American, and German and Austrian composers.

In addition to his Shostakovich recordings with the BSO, Mr. Nelsons’ exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon includes two other major projects. With the Gewandhausorchester he continues his critically acclaimed Bruckner symphonic cycle under the Yellow Label, of which four volumes have been released to date. His recordings of Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker were released by Deutsche Grammophon in October 2019.

Mr. Nelsons frequently leads such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As an opera conductor, he has made regular guest appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. 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 (2008-2015), Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany (2006-09), and Music Director of the Latvian National Opera (2003-07).


Andris Nelsons, conductor Christina and Michelle Naughton, pianos
Christina and Michelle Naughton, pianos View biography in full page >

“Indeed, I’m ready to put them on a level with some of the greatest piano duos of our time...They have to be heard to be believed” said the Washington Post of Christina and Michelle Naughton. They have captivated audiences throughout the globe with the unity created by their mystical communication, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, in Christina’s own words, “There are times I forget we are two people playing together.” The Naughtons work as a duo was recently recognized in 2019 as they became the first piano duo to receive the Avery Fisher Career Grant presented by Lincoln Center.

Christina and Michelle Naughton’s career was launched in 2009 with a recital debut at Kennedy Center; and an orchestral debut at the Mann Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which led the Philadelphia Inquirer to characterize their playing as “paired to perfection”. Subsequently, they began their careers in Europe and Asia; at Munich’s Herkulesaal and with the Hong Kong Philharmonic respectively. These appearances were met with much critical acclaim, with the Suddeutsche Zeitung proclaiming the Naughtons an “outstanding piano duo” and the Sing Tao Daily responding by the description “Joining two hearts and four hands at two grand pianos, the Naughton sisters created an electrifying and moving musical performance”.

Especially passionate about American 20th century music, Christina and Michelle have immersed themselves in several projects devoted to this theme. 2019’s American Postcard, their second album of their exclusive signing with Warner Classics, showcases a variety of 20th century American compositions and commissions by composers such as John Adams, Aaron Copland, Conlon Nancarrow, and Paul Schoenfield. Additionally, they have done several premieres of works in capacities such as commissions by the LA Phil’s Green Umbrella series, a world premiere of John Adams’ Roll Over Beethoven at NYC’s WQXR Greenespace, a European premiere of Paul Lansky’s Shapeshifters with Solistees Europeans Luxembourg, a weeklong American chamber music residency with musicians of the New World Symphony, and several concerts devoted to 20th century American music at Germany’s Klavierfestival Ruhr.

The Naughtons discography features a wide variety of musical styles. Their first album, released on the German label ORFEO in 2012 and recorded in Bremen’s Sendesaal; focuses heavily on traditional Classic and Romantic selections. It was praised by Der Spiegel Magazine for “stand(ing) out with unique harmony, and sing(ing) out with stylistic confidence, and described by ClassicsToday as a “Dynamic Duo Debut.” In February of 2016 they released their debut record on the Warner Classics label titled Visions. The album is comprised of the music of Messiaen, Bach, and Adams and was chosen as “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone Magazine shortly after its release.

Christina and Michelle have played as soloists with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Hawaii, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, North Carolina, San Diego, St. Louis, Virginia Symphonies; the Buffalo and Naples Philharmonics, as well as The Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic (Belgium), l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Frankfurter Opern-and Museumsorchester, Hamburg Chorus, Kiel Philharmonic, Norddeutsche Philharmonic Rostock, the Netherlands Philharmonic at the Royal Concertgebouw, The Hong Kong Philharmonic, and New Zealand Symphony. Past and future seasons feature collaborations under the batons of conductors such as Stephane Deneve, Edo deWaart, Charles Dutoit, JoAnn Falletta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Emmanuel Krivine, Cristian Macelaru, Andres Orozco-Estrada, and Leonard Slatkin.

Christina and Michelle Naughton are avid recitalists, performing for such notable organizations as Lincoln Center’s Great Performers, New York City’s Naumburg Orchestral Concert Series (Naumburg Bandshell at Central Park), Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Rockefeller Evening Concerts, le Poisson Rouge, Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater (Washington Performing Arts), the National Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, St Paul’s Schubert Club, Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Hall, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Chamber Music San Francisco, Houston’s Cullen Theater, Fort Worth Texas’s Cliburn Series, Cornell Concert Series, Boston’s Gardner Museum, Kansas City’s Harriman Jewell Series, the Kravis Center and the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach; and in Europe at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, Dusseldorf’s Robert Schumann Saal, and Frankfurter Hof.

Frequent guests at festivals around the world, the Naughtons have appeared at American venues such as the La Jolla Music Society, Ravinia Festival, Fortas Chamber Music Festival, Gilmore Festival, Portland Piano International, Grand Tetons Music Festival, and the Virginia Arts Festival. They perform regularly at Germany’s renowned Klavierfestival Ruhr, as well as the Rheingau Musik Festival, Dresden’s Musikfestpiele, Kissinger Sommer, Bremen Music Festival, France’s La Roque d’Antheron Festival (Parc Du Chateau de Florans), Annecy Classic Festival (Bonlieu Scene Nationale) Nohant Festival Chopin, Festival Berlioz La Cote de Saint Andre, Zurich’s Tonhalle, and Prague’s Strings of Autumn Festival.

The Naughtons have undertaken several international tours. Berlin’s Kammermusiksaal, Munich’s Herkulesaal, Dusseldorf’s Tonhalle, Hannover’s Kleiner Sendesaal, Ingoldstadt’s Konzertverein, Reutlingen’s Freidrich-List-Halle, Pullach’s Burgerhaus, Concert Series in Ludwigshafen, and Homburg-Saar Series name some of the venues where their prolific German concertizing has taken place. Recitals throughout China include Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall, and Wuhan’s Qintai Concert Hall. Highlights of their extensive work in Latin America include Brazil's Orquesta Sinfonica do Estado Sao Paulo; Colombia’s Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota, Biblioteca de Luis Angel, Medellin’s Teatro Metropolitano; Chile’s Fundacion Beethoven; Mexico City’s Palacio de las Bellas Artes, Puerto Rico’s Orquesta de Sinfonica Pablo Casal’s Festival, Portugal’s Casa da Musica Porto; and Spain’s Conciertos de Valencia, Foundation de Juan March (Madrid), Foundation Botin (Santander), Auditoria Teulada Moraira, and Enclave de Camera (Ourense).

Born in Princeton, New Jersey to parents of European and Chinese descent; Christina and Michelle are graduates of the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, where they were each awarded the Festorazzi Prize. They are Steinway Artists and currently reside in New York City.

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Christina and Michelle Naughton, pianos
Program Notes Audio
STRAUSS - Love Scene from Feuersnot
STRAUSS - Death and Transfiguration
MOZART - Concerto in E-flat for two pianos, K.365
Full Program Notes - Available Here