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Martin Helmchen

Herbert Blomstedt conducts Mozart and Bruckner featuring pianist Martin Helmchen

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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The prominent American-born Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt, a frequent and welcome guest of the BSO, is joined by Swiss pianist Martin Helmchen for one of Mozart’s most joyous concertos, No. 17 in G. One of few Mozart piano concertos he probably didn’t write for himself to play, No. 17 may have been written for and premiered by his student Barbara Ployer in June 1784. Bruckner wrote his warm, majestic Fourth Symphony in 1874, but like many of his works the composer subjected it to extensive revision. The 1880 version of the score premiered by Hans Richter in Vienna in 1881 was one of the greatest success of Bruckner’s life.

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Herbert Blomstedt, conductor
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor View biography in full page >

Noble, charming, sober, modest. Such qualities may play a major role in human coexistence and are certainly appreciated. However, they are rather untypical for extraordinary personalities such as conductors. Whatever the general public's notion of a conductor may be, Herbert Blomstedt is an exception, precisely because he possesses those very qualities which seemingly have so little to do with a conductor's claim to power. The fact that he disproves the usual clichés in many respects should certainly not lead to the assumption that this artist does not have the power to assert his clearly defined musical goals. Anyone who has once attended Herbert Blomstedt's rehearsals and experienced the concentration on the essence of the music, the precision in the phrasing of musical facts and circumstances as they appear from the score, the tenacity regarding the implementation of an aesthetic view, will probably have been amazed at how few despotic measures were required to this end. Basically, Herbert Blomstedt has always represented that type of artist whose professional competence and natural authority make all external emphasis superfluous. His work as a conductor is inseparably linked to his religious and human ethos, accordingly, his interpretations combine great faithfulness to the score and analytical precision with a soulfulness that awakens the music to pulsating life. In the more than sixty years of his career, he has acquired the unrestricted respect of the musical world.

Over the years, many outstanding ensembles around the globe have been able to secure the services of this highly respected Swedish conductor, born in the USA and educated in Uppsala, New York, Darmstadt and Basel. At the age of ninety, Herbert Blomstedt continues to be at the helm of all leading international orchestras with enormous mental and physical presence, verve and artistic drive.

Herbert Blomstedt, conductor Martin Helmchen, piano
Martin Helmchen, piano View biography in full page >

With his highly virtuosic yet unpretentious style, Martin Helmchen has become one of the great pianists of his generation. Born in 1982, he has made a series of sensational U.S. orchestral debuts, beginning in 2011 at Tanglewood, playing the Schumann Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi. In 2014, with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, he gave a revelatory performance of the Dvorák Piano Concerto; in 2015, he made his Symphony Hall debut, performing Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and in 2016, he performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2. This past season, he debuted with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center under Thierry Fischer, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25. During the 2017/2018 season, he will make debuts with both the San Diego and Kansas City symphonies.

Mr. Helmchen has also appeared with the symphonies of Dallas, Grand Rapids, Houston, Portland (Oregon), Saint Louis, and San Francisco, as well as with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom. In May 2014, he made a highly acclaimed recital debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Among Martin Helmchen's worldwide highlights are performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Vienna Philharmonic, and the NHK Symphony in Japan. Other international engagements include the City of Birmingham Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gürzenich-Orchester/Cologne, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Philharmonia Orchestra/London, Prague Symphony, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Artist-in-Residence with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra during the 2011/2012 season, he has also appeared with the BBC/London, Bournemouth Symphony, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie/Bremen, Dresden Philharmonic, DSO/Berlin, Hallé Orchestra/Manchester, Giuseppe Verdi Symphony/Milan, NDR/Hamburg, Netherlands Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National de France, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, RSO/Berlin, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, among others. In France, he tours with La Chambre Philharmonique under Emmanuel Krivine.

Mr. Helmchen has collaborated with such renowned conductors as David Afkham, Marc Albrecht, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Sir Mark Elder, Lawrence Foster, Edward Gardner, Valery Gergiev, Hans Graf, Manfred Honeck, Philippe Herreweghe, Pablo Heras-Casado, Marek Janowski, Michail Jurowski, Vladimir Jurowski, Bernhard Klee, Jiri Kout, Sir Neville Marriner, the late Kurt Masur, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Christoph Poppen, Markus Poschner, Michael Sanderling, Heinrich Schiff, Marcus Stenz, Krzysztof Urbanski, Gilbert Varga, and David Zinman, to name a few.

Also an enthusiastic recitalist, Martin Helmchen has performed at prestigious venues around the world, such as The Frick Collection/New York, Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall (with cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker), the Coast Recital Society, San Francisco Performances, ArtSpring, the Wigmore Hall/London, and the Alte Oper in Frankfort. He also appears regularly at major German festivals, we well as the Schubertiade, Lockenhaus, and Marlboro. In 2017, he will be artist in residence at Germany's Schwetzingen SWR Festival.

With a passion for chamber music, largely ignited by his early collaborations with the late cellist Boris Pergamenschikow, Mr. Helmchen now performs regularly with Heinrich Schiff and Marie-Elisabeth Hecker. Other partners include Juliane Banse, Veronika Eberle, Julia Fischer (with whom he is on tour in Asia during the current season), Sharon Kam, Gidon Kremer, Sabine Meyer, Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt, and Tabea Zimmermann. Since 2010, he has been an Associate Professor of chamber music at the Kronberg Academy. Last summer he was invited to return to Elena Bashkirova's International Chamber Music Festival in Jerusalem.

An active recording artist, Martin Helmchen's debut disc of Mozart concertos with the Netherlands Chamber Philharmonic was released in September 2007 through his exclusive contract with PentaTone. A second Mozart concerto disc with the same orchestra was released in 2013. His first solo CD, a recording of works by Schubert, won an ECHO Award in 2009. Other discs for PentaTone include the Mendelssohn concertos, the Schumann and Dvorák concertos, and the highly acclaimed complete works of Schubert for violin and piano with Julia Fischer.

Mr. Helmchen studied at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin with Galina Iwanzowa, at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover with Arie Vardie, and with William Grant Naboré. His career took off when he won the 2001 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition at the age of nineteen. Other distinctions include a fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in 2005; the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award in 2006 (culminating in his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Valery Gergiev at the Lucerne Festival); and soloist in the "BBC New Generation Artists" program from 2005 to 2007.

Martin Helmchen, piano
Program Notes Audio
MOZART - Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, K.453
BRUCKNER - Symphony No. 4, Romantic (65 min)
Full Program Notes - Coming Soon