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Open Rehearsal
 Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff and Mahler 

Open Rehearsal
Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff and Mahler 

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Soprano Kristine Opolais returns to Symphony Hall as soloist in Mahler's mellifluous Symphony No. 4, a musical journey from earth to heaven that is also the last of Mahler's symphonies to use words from the folk poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Youth's Magic Horn). On this same program, Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes performs Rachmaninoff's last piano concerto, the Fourth, which the composer worked on over the course of ten or more years before giving the premiere in Philadelphia in 1927. Even after that he revised the piece extensively twice, creating the final version in 1941. Opening the concert is a suite of orchestral music from Shostakovich's score for Grigory Kozintsev's 1941 stage production of Shakespeare's King Lear, to be recorded for the BSO's ongoing Shostakovich cycle under Andris Nelsons for Deutsche Grammophon.

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 Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano View biography in full page >

The New York Times calls Leif Ove Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight,” and the Wall Street Journal names him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won international acclaim, playing concertos and recitals in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, while building an esteemed and extensive discography. He is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Festival of Chamber Music, and has served as music director of California’s Ojai Music Festival. A Gramophone Hall of Fame inductee, he received honorary doctorates from Norway’s University of Bergen and New York’s Juilliard School.

Andsnes launched the season with the release on Sony Classical of Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes, his first recording of the composer’s music in more than a decade. In concert, he played Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with London’s Philharmonia and the Staatskapelle Dresden, and looks forward to reprising it with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Italy and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) in Asia. He rejoins the RSB for Mozart, whose concertos also take him to the Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with which he tours Germany, France, and Portugal. The tour marks the launch of “Mozart Momentum 1785/86,” a major new multi-season project that sees him and the orchestra explore one of the most creative and seminal periods of the composer’s career.

In recital this season, Andsnes debuted a colorful solo program of Schumann, Bartók and Janáček with dates in Paris, Frankfurt, and Florence He also joins baritone Matthias Goerne for Schubert lieder in Paris, Essen, and Barcelona, and returns to Norway for his fourth summer at the helm of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival. 

Perhaps Andsnes’s most ambitious achievement to date is “The Beethoven Journey,” his epic four-season focus on the composer’s music for piano and orchestra, with more than 230 live performances in 108 cities across 27 countries. The project was chronicled in the documentary Concerto – A Beethoven Journey and captured on the Sony Classical series The Beethoven Journey. The first volume was named iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and awarded Belgium’s Prix Caecilia, the second recognized with BBC Music’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award,” and the complete series chosen as one of the “Best of 2014” by the New York Times.

Andsnes now records exclusively for Sony Classical, having previously recorded more than 30 titles, many of them bestsellers, for EMI Classics. He recently received his ninth Grammy nomination, for Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & other works for two pianos four hands, recorded with Marc-André Hamelin for Hyperion. His many other international prizes include six Gramophone Awards, and two of his albums were named “Best CD of the Year” by the New York Times and awarded coveted Penguin Guide “Rosettes.”

Andsnes has received two of Norway’s top tributes: Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Peer Gynt Prize. He has been honored as a New York Philharmonic’ Artist-in-Residence, as the first Scandinavian to curate Carnegie Hall’s “Perspectives” series, and as been the subject of a London Symphony Orchestra Artist Portrait Series. The recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award and the Gilmore Artist Award, he was named one of Vanity Fair’s “Best of the Best” in 2005.

Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory. He is currently an Artistic Adviser for the Prof. Jirí Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen, where he lives with his partner and their three children.

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Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Kristine Opolais, soprano
Kristine Opolais, soprano View biography in full page >

Kristine Opolais is one of the most sought after sopranos on the international scene today, with a firmly established reputation amongst the world’s pre-eminent singing actresses, combining lustrous tone and fierce dramatic intensity. Opolais appears at the Metropolitan Opera New York, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Opernhaus Zürich and Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She is working with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Fabio Luisi, Kirill Petrenko and Semyon Bychkov.

Kristine Opolais is one of the most sought after sopranos on the international scene today, with a firmly established reputation amongst the world’s pre-eminent singing actresses, combining lustrous tone and fierce dramatic intensity. Opolais appears at the Metropolitan Opera New York, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Opernhaus Zürich and Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She is working with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Fabio Luisi, Kirill Petrenko and Semyon Bychkov.

Kristine Opolais is known for notable collaborations with the Metropolitan Opera, her performances frequently broadcast in HD worldwide. In Autumn 2018 Opolais returns to the Met to sing “Suor Angelica”, a role she has recorded for label ‘Orfeo’ but until this point she has not sung on stage. Previously, she starred as the title role in Zimmerman’s 2017 production of “Rusalka”, and received critical praise for her “vocally lustrous and achingly vulnerable performance” (New York Times). Opolais maintains a strong relationship with the Met since her debut as Magda in “La Rondine”. Famously, in 2014 she made history at the Met, with two role debuts in 18 hours. She gave a renowned performance in “Butterfly”, only to step in for a matinee of “La boheme” the next day, which was cinema broadcast worldwide.

In the 2018/19 season Opolais continues her strong collaboration with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, returning to the House as Tosca. In London, Opolais has particularly cemented her title as “the leading Puccini Soprano of today” (The Telegraph), appearing in Kent’s 2014 production as Manon Lescaut, as well as starring as Cio-Cio San in „Madama Butterfly“. This season Opolais also returns to the Wiener Staatsoper for further signature performances of “Tosca” and makes her debut at the Staatsoper Hamburg for two special performances of “Manon Lescaut” as part of Hamburg’s notable Italian Opera Festival and also tours to Japan, her Japanese debut, in “Manon Lescaut” with the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Opolais also has a significant relationship with the Bayerische Staatsoper, which started in 2010 when she made her acclaimed debut as Rusalka in Kušej’s production, which she has been invited back numerous times to perform. Since this time Opolais has appeared in titles including “Manon Lescaut”, “Madama Butterfly”, Tatjana in “Onegin” and Margherita in “Mefistofele”.

Opolais’ solo concert and recital appearances, for which she is highly in demand, include performances at the Salzburg Festival, BBC Proms, George Enescu, Turku and Tanglewood Festivals, the Vienna Musikverein, Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, Royal Opera House Muscat, Royal Concertgebouw and Carnegie Hall, to name but a few. Opolais has appeared with orchestras including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, with whom she tours this season, the Concertgebouworkest, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Filarmonica della Scala.

Opolais’ most recent opera recording was released in Autumn 2017, a DVD of “Tosca”, from Himmelmann’s production in Baden-Baden, with the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

 

Kristine Opolais, soprano
Program Notes Audio
SHOSTAKOVICH - Suite from the incidental music to King Lear (13 min)
RACHMANINOFF - Piano Concerto No. 4 (25 min)
MAHLER - Symphony No. 4 (58 min)
Audio Concert Preview - Program Notes
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