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Andris Nelsons conducts Bermel, Prokofiev and Strauss featuring violinist Leonidas Kavakos

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Greek-born violinist Leonidas Kavakos returns to Symphony Hall as soloist in Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2. Composed in the mid-1930s, the concerto is by turns beautifully lyrical and scintillatingly virtuosic, with a Spanish-flavored finale as a nod to Madrid, where the work was premiered in 1935. Opening these concerts is American composer Derek Bermel's "spectral love potion" Elixir, which combines colorfully tranquil music for strings with exuberant, Messiaen-like exclamations from wind instruments deployed throughout the auditorium. Completing the program is Richard Strauss's cinematic tone poem An Alpine Symphony, illustrating an excursion up, then down (at a faster pace!) a mountain, with a huge range of instrumental and compositional effects.

Featured Performers

Andris Nelsons, conductor
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The 2018-19 season is Andris Nelsons’ fifth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons will lead fourteen of the BSO’s twenty-six subscription programs in 2018-19, ranging from orchestral works by Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Copland to concerto collaborations with acclaimed soloists, as well as world and American premieres of pieces newly commissioned by the BSO from Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Andris Dzenītis, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and concert performances of Puccini’s one-act opera Suor Angelica. 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. In February 2018, he became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, in which capacity he brings both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance. Immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, Maestro Nelsons and the BSO made their third European tour together, playing concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam. Their first European tour, following the 2015 Tanglewood season, took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals; the second, in May 2016, took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.

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 5, 8, 9, and 10, the initial releases in a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a new two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 4 and 11, The Year 1905. 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.

The 2018-19 season is Maestro Nelsons’ final season as artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and marks his first season as artist-in-residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In addition, he continues his regular collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 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 Leonidas Kavakos, violin
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Leonidas Kavakos is recognized across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. In recognition of this, he was voted Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014.

Born and brought up in Athens in a musical family, where he still lives, Kavakos's first steps as a violinist were guided by his parents. He studied at the Hellenic Conservatory with Stelios Kafantaris, one of the three important mentors in his life, together with Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados.

By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions, the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. This success led to his recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history. It won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991. He was also accorded the honour of performing on the famous 'Il Cannone' Guarneri del Gesù, which belonged to Paganini.

Kavakos's international career has allowed him to develop close relationships with the world's major orchestras and conductors, such as the Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Jansons, London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Chailly. Kavakos also works closely with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala and in the USA, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras.

Leonidas Kavakos has now established a strong profile as a conductor and has worked with the London Symphony and Boston Symphony orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Vienna Symphony, Budapest Festival, Finnish Radio Symphony and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras. In the forthcoming season, Kavakos will return as conductor to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and will meet, for the first time as conductor, the Russian State Symphony and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestras.

Leonidas Kavakos is an exclusive Decca Classics recording artist and his first release on the label, the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, resulted in the award of 'Instrumentalist of the Year' at the 2013 ECHO Klassik Awards. The duo has presented the complete cycle at New York's Carnegie Hall, Salzburg Festival, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, in Hong Kong and Shanghai and at the Beethovenfest Bonn.

Kavakos's second disc with Decca Classics (October 2013), was the Brahms Violin Concerto recorded with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly, and the third disc, Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, was released in spring 2014. Kavakos and Wang performed the sonatas on tour throughout Europe and in the coming season, will appear in London's Barbican Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Barcelona, Madrid, Salzburg and the Vienna Musikverein.

Following the Sibelius and other early recordings for BIS and ECM, Kavakos recorded Mozart's five Violin Concertos and Symphony No.39 in concert for Sony Classical, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg. He then recorded Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, again with Camerata Salzburg, for which he received an ECHO Klassik 'Best Concerto Recording' award in 2009.

Kavakos has always retained strong links with his native Greece. For 15 years he curated a chamber music cycle at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) which featured some of his close musical friends, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Emanuel Ax, Nikolai Lugansky, Yuja Wang and Gautier Capuçon. For the past two years Kavakos has curated an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, attracting violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflecting his deep commitment to the handing on of musical knowledge and traditions.

Leonidas Kavakos is passionate about the art of violin- and bow-making, both past and present, which he considers a great mystery and, to our day, an undisclosed secret. He plays the 'Abergavenny' Stradivarius violin of 1724 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bague. Bows by F.X. Tourte, D. Peccatte, J.P.M. Persois and J. Henry are his most precious companions.

Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Program Notes Audio
Derek BERMEL - Elixir(8 min)
PROKOFIEV - Violin Concerto No. 2 (27 min)
STRAUSS - An Alpine Symphony (48 min)
Concert Preview - Full Program Notes
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