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François-Xavier Roth conducts Méhul, Mozart and Beethoven featuring pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Two cornerstones of the repertoire anchor this program. The young English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is soloist in one of Mozart's most familiar concertos, No. 21 in C, an elegant, good-natured work written and premiered in Vienna in spring 1785. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is the concerto's polar opposite in mood,a stormy struggle against destiny with a well-earned victory at the close. Opening the program is a rarity: the overture to the 1811 opera The Amazons by the highly successful and prolific opera composer Étienne Méhul, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven.

Featured Performers

François-Xavier Roth, conductor
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François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971) is one of today’s most charismatic and enterprising conductors. He has been General Music Director of the City of Cologne since 2015, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the first-ever Associate Artist of the Philharmonie de Paris.

With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony, Munich Philharmonic and Zurich Tonhalle. In 2018-19, he makes a return to the Berlin Philharmonic and appears with the San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland, Montreal Symphony and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestras.

In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. With Les Siècles, he has given concerts throughout Europe and toured to China and Japan. They recreated the original sound of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in its centenary year and, subsequently, with the Pina Bausch and Dominique Brun dance companies in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Tokyo. Les Siècles was nominated for Gramophone Magazine’s first Orchestra of the Year Award.

After the success of their explorations of Post-Romanticism and Debussy in his centenary year, concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra in November and March feature a typically wide-range of works, from Haydn through Strauss, Bartók and Scriabin and, in the latest of his LSO Futures series, to the current sound world of Philippe Manoury, with the UK premiere of Ring.

In his fourth Cologne opera season, he leads new productions of Strauss’ Salome and Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, which marks the bicentenary of the composer’s birth in Cologne. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he will feature Rhenish composer, Schumann, and explore works which disrupt traditional orchestral forms and think them anew. He continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, with the premiere of Lab.Oratorium, the third of the trilogy of works commissioned by the orchestra, which will also be played in Hamburg and Paris. He will take the orchestra on tour to Turin, Zürich and Vienna, performing Mahler’s fifth symphony.

He recorded the complete tone poems of Richard Strauss while Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden & Freiburg (2011-2016). His recordings of the Stravinsky ballets, The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring with Les Siècles have also been widely acclaimed; the latter being awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize. They are currently recording a complete Ravel cycle for Harmonia Mundi. The first release, Daphnis and Chloé, won the Gramophone Awards Orchestral Album of the Year and was a Gramophone magazine Editor’s Choice and CD of the month in Rondo Magazine. The second album, including Ma mère l’Oye, won a Diapason d’Or on its release in March 2018. Mirages, a vocal recital with Sabine Devieilhe for Erato, won a Diapason d’Or and was Victoires de la Musique Classique Recording of the Year, a Gramophone Editor’s Choice and Sunday Times Album of the Week. His first recording with the Gürzenich Orchestra, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, premiered in Cologne by the orchestra under Mahler in 1904, was released in December 2017 to enthusiastic reviews. Engagement with new audiences is an essential part of François-Xavier Roth’s work. With the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, a unique orchestra-academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, a television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. The Gürzenich Orchestra’s Ohrenauf! youth programme was recipient of a Junge Ohren Produktion Award. A tireless champion of contemporary music, he has been conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme since its outset in 2005. Roth has premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas, Hèctor Parra and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers like Pierre Boulez, Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann.

For his achievements as musician, conductor, music director and teacher, François-Xavier Roth was last year created a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.

 

François-Xavier Roth, conductor Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
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British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognized for his electrifying performances and insightful interpretations. His virtuosic command over the most strenuous technical complexities underpins the remarkable depth and understanding of his musicianship. Benjamin is renowned for his distinctive sound, described as 'poetic and gently ironic, brilliant yet clear-minded, intelligent but not without humour, all translated through a beautifully clear and singing touch' (The Independent) making him one of the most sought-after young pianists in the world.

Benjamin first came to prominence as the outstanding winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of eleven. Since then, he has become an internationally regarded pianist and in 2016 was announced as the inaugural recipient of The Ronnie and Lawrence Ackman Classical Piano Prize with the New York Philharmonic. He has performed with orchestras including the London Philharmonic, RAI Torino, Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Tokyo Symphony, and in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican

Centre, Singapore's Victoria Hall, The Frick Collection and Carnegie Hall. Benjamin has worked with numerous esteemed conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Semyon Bychkov, Andrey Boreyko, Sir Mark Elder, Alan Gilbert, Vladimir Jurowski, Andrew Litton, Andrew Manze, Ludovic Morlot, Kent Nagano, Alexander Shelley, Thomas Søndergård, Jac van Steen, John Storgards, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Michael Tilson Thomas and François-Xavier Roth.

At just nineteen, Benjamin performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the 2011 BBC Proms. Following re-invitations in 2012 for a performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Charles Dutoit and in 2014 for a recital and Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda Benjamin appeared in 2015 at the Last Night of the Proms performing Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop.

Recent and future highlights include engagements with the Cleveland and Hallé Orchestras, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Atlanta, San Francisco, Singapore, Melbourne, Washington National and KBS Symphony Orchestras. Major recital dates include Vienna Konzerthaus, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Cologne Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, the Lucerne Festival, La Roque d'Antheron, International Piano Series at the Southbank Centre as well as his first tour of South America. The forthcoming season sees Benjamin embark on new collaborations with the Filarmonica della Scala and Riccardo Chailly, with whom he will perform Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, the Tonhalle-Orchestra Zurich and François-Xavier Roth, the Orchestra of St Luke's and Sir Roger Norrington, and with the London Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 under the baton of Alpesh Chauhan.

Benjamin enjoys incorporating chamber music collaborations into his schedule, including performances with the Escher, Elias and Endellion String Quartets, chamber ensembles of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and the Naples Philharmonic, and at venues such as Paris' Musée du Louvre and London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. Since the 2015-16 season Benjamin has been invited to participate in the prestigious "Junge Wilde" series by Konzerthaus Dortmund, where over the course of three years he will perform on a number of occasions.

In 2011 Benjamin signed to Decca Classics, and in doing so has become the youngest British musician ever to sign to the label, and the first British pianist to sign to the label in almost 60 years. Benjamin's 2014 release Dances, a recital album that presents a historically and stylistically varied offering of works influenced by dance, has been described as 'breathtaking' (The Guardian), offering "performance after performance of surpassing brilliance and character" (Gramophone Magazine) and won the BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award 2015. Autumn 2016 sees the release of Benjamin's third recital disc for Decca, Homages.

During his sensational career to date, Benjamin has received Gramophone's 'Young Artist of the Year and 'Instrumental Award', a Classic Brits 'Critics' Award', UK 'Critics' Circle Award' for Exceptional Young Talent and a Diapason d'Or 'Jeune Talent' Award. He has been featured in two BBC television documentaries, BBC Breakfast and The Andrew Marr Show, as well as in CNN's Human to Hero series. The youngest of five brothers, Benjamin began playing the piano aged 6. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Christopher Elton and Daniel-Ben Pienaar, where he graduated in 2012 with the 'Queen's Commendation for Excellence' and in 2016 was made a Fellow. Benjamin has been supported since 2013 by EFG International, the widely respected global private banking group.

Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Program Notes Audio
MÉHUL - Overture to The Amazons, or The Founding of Thebes (8 min)
MOZART - Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467 (29 min)
BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 5 (33 min)
Concert Preview - Full Program Notes
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