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Bermel, Prokofiev and Strauss

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 as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. By age 21, Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius (1985), Paganini, and Naumburg competitions (1988). This success led to his recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history, which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991. Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014, and is the 2017 winner of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark's highest and most prestigious musical honor.

In the 2018-19 season, Leonidas Kavakos is the Artist-in-Residence at both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and will appear in concerto and play-conduct performances with both orchestras. In North America, he performs with the San Francisco Symphony, including on tour to New York, and embarks on a recital tour with pianist Enrico Pace, with concerts in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia, as well as in concert with Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall. Highlights in Europe this season include a tour with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma performing the Brahms trios, and performances as soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Danish National Symphony, among others. In addition, he will tour China giving both recital and orchestral performances.

Over the years Kavakos has developed close relationships with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, and more recently, he has also built a strong profile as a conductor. This season, he will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Kavakos recently signed an exclusive contract with Sony Classical, for whom he has previously recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Mozart's Violin Concertos play-conducting with the Camerata Salzburg. In fall 2017, he joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax for a highly successful recording of Brahms Trios for the label. Upcoming recording projects include the Beethoven Violin Concerto which he will play-conduct with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, followed by the complete Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Kavakos' other recordings include Virtuoso, Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly, and the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, all on the Decca label.

Kavakos plays the ‘Willemotte' Stradivarius violin of 1734.

 

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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