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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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Andris Nelsons is Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. With these positions, and in leading a pioneering alliance between two such esteemed institutions, Grammy Award-winning Nelsons is firmly underlined as one of the most renowned and innovative conductors on the international scene today.

Nelsons began his tenure as Music Director of the BSO in the 2014/15 season and after one year, his contract was extended through the 2021/22 season. Last season, the BSO and Nelsons embarked on a tour to Japan together for the first time, notably with three performances in Suntory Hall. At the beginning of the 2018/19 seasons, Nelsons toured Europe together with the orchestra for the third time since Nelsons’ Music Directorship, visiting the London Proms, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris and Amsterdam. Nelsons gave his debut with the Gewandhausorchester in 2011, followed by regular performances at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig in subsequent years. In February 2018, Nelsons received the title of Gewandhauskapellmeister in a four-week inaugural festival, also marking the 275th anniversary of the orchestra. Three joint tours for the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Nelsons have been incorporated into the 2018/2019 season: two European tours, one in October 2018, including stops at London’s prestigious Royal Festival Hall, in Scandinavia and in Nelsons' native city, Riga, and the other in January 2019, to venues including the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris and Vienna’s Musikverein. The season’s third tour in May/June 2019 takes the orchestra and Nelsons to Japan and China, where they will appear together for the first time.

The 2018/19 season marks Nelsons’ final season as Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, and Nelsons’ first season as Artist-in-Residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Furthermore, Nelsons continues his regular collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he lead a tour through China last season in addition to his ongoing guest performances at the Musikverein in Vienna. In 2020, he will conduct the Wiener Philharmoniker’s prestigious New Year’s Day concert, broadcast to millions across the world. Throughout his career, Nelsons has established regular collaborations with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Philharmonia Orchestra. Nelsons has been a regular guest at the Bayreuther Festspiele and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Andris Nelsons has an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, which has paved the way for three landmark projects. Nelsons and the BSO partner on recording the complete Shostakovich symphonies, and the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District. The first and second instalments have both received consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral performance, the third has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, and the fourth instalment will be released in February 2019. Nelsons and the yellow label also have embarked upon a project with the Gewandhausorchester that sheds new light on the symphonies of Bruckner, and pairs these distinctive symphonic pieces with works by Wagner. The most recent release appeared in April 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. Furthermore, Nelsons will record Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker between 2016-2019, and will return to Vienna to perform the complete cycle in 2020, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

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 2008-2015, Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany 2006-2009 and Music Director of Latvian National Opera 2003-2007.

 

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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