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Czech Philharmonic • Joshua Weilerstein
Pulcinella, suite from the ballet
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor KV 466
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
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Joshua Weilerstein is the Artistic Director of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. His clarity of musical expression, unforced manner and deep natural musicianship connects him with orchestras and has led him to conduct extensively in both Europe and America. His enthusiasm for a wide range of repertoire is combined with an ambition to bring new audiences to the concert hall.
Increasingly in demand as a guest conductor, in 2016/2017 Weilerstein makes his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in family concerts and in the same week, will assist Mariss Jansons. He also makes debuts with the Indianapolis Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, NDR Hannover and London Philharmonic Orchestras. With the National Symphony Orchestra, Weilerstein will conduct a special concert celebrating the birth centennial of John F. Kennedy, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist. In addition, Weilerstein returns to the Vancouver Symphony, The Florida Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Oslo Philharmonic. Weilerstein also continues his commitment to working with students and young musicians in concerts with the New England Conservatory and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
In August 2016 Weilerstein made his operatic debut conducting Don Giovanni at the Verbier Festival, and stepped in on short notice to conduct the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra and soloists Joshua Bell and George Li.
Joshua Weilerstein’s career was launched after winning both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen. He then completed a three-year appointment as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Since then, he has steadily gained a growing profile in both North America and abroad, including recent guest conducting engagements with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Fort Worth, Milwaukee, San Diego, Calgary, Québec, and Vancouver; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Aspen Music Festival, among others. In Europe, he has established strong relationships with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, and Swedish Chamber Orchestra. He has also conducted the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, SWR Stuttgart, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg.
Joshua Weilerstein believes passionately in programming both traditional and contemporary repertoire. He is committed to presenting, whenever possible, at least one piece by a living composer in each of his programs. He believes fundamentally in the importance and value of music education. Wherever the opportunity arises, he engages directly with his audience either speaking from the stage or in pre/post-concert discussions. He was heavily involved in Young People’s Concerts during his time as the Assistant Conductor with the New York Philharmonic, and served as Concertmaster of Discovery Ensemble, a Boston-based chamber orchestra dedicated to presenting classical music to inner-city schools in Boston. With the Orchestre Chamber de Lausanne, Weilerstein actively supports the educational and Discovery concerts for children and families.
Denis Kozhukhin’s playing is characterised by an extraordinary technical mastery balanced by a sharp intelligence, calm maturity and wisdom. Kozhukhin has that rare and special gift of creating an immediate and compelling emotional connection with his audience.
Since winning First Prize in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels at the age of 23, Kozhukhin has quickly established a formidable reputation and has already appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls including the Verbier Festival, where he won the Prix d’Honneur in 2003, Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Berliner Philharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Rheingau Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Rotterdam De Doelen, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Milan, Théâtre du Châtelet and Auditorium du Louvre Paris.
In the 2016/2017 season, Kozhukhin performs with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (van Zweden), Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Krivine), Philharmonia Orchestra (Temirkanov), Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Poga), Philadelphia Orchestra (Denève), Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Payare), San Francisco Symphony (Orozco-Estrada), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (Weilerstein), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (Vasily Petrenko), Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Kristjan Järvi) and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
As a recitalist, recent and upcoming highlights include returns to the Concertgebouw’s Master Pianists Series, Vienna Konzerthaus, Cologne Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall, Verbier Festival and London’s International Piano Series, as well as solo and chamber recitals with Jörg Widmann and Emmanuel Pahud at the new Boulez Saal in Berlin during its opening season.
In 2015, Kozhukhin signed an exclusive recording agreement with Pentatone. His debut recording for the label (Grieg Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and Vassily Sinaisky) was Gramophone Editor’s Choice and Disc of the month in Fono Forum and Stereophone.
Born in Nizhni Novgorod, Russia, in 1986 into a family of musicians, Denis Kozhukhin began his piano studies at the age of four with his mother. As a boy, he attended the Balakirev School of Music where he studied under Natalia Fish. From 2000 to 2007, Kozhukhin was a pupil at the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid learning with Dimitri Bashkirov and Claudio Martinez-Mehner.
Upon graduating, he received his diploma personally from the Queen of Spain and was named best student in his year and twice best chamber group with his own Cervantes Trio. After his studies in Madrid, Kozhukhin was invited to study at the Piano Academy at Lake Como where he received tuition from amongst others Fou Ts’ong, Stanislav Yudenitch, Peter Frankl, Boris Berman, Charles Rosen and Andreas Staier. He completed his studies with Kirill Gerstein in Stuttgart. Kozhukhin has also been awarded 1st Prize at the Vendome Prize in Lisbon in 2009, and 3rd Prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006.
Kozhukhin is a committed chamber musician and has worked with amongst others, Leonidas Kavakos, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Janine Jansen, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, the Jerusalem Quartet, the Pavel Haas Quartet, Radovan Vlatković, Jörg Widmann, Emmanuel Pahud and Alisa Weilerstein.
Pulcinella, suita z baletu
“Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible.” This is how Igor Stravinsky characterized his work, which is considered one of the major milestones of 20th century Neo-Classicism in music. At the same time, he came to the commission that opened new creative approaches to him at the last minute. The idea of adapting Baroque music for a ballet performance based on an early eighteenth-century commedia dell’arte came from the impresario of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, who in 1917 successfully staged Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur (Le donne de buon umore) based on Domenico Scarlatti’s music. Upon Diaghilev’s suggestion, several scores of compositions attributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736) were copied in London and Naples. Diaghilev originally wanted Manuel de Falla to orchestrate the music, but when he turned the offer down, Diaghilev addressed Stravinsky, who had previously written Petrushka and The Rite of Spring for him.
The premiere of the ballet with “musique de Pergolési, arrangée et orchestrée par Igor Strawinsky” took place on 15 May 1920 (i.e., almost exactly one hundred years!) at the Palais Garnier. The crazy pantomime with changes of costumes and singing produced contradictory reactions: Stravinsky was accused of plagiarism, the classic choreography by Léonide Massine and the unusually traditionalist set design by Pablo Picasso caused embarassment. At the request of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Stravinsky reworked the ballet into an orchestral suite that was first performed on 22 December 1922 under the direction of Pierre Monteux. Another version is known as Italian Suite, one of the most popular repertoire pieces of the 20th century for cello and piano.
Stravinsky probably did not know until the end of his life that the music serving as a basis for his Pulcinella was Pergolesi’s work only in part. This Neapolitan master has produced only the singing numbers from his operas Adriano in Siria, Flaminio and Lo frate ’nnamorato, and the sinfonia for cello and basso continuo (used by Stravinsky in the Vivo section). The other parts have been written by other 18th century composers who are now completely forgotten, such as Domenico Gallo (c. 1730–1760), Carlo Ignazio Monza († 1739) and Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692–1766). Canzona Se tu m’ami (crossed out in an orchestral suite) is even a conscious fraud by Alessandro Parisotti (1853–1913), a compiler (and for the most part, the composer) of the famous Arie antiche collection, which is still regarded in good faith as “early music” by many singing teachers of Czech music schools.
Pergolesi, who died at the age of 26, earned the romantic aura of a genius practically only by two of his opuses – the cantata Stabat Mater and the buffo intermezzo La serva padrona, which started its world fame twenty years after his death thanks to the “Querelle des Bouffons” [Quarrel of the Comic Actors] in Paris. Pergolesi’s name quickly became a trademark, by which the works by other composers were labeled for the sake of their better marketability. Domenico Galla’s trio sonatas (the overture, a part of Scherzino – Allegro – Andantino and the final Allegro assai) and Monzo’s harpsichord sonatas (Toccata and Gavotte) were published in London at the end of the 18th century under Pergolesi’s name. In the case of the orchestral concert (Tarantella), there was even a multiple mystification. Concerti armonici by a Dutch diplomat, Count van Wassenaer, were first published anonymously by Carlo Ricciotti in the Hague in 1740. In the London reprint of the collection, Ricciotti was elevated to the position of composer, and later they were attributed, in addition to Pergolesi, also to Fortunato Chelleri and Handel.
Ironically, because of its “good name” this music was chosen as the musical accompaniment to the ballet about Pulcinella, an idiot simpleton servant, and it was only thanks to serendipitous circumstances that the most skilled master was able to impress it with his genius. Stravinsky’s composition goes far beyond the usual concept of parody; his adaptation represents one of his wittiest Neo-Classical achievements with an admirable power of expression and undeniable beauty.
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
Ludwig van Beethoven gave musical Classicism its crowning achievement in the pathos of his music, the selection of heroic themes and the use of unconventional means of expression, heralding in many ways the upcoming period of Romanticism. His symphonic debut – Symphony No. 1 in C major – still belongs to the Classical style and shows strong traces of the influence exerted upon Beethoven by his great predecessors, Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Unlike these two composers, however, Beethoven began to deal with symphonies later in his career, considering them to be an extremely important form to be approached with the utmost responsibility. This is testified by the total number of symphonic works composed by the individual representatives of Viennese Classicism – while Beethoven produced “only” nine symphonies, Mozart wrote 54 of them and Haydn nearly doubled this number. Beethoven started to work on his first symphony at the age of 29 (although he had noted some of the themes for it five years earlier), i.e., at the time when his hearing began to deteriorate.
The long, slow introduction of the first movement of this symphony eventually leads to a typically Classical main theme of a marching character. It is immediately followed by the more lyrical second theme played by oboes and flutes, interwoven with the strings. The movement develops further based on these two themes. In short, the entire first movement is composed in an exemplary and clearly recognizable sonata form with introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation and coda. The second dance-like movement Andante cantabile con moto has a sonata character as well. Here, Beethoven is returning to the mannerisms of the Mannheim School, i.e., to the ultimate musical source of the Classical period. Traditionally, composers placed minuet in the third movement of their symphonies. Beethoven proceeded in the same way in his First Symphony, but later, when composing his Second and Third, he replaced the minuet with scherzo. The third movement of his Symphony No. 1 in C major is actually an original symphonic scherzo as well (there is a lot more of classic minuet in the preceding movement). The unsettling excitement and the rather non-dancing character of the third movement contrast with its marking, which can be interpreted as Beethoven’s ironical comment on the established convention. In the final movement, after a timid introduction, a jubilant topic bursts out, to which the composer returns several times in the form of a rondo, while working with this theme in a way similar to the sonata form. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 is a child of the 18th century. However, with some of its features, it already anticipates Beethoven’s original musical language expressing grave content, which he fully developed especially in his other symphonies, composed in the following century.
Piano Concerto No 20 in D minor, KV 466
In early 1785, the 53-year-old Joseph Haydn, already a distinguished composer, told Leopold Mozart: “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute; he has taste and, what is more, the greatest skill in composition.” At the age of 29, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was going through probably the most successful period of his short life – having been liberated from detested servitude to the Archbishop of Salzburg, he settled in Vienna, established himself there as a phenomenal pianist and composer, and churned out one work after another. He was enjoying his hard-won independence and short-lived financial success. At one of his evening subscription concerts on 11 February 1785, he gave the first performance of his Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. Concerts in those days were a far cry from today’s solo concerts and recitals. A pianist also had to be a conductor, a skilled improviser, and a composer. Most of the works being performed were new, and the performer would rarely present music written by other composers. Mozart finished composing his Piano Concerto No. 20 just before the concert, as can be seen from a letter Mozart’s father Leopold wrote to the composer’s sister Nannerl: “The concert was incomparable and the orchestra excellent; in addition to the symphonies, a woman from the theatre sang two arias. Then there was a new, excellent concerto by Wolfgang, which the copyist was still finishing when we arrived, and your brother didn’t even have time to play through the Rondeau, because he had to supervise the copying.” Unusually, the concerto is written in a minor key, and its darkly dramatic mood has caused it to be associated with works like the opera Don Giovanni or the Requiem. It consists of three movements: an opening Allegro in sonata form, a central Romance in B flat major (rondo), and a concluding Allegro assai, which combines the sonata and rondo forms. For some of Mozart’s piano concertos including this one, there are no preserved authentic cadenzas by the composer, so other pianists and composers wrote their own cadenzas later, including Ludwig van Beethoven, a great admirer of this concerto, Johannes Brahms, and Bedřich Smetana, who wrote cadenzas for the 1st and 3rd movements of the Concerto in D minor in 1856. Mozart’s piano concertos have won over audiences because of their inexhaustible lyricism, their technical perfection of form, and the endless wealth of musical ideas that Mozart poured into them. To Mozart, lyrical melody was fundamental, and this is one reason why he was a very successful opera composer; he became the first composer whose operas have constantly held a place in the theatrical repertoire from the time when they were written down to the present. Ferruccio Busoni, who also composed a cadenza for Mozart’s Concerto in D minor, put it poetically: “There is no doubt that Mozart takes singing as the point of departure from which there gushes forth an uninterrupted flow of melody that shines through in his music, like the ravishing curves of the female body through the folds of an airy dress.”