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Czech Philharmonic • Bucharest


The programme of the orchestra’s first festival concert in Bucharest’s Athenaeum combines a purely modern concerto for two pianos by Bryce Desner and Tchaikovsky’s classic Fifth Symphony. Manfred Honeck will lead the Czech Philharmonic joined by the piano duo of Katia and Marielle Labèque.

Programme

Bryce Dessner
Concerto for Two Pianos

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Performers

Katia and Marielle Labèque piano

Manfred Honeck conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Bucharest

Bucharest — Ateneul Român

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The concert is part of the George Enescu International Festival organised by ARTEXIM/Ministry of Culture of Romania.

Performers

Katia & Marielle Labèque   pianos

Katia & Marielle Labèque

“The best piano duo in front of an audience today”

New York Times

 

“The Labèque sisters are tremendous. They are great performers, and great interpreters. And they are wonderful supporters of music – not only modern music, but just music. It is great to work with them”

Philip Glass

 

“Whether Mozart or Stravinsky, their musical line always sounds as if it’s being woven for the very first time... But the illusion of improvisation is the genius of their performances. In all their recordings there is a deceptive sprezzatura that is born of throwing the preparation to the winds and hanging onto each others ears.”

The Times

 

Katia and Marielle Labèque are sibling pianists renowned for their ensemble of synchronicity and energy. Their musical ambitions started at an early age and they rose to international fame with their contemporary rendition of Gershwinʼs Rhapsody in Blue (one of the first gold records in classical music) and have since developed a stunning career with performances worldwide.

They are regular guests with the most prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Filarmonia della Scala, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Marin Alsop, Alain Altinoglu, Semyon Bychkov, Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Gustavo Gimeno, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Pietari Inkinen, Louis Langrée, Zubin Mehta, Juanjo Mena, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Matthias Pintscher, Georges Prêtre, Sir Simon Rattle, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas and Jaap van Zweden.

They have appeared with Baroque music ensembles such as The English Baroque Soloists with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini, Musica Antica with Reinhard Goebel and Venice Baroque with Andrea Marcon, il Pomo d’Oro with Maxim Emelyanychev and also toured with The Age of Enlightenment & Sir Simon Rattle.

Katia and Marielle have had the privilege of working with many composers including Thomas Adès, Louis Andriessen, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, György Ligeti, Nico Muhly and Olivier Messiaen. At Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles they presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s new Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel. In spring 2017 also saw the world premiere of Bryce Dessner’s concerto at Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgards and in June 2020 a new concerto written by Nico Muhly, will receive its world premiere at Lincoln Center with New York Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden.

The Labèques play in festivals and renowned venues worldwide including the Vienna Musikverein, Hamburg Musikhalle, Munich Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Royal Festival Hall, La Scala, Berlin Philharmonie, Blossom, Hollywood Bowl, Lucerne, BBC Proms, Ravinia, Tanglewood and Salzburg. An audience of more than 33,000 attended a gala concert with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at Berlin’s Waldbühne, now available on DVD (EuroArts). A record audience of more then 100.000 attended the Vienna Summer Night Concert in Schönbrunn (now available on CD and DVD by Sony). More than 1.5 million viewers followed the event worldwide on TV.

For their own label, KML Recordings, they have released a CD Box “Sisters”. Previous releases include a Gershwin/Bernstein album, and their project Minimalist Dream House (50 years of Minimalist music). The DVD “The Labèque Way, a letter to Katia and Marielle by Alessandro Baricco” produced by El Deseo (Pedro and Augustin Almodóvar) and filmed by Félix Cábez is released by EuroArts. Their biography “Une vie à quatre mains” by Renaud Machart is published by Buchet-Chastel.

Labèque’s label KML Recordings joined the historical label Deutsche Grammophon, their first collaboration being Stravinskyʼs Rite of Spring and Debussyʼs Epigraphes Antiques, followed by “Love Stories” with music by Leonard Bernstein and David Chalmin, “Amoria” a journey to their Basque roots covering five centuries of music, “Moondog”, a tribute to Louis Thomas Hardin, one of the true geniuses of his time. They just released a new album “El Chan” dedicated entirely to American composer Bryce Dessner, including his Concerto for two pianos with Orchestre de Paris conducted by Matthias Pintscher. The album is dedicated to the film director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritú, who created the album cover artwork.

Most recent performances include concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, Elb Philharmonie Hamburg and Thom Yorke, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Semyon Bychkov, Dresden Staatskapelle at Easter Festival Salzburg with Andres Orozco-Estrada , Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic, including return visits to the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl and Cincinnati Symphony. At the invitation of the Philharmonie Hall in Paris for a special “Week End”, attention was focused on “Amoria”, “Invocations” and their new project for two guitars and two pianos with David Chalmin and Bryce Dessner including a piece written for them by Thom Yorke “Don’t fear the Light” with Thom Yorke as special guest.

Manfred Honeck  conductor

Manfred Honeck

Over the last quarter century, Manfred Honeck has firmly established himself as one of the world’s leading conductors, renowned for his distinctive interpretations and arrangements of a wide range of repertoire. For well over a decade, he has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, celebrated in Pittsburgh and abroad. Together, they have continued a legacy of music-making that includes several Grammy nominations and a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra serve as cultural ambassadors for the city as one of the most frequently toured American orchestras.

Born in Austria, Manfred Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award. Following early posts at MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, he was appointed Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm. For several years, he also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart. As a guest conductor Manfred Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome, and the Vienna Philharmonic, and is a regular guest with all of the major American orchestras. 

He also has a strong profile as opera conductor. In his four seasons as General Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, he conducted premieres of operas by Berlioz, Mozart, Poulenc, Strauss, Verdi, and Wagner. He has also appeared as a guest at leading houses such as the Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, and the Salzburg Festival. In autumn 2022, he will make his debut at the Metropolitan opera in New York, leading a revival of Mozart’s Idomeneo.

Manfred Honeck holds honorary doctorates from several North American universities and was awarded the honorary title of Professor by the Austrian Federal President. An international jury of critics selected him as the International Classical Music Awards “Artist of the Year” 2018.

Compositions

Bryce Dessner
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra

For the American composer Bryce Dessner (*1976), writing classical music is just one realm of his diverse activities. The musical career of this native of Cincinnati, Ohio began in the rock band The National, which he founded at the turn of the century with his brother, and which is still in successful operation today. Over time, besides songs he began to compose concert works, music for dance theatre, and film scores, and he became a symbol of success in a field sometimes referred to as crossover. He employs his experience with contrasting musical genres as a curator of festivals and other musical events, including MusicNOW and HAVEN, of which he is also a co-founder. With the release of the album Aheym in 2013, he first introduced himself as a composer of classical music. The recording contains a series of compositions for the famed Kronos Quartet, including Little Blue Something, which was inspired by an encounter with the music of the Czech alternative duo of Irena Havlová and Vojtěch Havel, and to be precise, their recording Little Blue Nothing. The pair create meditative compositions employing the unique sound of two viols da gamba, which Dessner describes as an important influenced at the beginning of his career as a composer.

Bryce Dessner’s film music credits include The Two Popes (2019) and collaboration on the music for The Revenant (2015) by the director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Dessner’s visit to the director’s homeland inspired his first work for two pianos and the Labèque sisters, the suite El Chan, named for a legendary spirit from the depths of a canyon. The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is a further collaborative step. While writing it, the composer visited the piano studio where the sisters were working, and their music collection became part of the new work’s inspiration. Bryce Dessner, who has moved from the USA to Paris, professes to have been influenced by a number of French composers, such as Olivier Messiaen, Francis Poulenc, and Henri Dutilleux.

In his own words, the composer understands the two pianos “more like one gigantic instrument than like two contrasting voices”, and the perfect ensemble playing of Katia and Marielle Labèque reinforces that impression. The concerto is in the classical three-movement form with an alternation of fast and slow passages, and the orchestra sound is enhanced by a wide range of percussion including various metal objects. The work was composed in 2017 and was premiered in April 2018 in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra accompanying Katia and Marielle Labèque.

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