Acclaimed conductor Peter Oundjian conducts pianist Andreas Haefliger and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a Great Performers Series concert on November 20 in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre.

In the first Great Performers Series concert of the NAC’s 2010-2011 season, acclaimed Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Music Director and conductor Peter Oundjian leads the orchestra and guest pianist Andreas Haefliger in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre on Saturday November 20 at 8 p.m. From November 10-18 in Toronto, the TSO produced a Slavic Celebration, performing music and composers steeped in the folk traditions of Eastern Europe. The concerts explored the distinctive Slavic history and sounds that illuminate their compositions, and four masterpieces of the Slavic Celebration will be performed at the National Arts Centre. 

The program for the evening includes:
GLINKA             Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila
CHOPIN            Piano Concerto No. 2
SMETANA          The Moldau from “Má Vlast”
JANÁC?EK           Taras Bulba

Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila
Mikhail Glinka conceived Ruslan and Lyudmila (composed 1837-1842) shortly after the triumphant premiere of his first opera, A Life for the Tsar. Based on a narrative poem by Pushkin, Ruslan and Lyudmila is a “magic” opera, by turns heroic and fantastic, sensuous and enchanting, humorous and scary. The story, set in olden times in exotic places, has the trappings and characters often seen in fairy tales. Glinka produced five acts of vividly imagined, brilliantly orchestrated music. The sparkling overture, based on themes from the opera, encapsulates the story’s central dramatic conflict and the range of Glinka’s score. After a spirited introduction, the hero Ruslan is memorably depicted by the vigorous first theme, but, as the music unfolds, more exotic harmonies and instrumental colours emerge, representing, for instance, princes who rival Ruslan for the hand of Lyudmila, daughter of the Grand Prince of Kiev. The principal themes are eventually recapitulated, and in the faster coda, as in the opera itself, Ruslan finally emerges triumphant.
Adapted from a program note by Kevin Bazzana © Copyright 2010 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is performed by eminent Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger. The composer already had a unique voice as a pianist and composer when in 1830, at age 19, he scored a triumph with this piano concerto. Chopin was working in a tradition called stile brillante, conceiving the concerto as a showcase for a virtuoso soloist, as opposed to a more balanced musical drama in the classical vein. What makes Chopin’s Op. 21 an early-Romantic concerto par excellence -- brilliant, imaginative, and radiant -- is the dominance of the piano. After introducing the first movement, the orchestra cedes all responsibility for musical development to the instrument. The first movement bears the stamp of the stile brillante, while the second shows the influence of Italian opera; Chopin later confessed that this movement was a passionate outpouring of love to his secret beloved Konstancia Gladkowska, whom he “served faithfully, though without saying a word to her, for six months.” In the third movement, there is the unmistakable influence of the Polish mazurka, though in a brilliantly stylized setting. One observer wrote that Chopin’s concertos “linger in the memory for the poetry of their detail rather than the strength of their structures.” Those details are so bold and colourful, so imaginative and personal, that the concertos have become the only large-scale early works of Chopin to retain a place in the repertoire.
Adapted from a program note by Kevin Bazzana © Copyright 2010 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Smetana: “The Moldau” from Má vlast

Bed?ich Smetana’s colourful depiction of Bohemia’s great river, the Moldau, was composed in 1874, when the composer was at the head of his country’s musical life. He went deaf that same year, but the affliction did not crush him, as he soon completed two nationalistic symphonic poems. Completed in 1879, Má vlast (My Fatherland) was dedicated to the city of Prague. The Vltava (in German, Moldau), is the longest Czech river. Smetana knew the Vltava and its surrounding countryside well, and depicts the whole course of it in his picturesque symphonic poem, through a rondo-like episodic structure and the ingenious manipulation of motifs and orchestral resources. The opening, unforgettable evocation of two brooks merging at the river’s source leads to the broad, surging theme (violins) representing the Vltava – Smetana’s most famous tune. Subsequent episodes depict a forest hunt (brass fanfares), a peasant wedding (polka), water-nymphs in the moonlight (muted strings and burbling woodwinds), the swirling St. John rapids, and finally the river’s majestic progress past Prague and into the Elbe.
Adapted from a program note by Don Anderson © Copyright 2010 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Janácek: Taras Bulba (Rhapsody after N. V. Gogol), JW VI/15 – Ottawa premiere

The career of Leoš Janá?ek straddles the close of the Romantic era and the beginnings of modernism. His fascinating hybrid styles make his music very much his own: quirky, mercurial, bursting with inventiveness, colour and sharp contrasts. Taras Bulba was his first large-scale concert work. Composed during the First World War, its deeply nationalistic nature sprang from the composer’s admiration of the Russians. By extension he also considered it an expression of his own countrymen’s wish for a free Czech nation. The inspiration for Taras Bulba came from Nikolai Gogol’s 1835 novella of the same name, which chronicles a 17th-century Ukrainian Cossack chieftain’s battles against his country’s Polish oppressors. The composer selected three episodes from Gogol’s story to portray in music. The first movement relates the repercussions of the love affair between Taras Bulba’s son Andrij and a Polish woman. In the second movement, Taras Bulba’s older son Ostap has been captured by the Poles and led off to Warsaw. In the third movement, Taras Bulba is captured after a savage battle. First his enemies nail him to a tree, then set fire to it and rejoice in their victory. With his dying breath, Bulba issues a defiant prophecy: “A tsar shall rise from Russian soil, and there shall not be a power in the world that shall not submit to him!”
Adapted from a program note by Don Anderson © Copyright 2010 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre on Saturday Noember 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.45, $31.21, $42.51, $49.50, $53.81, $64.57, and $75.33 for adults and $11.38, $16.76, $22.41, $25.91, $28.06, $33.44, and $38.82 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card). Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office (in person) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111; Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website www.nac-cna.ca.

Subject to availability, full-time students (aged 13-29) with valid Live Rush™ membership (free registration at www.liverush.ca) may buy up to 2 tickets per performance at the discount price of $12 per ticket. Tickets are available online (www.nac-cna.ca) or at the NAC box office from 10 a.m. on the day before the performance until 6 p.m. on the day of the show or 2 hours before a matinee. Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices to all NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances; to reserve your seats, call 613-947-7000, ext. 634 or e-mail grp@nac-cna.ca.

Our latest web offering -- coming soon -- NACmusicbox TIMELINE

200 orchestral works, 80 Canadian compositions, 1 interactive TIMELINE. Explore unlimited music connections and discover Canada's contribution to orchestral history. The interactive TIMELINE includes the addition of 65 Canadian works thanks to financial investment by the Virtual Museum of Canada at the Department of Canadian Heritage. We also acknowledge our partner CBC Radio 2 for providing broadcast-quality recordings of the NAC Orchestra’s archival performances.For additional information, visit the NAC website at www.nac-cna.ca

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Information:
Gerald Morris
Communications Officer, NAC Music
613-947-7000, ext. 335
[email] gmorris@nac-cna.ca

The TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Canada's foremost symphonic ensemble, celebrates its 89th season in 2010-2011. More than 300,000 patrons and 70,000 students visit the Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall each year, and an additional five million Canadians tune in to concert broadcasts on CBC Radio. At the same time, the Orchestra maintains an international presence, built by a history of touring, most recently in Europe in the spring of 2000, and reinforced by recordings available in music stores around the world. The Orchestra was founded in 1922 by a group of Toronto musicians and Viennese-born conductor Luigi von Kunits. The New Symphony Orchestra, as it was then called, gave its first performance in April 1923 at Massey Hall. The name Toronto Symphony Orchestra was adopted four years later. Von Kunits served as Music Director until his death in 1931. Sir Ernest MacMillan, appointed that year, would become the Orchestra's longest-standing Music Director, presiding from 1931 until 1956. During MacMillan's 25 seasons on the podium, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra soared in stature and scope, introducing Toronto audiences to then-contemporary composers such as Holst, Sibelius, and Stravinsky, who conducted the Orchestra in performances of his own music in 1937. Since then the Orchestra has had 8 music directors: Walter Susskind (1957-1964), Seiji Ozawa (1965-1969), Karl Ancerl (1969-1972), Victor Feldbrill (1973-1978), Sir Andrew Davis, now Conductor Laureate (1975-1988), Gunther Herbig (1989-1994), Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1994-2001) and Peter Oundjian (2003 to the present). The Orchestra moved from Massey Hall to Roy Thomson Hall in 1982. During the 2001-2002 season, Roy Thomson Hall underwent a successful sound makeover; the Roy Thomson Hall Acoustic Enhancement Project resulted in improved acoustics. Throughout its history, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has welcomed some of the greatest international artists, including Martha Argerich, Maxim Vengerov, Yo-Yo Ma, Evgeny Kissin, Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Karen Kain, and actor Christopher Plummer. Renowned composers Henri Dutilleux, R. Murray Schafer, and the late Sir Michael Tippett, among many others, have been in attendance for the Orchestra's presentations of their music. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra serves the community with one of the largest music education outreach programs in Canada. Each year, the Symphony reaches more than 100,000 young people in the Greater Toronto Area and throughout Ontario with curriculum-based programs, recognized throughout North America as leading examples of their kind.

ANDREAS HAEFLIGER was born into a distinguished musical family and grew up in Switzerland, going on to study at The Juilliard School in New York. With his formidable technique and musicality, and his innate sense of architecture and phrasing, he was quickly recognized as a pianist of the first rank. Engagements with major U.S. orchestras followed swiftly – the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh, Chicago and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestras among them. In his native Europe, Haefliger continues to return to the great orchestras and festivals – such as the Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Vienna Symphony. He also established himself as a superb recitalist, making his New York debut in 1988, and became frequent performer at premier recital venues and festivals around the world. The focus of Haefliger’s recital appearances in recent years has been an ongoing series Perspectives on Beethoven in which he performs the complete piano works of Beethoven alongside the music of related composers, including Mozart, Bartók, Brahms, Janá?ek, Schoenberg and Ligeti; the recitals are being recorded for the Avie label. After the enormous success of his first recording of Mozart Sonatas for Sony Classical, Haefliger made three further recordings for Sony of Schumann’s Davidsbündlertanze and Fantasiestücke, Schubert Impromptus, and a disc of music by the distinguished contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. Later Haefliger made recordings for Decca with the Takacs Quartet and Matthias Goerne, the latest Goerne/Haefliger release of Schubert’s Goethe Lieder being awarded a Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Haefliger has most recently released a series of recital discs on the Avie label, all of which have attracted widespread critical acclaim.

 

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