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Great Pianists-in-Residence

Maazel, Bronfman, Brahms, and Sibelius

Recorded January 16, 2013

Mr. Maazel made his final appearances with the New York Philharmonic in back-to-back weeks in January, 2013. The first of these featured him leading Yefim Bronfman in a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Johannes Brahms. Mr. Bronfman discusses the challenges of the work as well as what Mr. Maazel brings to the music. The second half of the concert features the Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius. Mr. Maazel was well-known for interpretations of the music of Sibelius and he recorded two complete cycles during his lifetime—this after rejecting the composer’s music for much of his youth. Listen to the subtle changes in pacing and phrasing as compared to his performance recorded in 2009, on broadcast #10-06.

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Conductor

Lorin Maazel by Andrew Garn

Lorin Maazel served as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 2002 to 2009. In the 2010–11 season he completed his fifth and final year as the inaugural music director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house in Valencia, Spain, and at the start of the 2012–13 season he became music director of the Munich Philharmonic. Mr. Maazel was also the founder and artistic director of the Castleton Festival, based on his farm property in Virginia, which was launched to great acclaim in 2009. The festival expanded its activities nationally and internationally starting in 2011.

Mr. Maazel was also a composer, with a wide-ranging catalogue of works written primarily over the last dozen years. His first opera, 1984, based on George Orwell's literary masterpiece, had its world premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in May 2005, and was revived at Milan's Teatro alla Scala in May 2008. A Decca DVD of the original London production was released in May 2008.

A second-generation American born in Paris, France, Lorin Maazel began violin lessons at age five, and conducting lessons at age seven. He studied with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, and appeared publicly for the first time at age eight. Between ages nine and fifteen he conducted most of the major American orchestras, including the NBC Symphony at the invitation of Arturo Toscanini. In the course of his decades-long career Mr. Maazel conducted more than 150 orchestras in no fewer than 5,000 opera and concert performances. He made more than 300 recordings, including symphonic cycles of complete orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss, winning 10 Grands Prix du Disques.

Lorin Maazel was music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (1993–2002); music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony (1988–96); general manager and chief conductor of the Vienna Staatsoper (1982–84, the first American to hold that position); music director of The Cleveland Orchestra (1972–82); and artistic director and chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1965–71). His close association with the Vienna Philharmonic included 11 internationally televised New Year's Concerts from Vienna.

Learn more about Lorin Maazel

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Piano

Yefim Bronfman by Dario Acosta

Internationally recognized as one of today’s most acclaimed and admired pianists, Yefim Bronfman stands among a handful of artists regularly sought by festivals, orchestras, conductors, and recital series.

In recognition of a relationship of more than 30 years, Mr. Bronfman will join the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta on the orchestra’s fall U.S. tour, including a stop at Carnegie Hall, followed by concerts in Munich, London, and Vienna with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, another frequent collaborator. In addition to returns to the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, The Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, and Pittsburgh, National, Indianapolis, and Toronto symphony orchestras, in the spring he will tour with the Vienna Philharmonic and Andrés Orozco-Estrada in a special program celebrating the pianist’s 60th birthday. In Europe he can also be heard with the Berlin Philharmonic; in recital in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, and London; and on tour with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons. A tour in Asia with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda brings the season to a close in June.

Mr. Bronfman has given numerous solo recitals in the leading halls of North America, Europe, and the Far East, including acclaimed debuts at Carnegie Hall in 1989 and Avery Fisher (now David Geffen) Hall in 1993. In 1991 he gave a series of joint recitals with Isaac Stern in Russia, marking Mr. Bronfman’s first public performances there since his emigration to Israel at age 15. That same year he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists, and in 2010 he was honored as the recipient of the Jean Gimbel Lane prize in piano performance from Northwestern University.

Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973.

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Piano Concerto No. 1

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–97)
Piano Concerto No. 1 (1854–58)

This First Piano Concerto is a remarkable work from a young man who started out on his musical career as a piano player in the dives and taverns of Hamburg’s harbor. Its evolution was complex and its gestation long. Brahms revised it even after it was premiered in 1859. It is symphonic in scope, lasting around 45 minutes. The rolling thunder of the timpani marks the concerto’s long and stormy orchestral introduction. The peaceful Adagio comes as blessed relief (“I am also painting a lovely portrait of you; it is to be the Adagio,” the composer wrote to Clara Schumann, his ardent supporter, advisor, and possibly more). The Rondo finale, with its two huge cadenzas, brings this powerful and massively difficult work to a rousing conclusion. In his book on Brahms, Burnett James wrote: “The D-minor Concerto … marks the end of Brahms’s youthful romantic period. Never again was he to let himself go with such uninhibited passion; never again to wear his heart so unashamedly on his sleeve.”

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Symphony No. 2

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
Symphony No. 2 (1902)

Although the composer strenuously denied it, commentators have remarked on the political associations of Sibelius’s Second Symphony, including Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who said: “The second symphony is connected with our nation’s fight for independence, but it is also about the struggle, crisis, and turning-points in the life of an individual. This is what makes it so touching.” Of particular note is the finale, which builds up tremendous tension until the final brass coda, which Sibelius marked a triumphant fff. The symphony was received with great acclaim by his countrymen, who were hungry for music by their national hero — it was the tonic the Finns needed to salve their national wounds (it should be remembered that when Sibelius composed this symphony, Finland was still under the yoke of the Tsar). And whether the composer had a “program” in mind or not, there is no denying that the Second is by far the most popular of his symphonies, and its style is characteristic Sibelius…full of those marvelous dark-hued sonorities, expansive brass chorales, and passionate expressiveness. Jean Sibelius himself led the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1902 premiere, which was so successful that three more performances had to be scheduled.

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