Last summer saw the triumphant conclusion of “The Beethoven Journey,” Leif Ove Andsnes’s monumental four-season focus on the master composer’s music for piano and orchestra. Now, April 8 brings the first U.S. release of Concerto – A Beethoven Journey, a new documentary from award-winning British director and filmmaker Phil Grabsky. Following the project’s progress with exclusive concert and interview footage captured over the four-year period, the film has already received a warm welcome in Europe, where Gramophone magazine declared: “Concerto demands to be seen. It is a wonderfully uplifting and rewarding experience.” The release coincides with the celebrated Norwegian pianist’s return to America for complete Brahms Piano Quartet cycles with his longtime artistic partner Christian Tetzlaff, together with Tabea Zimmermann and Clemens Hagen, at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Performing Arts (April 7), New York’s Carnegie Hall (April 9) and Chicago’s Symphony Center (April 10); as the Chicago Tribune noted last fall, this “promises to be a musical event worth the wait.”

Concerto – A Beethoven Journey

The Beethoven Journey” took Andsnes to 114 cities in 27 countries for more than 230 live performances, including appearances at Carnegie Hall and in London’s BBC Proms that were named among the “Best of 2015” by the New York Times and Guardian respectively. The project also yielded three Sony Classical albums recorded with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that, as a boxed set, made the New York Times “Best of 2014” list, while the second won BBC Music’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award” as well. As the magazine put it, “In an age when the word ‘journey’ is overused, Andsnes reminds us what a true heart-and-mind musical journey really is.

Concerto – A Beethoven Journey captures key moments from this journey, following the pianist in his search for the definitive interpretation of Beethoven’s five concertos, and showing him in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under music director Gustavo Dudamel, as well as with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which he himself led from the keyboard. To make the documentary, he worked closely with director Phil Grabsky, whose numerous honors include top prizes at the Chicago and Valladolid International Film Festivals, and whom Andsnes describes as “a filmmaker who is so passionate about music and has made so many wonderful films about composers.” Indeed, the British director and his company Seventh Art Productions were the creative team behind such composer portraits as In Search of Mozart and In Search of Beethoven, both of which rank among Australia’s top-grossing documentaries of all time. Grabsky explains:

“I knew this exclusive journey with Leif Ove would allow me access to great performance – but I had no idea it would be this great. These became the best-reviewed concerts of the past few years and I was on stage to record them. Even more importantly the music and Leif Ove’s intelligent and accessible insight creates a staggeringly interesting new biography of arguably the greatest composer of all time.”

In Gramophone’s review of Concerto, the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief James Jolly agreed:

Andsnes proves a wonderful guide to these five extraordinary works, speaking with humility, wisdom and insight about what they mean to him and the challenges they present to the performer. … For lovers of Beethoven’s music, admirers of Leif Ove Andsnes – and his fan base has probably grown exponentially in the past few weeks – or simply lovers of high-class music documentaries, Concerto demands to be seen.”

Click here for dates and venues of upcoming screenings, and here to see the theatrical trailer for Concerto – A Beethoven Journey.

 

Brahms Piano Quartets in Chapel Hill, New York, and Chicago

Andsnes has long made chamber music a major focus of his career. In his homeland, he has served as co-director of the Risør Chamber Music Festival for more than two decades, and this summer sees the launch of the inaugural Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, which, with the pianist as Founding Director, has already almost sold out. His six Gramophone Awards include a Chamber Music Award for Brahms and Schumann piano quintets, recorded with the Artemis Quartet.

The pianist returns to Brahms’s chamber music this spring, when he undertakes an extensive international tour playing the great German Romantic’s three piano quartets at such top venues as London’s Barbican Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. Joining him for the tour are violist Tabea Zimmermann, cellist Clemens Hagen, and German violinist Christian Tetzlaff, with whom Andsnes has enjoyed collaborating for almost a quarter of a century, drawing comparisons with such legendary pairings as that of Busch and Serkin. He says:

“I have chosen to team up with Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann and Clemens Hagen to perform all three of Brahms’s Piano Quartets in one concert. The idea for this has been brewing for several years already as the four of us first performed the First Piano Quartet at the Salzburg Festival in 2010. It was one of the most rewarding chamber music experiences I have ever had and so immediately we started to plot a reunion in order to explore all the quartets together. This … is something I am hugely looking forward to. The quartets are so varied and form the best chamber music that that there is.”

The three recitals that comprise the American leg of the tour include Carnegie Hall’s Annual Isaac Stern Memorial Concert. They follow Andsnes’s most recent U.S. appearances, which included concerto concerts with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, after which the Philadelphia Inquirer named him “one of the top pianists of his generation,” and a Kennedy Center solo recital that prompted the Washington Post to hail him as “one of the finest musicians working today.”

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

 

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Concerto – A Beethoven Journey

 

Year of production: 2015

Duration: 92 minutes

Certification: U

Director: Phil Grabsky

Cast: Leif Ove Andsnes, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Presented by: Seventh Art Productions

U.S. release: April 8

Click here for dates and venues of upcoming screenings.

 

Leif Ove Andsnes: spring engagements

 

March 17 & 18

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra / Otto Tausk

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor

 

April 3–May 30: International Tour

Brahms: Piano Quartets No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25; No. 2 in A, Op. 26; & No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60

With Christian Tetzlaff, violin; Tabea Zimmermann, viola; Clemens Hagen, cello

  • April 3: Oslo, Norway (Oslo Opera)
  • April 4: Florence, Italy
  • April 7: Chapel Hill, NC (Carolina Performing Arts)
  • April 9: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall, Annual Isaac Stern Memorial Concert)
  • April 10: Chicago, IL (Symphony Center Presents)
  • May 24: Luxembourg
  • May 25: Wattens, Austria
  • May 26: Vienna, Austria (Konzerthaus)
  • May 28: London, UK (Barbican Hall)
  • May 29: Brussels, Belgium (BOZAR)
  • May 30: Paris, France (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées)

 

April 20–22

Munich, Germany

Munich Philharmonic / Gustavo Gimeno

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor

 

May 8

London, UK

Barbican Hall

London Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20

 

May 12

London, UK

Barbican Hall

London Symphony Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor

 

 

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