Today (Tuesday, March 11) marks the U.S. release of The Beethoven Journey: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4, a new recording from 2013 Gramophone Hall of Fame inductee Leif Ove Andsnes, which has already been lauded as “a landmark of artistic integrity, intelligence, and musical insight” (Telegraph, UK). Recorded for Sony Classical with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and directed from the keyboard by the Norwegian pianist himself, the new album heralds Andsnes’s first all-Beethoven solo recital program, which takes him to the main stages of four of the nation’s leading venues – New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 19), Chicago’s Symphony Center (March 16), Atlanta’s Spivey Hall (March 14), and Princeton’s McCarter Theatre (March 17) – crowning his epic 19-city, eleven-country tour across America, Europe, and Japan.

The first CD yielded by “The Beethoven Journey,” the pianist’s long-term focus on Beethoven’s five piano concertos, won both iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and Belgium’s Prix Caecilia. Now the European release of the second, on which Andsnes and the MCO present the master composer’s Second and Fourth Piano Concertos, has already received a rapturous welcome. It was awarded full marks by Norway’s Dagbladet and by Denmark’s Politiken, which found his “interpretations sharp, dynamic, and intimate,” declaring: “Andsnes is one of today’s greatest pianists.” As the UK’s Telegraph recognized in a glowing five-star review, such success owes in part to the pianist’s close rapport with the MCO:

“The relationship that Andsnes inspires with the orchestra is an intimate and a readily responsive one. … The players can intuit what Andsnes wants and are of a like mind when it comes to phrasing, pacing, and dynamic nuances. …

“It works well, with Andsnes’s characteristic blend of physicality, limpid clarity and poetic subtlety in the Second Concerto finding a match in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s refined technique and animated coloring. …

The Fourth Concerto…continues to spring its surprises in this new, vital performance, establishing a true dialogue between piano and orchestra and delving fruitfully for expressive emphasis and nuance in the textures of both.”

As a consequence, the review concluded, “This leg of Andsnes’s interpretative journey is a landmark of artistic integrity, intelligence, and musical insight.”

The pianist’s first all-Beethoven solo recital tour has already taken him to some of Europe’s foremost concert stages, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and London’s Barbican Hall, where The Guardian pronounced his recital “a beautifully judged performance.” In Beethoven’s Sonata No. 28, Op. 101, it was Andsnes’s “elegance and calm that made his interpretation distinctive. … Everything seemed part of an ongoing, naturally unfolding process.” Likewise, the Six Variations, Op. 34, proved “a genial treat, with even the march, the darkest episode, having a bass line that invited dancing.” As Guardian critic Erica Jeal observed,

“All of this raised the bar for the climax of the concert, Sonata No. 23, the ‘Appassionata.’ Which would win: the sense of line we had been enjoying for most of the evening, or the turbulent intensity of this particular work? In fact, Andsnes held the two in an astonishing balance, shaping individually powerful surges into parts of a bigger whole, and hurtling into a closing passage that had the audience on the edge of its seat.”

As in London, for his U.S. tour this month, Andsnes’s program comprises the Sonatas in F minor “Appassionata” (Op. 57)B-flat (Op. 22), and A (Op. 101), together with the Variations in F (Op. 34). The four high-profile American dates represent one of the high points of a monumental tour with remaining stops at Vienna’s Musikverein, Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Tokyo’s Opera City, among others.

For the final leg of “The Beethoven Journey,” Andsnes turns his focus to Beethoven’s Fifth “Emperor” Concerto and the Choral Fantasy for piano, chorus, and orchestra, which he and the MCO look forward to touring and recording together in Italy, Norway, and the Czech capital (May 16-23), while the “Emperor” will serve as the vehicle for his upcoming appearances with the London Philharmonic (April 26) and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (May 8 & 9). As the Salzburger Nachrichten acknowledged, after the pianist played Beethoven at a recent Salzburg Festival, “Leif Ove Andsnes is one of the most exemplary and serious musicians – not just of his generation.

A complete list of Andsnes’s upcoming engagements follows, and more information may be found at his web site: www.andsnes.com. Current photos are available here.

 

Leif Ove Andsnes: upcoming engagements

 

March 14

Atlanta, GA

Spivey Hall

All-Beethoven solo recital:

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat, Op. 22

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101

Six Variations on an Original Theme in F, Op. 34

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”)

 

March 16

Chicago, IL

Symphony Center

All-Beethoven solo recital:

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat, Op. 22

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101

Six Variations on an Original Theme in F, Op. 34

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”)

 

March 17

Princeton, NJ

McCarter Theatre

All-Beethoven solo recital:

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat, Op. 22

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101

Six Variations on an Original Theme in F, Op. 34

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”)

 

March 19

New York, NY

Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)

All-Beethoven solo recital:

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat, Op. 22

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101

Six Variations on an Original Theme in F, Op. 34

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”)

 

March 26–April 9

International solo recital tour (remaining dates)

Beethoven: Sonatas in B-flat, Op. 22; A, Op. 101; F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”); Variations in F, Op. 34

March 26: Vienna (Musikverein)

March 28: Rome, Italy (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia)

March 29: Florence, Italy (Teatro della Pergola)

April 6: Hyogo, Japan (Hyogo Performing Arts Center)

April 8: Tokyo, Japan (Musashino Civic Cultural Hall)

April 9: Tokyo, Japan (Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall)

 

April 26

London, UK

Royal Festival Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

 

May 8 & 9

Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Katarina Andreasson

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

May 8: Karlstad, Sweden

May 9: Örebro, Sweden

 

May 16–23

Mahler Chamber Orchestra tour: “The Beethoven Journey”

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”); Choral Fantasy for piano, chorus and orchestra

May 16: Reggio, Italy

May 18: Torino, Italy

May 19: Lugano, Italy

May 20 & 21: Prague, Czech Republic

May 23: Bergen, Norway

 

 

www.andsnes.com

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