The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles.
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
The 2018/19 season marks Hannu Lintu’s sixth year as Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Guest highlights include returns to the Baltimore, St Louis and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and NDR Elbphilharmonie (following highly successful debuts in 2017); Lintu also makes his debut with the Boston Symphony and Hungarian National Philharmonic orchestras. Other recent engagements include the Tokyo Metropolitan, Washington’s National, Dallas and Detroit symphony orchestras, NAC Orchestra, Ottawa, and his debut with the Orchestre de Paris.
A regular in the pit, Lintu works frequently with the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, returning in March 2019 to conduct Berg’s Wozzeck. In 2018 he returned to the Savonlinna Opera Festival for four performances of Verdi’s Otello.
Hannu Lintu has made several recordings for Ondine, BIS, Naxos, Avie and Hyperion. He studied cello and piano at the Sibelius Academy, where he later studied conducting with Jorma Panula. He participated in masterclasses with Myung-Whun Chung at the L’Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and took first prize at the Nordic Conducting Competition in Bergen in 1994.
Yevgeny Sudbin has been hailed by The Telegraph as “potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century”. As BIS Records’ only exclusive artist, all of Yevgeny’s recordings have met with critical acclaim and are regularly featured as CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine or Editor’s Choice by Gramophone. His Scriabin recording was awarded CD of the Year by The Telegraph and received the MIDEM Classical Award for Best Solo Instrument Recording at Cannes. It was described by Gramophone as “a disc in a million” while the International Record Review stated that Yevgeny’s Rachmaninov recording “confirms him as one of the most important pianistic talents of our time”. His 10th anniversary disc of Scarlatti Sonatas was received with equal rapture and not only hit No. 1 in the Classical Music Charts but was also nominated for the Gramophone Classical Music Award. Yevgeny was also nominated as Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2016.
Highly praised as a concert soloist — with The Telegraph describing his performance of Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 1 at the BBC Proms as ‘sublime’ — Yevgeny has worked in recent seasons with the Philharmonia, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as Minnesota Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Czech Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and many others. He also performs regularly in many of the world's finest venues and concert series including the Queen Elizabeth Hall (International Piano Series); Tonhalle Zurich; Royal Festival Hall; Concertgebouw (Meesterpianisten, Amsterdam); Avery Fisher Hall (New York) and Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco).
Yevgeny has collaborated with some of the world’s most influential conductors, such as Neeme Järvi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Osmo Vänskä, Hannu Lintu, Tugan Sokhiev, Mark Wigglesworth, Andrew Litton, Dmitri Slobodeniouk and Vassily Sinaisky. In addition, his love of chamber music has led him to collaborate with many musicians including Alexander Chaushian, Ilya Gringolts, Hilary Hahn, Julia Fischer, the Chilingirian Quartet, Johannes Moser, Vadim Gluzman and many others. Appearances at festivals in the past have included Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Tivoli, Nohant, La Roque d'Antheron, Menton and Verbier.
Highlights of his 18/19 season include recitals at Birmingham Town Hall, Kolarac Hall (Belgrade), Chopin Society (London), Vancouver Recital Society and Serate Musicali (Milan). Furthermore, he will make several debuts with orchestras across the globe, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, NCPA Beijing and Japan Philharmonic, plus make a return visit with the London Chamber Orchestra. Yevgeny was born in St Petersburg in 1980 and began his musical studies at the Specialist Music School of the St Petersburg Conservatory with Lyubov Pevsner at the age of 5. He emigrated with his family to Germany in 1990 where he continued his studies at Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule (Galina Ivanzova). In 1997 Yevgeny moved to London to study at the Purcell School and subsequently the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees under Christopher Elton. He was supported by the Hattori and Pulvermacher Foundations as well as The Wall Trust, of which he is now Vice President. In 2010, he was awarded a Fellowship by Academy and is now a Visiting Professor.
Yevgeny lives in London with his wife and three young children and, in his spare time, he is an avid photographer.
Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony, has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and principal cellist of the Baltimore and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras. Highly acclaimed for his performances, Finkelshteyn was recently praised in the Washington Post as a “complete master of his instrument.”
Finkelshteyn has been featured as soloist with numerous orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Civic Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Bardy Symphony Orchestra (England) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Finkelshteyn has claimed top prizes of the Concertino Praga, Russian Cello Competition, the WAMSO International Competition, the Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition (where he was the recipient of a Fellowship) and the Chautauqua Concerto Competition. First prize winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition, Finkelshteyn performed as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra on tours to France and Bermuda.
An active chamber musician, Finkelshteyn has collaborated in chamber music with such artists as András Schiff, Hilary Hahn, David Soyer, Richard Goode, Joseph Silverstein, Steven Ansell, Harold Robinson, Vadim Repin, Isidore Cohen and Lydia Artymiw, and has been featured at the Aspen, Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, Innsbrook, Bay Chamber and Peninsula Music Festivals, the Linton Music Series and with the Jupiter Players in New York. Finkelshteyn has been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio, Maine Public Radio, KFUO-FM in St. Louis, WYPR in Baltimore, WGUC in Cincinnati and has recorded on the Sony Label.
While Finkelshteyn maintains a busy private teaching studio, he presents frequent public master classes at major conservatories of music across North America including the Manhattan School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Indiana University, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and at the University of California Chico. He has also been on the faculties of the Jonannesen International School of the Arts, Victoria, Canada, NOI and Orchestra Academy at Indiana University. In January 2012 Finkelshteyn was appointed to the faculty of CCM where he teaches applied cello lessons and will design and teach a new orchestral repertoire audition course for cello beginning Fall Semester 2012.
Finkelshteyn was born in Leningrad of the former USSR and began his musical training in St. Petersburg Conservatory Special Music School under the tutelage of Sergei Chernyadiev. Once he immigrated to the United States, he continued studies with Tanya Remenikova at the University of Minnesota the year before attending the Juilliard School for both undergraduate and graduate studies as a full scholarship student of Harvey Shapiro. Chamber music coaches include Felix Galimir, Samuel Sanders and members of the Juilliard String Quartet. Finkelshteyn won his first orchestra job with the St. Louis Symphony prior to his graduation where he performed for five seasons under the late Hans Vonk. From 2002-2009 he performed as principal cellist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov, departing in 2009 to become principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra where he holds the Irene & John J. Emery Chair.
Finkelshteyn's performs on a cello by Giovanni Crancino, c.1700. In his spare time he enjoys golf, reading, museums, billiards and table tennis.
CINCINNATI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. With a determination for greatness and a rich tradition that dates back over 120 years, the internationally acclaimed CSO attracts the best musicians, artists and conductors from around the world to Cincinnati. With new commissions and groundbreaking initiatives like LUMENOCITY®, One City, One Symphony, and the MusicNOW Festival collaboration, the Orchestra is committed to being a place of experimentation.
Louis Langrée began his tenure as the CSO's 13th Music Director in the 2013-2014 season with a celebrated program The New York Times said “deftly combined nods to the orchestra's history, the city's musical life and new music.” Over the Orchestra's 120-year history, it has also been led by Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens, Max Rudolf, Thomas Schippers, Jesús López-Cobos, and Paavo Järvi, among others.
A champion of new music, the Orchestra has given American premieres of works by such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Mahler and Bartók and has commissioned works that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire, including Copland's Fanfare for theCommon Man. The CSO was the first orchestra to be broadcast to a national radio audience (1921) and the third to record (1917). The Orchestra continues to commission new works and to program an impressive array of music. In recent years, the CSO has performed the world premieres of Nico Muhly's Pleasure Ground, David Lang's mountain, Caroline Shaw's Lo and Daniel Bjarnason's Collider as part of the groundbreaking collaboration with the MusicNOW Festival, Cincinnati's premier new music festival, as well as the world premiere of André Previn's Double Concerto. More recent commissions include Gunther Schuller’s Symphonic Triptych, three works set to the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou by T. J. Cole, Jonathan Bailey Holland and Kristin Kuster, as well three new concertos for orchestra by composers Sebastian Currier, Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian, which will be released on a commercial recording in November of 2016.
The CSO was the first American orchestra to make a world tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and continues to tour domestically and internationally, most recently to Europe in 2008 and to Japan in 2009, including two concerts at Tokyo's Suntory Hall and the CSO's first-ever nationally televised concert in Japan. The CSO has performed at New York's Carnegie Hall 48 times since its debut there in 191, most recently to rave reviews in May of 2014. In January of 2016, the Orchestra performed at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the invitational Great Performers series.
CSO notable performances:One previous performance of this original 1867 version: July 1990 at Riverbend, Jesús López Cobosconducting.
Duration:approx. 12 minutes
In the 1860s, Russian music was just beginning to find its distinctive voice. A number of composers—Balakirev, Cui, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky—explored native musical and folkloric sources as the basis of a national art, and became loosely confederated into a group known as “The Mighty Handful” in Russia and “The Five” in the West. Since their works took their inspiration largely from indigenous legends and folk music, Mussorgsky considered himself lucky to receive a commission in 1861 (when he was just 21) for a dramatic musical composition based on a specifically Russian subject. On January 7, he wrote to his mentor, Mili Balakirev, “I have received an extremely interesting commission [for music for a drama titled The Witch by his friend Baron Georgy Fyodorovitch Mengden], which I must prepare for next summer. It is this: a whole act to take place on Bald Mountain…a Witches’ Sabbath, separate episodes of sorcerers, a solemn march for all this nastiness, a finale—the glorification of the Sabbath into which is introduced the commander of the whole festival on the Bald Mountain. The libretto is very good. I already have some material for it; it may turn out to be a very good thing.”
The mountain to which Mussorgsky referred, well known in Russian legend, is Mount Triglav, near Kiev, reputed to be the site of the annual Witches’ Sabbath that occurs on St. John’s Night, June 23–24, the eve of the feast of St. John the Baptist. The sinister god Chernobog, the devil himself in disguise, presides over the demonic revelries. (Other European countries observe similar pagan ceremonies—the day is known as Midsummer’s Night in Britain—and Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Boito, Liszt, Gounod and Saint-Saëns composed musical interpretations of the sinister proceedings.) Mussorgsky’s original conception for a dramatic work based on the legend seems to have come to nothing, though it did serve as the basis for the earliest version of Night on Bald Mountain, a now-lost piece for piano and orchestra in the vein of Liszt’s Totentanz (“Dance of Death”).
Presumably building upon his original piano–orchestra work, Mussorgsky completed a symphonic version of St. John’sNight on Bald Mountain (his original title) in a creative frenzy in 1867. On July 12, three weeks after finishing the score, he wrote to Balakirev, “I composed St. John’s Night at great speed: right away into full score, in about twelve days…. While at work on The Night I did not sleep, and actually finished it on St. John’s Eve. It simply seethed within me.” Balakirev, however, did not like the piece. Mussorgsky tinkered with the music for a while, and mined some of its themes for inclusion in two later works: as a chorus for an aborted operatic project titled Mlada—a composite work to which Cui, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov also contributed some material—and as a choral introduction to the opera The Fair at Sorochinsk. However, Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky’s only extended orchestral work, never came to performance during his lifetime—the original orchestral version of 1867 was not heard until Nikolai Malko conducted it in London in 1932; the score was published in 1968 and the work first recorded only in 1981. The form in which the music is most widely known is the extensive revision, a virtual re-composition around the work’s themes, that Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov made in 1886, which smoothed out its harmonies, augmented its orchestration and sharpened its formal structure, but tamed much of its stylistic originality, spectral conception and demonic savagery.
Soon after completing Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky wrote of it to his friend Vladimir Nikolsky, a scholar of Russian literature and history:
The witches used to gather on this mountain, gossip, play tricks and await their chief—Satan. On Satan’s arrival, the witches formed a circle around the throne on which he sat, in the form of a goat, and sang his praises. When he was worked up into sufficient passion by the witches’ songs, he gave the command for the Sabbath in which he chose for himself the witches who caught his fancy. At the head of my score I’ve put its content: 1. Assembly of the witches, their talk and gossip; 2. Satan’s train; 3. Obscene glorification of Satan; 4. Witches’ Sabbath. Its general tone is hot-blooded and chaotic…. It is an original Russian production, not deriving from German profundity and routine but springing from our native fields and nourished on Russian bread.
—Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 23
Born: May 7, 1840, Votkinsk, Russia
Died: November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg
Work composed: 1874–1875; revised in 1889
Premiere: October 25, 1875 in Boston, Benjamin Johnson Lang conducting a freelance orchestra; Hans von Bülow, pianist
CSO notable performances: 31 previous subscription weekends | Premiere: April 1895 (Pike Opera House), Henry Schradieck conducting; Albino Gorno, pianist | Most recent: November 2014, Louis Langrée conducting; Alexander Gavrylyuk, pianist (also at Carnegie Hall, January 2016) | The work has also been performed by such luminaries as Arthur Rubinstein, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Horowitz, Van Cliburn (Riverfront Stadium under Erich Kunzel), Lorin Hollander (on the Orchestra’s 1966 World Tour), and many others.
Duration: approx. 32 minutes
At the end of 1874, Tchaikovsky began a piano concerto with the hope of having a success great enough to allow him to leave his irksome teaching post at the Moscow Conservatory. By late December, he had largely sketched out the work, and he sought the advice of Nikolai Rubinstein, Director of the Moscow Conservatory and an excellent pianist. Tchaikovsky reported the interview in a letter:
On Christmas Eve 1874, Nikolai asked me to play the Concerto in a classroom of the Conservatory. We agreed to it. I played through the work. There burst forth from Rubinstein’s mouth a mighty torrent of words. It appeared that my Concerto was utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable; the piece as a whole was bad, trivial, vulgar.
Tchaikovsky was furious, and he stormed out of the classroom. He made only one change in the score: he obliterated the name of the original dedicatee—Nikolai Rubinstein—and substituted that of the virtuoso pianist Hans von Bülow, who was performing Tchaikovsky’s piano pieces across Europe. Bülow gladly accepted the dedication and asked to program the premiere on his upcoming American tour. The Concerto created such a sensation when it was first heard, in Boston on October 25, 1875, that Bülow played it on 139 of his 172 concerts that season. (Remarkably, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto was also premiered in this country, by Madeleine Schiller and the New York Philharmonic Society conducted by Theodore Thomas on November 12, 1881.)
Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto opens with the familiar theme of the introduction, a sweeping melody nobly sung by violins and cellos above thunderous chords from the piano. Following a decrescendo and a pause, the piano presents the snapping main theme. (Tchaikovsky said that this curious melody was inspired by a tune he heard sung by a blind beggar at a street fair.) The clarinet announces the lyrical, bittersweet second theme. The simplicity of the second movement’s three-part structure (A–B–A) is augured by the purity of its opening—a languid melody in the solo flute. The center of the movement is of very different character, with a quick tempo and a swift, balletic melody. The languid theme and moonlit mood of the first section return to round out the movement. The crisp rhythmic motive presented immediately at the beginning of the finale and then spun into a complete theme by the soloist dominates much of the movement. In the theme’s vigorous full-orchestra guise, it has much of the spirit of a robust Cossack dance. To balance the vigor of this music, Tchaikovsky introduced a romantic melody first entrusted to the violins. The dancing Cossacks repeatedly advance upon this bit of tenderness, which shows a hardy determination. The two themes contend, but the flying Cossacks have the last word.
—Jonathan D. Kramer
Symphony No. 15 in A Major, Op. 141
Born: September 25, 1906, St. Petersburg
Died: August 9, 1975, Moscow
Work composed: 1971
Premiere: January 9, 1972, Moscow, Maxim Shostakovich conducting
CSO notable performances: One previous subscription weekend: September 2000, Jesús López Cobos conducting | The Orchestra also recorded the work in 2001, under Maestro López Cobos (Telarc).
Duration: approx. 42 minutes
Historically, the symphony is a public genre. In the 18th century, when the form was derived from the opera overture—the sinfonia—by Sammartini and his Italian colleagues, it was used as an imposing opening concert piece to call attention to the importance of what followed. It differed from the chamber music of the day in its use of large orchestra, its broad expression and its performance for a sizeable assembly of music lovers in a spacious hall. Though the symphony underwent many changes at the hands of Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and the others capable of handling its challenge, the form continued to be the bearer of the grandest emotions, while a composer’s more personal thoughts were confided to chamber music or songs or other intimate works. It was only late in its development that a way was found to turn the symphony inward, to make it a vehicle of introspection as personally revealing of its creator (and moving for the listener) as the masterworks of the chamber literature. The composer who joined together these public and private worlds to create works of an unprecedented expressive range was Gustav Mahler. Especially in the Ninth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde, it is precisely this juxtaposition of the inner and outer man that gives his music much of its emotional power and incomparable poignancy.
The effect of Mahler on the music of Dmitri Shostakovich was pervasive. In the grandiloquent program symphonies (No. 7, “Leningrad,” for example) or the works with voices (No. 13, “Babi Yar,” and No. 14) or the large tonal canvases painted in starkly varied colors (No. 8 and No. 10), Shostakovich’s indebtedness to the Austrian master is striking. Perhaps nowhere are the parallels closer, however, than in the last symphonic works of each man—Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15. These pieces share a quality of introspection that is both revealing and enigmatic, as though the composer had opened the recesses of his soul only to then stand behind a shielding scrim. This music’s intimacy is largely created through attenuated orchestration and texture, which acquire a chamber-like clarity and immediacy, and against which the mass of the full orchestra can serve as a powerful foil. As in Mahler’s creations, these qualities in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 invite a search for its “message.” (The Fifteenth of 1971 was Shostakovich’s first non-programmatic or non-vocal symphony since the magnificent Tenth of 1953.) Mahler’s works are “songs of farewell,” a summing up not just of an individual life dedicated to music, but also of the entire historical tradition of which he saw himself as the last representative. The Ninth Symphony and Das Lied, however, are not works of exhausted bitterness, but rather of nostalgia and acceptance and gentle resignation. Shostakovich’s last Symphony (though reports from the Soviet Union noted, without the substantiation of the manuscript, that he had completed two movements of another symphony) may very well have a similar expressive content of thoughts and visions at life’s end. Testimony varies, however.
Discussion of the emotional engine driving the Fifteenth Symphony has been fueled by Shostakovich’s use of quotations: a familiar snippet from the William Tell Overture (his earliest musical memory, according to the composer) in the first movement, and motives from Tristan and The Ring of the Nibelungen in the finale, as well as references to his own earlier music and even the inclusion of his musical “signature”—the notes, D–E-flat–C–B (D-S-C-H , the composer’s transliterated initials, in German notation). The least likely explanation of the first movement, probably nothing more than a diversion to deflect criticism, is one attributed to Shostakovich by his son, Maxim, who conducted the premiere of the Symphony No. 15. This reading set the music in a toyshop at night, with the dolls coming to life and a toy soldier tootling William Tell on a miniature trumpet. The music, however, speaks of more profound things. Maxim himself thought that the Symphony “reflects the great philosophical problems of a man’s life cycle, from the appearance of certain childish emotions to the acquisition of energy, vitality and wisdom. In the Finale, the storms subside and there emerges triumphant a sincere feeling of humanity and great philosophical peace.” Eugene Ormandy, who recorded the work with the Philadelphia Orchestra, felt the finale “could be entitled ‘They Shall Not Be Forgotten,’” referring to the Soviet war dead. He supported his view by noting the use in the movement of an ostinato bass first encountered in the Seventh Symphony, “Leningrad,” commemorating the ghastly Nazi siege of that city in 1941.
In his purported memoirs, Testimony, the composer offered yet another explanation:
I love Chekhov; I often reread Ward Six. And I feel sorry that I didn’t do as much work on Chekhov as I had wanted to.... I have a work based on motifs from Chekhov, the Fifteenth Symphony.... I never did learn to live according to Chekhov’s main tenet. For Chekhov, all people are the same. He presented people, and the reader had to decide for himself what was bad and what was good. Chekhov remained unprejudiced. Everything churns inside me when I read Rothschild’s Violin. Who’s right, who’s wrong? Who made life nothing but steady losses? Everything churns within me.
Shostakovich’s Fifteenth is one of the great 20th-century symphonies, and, like other musical masterworks from throughout history, will sustain many interpretations in its performance and philosophy. From the pellucid opening movement, into which the William Tellfragment is seamlessly woven, through the plangent lament and funeral march of the Adagio and the cheeky insouciance of the scherzo, to the enigmatic finale, with its references to the “Fate” motive from Wagner’s Ring, the opening melodic gesture of the Tristan Prelude, the ostinato from the “Leningrad” Symphony and the ticking percussion sounds from his long-unperformed Fourth Symphony, Shostakovich created a composition steeped in reference and suggestion. That the work speaks personally for the composer is without doubt, since he inscribed it with his “DSCH” signature and kept it for himself, in effect, by giving it no dedication. Yet this creation is also a universal statement, one that can touch every sympathetic listener in an individual way. When pondering this haunting work, perhaps it is best to recall the thought of Felix Mendelssohn: “…words seem so ambiguous, so vague, so easily misunderstandable in comparison with genuine music, which fills the soul with things a thousand times better than words.”