Leif Ove Andsnes Performs Brahms’s Epic Piano Concerto No. 2 with Jansons/Concertgebouw and Muti/CSO
“One of the most gifted musicians of his generation.”– Wall Street Journal
Following performances with his hometown orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, as part of a season-long residency there, the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes teams up with Mariss Jansons and the world-renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for concerts at home and on tour. Andsnes will alternately play two concertos – Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor (K. 491) and Brahms’s monumental, four-movement Piano Concerto No. 2 – with Jansons and the orchestra in Amsterdam (Feb 2 & 4) and on a six-city tour with stops in Hamburg, Germany (Feb 6), Copenhagen, Denmark (Feb 7), Oslo, Norway (Feb 8 & 9), Stockholm, Sweden (Feb 11), Luxembourg (Feb 13), and Paris, France (Feb 14). Soon after, Andsnes heads to the U.S. for further performances of the Brahms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its new music director, Riccardo Muti (Feb 17-19), before returning to Europe for concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic and Bernard Haitink (March 16-18), in the third of Andsnes’s appearances this season as Pianist-in-Residence at the Berlin Philharmonie.
Andsnes calls Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, “an iconic piece for me, a gigantic thing that I have such musical and pianistic respect for,” and he is extremely excited to be playing it with two of today’s most revered conductors. Speaking of his long association with Mariss Jansons, Andsnes observes:
“I know Mariss Jansons from many concerts that we have played together, especially in the late ’80s and ’90s with the Oslo Philharmonic, where he was chief conductor until 2002. He was there for 23 years, and towards the end of this period I started making my career. He was very helpful to me from the start, taking me on important tours. The upcoming performances will be the first time he’s returning to Oslo, which will be an especially emotional experience for him and the audience. We’ll be doing two programs at the relatively new and spectacular opera house in Oslo. We’ll be performing in so many beautiful halls and cities on this tour, but those couple of days in Oslo will be very special. He is one of the greatest conductors, and he has taken an already great orchestra and made it better than ever.”
In January 2008, Andsnes collaborated with Riccardo Muti for the first time, performing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic. The New York Times called it a “vibrant, brilliant performance,” noting: “Mr. Andsnes, an Apollonian pianist, brought out what could be considered the score’s Italianate qualities. He could not have had a better ally in this than Mr. Muti.” Speaking of his previous performances with the conductor, Andsnes noted:
“I remember how at ease I was working with Muti – it was not something I expected. I was struck by how he balanced the orchestra so perfectly, and how he cared for details in the score – especially dynamics – that other conductors don’t often care about. I was also taken by how he manages to create space within the music. There are lots of opportunities for it with this magnificent score! There was such broad feeling in his interpretation, the music expressed in big breaths – I’m very much longing to have that experience again.”
Andsnes’s first performances of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto in the U.S. took place in October 2007 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Osmo Vänskä. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Peter Dobrin reported, “Andsnes was the author of clean, brightly-articulated playing that, in the last movement, expressed so much technical confidence it came across as deliciously brash.”
Leif Ove Andsnes will return to the U.S. this spring, when he will perform a program of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schoenberg in four cities: Boston, MA (April 1), Chicago, IL (April 3), Champaign-Urbana, IL (April 5), and New York, NY (April 7). In December, Andsnes performed a four-concert residency at New York’s Carnegie Hall with musicians associated with Norway’s Risor Chamber Music Festival. The concerts were the last stop in an extensive tour marking Andsnes’s final season as one of the festival’s two principal artistic directors. Earlier in the fall, EMI Classics released a recording featuring Andsnes performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. The release, completing Andsnes’s cycle of the great Russian composer’s four concertos, quickly became a Billboard bestseller and was included in the New York Times holiday gift guide: “Leif Ove Andsnes’s new recording of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto…is just as rippling and brilliant as his 1995 live recording with the Oslo Philharmonic but even more rhapsodic and searching,” noted the Times. “This welcome release includes a bracing account of Rachmaninov’s enigmatic, experimental Fourth Concerto.” The previous installment, featuring Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, won a coveted Gramophone Award in 2006 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Andsnes has also recorded an album of Schumann’s complete Piano Trios with violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, which is scheduled for release by EMI Classics this spring.