Yan Pascal Tortelier Leads the BSO and Pianist Orion Weiss in Grieg’s Piano Concerto, March 24-26

Program also includes Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra

Pianist Orion Weiss joins forces with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), under the direction of Yan Pascal Tortelier, to perform Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto on Thursday, March 24 at 8 p.m. and Friday, March 25 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, March 26 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Also on the program are Ravel’s colorful Valses nobles et sentimentales and Lutosławski’s vibrant Concerto for Orchestra.

In 1999, when American pianist Orion Weiss was just 17 years old, he filled in for legendary pianist André Watts, who had to cancel an upcoming performance with the BSO of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This debut launched Mr. Weiss’ international performing career. Recently, he was named the 2010 Young Artist of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation. This year, he will release a recital album of Dvořák, Prokofiev and Bartók.

When the young and impressionable Grieg first heard Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in 1858 performed by the composer’s wife, Clara Schumann, he was enthralled by the work. Grieg’s own piano concerto was partly inspired by Schuman’s concerto and from his remarkable genius in combining Western music practices with his Norwegian folk traditions. The work has become a staple for pianists since its premiere in 1869 due to its perfect balance of lyricism and virtuosity.

Like the paintings of Monet, Ravel’s compositions veer into the dream world through his unique use of instrumentation, non-traditional harmonies and melodies. His Valses nobles et sentimentales (“Noble and sentimental waltzes”) were originally conceived as a suite for solo piano but Ravel later arranged the work for orchestra, claiming he wanted to see “clearer” orchestral sounds.

Lutosławski’s epic and large scale work, the Concerto for Orchestra was premiered in 1954 by the Warsaw Philharmonic. The work was to provide Lutosławski with international fame in the West. However, soon after the work’s premiere, he changed his compositional style completely and distanced himself from the work. The Concerto for Orchestra represents Lutosławski’s final crowning achievement in his early style: folk music fused with Western Classical tradition.


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