Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has long been recognized not only as one of today’s great soloists but as a first-choice partner for the finest vocalists. Acknowledging his catalytic role in a recent song recital, the New York Times observed that the pianist “provided the...intense atmosphere in which the vocal line thrives, and from which it draws much of its power.” Now, hot off a nationwide solo recital tour and high-profile concerto appearances for his multi-season “Beethoven: A Journey” project, Andsnes embarks on a U.S. recital tour with German baritone Matthias Goerne, “the most intellectually and vocally gifted male art-song interpreter of his generation” (Philadelphia Inquirer). With a striking program of songs about love and death by Shostakovich and Mahler, their five-city tour launches at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (April 23) and concludes at New York’s Carnegie Hall (May 1). Later in May, Andsnes reprises “Beethoven: A Journey,” performing the composer’s First and Third Piano Concertos in Norway and then on a European tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, before returning to the U.S. in June to make his debut as Music Director of California’s Ojai Music Festival.
The Montreal Gazette called Andsnes’s recent account of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the Montreal Symphony “absolutely stunning.” The pianist resumes “Beethoven: A Journey” in Norway with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra (May 9–10), before taking the project on the road with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (May 15–25). Their seven-city tour will include stops in Turin, Dresden, Bergen, and at the Prague Spring Festival, and the Prague performances will be recorded live by Sony Classical for Andsnes’s label debut. All told, the multi-season project will see him perform and record all five Beethoven piano concertos in the Czech capital, directing the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard. And “Beethoven: A Journey” will culminate in the 2014–15 season, when Andsnes and the ensemble will reunite for residencies in North America, Europe, and Asia, where they will undertake the complete Beethoven cycle.
Of the pianist’s debut as music director of the Ojai Music Festival in California, the festival’s artistic director, Thomas Morris, says: “Leif Ove’s inquisitive commitment to creative programming and to building a community of artists, audience, and place makes him an ideal artistic partner for Ojai.” Andsnes’s first programming as music director will feature the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, pianist Marc-André Hamelin, conductor/composer Reinbert de Leeuw, clarinetist Martin Fröst, violist Antoine Tamestit, mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, actress Barbara Sukowa, and composer John Luther Adams. The pianist’s own performances at the festival will include giving the U.S. premiere of Bent Sorensen’s Piano Concerto No. 2, “La mattina.”