MUSIC DIRECTOR ROBERT SPANO AND THE ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TO PERFORM WORLD PREMIERE-ASO COMMISION OF BEHZAD RANJBARAN'S PIANO CONCERTO WITH JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET AS SOLOIST
Mr. Spano Also To Conduct Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 And Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3
Music Director Robert Spano will conduct the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere ASO commission of Behzad Ranjbaran's Piano Concerto June 5 and 7, 2008, at 8:00 p.m., and June 8, 2008, at 3:00 p.m. In addition, Mr. Spano will lead the orchestra in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, and Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3. This concert is part of the Delta Classical Concert Series.
Mr. Ranjbaran's music is notable for its soaring melodies and inventive, rich orchestration. The piano concerto was inspired by French pianist, Mr. Thibaudet, who will also be the soloist for the world premiere.
"I would like to take this opportunity to praise Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for their unwavering support of contemporary music as they are building a bridge to the future," Mr. Ranjabaran has said. "I would also like to thank Chantal Juillet for initiating the idea of a new concerto. The score of the Piano Concerto is dedicated to my dear friend, Jean-Yves Thibaudet. My new piano concerto promises to be a dramatic and colorful work that is as much about my cultural influences and my life experience as it is inspired by the musicianship of Mr. Thibaudet. This is a concerto that highlights the extraordinary musical capacity of the piano while it displays the power and color of the Orchestra."
Music Director Robert Spano, now in his seventh season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is recognized internationally as one of the most imaginative conductors of his generation. Since 2001 he has invigorated and expanded the Orchestra's repertoire while elevating the ensemble to new levels of international prominence and acclaim. Earlier thisseason, Mr. Spano conducted and recorded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Puccini's La Boheme, the first American recording of the opera since 1956. It is slated for release on July 22, 2008 in conjunction with the semi-staged performance he will lead at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park. Mr. Spano also champions the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's musical atmosphere "Theater of a Concert." Reflecting Mr. Spano's commitment to living composers through the Atlanta School of Composers, he recently conducted John Adams's Dr. Atomic at Chicago Lyric Opera, Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar at the Barbican Centre and Michael Gandolfi's Impressions of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation (commissioned and recorded by the ASO) with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish. Also an accomplished opera conductor, Mr. Spano has appeared with Chicago and Houston, as well as Santa Fe Opera, Royal Opera at Covent Garden and Welsh National Opera. In 2005 he conducted three cycles of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Seattle Opera and was immediately re-engaged to lead the company's next Ring cycles in 2009. Robert Spano was recently named Musical America 2008 Conductor of the Year.
Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet continues to tour the globe with his elegant style, depth of color, and brilliant technique. The 2007-08 season takes him to sixteen countries spanning five continents, with appearances including tours with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, as well as concerts with London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the NHK and Singapore Symphony Orchestras, among others. In 2007-08, Thibaudet gives recitals in Paris's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Carnegie's Zankel Hall in New York and Chicago's Symphony Hall. Jean-Yves Thibaudet is the recipient of the 2007 Victoire d'Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France's Victoire de la Musique.
Composer Behzad Ranjbaran was born in Tehran, Iran in 1955. He first studied at the Tehran Music Conservatory. In 1974, Mr. Ranjbaran moved to the United States, where he studied at Indiana University.
Mr. Ranjbaran received his doctorate from The Julliard School, where he is now a member of the faculty. Mr. Ranjbaran's music has been performed by distinguished soloists and ensembles throughout the world. Mr. Ranjbaran composed Songs of Eternity (2002) for soprano Renée Fleming, who sang the world premiere with the Seattle Symphony, under the direction of Gerard Schwarz. Joshua Bell was the soloist in the world premiere of Mr. Ranjbaran's Violin Concerto (1994), performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, again conducted by Mr. Schwarz. Other soloists performing Mr. Ranjbaran's music include Yo-Yo Ma, Chantal Juillet and Cho Liang-Lin. International Sejong Soloists commissioned Awakening (2005) for premiere at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea as a celebration of peace.
In the summer of 2005, Behzad Ranjbaran served as Composer-In-Residence for the 40th anniversary of the Saratoga Music Festival. In celebration of the occasion, he composed the orchestral overture Saratoga, premiered by Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra. That Festival included the premiere of the Piano Quintet and performances of many of Mr. Ranjbaran's other chamber works.
In 1717, Johann Sebastian Bach began his seven-year tenure as Kappellmeister to Prince Leopold in the German town of Cöthen, located some sixty miles north of Weimar. Prince Leopold was a talented musician (Bach described him as "a gracious prince, a lover and connoisseur of music"). The Prince hoped to duplicate in Cöthen the superb court music establishments he encountered during his studies throughout Europe. Thanks to the patronage of Prince Leopold, Bach was able to compose for several of Europe's finest instrumentalists. Prince Leopold's court was Calvinist. And so, Bach's duties did not include the composition of liturgical music. Instead, Bach's Cöthen years resulted in an extraordinary outpouring of instrumental creations. Solo compositions during this remarkable Cöthen period include the Orgelbüchlein, the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Two and Three-Part Inventions, the English and French Suites for harpsichord, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, and the Suites for Solo Cello.During his Cöthen tenure, Bach also composed stunning ensemble works, including his Four Orchestral Suites and the Six Brandenburg Concertos.
The first ASO performances: May 3 and 4, 1972, Martin Sauser, Violin; Warren Little, Flute; Joseph Robinson, Oboe; John Head, Trumpet; and Michal Palmer, Conductor. The most recent ASO performances were September 16, 17 and 18, 1976, with William Steck, Violin; Warren Little, Flute; Elaine Douvas, Oboe; John Head, Trumpet; and Robert Shaw, Conductor.
Behzad Ranjbaran's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, was commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and receives its world premiere at these concerts. The composer provided the following commentary:
"I was thrilled when Jean-Yves Thibaudet approached me to write a piano concerto for him. My intention was to write a concerto that would capture his elegance and brilliance as well as his enormously colorful artistry. I also saw this as an opportunity to weave my Persian roots into the fabric of a virtuoso concerto; a synthesis of old and new, East and West. From my early years growing up in Iran, I was particularly attracted to the sound of Persian "Deraz Nay" (Alpine horn). Deraz Nay was used in grand celebrations of Nowruz (Persian new Year) in Persepolis (the capital of Persia, circa 500 B.C.) as well as in recent centuries for expression of grief and lamentation in Taziyeh (the Shiite liturgical drama). The opening theme heard by the horns and the accompanying heartbeat, played by the drums, evoke elements of these ancient rituals. This theme is echoed throughout the Concerto in many forms and characters, particularly in the powerful climaxes. The second theme is lyrical and scalar in character, introduced by the solo piano at the beginning of the first cadenza. These two themes are the melodic and harmonic basis of the three interrelated movements of the entire Concerto. The energetic first movement
(Adagio tragicamente; Allegro vivace) is the longest of the three and it is marked with huge orchestral passages as well as three piano cadenzas. The harp often introduces the solo piano with a gentle and seductive character. The duo passages for harp and solo piano highlight the lyrical and soft qualities of the piano. It also contrasts the percussive passages in which the solo piano is battling the might of the orchestra. The character of Taziyeh (the Shiite liturgical drama) from the opening horn theme returns in a powerful and climactic orchestral unison that evokes passages of Marsiyeh Khani (the traditional Persian mourning singing). The second movement (Lento) is titled "Distant Dreams," as it is haunting and nocturnal in character. It often engages the solo piano with only a few instruments in an intimate chamber setting. A passage for harp and one hand piano completes this movement in one of the softest moments in the Concerto. The festive third movement (Allegro giocoso) begins with a solo piano cadenza. "Daf", a very large Persian framed drum, enhances the festive and dance-like character of this movement. In Iran, Daf is often used in outdoor festivities and weddings. I particularly like the distinct sound of tens of rings hanging from the frame brushing against the skin of the drum. "In this movement many passages from earlier movements are woven into a polyphonic texture. It reaches a climax with a fugal passage for brass that mirrors a similar passage from the first movement. The Concerto, with continuous flashbacks to the earlier movements, races to the end with a huge burst of energy."
When Sergei Rachmaninov completed his First Symphony (ASO Concerts of January 31 and February 1 and 2, 2008) in August of 1895, he was 22 years old and brimming with the confidence of youth. However, the premiere of Rachmaninov's First Symphony took place in St. Petersburg on March 15, 1897 with Russian composer, Alexander Glazunov, conducting. After the premiere, composer César Cui wrote this unforgettable critique: If there were a conservatory in Hell, if one of its many talented students were instructed to write a programme symphony on the "Seven Plagues of Egypt", and if he were to compose a symphony like Mr. Rachmaninov's, then he would have fulfilled his task brilliantly and would delight the inhabitants of Hell. As a result of this stunning turn of events, Rachmaninov lapsed into a profound depression. But on New Year's Day, 1907, Rachmaninov put the finishing touches on his Symphony No. 2 (ASO Concerts of April 24, 26 and 27, 2008) and conducted the premiere which was favorably received by the audience and critics, and certainly provided Rachmaninov with a tremendous sense of vindication. Twenty-eight years would elapse before Rachmaninov composed another Symphony. In fact, Rachmaninov's Third Symphony, completed in 1936, was the composer's first purely orchestral work since the symphonic poem, The Isle of the Dead (1909). The premiere of his Third Symphony took place on November 6, 1936. Leopold Stokowski conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, receiving mixed reviews. However, by this stage of hi life, Rachmaninov was able to be far more philosophical than the young man who had withered under the force of César Cui's biting prose. In a June 7, 1937 letter to his friend, pianist Vladimir Vilshau, Rachmaninov wrote:
"Let me say a few words about my new symphony...It was played wonderfully (the Philadelphia Orchestra about which I have written you, Stokowski conducting). The reception by the public and critics was...sour...I personally am firmly convinced that the composition is good. But...sometimes authors are mistaken! However, I am still of my opinion."
And, Rachmaninov certainly had to take heart in the appraisal of the prominent British conductor, Sir Henry Wood, whose assessment of the Third Symphony has, in subsequent years, found repeated affirmation:
"I have recently had the pleasure of studying with (Rachmaninov) his third symphony in A minor, and have since directed it at the Liverpool Philharmonic Society's concert (March 22, 1938) and at a studio broadcast with the BBC Symphony Orchestra...The work impresses me as being of the true Russian romantic school; one cannot get away from the beauty and melodic line of the themes and their logical development. As did Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov uses the instruments of the orchestra to their fullest effect...I am convinced that Rachmaninov's children will see their father's third symphony take its rightful place in the affection of that section of the public which loves melody."
This concert is part of the Delta Classical Concert Series.
Delta Air Lines is the Official Airline of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's special artistic initiatives surrounding The Atlanta School of Composers, "Theater of a Concert," recordings and commissions are generously funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Single tickets for these performances are $20 to $80. All tickets may be purchased online at atlantasymphony.org or by calling (404) 733-5000. Tickets may also be purchased at the Woodruff Arts Center box office located at Woodruff Arts Center Box Office located at 15th and Peachtree Streets.
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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Atlanta Symphony Hall
Thursday, June 5, 2008, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 7, 2008, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 8, 2008, 3:00 p.m.
Robert Spano, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
BEHZAD RANJBARAN Piano Concerto
RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 3
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