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This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
Jeremy Denk has been hailed by The New York Times as "someone you want to hear no matter what he performs," – so to hear him perform Beethoven is truly a not-to-be-missed opportunity. The winner of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship (awarded to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their field), Denk appears with the North Carolina Symphony performing Beethoven in two concerts at Meymandi Concert Hall on January 6 and 7.
The program is led by Christoph König, who serves as Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Solistes Européens Luxembourg and is a frequent guest conductor with renowned orchestras in Europe and the United States. König's aptitude for conducting Beethoven was noted at a 2016 program with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, of which the Tribune Review wrote that he brought a "fresh, sensitive, elegant, and totally unmannered interpretation … Beethoven's full textures were uncommonly well balanced."
The talents of Denk and König will come together in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Of Beethoven's four concertos for piano and orchestra, this final one is his biggest and most expansive, yet is also considered his most intimate and reflective. The introspective mood is clear from the offset, with the first movement opening with a hushed phrase for the soloist and underscored throughout by a haunting rhythmic figure. A sense of uncertainty is evoked by tonal ambiguity and harmonic twists and turns, but the concerto ends in high spirits.
Brahms' Symphony No. 1 has a similar arc, with a slow introduction punctuated with the insistent heartbeat of the timpani, a bittersweet and melancholy melody in second movement, pastoral serenity in third movement, and ultimately a triumphant trombone chorale that echoes that of finale's opening—but this time in full splendor. Triumph is appropriate, considering the long-anticipated arrival of Brahms' First Symphony. Schumann had hailed him as the savior of German music and heir to Beethoven; that pressure, coupled with the fact that Brahms was a born perfectionist, resulted in a symphony that was 22 years in the making. He made his first endeavors at writing it in 1854 and completed the work in 1876. It was well worth the wait.
"Both the Fourth Piano Concerto by Beethoven and the First Symphony of Brahms are so rich in a wide range of music that, to me, speaks to the human experience," says NCS Principal Cello Bonnie Thron. "Like a satisfying novel, they both end with music that is joyful, uplifting, and opens the heart."
The Intermezzo by Austrian composer Franz Schreker, written in 1900, will be an idyllic, serene opener for this program of powerful and highly personal masterworks.
The January 6 concert is made possible in part by The Betty Lou Fletcher Goodman Guest Pianist Fund. The North Carolina Symphony expresses its appreciation to January 7 Concert Sponsor Ross Lampe, Jr./Sitelink Software for their generous support.
North Carolina Symphony
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4
Friday & Saturday, January 6 & 7, 2017 at 8pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Brahms: Symphony No. 1
North Carolina Symphony
Jeremy Denk, piano
Christoph König, conductor
Tickets start at $18
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person: NCS State Headquarters Offices
3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh)
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties – in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony's 66 full-time musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn and Associate Conductor David Glover.
NCS's state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony's service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as Summerfest concerts at the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. NCS brings some of the world's greatest artists to North Carolina, including Lang Lang, Jeremy Denk, and Augustin Hadelich in the 2016/17 season.
Committed to engaging students across North Carolina, NCS conducts the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the music curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. At the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, introducing North Carolina audiences to 20 works by living composers – including two co-commissions – in the past year. In its 83-year history, the Symphony has given 47 U.S. or world premieres. NCS will appear at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in spring 2017, as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras – an honor that recognizes the Symphony's innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, and Robert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, the North Carolina Symphony is an entity of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.