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Program Notes: Romeo and Juliet (Feb. 14-17)

Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 in Program Notes

By Laurie Shulman

Buy tickets NOW to Romeo and Juliet >>

 

February 14, 15, & 16, 2013 at 8:00pm

February 17, 2013 at 2:30pm

 

Julian Kuerti, conductor

Manuel Barrueco, guitar

 

 

Debussy                                   "Ibéria", No. 2 from Images

(Approximate duration 20 minutes)

Par les rues et par les chemins [Through Streets and Lanes]

Les parfums de la nuit [The Fragrances of the Night]

Le matin d'un jour de fête [Morning of a Feast-Day]

 

 

Rodrigo                                    Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra

(Approximate duration 22 minutes)

Allegro con spirito

Adagio

Allegro gentile

 

INTERMISSION

 

Prokofiev                                 Suite from Romeo and Juliet

(Approximate duration 32 minutes)

"The Montagues and the Capulets" from Suite No. 2

"Morning Dance" from Suite No. 3

"Juliet - The Young Girl" from Suite No. 2

"Masks" from Suite No. 1

"Romeo and Juliet" from Suite No. 1

"Death of Tybalt" from Suite No. 1

"Morning Serenade" (Aubade) from Suite No. 3

"Romeo at Juliet's Grave" from Suite No. 2

 

 

PROGRAM NOTES

 

PROGRAM NOTES BY LAURIE SHULMAN, ©2013

This information is provided solely as a service to and for the benefit of Dallas Symphony subscribers and patrons; other use without express written permission is expressly forbidden.

(Have a question or comment about these notes? Contact Laurie at: lucertola@prodigy.net)

 

Within Europe, it's tough to get farther apart than Spain and Russia, the two countries that are the geographical poles for this concert. The first half is essentially all-Spanish, despite the fact that one of its composers was French. In fact, some would describe Claude Debussyas the most quintessentially French of modern composers. He did not travel extensively in Spain - he actually only spent a few hours there, just across the French border, to attend a bullfight -- yet he had an uncanny gift for evoking the sultry mystery of Spanish landscape and culture.

The opening work on this program, Ibéria, is the central segment of a trilogy called Images pour orchestre. (Debussy also composed two sets of Images for solo piano.) The images in question for the orchestral work are portraits of three countries: England, Spain, and France. Ibéria is, by far, the most successful of the three, and a marvelous soundscape evoking flamenco guitar, tapas, and the folk songs of the Iberian peninsula.

Spain's Joaquín Rodrigo spent several years studying in Paris, but ultimately his music remained faithful to his homeland. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in his nostalgic Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra. Aranjuez, a small city about 30 miles south of Madrid, is best known for its opulent royal palace. The Palacio Real is an early 18th-century jewel of architectural classicism whose apartments are among the most splendid in Europe. Magnificent formal gardens and parks surround the edifice, enhancing its allure through most of the year. Although the compound originated as a summer retreat, Spanish monarchs took to moving their court to Aranjuez during the spring, when the gardens were at their loveliest.

All three movements of Rodrigo's Concierto breathe the fragrant air of those gardens, with abundant dance rhythms and wonderful melodies adding to its charm. The slow movement is a lament for the turmoil of Spain during the Civil War, while the outer movements are a nostalgic remembrance of Spain's glory days. Since its premiere in 1940, Concierto de Aranjuez has been an audience favorite - and the grandfather of all guitar concerti.

Guest maestro Julian Kuerti devotes the second half to music from Sergei Prokofiev's most popular ballet, Romeo and Juliet. Yes, this is Russian music, but the setting is the Italian city of Verona, and Shakespeare's timeless tale of star-crossed lovers is universal. Prokofiev's complete score comprises 52 numbers, well over two hours of music. He extracted three orchestral suites from the ballet. Historically, conductors have drawn from all of them, compiling a personalized collection of movements. Unusually, Mr. Kuerti's selections follow the overall trajectory of Shakespeare's tragedy. The only movement out of sequence is the opening "Montagues and Capulets," which presents the conflict between families that catalyzes the tragedy.

Ibéria from Images pour Orchestre

Claude-Achille Debussy

Born 22 August, 1862 in St-Germain-en-Laye, France

Died 25 March, 1918 in Paris

  • Ibéria is a salute to Spain from a composer who barely knew the country
  • Like many of Debussy's works, this originated for keyboard, in this case two pianos
  • This score served as a model to Spanish composers on how to write Spanish music

 

Debussy was not a symphonist. In fact, he avoided most traditional abstract forms such as sonata and string quartet. A few examples crop up in his list of works, but by and large he drew his inspiration for music from the visual and literary arts, taking freedoms with harmony and texture, as well as formal structure. The set of three pieces that opens this program is one of his most important orchestral compositions written after 1900. (His other major post-1900 symphonic canvasses are La mer and Jeux; the latter originated as a ballet score.)

Images (pronounced ee-MAHJ) is a title borrowed from Debussy's piano works. He first used the title in 1905 for a set of three pieces for solo piano. Each one bore a descriptive title offering a clue as to the character of the music. A second book of Images pour piano followed in 1907, this time with even more evocative titles, such as "Cloches à travers les feuilles" ['Bells through the leaves']. The pieces we know as Images pour orchestre actually began as a set for two pianos. Debussy rapidly changed his mind, opting for the more varied color palette provided by a full symphony orchestra.

The project occupied him on and off for six years, from 1906 to 1912; he worked on Ibéria first, completing the score on Christmas Day, 1908. The other two sections took another four years. That may account for the wide variance in their style and content. Like the two books of Images for piano, these orchestral Images are a set of three; however, the central portion is itself a triptych. All told, the complete orchestral cycle consists of Gigues, Ibéria, and Rondes de printemps. The full cycle is a series of portraits of three countries: England, Spain, and France. Each section sought to capture that country's spirit and atmosphere through such means as quoting its folk music. For whatever reason, Gigues and Rondes de printemps have never found a niche in the repertoire and are only rarely performed. Ibéria, on the other hand, is deservedly hailed as one of Debussy's most brilliant and successful compositions. It is ample evidence, if we needed any, that the French were sometimes more successful at writing Spanish music than the Spaniards themselves!

Imagination trumps experience

Debussy certainly did not grasp his knowledge of Spanish culture or music through travel in the Iberian peninsula. Apparently he only visited the country once, for a few hours, when he crossed the Pyrenées border to attend a bullfight in San Sebastián. His perception of Spain and its music came from imagination rather than personal experience. His contemporary and friend, the great Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, wrote in 1920:

 

So far as Ibéria is concerned, he made it clear that he did not intend to write Spanish music, but rather to translate into music the associations that Spain had aroused in him.

 

Recognizing the success of Debussy's score, Falla held Ibéria up as a model to other Spanish composers on how to use their own rich melodic and rhythmic heritage in a sophisticated, skillful and engaging manner.

Debussy accomplishes this in several ways. His movement names - remember that Ibéria itself consists of three sections - have the romantic, image-laden titles he favored, suggesting the sounds and atmosphere he sought to achieve in music: 'Through streets and lanes,' 'The fragrances of the night,' and 'Morning of a Feast-Day.' Thus, strings emulate the sound of guitars, and an expanded percussion section, with emphasis on castanets and tambourine, establishes the vibrant dance rhythms of Spain.

Always a master at establishing a mood, Debussy quietens his exuberant orchestra in the slow movement, using the shimmering tremolando of muted strings to usher in the subtle mysteries of the night, from the heavenly celesta to the bells that herald the dawn. Throughout, he uses whole-tone and faintly Arabic scales, rather than straightforward diatonic ones, to emphasize the exotic elements of the Iberian peninsula. Connected sections that spill effortlessly from one to the next, and thematic recurrences among the music, assist in delivering a magnificent and colorful score.

 

Debussy scored Ibéria for a large orchestra comprising four flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), three oboes (3rd doubling English horn), three clarinets, four bassoons (4th doubling contrabassoon), four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (castanets, xylophone, snare drum, cymbals, chimes), two harps, celesta and strings.

 

 

Concierto de Aranjuez

Joaquín Rodrigo

Born 22 November, 1901 in Sagunto, Valencia, Spain

Died 6 July, 1999 in Madrid

 

  • Rodrigo was blind; how's that for changing your perspective on great composers?
  • This concerto is the granddaddy of all guitar concerti
  • Listen for the delicate balance between guitar and orchestra

 

Much has been written about the powerful influence of Spanish music and culture on French musicians; indeed at these performances we hear a superb example of that influence in the Debussy that opened this program. Of equal import, if more subtly manifested, is the reverse process: French music, and particularly French pedagogy and the stimulating atmosphere of Parisian salons, exercising its own power over Spanish musicians.

Joaquín Rodrigo was one of several major Spanish composers whose music bears a pronounced Gallic flair. He went to Paris in 1927 to study composition with Paul Dukas (composer of The Sorcerer's Apprentice). Rodrigo spent five years under Dukas's tutelage, gaining the respect of his teacher and his French contemporaries as both pianist and composer. He also met and was befriended by his older countryman Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), who had earlier studied in Paris and was enjoying great success there. French schooling left an unmistakable imprint of refinement and elegance on Rodrigo's imaginative, individual, and decidedly Spanish style.

About the composer

Joaquín Rodrigo was blind. He lost his sight when he was three, the victim of a diphtheria epidemic. His hearing was unimpaired, however, and a strong predilection for music led him to seek formal lessons in piano, violin, and theory as a child. He matriculated at the Conservatory in Valencia when he was 16, and had won his first national competition in composition by the time he was 23. He worked on a special Braille music typewriter, with manuscripts being copied into conventional notation afterward.

Concierto de Aranjuez is not only Rodrigo's best known composition; it is also the best known guitar concerto, and a 20th-century classic. Rodrigo composed it in 1939 in Paris, where he and his wife had been forced to remain during the turbulent years of the Spanish Civil War. They returned to Spain in late 1939, with the manuscript. At the work's premiere in 1940, Rodrigo was immediately acknowledged to be the leader among Spain's younger generation of composers.

Iconic 20th-century work

Part of the work's genius lies in the delicacy with which it is scored. Rodrigo was not daunted by the relative quietude of the guitar as a solo instrument. Rather, he celebrates its delicacy, providing the guitarist with extensive unaccompanied passages and segments with very light accompaniment. This has the effect of making the guitar sound very loud indeed during the forte sections, rather than being overpowered by the breadth of the orchestra. Further, when the full orchestra enters during the passages when the soloist is silent, the drama is palpable. Both idiomatic and virtuosic, Concierto de Aranjuez is a masterpiece.

Rodrigo's own words about Concierto are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them 74 years ago:

 

Throughout the veins of Spanish music, a profound rhythmic beat seems to be diffused by a strange phantasmagoric, colossal and multiform instrument… that might be said to possess the wings of the harp, the heart of the grand piano and the soul of the guitar…. The Aranjuez Concerto is meant to sound like the hidden breeze that stirs the tree tops in the parks, and it should be only as strong as a butterfly, and as dainty as a veronica.

 

The score calls for two flutes (second doubling piccolo), two oboes (second doubling English horn), two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, solo guitar, and strings.

Selections from Romeo and Juliet, Op.64

Sergei Prokofiev

Born 23 April 1891 in Sontzovka, Ukraine

Died 5 March, 1953 in Moscow

 

  • No ballet composer brought characters to life through music better than Prokofiev
  • Notice the fierce, grinding drama of the conflict between the two Verona families that underlies the conflict
  • The purity and genuineness of the doomed lovers' passion comes through in their duets
  • Prokofiev never forgot that this music was meant to be danced. Rhythm and flexibility are everywhere

 

Sergei Prokofiev: innovator

Many operas and orchestral works have been based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet [see sidebar]. Sergei Prokofiev was the first to set the story as a ballet. That decision was a stroke of genius and a monumental challenge. Though no novice to ballet scores - he had collaborated with the legendary impresario Sergei Diaghilev and the choreographers Léonide Massine and George Balanchine in the 1920s - Prokofiev's previous experience was with one-act ballets. This new subject required great detail in the scenario and, by association, greater length in the music. At almost two and one-half hours, the ballet remains one of the longest in the entire repertoire.

Shakespeare's drama was difficult to convey through ballet. The dancers would have to be able to act in order to project the emotional and psychological nuances of the story. Prokofiev developed the ballet scenario with Sergei Radlov (1892-1958), a Soviet stage director with considerable Shakespearean experience.

 

Stumbling blocks to production lead to orchestral performances

Most of Romeo and Juliet dates from 1935, the year before Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union after nearly 20 years living abroad. After his score was complete and ready for production, Romeo and Juliet encountered political and artistic snags that resulted in its postponement. Frustrated, Prokofiev extracted two sets of seven numbers each from his score of 52 numbers, and published them separately as orchestral suites. Eventually he compiled a third suite as well. As orchestral works, the suites became well known in Russian concert halls even before the ballet was finally produced at Leningrad's Kirov Ballet in 1940. Since the Second World War, Romeo and Juliet has become Prokofiev's most beloved ballet score.

Each Suite's component movements bear no chronological relationship to events in the ballet. Prokofiev arranged their sequence for musical (as opposed to dramatic) logic, contrast, and coherence. The selections that Julian Kuerti has chosen, however, follow highlights of the drama, giving the listener a microcosm of the ballet. To open, he sets forth the tension of the family feud and potential for violence with "Montagues and Capulets," communicating their menacing antipathy and laying the groundwork for the tragedy that unfolds.

 

This concert's selections

"Morning Dance" takes place in the ballet's first scene, after the streets of Verona awaken but before the quarrel that sets the plot in motion. "The Child Juliet" portrays the innocent heroine before she has met Romeo. Still half girl, half woman, she is untroubled and teasing. Responsibility, passion and tragedy have not yet clouded her life.

"Masks" is the music for Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio arriving at the Capulets' ball, uninvited and in disguise. Percussion is essential to establishing a martial mood for this movement. Yes, the young men are at a social event and intend to be on their best behavior, but the uncompromising march rhythm makes clear they could be looking for trouble.

Indeed, Romeo finds a delicious trouble that he could not have foreseen: the love of his life, in the person of the beautiful young Juliet, daughter of his family's enemy. Passion, romance, and a secret marriage will ensue. "Romeo and Juliet" is the balcony scene, the lovers' first meeting alone and together. Prokofiev's poignant, lyrical music covers a panoply of emotions and moods, as the pair discover the layers of each other's personality and the depths of their mutual love. At approximately eight minutes, this movement is the longest of any in the three Suites, as well it should be, for it is the emotional and dramatic center of Prokofiev's ballet.

The "Death of Tybalt" captures the frenetic atmosphere of the melée as Romeo resolves to avenge Mercutio's death through a duel with Tybalt, nephew of Juliet's mother. Tybalt's death at Romeo's hand, which concludes the ballet's second act, prompts a scene of somber mourning as the Capulets gather around the body of their fallen kinsman. The die is cast, and Romeo is banished from Verona.

"Morning Serenade" (also known as Aubade, or dawn) occurs after Juliet has taken the potion that will make her appear lifeless. Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse are busy getting ready for Juliet's wedding to Paris later that day, oblivious that their preparations will soon be those for a funeral. The music features a solo for concertmaster.

Having heard of Juliet's death, Romeo purchases poison in Mantua before returning to Verona, where he slips into the Capulet crypt. In "Romeo at Juliet's Grave," Prokofiev combines funeral march, anguish, and overwhelming grief. The young man mourns his beloved, unaware that she will soon awaken from her drugged sleep. Knowing that he cannot live without Juliet, he drinks the vial of poison. She regains consciousness, only to discover Romeo dead at her side, the flacon empty. Seizing his dagger, she plunges it into her breast. The star-crossed lovers are united in death.

Prokofiev once said that he "had taken special pains to achieve a simplicity which will, I hope, reach the hearts of all listeners. If people find no melody and no emotion in this work of mine I shall feel very sorry; but I feel sure that they will sooner or later." With their sweep and brilliant orchestral color, these eight movements stand proudly in the finest romantic tradition and remind us of the timeless tragedy in Shakespeare's drama.

Prokofiev's score calls for a large orchestra including piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, cornet, 3 trumpets, 6 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, wooden drum, maracas, tambourine, snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, tubular bells, xylophone, glockenspiel, celesta, 2 harps, piano, organ, viola d'amore, and strings.

ROMEO AND JULIET: A LONG HISTORY IN MUSIC

Since Shakespeare's time, his plays have inspired artists: poets, painters, and especially musicians. Long before the film industry appropriated Shakespeare as its darling, Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest spawned art works in other fields.

Probably  none of the plays has had a greater impact in music than Shakespeare's first great tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.  The tale of star-crossed lovers in Verona was a source of inspiration to many composers, particularly during the nineteenth century.  Hector Berlioz wrote a dramatic symphony based  on the tragedy; Vincenzo Bellini and Charles Gounod composed Romeo and Juliet operas,  and Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky wrote a symphonic poem that he labeled 'fantasy-overture.'

The theatrical magnetism of the story continued to be irresistible in the twentieth century.  One brilliant musical imagination after another was captivated by the emotional sweep of the doomed young lovers, and the passion of the feud between their two families.  The most famous modern adaptation was surely Leonard Bernstein's 1957 musical West Side Story, which transferred the plot to New York City and metamorphosed its principal characters into Puerto Rican and Eastern European immigrants.

More than twenty years before Bernstein, the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev turned his attention to Romeo and Juliet. He chose  ballet, a realm in which Shakespeare's play had not yet found a home.  There was good reason for such an apparent gap in the repertoire.  Shakespeare's drama, so suffused with innuendo and dramatic detail, would be a monumental challenge to convey through ballet.  The dancers would not be able to rely exclusively on technique; they would have be able to act in order to project the emotional and pschological nuances of Shakespeare's story.  Prokofiev developed the ballet scenario with Sergei Radlov (1892-1958), a Soviet stage director with considerable Shakespearean experience.  The result is a classic of modern ballet and one of Prokofiev's greatest scores.

- L.S. ©2013

Something more:

DEBUSSY

Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony have recorded Ibéria on the Eloquence label. Pierre Boulez's recording with the Cleveland Orchestra is available on Deutsche Grammophon. Also: Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Sony).

 

Of historic interest: Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, recorded 1955 (Mercury Living Presence); Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, recorded 1951 (RCA Victor Gold Seal); and Dmitri Mitropoulos with the New York Philharmonic, recorded 1954 (Urania).

 

Further reading

Edward Lockspeiser, Debussy: His Life and Mind, Volume II, 1902-1918 (Cambridge University Press, 1965 and 1978)

François Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Harvard University Press, 1987)

Marcel Dietschy, A Portrait of Claude Debussy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990)

Roger Nichols, The Life of Debussy (Cambridge University Press, 1998)

 

RODRIGO

Manuel Barrueco's recording of Concierto de Aranjuez with Placido Domingo and the Philharmonia Orchestra was released in March 2012 by EMI Classics. Other choices for this popular work include Julian Bream with Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (EMI Classics); Angel Romero with André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra (EMI Classics Encore); and Narciso Yepes with Luis Garcia-Navarro and the Philharmonia Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon).

 

Further reading

Victoria Kamhi de Rodrigo, trans. Ellen Wilkerson, Hand in Hand with Joaquin Rodrigo: My life at the Maestro's Side (Pittsburgh: Latin American Literary Review Press, 1992)

 

Tomás Marco, trans. Cola Franzen, Spanish Music in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993)

 

Graham Wade, A Concise History of the Classic Guitar (Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, 2001)

 

Robert Layton, ed. A Companion to the Concerto (New York: Schirmer Books, 1988)

 

 

PROKOFIEV

The best way to grasp the full grandeur of Prokofiev's magnificent score to Romeo and Juliet is through the entire ballet. Dmitri Kitayenko's complete recording with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra is available on Chandos. A DVD of the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet performance with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky is available on Kultur Video.

 

For listeners who prefer excerpts, Neeme Järvi's recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra includes all three Suites (Chandos); so does Andrew Litton's with the Bergen Philharmonic (Bis) and Paavo Järvi's with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Telarc).

 

Mariss Jansons's recording with the Oslo Philhharmonic has Suites 1 and 2 (EMI Classics), as does Gerard Schwarz's with the Seattle Symphony (Naxos).

 

Further reading

Harlow Robinson, Sergei Prokofiev (London: Robert Hale, 1987)

Boris Schwarz, Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia, 1917-1981 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983)

Victor Seroff, Sergei Prokofiev: A Soviet Tragedy (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968)

 

Julian Kuerti

conductor

One of the most significant conducting talents to emerge in recent years, Canadian conductor Julian Kuerti has quickly made a name for himself with his confident style, artistic integrity and passion for musical collaboration. Kuerti has led numerous orchestras across North America including the Boston, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Seattle, Montreal and Toronto symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Saint Paul and Los Angeles chamber orchestras, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He made his New York City Opera debut at Lincoln Center in the spring of 2011 conducting Oliver Knussen's "Where the Wild Things Are." The New York Times stated, "In his City Opera debut Julian Kuerti, a rising Canadian conductor who was an assistant to James Levine at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, drew a bustling, moody and colorful performance of Mr. Knussen's 50-minute score from the impressive City Opera Orchestra."

Following a thrilling last-minute substitution in 2010 with the Cincinnati Symphony, he was immediately re-engaged for Summer 2010 and Fall 2011. The Cincinnati Enquirer critic wrote, "I'm not sure I've ever heard 'The Pines of the Appian Way' begin with such inner heat and mystery and build to a climax of such explosive power, with trumpets blazing from the balcony. There was clearly chemistry happening onstage, and the musicians performed magnificently for him."

Highlights of recent seasons have included debuts with the Atlanta, Seattle, New Jersey, Rochester, Toledo, Colorado, San Antonio, Quebec and Vancouver symphonies, as well as the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Los Angeles and St. Paul chamber orchestras and Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Berliner Symphoniker in Germany. He has enjoyed return engagements with the Montreal Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Royal Conservatory Orchestra of Toronto, Utah Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción in Chile and Bochumer Symphoniker in Germany. The Canadian conductor has also led the Winnipeg and Victoria symphonies and the Calgary Philharmonic.

During the 2011-12 season, Kuerti returns to the Cincinnati Symphony, appears for the first time with the Milwaukee Symphony and Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal, and leads the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and on a two-week Atlantic Canada tour. Additionally in Canada, he conducts Symphony Nova Scotia in Halifax, Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Toronto, Victoria and Edmonton symphonies in Alberta and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario. Kuerti's season begins with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic at the Dvorak Prague Festival and includes multiple concerts with the Bochumer Symphony in Germany.

In August 2010, Kuerti completed his post as assistant conductor to James Levine at the Boston Symphony. He made his BSO subscription debut in 2008 with Leon Fleischer as soloist, and returned to the BSO podium on two last-minute occasions that year: one for an ailing Levine with Peter Serkin and another for an indisposed Rozhdestvensky with Lynn Harrell. The Boston Globe lauded him on all three instances, writing the third time that "Kuerti rose to the occasion and pulled off a triumphant concert. This was easily his finest hour - or two-and-a-half - with the orchestra thus far." In 2009, in addition to a Tanglewood performance with Yo-Yo Ma, Kuerti returned to the BSO for three programs in one month; substituting in for part of James Levine's all-Beethoven cycle, he conducted the Third and Fourth symphonies, and he also led an all-Russian program. His tenure as assistant conductor culminated in 2010 on a Ligeti, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky program, which The Boston Globe proclaimed "a marvelous performance."

Kuerti was born in Toronto into one of Canada's most distinguished musical families; his father is famed pianist Anton Kuerti. He began his instrumental training on the violin, studying with some of Canada's finest teachers. While completing an honors degree in engineering and physics at the University of Toronto, Kuerti kept up the violin, performing as concertmaster and soloist with various Canadian orchestras. After taking a year off and touring Brazil with Kahana, a Toronto-based world-music band, Kuerti began his conducting studies in the year 2000 at the University of Toronto. That summer he was accepted as a student at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine, where he studied for two years with Michael Jinbo and Claude Monteux.

Kuerti studied with David Zinman at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen in 2004, and with acclaimed Finnish Maestro Jorma Panula at the NAC Conductors Programme in Ottawa. In 2005, he was one of two conducting fellows at Tanglewood, where he had the opportunity to learn in masterclasses from James Levine, Kurt Masur, Stefan Asbury and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, performing with the TMC orchestra and fellows throughout the summer. That same year, Kuerti also finished his work with Lutz Köhler at the University of the Arts Berlin, whom he had studied with since 2001.

Kuerti served as assistant conductor to Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra during the 2006/07 season, which he led in performances of Viktor Ullmann's opera "Der Kaiser von Atlantis" the following season. From 2005 to 2008, he was founding artistic director and principal conductor of Berlin's Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, with whom he recorded the album "When We Were Trees" by Italian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima for Sony/BMG. Kuerti conducted the Boston Symphony Chamber Players in music by Golijov and Foss on "Plain Song, Fantastic Dances," released in 2011 on the BSO's own label.

 

Manuel Barrueco

guitar

Grammy nominated Manuel Barrueco is internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time. His unique artistry has been continually described as that of a superb instrumentalist and a superior and elegant musician, possessing a seductive sound and uncommon lyrical gifts.

His career has been dedicated to bringing the guitar to the main musical centers of the world. During three decades of concertizing, he has performed across the United Sates from the New World Symphony in Miami to the Seattle Symphony, and from the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to New York's Lincoln Center.

He has appeared with such prestigious orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra and with the Boston Symphony under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, in the American premiere of Toru Takemitsu's To the Edge of Dream. In addition, he appears regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and with San Francisco Performances.

His international tours have taken him to some of the most important musical centers in the world. Highlights include the Royal Albert Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Berlin, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Palau de la Musica in Barcelona. In Asia he has completed close to a dozen tours of Japan and made repeated appearances in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Barrueco's tours of Latin America have included performances in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. He has also performed as a guest soloist with other international orchestras such as the Russian State Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Auckland Symphony in New Zealand, and the radio symphonies of Munich and Frankfurt.

Manuel Barrueco's 2012-2013 season includes solo recitals in the United States, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil, Italy, and Russia, and he will make his first tour of China in October of 2012. He will appear in trio with his protégés the Beijing Guitar Duo at the 92nd St. "Y" in New York. Other scheduled performances include concertos with the New World Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, and the Tenerife Symphony, and he will appear as an Artist-in-residence for the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, and the University of Alicante, Spain.

Barrueco's commitment to contemporary music and to the expansion of the guitar repertoire has led him to collaborations with many distinguished composers such as Steven Stucky, Michael Daugherty, Roberto Sierra, Arvo Pärt, Gabriela Lena Frank, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, and Toru Takemitsu, whose last orchestral work Spectral Canticle was a double concerto written specifically for Manuel Barrueco and violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman.

Manuel Barrueco has appeared on a wide array of American television programs including "CBS Sunday Morning", A&E's "Breakfast with the Arts", and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" on PBS, and he was featured in a Lexus car commercial. His work in music also inspired Michael Lawrence's biographical documentary: "Manuel Barrueco: A Gift and a Life" which has been aired by PBS stations around the United States including WNET-TV in New York. He was featured in a documentary just released on J. S. Bach along with many of the music world's top performers. Barrueco's performances have been broadcast by television stations around the world such as NHK in Japan, Bayerische Rundfunk in Germany, and RTVE in Spain.

Barrueco's recording catalogue includes over a dozen recordings for the EMI label. His recording of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with conductor and tenor Plácido Domingo and the Philharmonia Orchestra was cited as the best recording of that piece in Classic CD Magazine, while ¡Cuba! was called "an extraordinary musical achievement" by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nylon & Steel, a collection of duos with guitar greats Al Di Meola, Steve Morse (Deep Purple), and Andy Summers (The Police), demonstrates Barrueco's outstanding versatility and imaginative programming. His latest release, Concierto Barroco, with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia and conductor Víctor Pablo Pérez, received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Recording. This CD contains the world premiere recordings of new works for guitar and orchestra by Roberto Sierra and Arvo Pärt, as well as two guitar concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Other recordings encompass many of the works from the Spanish and Latin American repertoire, as well as Bach and Mozart, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea etcetera. He collaborated with soprano Barbara Hendricks and flutist Emmanuel Pahud in Cantos y Danzas, with The King's Singers on a Strauss album, and with the London Symphony on Manuel Barrueco plays Lennon & McCartney. His early recordings, available on VOX, have become a classic amongst guitar recordings.

In 2007, Manuel Barrueco received a Grammy nomination for the "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance" for his Solo Piazzolla, which was the first recording to be released on the exclusive Manuel Barrueco Collection on Tonar Music. Tango Sensations and Sounds of the Americas came out subsequently in collaboration with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. The latter received a Latin Grammy Award for "Inca Dances" by Gabriela Lena Frank as the "Best Classical Contemporary Composition." Virtuoso Guitar Duos, which includes the most breathtaking guitar duos from the Spanish and Latin-American repertoire was released in August 2009 and his latest release Tárrega! includes compositions and arrangements by the Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega, received a Latin Grammy nomination for "Best Classical Album."

Manuel Barrueco began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and he attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in his native Cuba. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1967, as political refugees. Later, he completed his advanced studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he now shares his love for music with a small number of exceptionally gifted young guitarists from all over the world.

For more information please visit www.barrueco.com

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