PlaybillArts

September 2, 2010


This is Eschenbach: Tenure at Kennedy Center and NSO Begins in September


By Jeremy D. Birch

He has been called the musician's musician. A man of many dimensions, Eschenbach is an accomplished concert pianist who has played in all of the world's great halls, a conductor who is sought after by leading orchestras, an advocate for both the preservation of the classical canon and the commissioning of new works, an enthusiastic collaborator, and an artist driven by the heart. The Baltimore Sun calls Maestro Eschenbach "one of the most interesting, incisive, and inspiring conductors around."

Throughout his career, Eschenbach has touched the lives of innumerable musicians, a number of whom will be playing with the Orchestra this season. An inspirational mentor, he has nurtured some of classical music's brightest talents, from Lang Lang to Renée Fleming. An extraordinary conductor, his musicianship has earned him praise from today's major stars, such as Radu Lupu, Garrick Ohlsson, and Yefim Bronfman.

With the belief that music is one of the strongest forces known to man, Eschenbach brings his heart, his talent, his passion, and his leadership as a world-class conductor to begin a new era with the National Symphony Orchestra.

His inaugural season-also the Orchestra's 80th-promises more sensational programs of classical masterpieces and exciting new works, featuring a wealth of wonderful soloists. Maestro Eschenbach will lead ten programs over the course of the season and participate in many others, reflecting both his own varied musical skills and his involvement throughout the various aspects of the Kennedy Center's musical programming.

In his first concerts of the regular season, Music Director Christoph Eschenbach conducts the Orchestra September 30-October 2 in performances of Beethoven's triumphant Symphony No. 9. Featured soloists include soprano Marisol Montalvo, mezzo-soprano Yvonne Naef, tenor Nikolai Schukoff, bass-baritone John Relyea, and The Choral Arts Society of Washington, Norman Scribner, artistic director. The program begins with the first NSO performances of music by contemporary German composer Matthias Pintscher-his Hérodiade-Fragmente (1999) with soprano Marisol Montalvo. The text is to Stéphane Mallarmé's epic poem, a fin de siècle drama of sexual repression and undefinable longings. Of a performance conducted by Maestro Eschenbach at the BBC Proms 2008, the Financial Times hailed Montalvo's "top notes of ravishing beauty." On Thursday, September 30, join Christoph Eschenbach and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon immediately following the concert for a free AfterWords discussion.

October 7, 8 (Fri. mat.), & 9, Christoph Eschenbach conducts Beethoven's Violin Concerto, featuring German violinist Christian Tetzlaff and continuing a season-long focus on the composer. Beethoven's only concerto for the instrument, it has been called "the Mount Everest of violin concertos." The Philadelphia Inquirer says "the core of Tetzlaff's magnificence is his sound. It is intensely sweet, yet it has dimension beyond mere prettiness." The program concludes with Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 (sometimes referred to as the "Philosophic"). Note: This program will have no late seating until intermission. On Thursday, October 7, join Christoph Eschenbach, Christian Tetzlaff, and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon immediately following the concert for a free AfterWords discussion.

Christoph Eschenbach conducts an all-Mahler program October 14-16, coinciding with the worldwide celebrations of his 150th anniversary. The Orchestra performs Symphony No. 5 as well as Kindertotenlieder ("Songs on the Death of Children") with French contralto Nathalie Stutzmann in her NSO debut. She has the "darkest of voices, a mixture of velvet and treacle, with plunging low notes that send shivers down your spine" (The Guardian, UK). Beginning with a big, bright trumpet solo, the large-scale Fifth Symphony is "a transforming experience," said the late famous conductor Herbert von Karajan. "The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath." The original Kindertotenlieder were a group of more than 400 poems written by Friedrich Rückert in 1833-1834 in an outpouring of grief after two of his children had died in an interval of sixteen days. Mahler selected five of the Rückert poems to set as Lieder, which he composed between 1901 and 1904. On Thursday, October 14, join Christoph Eschenbach, Nathalie Stutzmann, and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon immediately following the concert for a free AfterWords discussion.

(Visit the Official Website of the National Symphony Orchestra)


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