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Pianist Performs Beethoven’s Concerto

Mar 02, 2011 07:09PM ● By Anonymous


Pianist Seymour Lipkin will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major with the National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, on April 2 at 8 pm and on April 3 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. Also on the program are Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 7 in A Major.

Now considered one of the central works of the concerto literature, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 was originally neglected after its premiere in March 1807 at a home recital until the German composer and pianist Felix Mendelssohn revived it in 1836. A review in an 1809 edition of a German music journal said that the concerto is “the most admirable, singular, artistic and complex Beethoven concerto ever."

The public premiere of the concerto on December 22, 1808 at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien marked the occasion of Beethoven’s final appearance as a soloist as a result of his increasing deafness. Starting with this concerto, Beethoven gives a greater role to the orchestra in its relationship with the soloist. The first movement (Allegro moderato) starts with a long presentation of a subdued yet lyrical theme by the pianist. The second movement (Andante con moto) is full of contrasts and constructed like a dialogue between the orchestra and pianist. The joyful final movement (Rondo-Vivace) is reflected through the use of simple folk dance rhythms.

The powerful Coriolan Overture was composed in 1807 to accompany Viennese playwright Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s tragedy Coriolan. It is one of the most frequently performed and recorded of Beethoven's orchestral works.

The overture reflects the dramatic action found in the turbulent story of Coriolanus. The main C minor theme represents Coriolanus’ resolve to invade Rome, while the more gentle E-flat Major theme represents his mother’s pleadings to stop the invasion. Coriolan eventually gives in to his mother’s pleas, but because he cannot turn back having led an army of his former enemies to Rome's gates, he kills himself.

The Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, which vies in popularity with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, was finished in 1812 and first performed in December 1813, at a concert in Vienna. The symphony “perhaps more than any of the others gives us a feeling of true spontaneity; the notes seem to fly off the page as we are borne along on a floodtide of inspired invention,” wrote composer and music author Antony Hopkins. Beethoven himself said it was "one of my best works." The symphony marked a new stage in Beethoven’s work, where classical elements interweaved with romantic ones, thus developing a far more intimate and complex expression.

In contrast to the Sixth or "Pastoral" Symphony, Beethoven's Seventh has no program. Its second movement is the famous Allegretto, whose main theme is more like a pulse that beats joyfully and persistently in one or another part of the orchestra. The third movement, a scherzo, pays homage to Haydn. For the finale, Beethoven features a melody in the character of an Irish folk tune.

Mr. Lipkin began his pianistic career at age 20, by winning the prestigious Rachmaninoff competition. He has since appeared with all of America's major orchestras and conductors.

He has recently toured China twice, and appeared in Russia and Germany. Active in chamber music, he has been artistic director of the Kneisel Hall Festival since 1987, and toured with many great artists, including Jascha Heifetz, and the Guarneri and Juilliard String Quartets.

He has served as assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, as music director of the Long Island Symphony and the Joffrey Ballet.

He has performed cycles of the complete sonatas of Beethoven, and the major works of Schubert, including the complete sonatas. CDs of both of these cycles have been issued by Newport Classics. His recording of the Stravinsky Piano Concerto with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic can be heard on the SONY label; in the Philharmonic's Special Edition CDs, Lipkin appears twice, as soloist and as conductor. Lipkin is on the faculties of both the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School.

Mr. Gajewski is widely credited with building the National Philharmonic to its present status as one of the most respected ensembles of its kind in the region. The Washington Post recognizes him as an "immensely talented and insightful conductor,” whose "standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable." In addition to his appearances with the National Philharmonic, Maestro Gajewski is much in demand as a guest conductor. In recent years, he has appeared with most of the major orchestras in his native Poland, as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in England, the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic, the Okanagan Symphony in Canada and numerous orchestras in the United States.

Gajewski attended Carleton College and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he earned a B.M. and M.M. in Orchestral Conducting. Upon completing his formal education, he continued refining his conducting skills at the 1983 Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, where he was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship. His teachers there included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier and Maurice Abravanel.

Gajewski is also a winner of many prizes and awards, among them a prize at New York's prestigious Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and, in 2006, Montgomery County's Comcast Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Achievement Award.

A free lecture will be offered one hour before each performance in the Education Center at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the All Beethoven concerts on April 2, 2011 at 8pm and on April 3, 2011 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore, please visit or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $32-$79; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. In addition, parking is free. Attached is a photo of pianist Seymour

Photo credit Schubert Lipkin