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Andrey Boreyko Conducts Stravinsky, Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid, and Mozart's Bassoon Concerto
This concert is now past.
Location: Avery Fisher Hall  (Directions)
Price Range: $30.00 - $122.00
Thu, Jan, 16, 2014
7:30 PM
Fri, Jan, 17, 2014
11:00 AM
Sat, Jan, 18, 2014
8:00 PM
Andrey Boreyko


  (Click the red play button to listen)
The Song of the Nightingale

The Song of the Nightingale (1917)

In 1917 Igor Stravinsky recast portions of his first opera The Song of the Nightingale, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s oriental fairy tale, as a symphonic poem. The scenario of the work illuminates the power of music, whose exotic soundscape derives from Stravinsky’s use of the pentatonic scale (the black keys on a piano) and a vibrant color palette. “The Fête in the Palace of the Emperor of China” honors a nightingale’s beautiful song; in “The Two Nightingales” the Emperor is attracted to the singing and bright plumage of the mechanical bird, causing the real one to fly away; in “The Emperor’s Illness and Recovery” the Emperor lies mortally ill, but the mechanical bird refuses to comfort him. Upon the real one’s return and song, the Emperor makes a full recovery. The flute and violin are the true nightingale’s voice, while the artificial bird is represented by the oboe. As you listen you might even hear intimations of The Rite of Spring.

Bassoon Concerto
Bassoon Concerto (1774)

“It’s a gem!” That’s the enthusiastic opinion of New York Philharmonic Principal Bassoon Judith LeClair when speaking of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, in which she is the soloist. “It’s a work whose expressive qualities make it exceptional. It’s not a flashy showpiece — the fingers are the least important aspect of playing the Concerto. Rather, it’s about technical clarity, breathing, sound production, and supporting long legato phrases.” The estimate of how many bassoon concertos Mozart actually composed ranges up to five, but the present score is the only surviving one. And because the solo bassoon literature is somewhat limited, it is a work that bassoonists treasure and by which they are judged in auditions. The K.191 is Mozart’s first concerto for a wind instrument, and, despite the fact that he was only 18 years old when he created it, he understood its qualities and temperament. Ms. LeClair enthuses, “Mozart wrote beautifully for the bassoon, because he knew how to compose for the human voice.... It’s as though he were writing for a tenor.” The first movement Allegro demands all of the soloist’s skills and involves all aspects of the  bassoonist’s artistry. The singing quality of the bassoon is especially evident in the second movement, where the bassoon and orchestra winds intertwine with gorgeous lyrical phrases in a soulful conversation. In the finale, Rondo di Menuetto, the Concerto dances to a dazzling conclusion. Judith LeClair’s performance in 2012 with the Berkshire Orchestra garnered raves: she “enthralled the audience with her ability. Almost effortlessly, she showcased her particular ability to overcome the extremely difficult arpeggio ascends and descends, in addition to conveying the warmth that gives her instrument the human quality capable of rendering both subtle melancholy and tenderness. Her sonorous playing was well-suited to interpret the brilliance and playful grace of Mozart."
The Mermaid, Fantasy for Orchestra
The Mermaid (1905)

Misfortune seemed to haunt the life of Alexander Zemlinsky, but composing may have served as therapy for at least one heartbreak: his unrequited love for Alma Schindler (later Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel). The Viennese beauty was one of his composition students as well as the object of his affections. She did not reciprocate his feelings; in fact, she called him “a hideous gnome.”  She rejected him in favor of Gustav Mahler, whom she married in 1902. It has been suggested that composing The Mermaid was Zemlinsky’s way of dealing with this trauma, and that he saw himself as the title character and Alma as the prince. The 40-minute, three-movement symphonic poem is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale “The Little Mermaid,” who falls in love with a young Prince after saving him from a shipwreck. Now, more than anything, she wants to become human and have an immortal soul — something that can only happen if a human loves her, but if that human marries another, she will die. Inevitably, the Prince marries another. She throws herself into the sea, and, in a grand apotheosis, rises to become one of the Children of the Air. The sweeping, opulently orchestrated score is reminiscent of the lush late-Romantic style of Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Wagner (especially in the use of interwoven leitmotifs to symbolize the sea, the Mermaid, the Prince, the immortal soul, the ball at the Sea King’s palace, etc.) — but not of Schoenberg, Zemlinsky’s mentor and brother-in-law. The Mermaid had only one performance in Vienna in 1905. A second would not happen till eight decades later, long after the composer’s death. In 1938 Zemlinsky fled from Nazi-occupied Austria to Switzerland and then to New York, bringing with him only two movements of the composition; all three parts were finally “reunited” and performed together in 1984. Sadly, Zemlinsky died in obscurity, but his music is finally having a much-deserved revival.


Andrey Boreyko by Archiv Kuenstler

Andrey Boreyko, music director of the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra since the 2009–10 season, was born in St. Petersburg and studied at his home town's conservatory, where he studied conducting and composition with Elisaveta Kudriavzeva and Alexander Dmitriev. He is principal guest conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi San Sebastian, Spain. He will become chief conductor of the Orchestre National de Belgique beginning in September 2012. Previous posts include chief conductor of the Bern Symphony Orchestra, Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, Jenaer Philharmonie (of which he is now honorary conductor), Hamburger Symphony, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, as well as principal guest conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Boreyko has conducted almost all the internationally renowned orchestras. He has led such European and American orchestras as the New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, Munich, and Rotterdam philharmonic orchestras; Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; Boston, Chicago, London, and Vienna symphony orchestras; and Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Filharmonica della Scala, Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio Franc.

Numerous CDs as well as TV and radio recordings demonstrate Andrey Boreyko's artistic versatility. His recording of Arvo Pärt's Lamentate as well as Valentin Silvestrov's Symphony No. 6 with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) was released by ECM Records Munich in 2005–06. Also with the SWR Hänssler Classic released a live recording of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 and the world premiere of his original version of the Suite, Op. 29 from the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Mr. Boreyko recorded Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra in 2009.

Judith LeClair

Judith LeClair joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Bassoon in 1981, at the age of 23. Since then, she has made more than 50 solo appearances with the Orchestra, performing with conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Alan Gilbert, Christopher Hogwood, Rafael Kubelik, Erich Leinsdorf, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, and John Williams.

Ms. LeClair is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with K. David Van Hoesen. She made her professional debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra at age 15, playing Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante with colleagues from the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, where she studied with Shirley Curtiss. Before joining the New York Philharmonic, she was Principal Bassoonist for two seasons with the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera.  

Active as a chamber musician, she has performed with numerous leading artists and has participated in leading festivals around the country. She has given solo recitals and master classes at the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, New England Conservatory, Oberlin College, Michigan and Ohio Universities, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Every August she gives a solo recital and week-long master class at the Hidden Valley Music Seminar in Carmel Valley, California. She performed with the Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet of New York, formed in 2001 with her colleagues from the New York Philharmonic wind section. They gave recitals throughout the country and on the Orchestra’s foreign tours.

In April 1995 Ms. LeClair premiered The Five Sacred Trees, a concerto written for her by John Williams and commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as part of its 150th Anniversary celebration. She later performed the concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and with the Royal Academy Orchestra in London. She recorded it for Sony Classical with the London Symphony Orchestra in June 1996, with Mr. Williams conducting. This, along with her solo New York Legends CD for Cala Records, was released in March 1997. Her newest CD, Works for Bassoon, was released in the spring of 2010.

Ms. LeClair is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, and she will join the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in fall 2014. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, pianist Jonathan Feldman, and their son, Gabriel.

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Photo of Andrey Boreyko: Archiv Kuenstler

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