The New York Philharmonic

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There will be no late seating for this performance. Please allow enough time to arrive at the hall so that you are seated on time

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique and Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2

This concert is now past.
Rudolf Buchbinder
Location: Avery Fisher Hall (Directions)
Price Range: $32.00 - $134.00

Concert Duration

2 hours 15 minutes
Thu, Feb, 14, 2013
7:30 PM
Fri, Feb, 15, 2013
8:00 PM
Sat, Feb, 16, 2013
8:00 PM
The 2014-15 Season

Program (Click the red play button to listen)


Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83 (1881)

Johannes Brahms's much-quoted, tongue-in-cheek quip describes this epic piano concerto as "a tiny, tiny pianoforte concerto, with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo." It followed the First Piano Concerto by 22 years — a very long hiatus, indeed — but perhaps understandable, as his first effort in the genre was less than successful in its time. But much like that work, the four movements of the present Second Piano Concerto seem to approach the dimensions of a symphony. (In fact, in another famous quip, the irascible music critic Eduard Hanslick called the concerto "a symphony with piano obbligato.") At once full of nobility, lyricism, and brilliance, the concerto is also monstrously challenging to perform and demands not only interpretive power, but sheer stamina (though it should be remembered that Brahms was not an advocate of technical virtuosity as an end in itself). Brahms was the soloist at the premiere, conducted by the renowned Hans von Bülow. The concerto begins with a brass fanfare or motif — answered with great beauty by the piano-that becomes the source material for much of the first movement's power. There is plenty of excitement as you watch the hands of the soloist leap across the keyboard and pile up rich chords in the process. The "wisp" of the scherzo is anything but; it is a stormy, dramatic statement. The Andante features a gorgeous cello solo and provides moments of great tenderness and grace. And the finale's marking of "Allegretto grazioso" sums up perfectly the surprisingly light but dazzling conclusion, in which some listeners have heard suggestions of the Hungarian gypsy music Brahms so often gravitated to — perhaps a nod to Budapest, the place of the premiere.

Symphony No. 6, Pathétique

Symphony No. 6, Pathétique (1893)

The nickname “Pathétique” (meaning “emotional,” not “pathetic”) of Tchaikovsky’s searing final work has been seen as a farewell to the world. His death followed just nine days after the premiere. The composer wrote: “The program will be left as an enigma … [It] is so intensely personal that as I was mentally composing it, I frequently wept copiously.” The music begins in the depths of the bassoon register—dark, gloomy, and melancholy; much tumult and anguish follow, but also a waltz in an off-beat 5/4, rather than 3/4, meter. The boisterous, manic climax of the third movement often misleads audience members into thinking that it’s the end of the Sixth. But resist the impulse to applaud! The finale, Adagio lamentoso, is yet to come, with the real ending announced by a foreboding stroke of the tam-tam, and then sinking into gloomy silence—a shattering final utterance.



Alan Gilbert

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he has sought to make the Orchestra a point of pride for the city and country. As New York magazine wrote, “The Philharmonic and its music director Alan Gilbert have turned themselves into a force of permanent revolution.”

Mr. Gilbert and the Philharmonic have forged artistic partnerships, introducing the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, held in the 2014–15 season by Christopher Rouse and violinist Lisa Batiashvili, respectively, as well as the new position of Artist-in-Association, inaugurated by Inon Barnatan this season; an annual festival, which this season is Dohnányi / Dvořák; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers inaugurated in spring 2014.

In the 2014–15 season Alan Gilbert conducts the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Clarinet Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, alongside Mahler’s First Symphony; La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema with Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, and Josh Groban; Verdi’s Requiem; a staging of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; World Premieres by John Adams, Peter Eötvös, and Christopher Rouse; works by contemporary Nordic composers during CONTACT!; and the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma’s 15th-anniversary celebration. He concludes The Nielsen Project, the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012. The Music Director presides over the EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour with stops including London, featuring Giants Are Small’s theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka as part of the Orchestra’s second International Associate residency at the Barbican Centre; Cologne, where he leads the World Premiere of Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue, a Philharmonic co-commission; and returns to Dublin and Paris.

Last season’s highlights included the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Mozart’s three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze coupled with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; World Premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer’s centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film was screened; the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour; and a staged production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. High points of Mr. Gilbert’s first four Philharmonic seasons included the critically celebrated productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011) — both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years — as well as Philharmonic 360 at Park Avenue Armory (2012), the acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen, and A Dancer’s Dream: Two Ballets by Stravinsky (2013, and later presented in movie theaters internationally). Other highlights included World Premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and composers featured on CONTACT!; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, on A Concert for New York on September 10; Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; five concerts at Carnegie Hall; six tours to Europe; and the Asia Horizons tour.

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestra della Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has appeared at The Metropolitan, Los Angeles, Zurich, Royal Swedish, and Santa Fe opera companies. In 2014–15 he conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra’s season-opening concerts and on tour in Lucerne, Berlin, and London; Mozart’s Don Giovanni at The Metropolitan Opera; and The Philadelphia, Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and NDR Symphony orchestras.

In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 leading John Adams’s Doctor Atomic; the DVD and Blu-ray of this production received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Renée Fleming’s recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. Earlier releases garnered Grammy Award nominations and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine.

Mr. Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard and was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). In May 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Curtis, and in December 2011 he received Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award for his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.” In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Visit Alan Gilbert's Official Website

Learn more about Alan Gilbert



Rudolf Buchbinder by Marco Borggreve

Rudolf Buchbinder, firmly established as one of the most important pianists on the international scene, is a regular guest with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, and the London Philharmonic, National Symphony, and Philadelphia orchestras. He has collaborated with the world's most distinguished conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Wolfgang Sawallisch, and he is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival and other major festivals. He is the founding artistic director of the Grafenegg Music Festival.

Mr. Buchbinder has more than 100 recordings to his credit, including the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas and concertos, the complete Mozart piano concertos, all of Haydn's works for piano, both Brahms concertos, and all of the rarely performed Diabelli Variations collection written by 50 Austrian composers. The 18-disc set of Haydn's works earned him the Grand Prix du Disque. His performances of Beethoven's five piano concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic as soloist and conductor were recorded live at Vienna's Musikverein and were released on DVD in November 2011.

Throughout the 2010–11 season Mr. Buchbinder had a particularly close cooperation with the Dresden Staatskapelle as its artist-in-residence in the first-time position of Capell-Virtuoso. His cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas there was recorded live and released in May 2011 by Sony/RCA Red Seal.

Rudolf Buchbinder attaches considerable importance to the meticulous study of musical sources. He owns 35 complete editions of Beethoven's sonatas and has an extensive collection of autograph scores, first editions, and original documents. In addition, he possesses the autograph scores and piano parts of both Brahms concertos as copies. He was admitted to the Vienna Musik Hochschule at age five and remains the youngest student to gain entrance in the school's history.

Learn more about Rudolf Buchbinder

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Photo of Rudolf Buchbinder: Philipp Horak


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