The New York Philharmonic

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Alan Gilbert Conducts Mahler Symphony No. 1

Recorded September 23, 2014

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Conductor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, launches a new appointment as chief conductor designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra this fall, shortly after the opening of its already iconic new home. The Grammy Award–winning conductor previously served as principal guest conductor of the orchestra (then known as NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg) for more than a decade, and will assume the role of chief conductor in September 2019. This position follows his truly transformative eight-year tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, during which, through such key initiatives as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, he succeeded in making the Orchestra a leader on the cultural landscape. Alan Gilbert is also conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the founder and president of Musicians for Unity. With the endorsement and guidance of the United Nations, this new organization will bring together musicians from around the world to perform in support of peace, development, and human rights.

Alan Gilbert makes regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has led operatic productions for Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, where he was the inaugural music director.

His discography includes The Nielsen Project, a box set recorded with the New York Philharmonic, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, captured on DVD at The Metropolitan Opera, for which he won a Grammy Award. He received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts of two star-studded New York Philharmonic productions: of Sweeney Todd and Sinatra: Voice for a Century.

Alan Gilbert has received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College, as well as Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. At The Juilliard School, he is the first holder of the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies and serves as Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies. After giving the annual Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture on Orchestras in the 21st Century: A New Paradigm during the New York Philharmonic’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, he received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.

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Clarinet

Kari Kriikku

A champion of contemporary music, in the 2016–17 season clarinetist Kari Kriikku joins Quatour Diotima for a new chamber work by Kaija Saariaho, Figura, which includes presentations at Paris’s Présence Festival and the Venice Biennale. Mr. Kriikku co-commissioned Michel van der Aa’s work for small ensemble and electronics, Hysterisis, which he performs with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, in its Finnish and Dutch Premieres with Lapland Chamber Orchestra and John Storgårds, and at Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta; he will also record the work. He performs Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft in Luxembourg as a member of the Toimii! Ensemble, and appears with RTÉ Orchestra Dublin led by Sachio Fujioka, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Susanna Mälkki, Iceland Symphony Orchestra with Anna-Maria Helsing, and Lahti Symphony Orchestra with Dima Slobodeniouk. In previous seasons, Mr. Kriikku has performed new works including Unsuk Chin’s Clarinet Concerto (2014), giving the World Premiere with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano and the U.S. Premiere with the New York Philharmonic and Music Director Alan Gilbert; he also performed it with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Nicholas Collon, BBC Scottish and Malmö Symphony Orchestras with Ilan Volkov, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic with Xian Zhang at Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw. Mr. Kriikku has recorded these works for the Ondine label, as well as Jukka Tiensuu’s Missa with the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds, and Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto (nominated for a 2006 Gramophone Award). The recording of D’OM LE VRAI SENS with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Sakari Oramo, won the Jury Award at the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Awards. Mr. Kriikku is also artistic director of Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, and in June 2009 he received the Nordic Council Music Prize. 

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Clarinet Concerto (U.S. Premiere–New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra)

UNSUK CHIN (b. 1961)
Clarinet Concerto (2004)

Unsuk Chin has said, “My music is a reflection of my dreams. I try to render into music the visions of immense light and of an incredible magnificence of colors that I see in all my dreams, a play of light and colors floating through the room and at the same time forming a fluid sound sculpture. Its beauty is very abstract and remote, but it is for these very qualities that it addresses the emotions and can communicate joy and warmth.” The Guardian writes that she has “a formidable ear for sonority and for mining the expressive potential of the slightest nuances of pitch and pulse,” and her publisher calls her work “modern in language, but lyrical and non-doctrinaire in communicative power.” Winner of the 2004 Grawemeyer Award, Unsuk Chin composed this Clarinet Concerto for Finnish clarinetist Kari Kriikku, who is the soloist in these concerts. (After a previous appearance with the Philharmonic, The New Yorker wrote, “Kari Kriikku gave a transcendent virtuoso performance, raucous and rhapsodic by turns.”)

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Symphony No. 1

GUSTAV MAHLER (1860–1911)
Symphony No. 1 (1887–88)

Although Mahler provided a “program” for this heart-stopping masterpiece, he later rejected the notion of words being necessary to understand his music. In the published score, the description above the first line was reduced to the words “like a sound of nature.” Things to listen for on this epic symphonic journey include the mysterious awakening of nature; quotations from Mahler’s song cycle Songs of a Wayfarer; and the tune we know as “Frère Jacques,” parodied as an eerie funeral march in the minor mode and played in the upper register of a solo string bass, with steady timpani accompaniment. Mahler created a remarkable work, one so big that it requires augmented orchestral forces. Watch for the seven horn players — bells turned up on their instruments — who proclaim the breathtaking, jubilant finale.

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