Jaap van Zweden Conducts Mozart and Shostakovich

The New York Philharmonic

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Jaap van Zweden

Jaap van Zweden Conducts Mozart and Shostakovich

Jaap van Zweden Conducts Mozart and Shostakovich

Recorded November 20, 2014

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Music Director

Jaap van Zweden

Conductor Jaap van Zweden has become an international presence on three continents over the past decade. The 2018–19 season marks his first as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. He continues as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012. Guest engagements this season include the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, San Francisco Symphony, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra — where he is Conductor Laureate, having just completed a ten-year tenure as Music Director. He has appeared as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras around the globe, among them the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre national de France, and London Symphony Orchestra.

In his inaugural season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Jaap van Zweden conducts repertoire ranging from five World Premieres to symphonic cornerstones. He presides over three season pillars — each presenting a World Premiere — that contextualize music through programs complemented by citywide collaborations. Music of Conscience explores composers’ responses to the social issues of their time, with music by Beethoven, Shostakovich, John Corigliano, and David Lang. New York Stories: Threads of Our City looks at musical expressions of the immigrant experience in New York, with music by Julia Wolfe. The Art of Andriessen spotlights the music of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. Maestro van Zweden also welcomes New Yorkers to Phil the Hall, concerts for community and service professionals; the Annual Free Memorial Day Concert; and the Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer.

Jaap van Zweden has made numerous acclaimed recordings, the most recent of which features live New York Philharmonic performances of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7, released on CD and for streaming and download in February 2018; this release launched the Philharmonic’s partnership with Decca Gold, Universal Music Group’s newly established U.S. classical music label. In 2018 he completed a four-year project with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, conducting the first-ever performances in Hong Kong of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which have been recorded and released on Naxos Records. His highly praised performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal — the last of which earned him the prestigious Edison Award for Best Opera Recording in 2012 — are available on CD and DVD.

Born in Amsterdam, Jaap van Zweden was appointed at age 19 as the youngest-ever concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He began his conducting career almost 20 years later, in 1996. He remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he was Chief Conductor from 2005 to 2013, and served as Chief Conductor of the Royal Flanders Orchestra from 2008 to 2011. Jaap van Zweden was named Musical America’s 2012 Conductor of the Year in recognition of his critically acclaimed work as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as guest conductor with the most prestigious U.S. orchestras.

In 1997 Jaap van Zweden and his wife, Aaltje, established the Papageno Foundation to support families of children with autism. The Foundation has grown into a multifaceted organization that focuses on the development of children and young adults with autism. The Foundation provides in-home music therapy through a national network of qualified music therapists in The Netherlands; opened the Papageno House in 2015 (with Her Majesty Queen Maxima in attendance) for young adults with autism to live, work, and participate in the community; created a research center at the Papageno House for early diagnosis and treatment of autism and for analyzing the effects of music therapy on autism; develops funding opportunities to support autism programs; and, most recently, launched the app TEAMPapageno, which allows children with autism to communicate with each other through music composition.

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Violin

Sheryl Staples

Violinist Sheryl Staples joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Associate Concertmaster, The Elizabeth G. Beinecke Chair, in September 1998. She made her solo debut with the Philharmonic in 1999 performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, led by Kurt Masur. She has since been featured in more than 25 performances, playing concertos by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, and Vivaldi with conductors including Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, Kent Nagano, Jeffrey Kahane, and Sir Colin Davis. In addition she has performed as soloist with more than 45 orchestras nationwide, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego and Richmond Symphony Orchestras, and Louisiana Philharmonic. Most recently, she performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, led by Concertmaster Frank Huang, in May–June 2018.

The New York Times wrote that “she is a perceptive musician, who plays with great rhythmic integrity and a lucid sense of phrase structure. ... she draws a wonderful array of vibrant and luminous colors ... interpretive honesty and unmannered elegance.” The Los Angeles Times said she has a “tantalizing mix of qualities. ... refinement and boldness, polish and fire. ... big, rich, sweeping tone, lacking nothing in warmth and evenness.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer praised her “aristocratic artistry coupled with violinistic mastery ... pinpoint accuracy and daring that took the breath away.”

An active chamber musician, Ms. Staples is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016–17 season, and frequently performs in the New York area in venues including David Geffen Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ms. Staples has performed chamber music for U.S. Ambassadors in London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, and Hong Kong, and in 2013 she toured Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. Recent summer festival appearances include La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, Boston Chamber Music Society, and Salt Bay Chamberfest. She has also collaborated and performed at the chamber music festivals of Santa Fe, Mainly Mozart, Seattle, Aspen, Sarasota, Martha’s Vineyard, Strings Music Festival, and Brightstar Music Festival. She appears on three Stereophile compact discs with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Sheryl Staples is a native of Los Angeles, where she developed her love for ensemble work at an early age. She began studying the violin at age five, and her major mentors were Robert Lipsett and Heiichiro Ohyama. Before finishing studies at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Thornton School of Music, Ms. Staples was appointed concertmaster of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra and other professional ensembles in Los Angeles. She then became concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony in 1994 while enjoying a varied career consisting of solo appearances, chamber music, teaching (at USC’s Thornton School of Music and the Colburn School of Performing Arts), and Hollywood studio recording work for numerous major motion pictures.

At the age of 26 Ms. Staples joined The Cleveland Orchestra as associate concertmaster, a position she held for three years. In addition, she taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Encore School for Strings, and Kent/Blossom Music Festival, and she was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio. Currently she is on the violin faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard Pre-College Division. She also serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School working with students aspiring toward orchestral careers.

Ms. Staples resides in New Jersey with her husband, percussionist Barry Centanni, and children, Michael and Laura. Mr. Centanni and Ms. Staples premiered William Kraft’s Concerto a Tre for piano, violin, and percussion, written for them, at Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society’s summer festival and recorded it for release on the Albany Records label in 2008. They also premiered David Sampson’s Black River Concerto for solo violin, percussion, and orchestra in April 2011 with the Montclair State University Symphony.

Ms. Staples performs on the “Kartman” Guarneri del Gesu, ca. 1728, previously on loan from private collector Peter Mandell and now in the collection of the New York Philharmonic.

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Viola

Cynthia Phelps New York Philharmonic

Cynthia Phelps is the New York Philharmonic’s Principal Viola, The Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose Chair. Highlights of her solo appearances with the Orchestra have included the New York Premiere–Philharmonic Co-Commission of Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release, in 2016; performances on the 2006 Tour of Italy, sponsored by Generali; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in 2010 and 2014; and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, which the Orchestra commissioned for her and Philharmonic Associate Principal Viola Rebecca Young and which they premiered in 1999 and reprised both on tour and in New York, most recently in 2011. Other solo engagements have included the Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Ms. Phelps is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016–17 season, and performs with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jupiter Chamber Players, and the Santa Fe, La Jolla, Seattle, Chamber Music Northwest, and Bridgehampton festivals. She has appeared with the Guarneri, Tokyo, Orion, American, Brentano, and Prague Quartets, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. She has given recitals in the major music capitals of Europe and the U.S. She is also a founding member of the chamber group Les Amies, a flute-harp-viola group with Philharmonic Principal Harp Nancy Allen and flutist Carol Wincenc.

Ms. Phelps is a first-prize winner of both the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and the Washington International String Competition, and is a recipient of the Pro Musicis International award. Under the auspices of this philanthropic organization, she has appeared as soloist in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Rome, and Paris, as well as in prisons, hospitals, and drug rehabilitation centers worldwide. Her recording Air, for flute, viola, and harp on Arabesque, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her television and radio credits include Live From Lincoln Center on PBS; St. Paul Sunday Morning on NPR; Radio France; Italy’s RAI; and WGBH in Boston. Ms. Phelps has served on the faculties at The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. She is married to cellist Ronald Thomas.

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Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola, K.364 (1779)

Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante is a sublime combination of symphony with double concerto: violin and viola, as equal partners, converse, console, and intertwine in an exquisite give-and-take. Mozart himself enjoyed playing viola in string quartets and here gives the instrument especially beautiful music. To be sure that the viola could be heard, he composed its part in D major and asked that the instrument be tuned one-half step higher, resulting in a more brilliant sound. The abundance of inspired ideas starts with the first movement, where Mozart launches an avalanche of them, preparing for the out-of-nowhere entrance of the two soloists on a sustained high E-flat. The transcendent second movement is one of melancholy beauty, where grief expressed in the violin is consoled by the dark glow of the viola. The finale returns to a more joyful mood and brings us home with a brilliant presto.

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Symphony No. 8

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–75)
Symphony No. 8 (1943)

This work is one of Shostakovich’s three so-called “War Symphonies” — Nos. 7, 8, and 9. The slow-moving opening by the strings is full of growing tension that portends sorrow and tragedy — not surprising, since it was composed in the midst of World War II, when the Russian people were enduring suffering on an unprecedented scale. The music grows more and more strident, with martial sounds from the percussion and brass, and the woodwinds play in their highest registers, shrieking and screaming. The second movement is a typically Shostakovian scherzo, with a wild profusion of rhythms, including a waltz and a march. The last three movements are played without pause, with the third being a relentless, motoric pounding at ear-assaulting levels, the fourth, a contrasting quiet lament for the dead, leading into the finale which progresses from the sounds of war to serenity and ends on a note of hope. When Shostakovich wrote about the meaning of his Eighth — “Life remains beautiful. All that is dark and oppressive will disappear; all that is beautiful will triumph.” — was it optimism or mordant irony?

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