Jan Lisiecki is “a pianist
who makes every note count”

In a recent review, a New York Times critic went on to describe Jan Lisiecki’s style as “pristine, lyrical and intelligent.” It was the ‘every note’ part that hit home: it’s exactly what anyone who attended Jan’s MCO debut remembers!

It’s hard to pin this busy boy down. Our original September date had to be moved as the young virtuoso was needed in London, England. It seems he has won yet another award — the kind you have to accept in person.

In 2011, Jan dazzled us with Chopin; this time it will be a special arrangement of Grieg’s A minor piano concerto (Op. 16) by Canadian composer Michael Oesterle.

Also, if you’ve been enjoying the MCO’s new Philip Glass CD (named ‘Recording of the Month’ by MusicWeb International), you’ll love a live performance of the Symphony No. 3 at this concert!

Grieg, via Oesterle

Jan Lisiecki’s usual repertoire is for much larger ensembles, but one work in particular appealed to Music Director Anne Manson. We asked Canadian composer Michael Oesterle to work on an arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor (Op. 16) for chamber orchestra.

He was interested in the project, and before we knew it, another unique MCO solution was in the works!

The concert begins at 7:30 pm on September 11th in Westminster United Church, 745 Westminster at Maryland. Tickets are $28 for adults, $26 for seniors and $8 for students, including GST, at McNally Robinson, the West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice at Sherbrook), Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave) or MCO’s Ticketline (204.783.7377).

Available August 6th. Click ticket above to add to shopping cart; adjust quantity in cart and return to purchase other types of tickets.

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director and Conductor
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster United Church
11 September 2013

Jan Lisiecki, piano

Béla Bartók
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56

Philip Glass
Symphony No. 3

Edvard Grieg
Piano Concerto, in A minor, Op. 16
— arr. Oesterle

Jan Lisiecki

Concert sponsor / Investors Group
Print media sponsor / Winnipeg Free Press
Radio media sponsors / CBC Radio 2 98.3, CBC Radio One 990,
Espace musique 89,9 and Golden West Radio

Jan Lisiecki

The New York Times has called 18-year-old Canadian Jan Lisiecki "a pianist who makes every note count." Having signed an exclusive recording agreement with Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 15, his debut recording on the label features Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 466 & 467 with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Christian Zacharias. Nominated for a Juno Award for classical album of the year 2013, the CD was described by the New York Times as “pristine, lyrical and intelligent … direct, unmannered and fresh.” Lisiecki’s second DG album, released in April 2013, features Chopin’s Études Op. 10 and Op. 25.

In 2012, Jan was named UNICEF Ambassador to Canada, after being a National Youth Representative since 2008. This year, recognized for his poetic and mature playing, Lisiecki has been awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.

2013 performance highlights include Lisiecki’s debut with Claudio Abbado and Orchestra Mozart, his BBC Proms debut with Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia at Royal Albert Hall in London, and his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Bravo Vail Festival. Jan’s official subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra is scheduled for April 2014 where he will be performing three different Mozart concertos in one week. The 2013/14 season includes his debut with Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milano under Daniel Harding, return engagements to Orchestre de Paris, debuts with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich and NHK Symphony in Tokyo, and recital debuts at Santa Cecilia in Rome, in San Francisco, and in London’s Wigmore Hall. Since the 2012/13 season Jan has been a member of Konzerthaus Dortmund’s series ‘Junge Wilde.’

Highlights of past seasons included Lisiecki’s New York Philharmonic subscription debut under David Zinman, the season opening concert of Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Järvi, and his debut with the BBC Symphony under Jiří Bělohlávek. Lisiecki has played at Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Barbican, Salle Pleyel, Tonhalle Zürich, Konzerthaus Vienna, and Suntory Hall. He has substituted for Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire, and has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, and Emanuel Ax. He has performed in Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, and throughout Canada.

Lisiecki’s live performances of both Chopin piano concertos with Sinfonia Varsovia and Howard Shelley were released in 2010 by the Chopin Institute in Warsaw. The recording received the Diapason Découverte award in May 2010; Diapason describes Jan as "an unmannered virtuoso already with virile and, above all, irresistibly natural playing." The BBC Music Magazine commented that "even in a crowded CD catalogue, this refreshingly unhyped debut release is one to celebrate."

Jan’s performances have been broadcast on CBC Canada, BBC Radio, Austrian Radio, French Radio, German Radio, Luxembourg Radio, and Polish Radio, as well as on French Television 3 and on TV 1 and 2 in Poland.He was featured in the CBC ‘Next!’ series as one of the most promising young artists in Canada, and in the 2009 CBC documentary about his life: ‘The Reluctant Prodigy.’

Upon the school board’s recommendation Jan was accelerated four grades and graduated from high school in January 2011. Since September 2011 he has been studying for a Bachelor of Music at the Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto, Canada.

Philip Glass

Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music — simultaneously.

He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. He then moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble — seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.

The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed ‘minimalism.’ Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures." Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immerses a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.

There has been nothing ‘minimalist’ about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.

The latest CD of Philip Glass’s music, performed live by Michael Riesman and the MCO, conducted by Anne Manson, has been receiving brilliant reviews far and wide!

Michael Oesterle

Montréal composer Michael Oesterle’s compositions have been performed and commissioned by numerous notable ensembles and soloists including Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), Aventa, Turning Point, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Ives Ensemble (Amsterdam), Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), sopranos Karina Gauvin and Suzie LeBlanc, cellist Yegor Dyachkov, violinists Aisslinn Nosky and Karl Stobbe, Quatuor Bozzini, Quatuor Molinari, Groundswell, Soundstreams, Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble (Amsterdam), Les Violons du Roy, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and les Percussions de Strasbourg.

He has produced projects in collaboration with choreographers Serge Bennathan, Isabelle Van Grimde, Barbara Bourget, Gioconda Barbuto, and Dominique Porte, and he frequently collaborates with animation artist Christopher Hinton, having composed music for several of his films, including CNOTE, which won the 2005 Genie award for best animated short.

His orchestral works have been commissioned by the Montréal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Victoria, Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, as well as by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the National Broadcast Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In 1997 he founded the Montréal based Ensemble KORE, and between 2001 and 2004 he was composer-in-residence with l’Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montréal. Oesterle was recently appointed composer-in-residence with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra.

Rumanian Folk Dances
Béla Bartók

Bartók collected the folk tunes that make up the Rumanian Folk Dances in 1910 and 1912. He first arranged them for piano solo in 1915, then two years later prepared the transcription for small orchestra that you will hear at this concert.

Some composers, such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms, have been criticized for confusing genuine Hungarian folk music with the music of the wandering tribes known as gypsies or romani. Only musicologists need worry about this. The rest of us can just sit back and enjoy the music — whether the gorgeous melodies, fiery emotions and toe-tapping rhythms you’re hearing are ‘authentic’ or not.

Bartók and fellow composer Zoltán Kodály made extensive use of the 4000 marvelous and widely varied Hungarian folk melodies they had gathered in the field. Sometimes they quoted them directly; sometimes they used them as the building blocks for original compositions; sometimes they created original melodies in the same style.

Bartók collected the instrumental fiddle tunes which make up the delightful Rumanian Folk Dances in Transylvania. This border region, home to legendary Count Dracula the vampire, has at various times belonged to either Hungary or Rumania. The suite is probably Bartók’s most frequently performed work, either in the versions he prepared himself, or in other transcriptions such as the one for violin and piano created by his friend, violinist Zolt´n Székely. His approach here is a straightforward presentation of the tunes, without changing or developing them in any way.

The suite has seven brief, strongly contrasted sections: a stately Stick Dance, scored for strings alone; Sash Danc`, a lighter, moderately paced number featuring solo clarinet; the melancholy In One Spot, highlighted by a delicate piccolo solo; a moderately paced Horn Danc`, with solo violin; a hearty, heavily accented Rumanian Polk`; and finally a pair of rousing Fast Dances.

Symphony No. 3
Philip Glass

Symphony No. 3 was commissioned by the Wurth Foundation for the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. The premiere took place on 5 February 1995 in Kunzelsau, Germany, with Dennis Russell Davies conducting.

The composer notes: “Written for the 19 string players of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, using them all as individual (or solo) players, the work in four movements has still the structure of a true symphony. The opening movement, a quiet, moderately paced piece, functions as a prelude to movements two and three, which are the main body of the symphony. The second movement mode of fast-moving compound meters explores the textures from unison to multi-harmonic writing for the whole ensemble. It ends when it moves without transition to a new closing theme, mixing a melody and pizzicato writing. The third movement is in the form of a chaconne, a repeated harmonic sequence. It begins with all three cellos and four violas, and with each repetition more voices are added until, in the final variation, all 19 players have been woven into the music. The fourth movement, a short finale, returns to the closing theme of the second movement, which quickly reintegrates the compound meters from earlier in that movement. A new closing theme is introduced to bring the symphony to its conclusion.”

The MCO’s critically-acclaimed CD of Symphony No. 3 and other music by Philip Glass is available for purchase in the foyer and right here.

Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
Edvard Grieg (orch. Michael Oesterle)

Grieg composed the Piano Concerto in 1868. It was premiered in Copenhagen, Denmark, in April 1869, with Edmund Neupert as the soloist. Grieg revised it on several occasions, the last of them, shortly before his death, creating the version in which it has since been known.

Grieg was the first Norwegian composer to earn an international reputation. In 1864, he befriended another young Norwegian composer, Rikard Nordraak. Nordraak believed that the future of their country’s art music lay not in a continued reliance on Germanic models (into which Grieg had been indoctrinated during his years of study at the Leipzig Conservatory), but in tapping into Norway’s rich heritage of folk song. Grieg quickly came to share this view. Nordraak died of consumption in March 1866, at 23. For a time, Grieg’s grief led him to consider abandoning the Nationalist path he and his friend had agreed upon, but a visit to Nordraak’s grave convinced him to stay the course.

He expressed himself most successfully in miniature forms. The songs and brief piano works, such as the many books of Lyric Pieces, stand among his finest achievements. His contemporary, Frenchman Claude Debussy, memorably described the piano pieces as “pink bonbons filled with snow.” Grieg’s only significant large-scale concert composition is this concerto.

The newly-married, 25 year-old composer spent the summer of 1868 in Denmark, living and working in the village of Søllerød. He shared a house with pianist Edmund Neupert, who gave him regular advice on the concerto’s solo part, and to whom, in gratitude, he dedicated it. The premiere proved hugely successful. This led to numerous further performances, and the foundation of Grieg’s international fame.

The first movement boasts one of the most familiar openings in the entire concerto repertoire. Much of its memorability springs from its very simplicity. The movement proper wears a rather melancholy expression, although warmth is amply present as well. A long, taxing solo cadenza near the end says about all there is to say, so Grieg follows it with only the briefest of summings-up.

The second movement, ushered in by muted strings, is a tender song without words. The finale follows on directly, led by an insistent, almost march-like theme. It is modeled on the springdans (leaping dance), a Norwegian folk step. The second theme offers strong contrast. At first it has the character of as wistful and poetic a melody as Grieg ever penned. In the concluding pages he demonstrated that it also has the capacity to become a grand, triumphant hymn.

Tonight you will hear the concerto in a specially orchestrated version by the Canadian composer Michael Oesterle. It was commissioned by the MCO expressly for this concert featuring the brilliant pianist Jan Lisiecki.