Leif Ove Andsnes, piano

Donna L. Kendall Classical Series

Pre-concert lecture by Brian Lauritzen, 7pm

Alexander VUSTIN: Lamento (1974)
JANÁCEK: Piano sonata 1.X.1905 (“From the Street”)
SILVESTROV: Bagatelle, Op. 1 No. 3
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
DVORÁK: Poetic Tone Pictures, Op. 85 (complete)

The New York Times calls Leif Ove Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight,” and the Wall Street Journal names him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won acclaim worldwide, playing concertos and recitals in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, while building an esteemed and extensive discography. An avid chamber musician, he is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Festival of Chamber Music for nearly two decades, and served as music director of California’s Ojai Music Festival in 2012. He was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in July 2013.

A note from Leif Ove Andsnes:

“Leoš Janácek’s tribute to a worker who was killed in a demonstration on Oct 1st, 1905, is frightfully relevant today. As I write these lines (end of September 2022), young Iranian demonstrators are being killed in the streets of Tehran, and brave Russians get out in the streets to voice their opinion against a devastating war, risking their lives. Janácek’s sonata is full of the anger and sadness we feel at this time, being confronted with the meaningless war in Ukraine. As an epilogue to the Janácek, I will play one of Ukrainian Valentin Silvestrov’s Bagatelles, dreamy fragments that seem to tell us about a time there was, or hopes for something better.

In 2019 I invited the 70-year-old composer Alexander Vustin to the Rosendal chamber music festival in Norway. It was only his second time to travel outside Russia. Clearly marked by the years of oppressive regime in his country, it was most touching to get to know him and his music but also see him listen with his whole being to performances of Shostakovich at the festival. It saddened me deeply to hear that he passed away in the first waves of Covid infections in Moscow in April 2020.

Vustin’s Lamento links to Beethoven’s song of complaint (Klagegesang) in opus 110, a most profound operatic aria, the heart of this compact sonata, which juxtaposes “high and low art,” the spirituality of the arias and fugues in the last movement, the childish folk songs of the scherzo.

High and low could also be a theme for the thirteen programmatic pieces of Dvorák’s Op. 85. Poetic short stories like Twilight Way or The Old Castle exist side by side with triviality in Joke or Tittle-Tattle. Here is intimacy in Reverie, drama in At A Hero’s Grave, wild virtuosity in Bacchanal, and a Serenade which develops into the most touching of love songs. The pandemic gave me a possibility to finally study this strangely neglected cycle. It has been a most wonderful discovery, life-affirming music of the greatest invention and imagination.”