Release Date: March 19, 2021
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, February 8, 2021 – The Orchestra Now (TŌN) has announced the March 19 release of Piano Protagonists: Music for Piano and Orchestra, a new CD on Bridge Records. The new recording features three works for piano and orchestra first performed in concerts at the Bard Music Festival with the “powerful technique and exceptional insight” (The Washington Post) of award-winning American pianist Orion Weiss. The works were conducted by Leon Botstein and subsequently recorded in January 2020 at the Fisher Center at Bard.
The works call for virtuosic pianistic skills and span almost a century of musical Romanticism in which each composer responds to a specific source of inspiration. Korngold was moved by a concert pianist and family friend who suffered a terrible tragedy; Rimsky-Korsakov, inspired by the one-movement concerto form of Liszt, dedicated his concerto to the venerated old master; and Chopin’s variation on a duet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni—his first work for piano and orchestra—became a stepping stone in the young composer’s rise.
Recordings of TŌN’s live concerts from the Fisher Center can be heard on Classical WMHT-FM and WWFM The Classical Network, and are featured regularly on Performance Today, broadcast nationwide. TŌN’s most recent Bridge recording, Buried Alive, was released in August 2020 and features works by Schoeck, Honegger, and Mitropoulos with baritone Michael Nagy. Full discography and additional details on TŌN’s recordings can be found here.
Piano Protagonists: Music for Piano & Orchestra (on Bridge Records)
The Orchestra Now
Leon Botstein, conductor
Orion Weiss, pianist
Korngold: Piano Concerto in C-sharp for one hand, Op. 17
Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor, Op. 30
Chopin: Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” for piano and orchestra, Op. 2
Additional Notes on the Works
Korngold’s Piano Concerto in C-sharp was a 1923 commission from Paul Wittgenstein, who lost an arm in WWI. Wittgenstein premiered the work in Vienna in 1924 with Korngold conducting and held exclusive performing rights until his death in 1961. One of the most notable aspects of Rimsky-Korsakov’s seldom-heard C-sharp minor piano concerto is that the composer was not a pianist. Clearly inspired by and dedicated to Liszt, the short work displays Liszt’s dazzling pianism and also presents folk song melodies that place it in the Russian nationalist camp. Chopin’s variations on Mozart’s beloved duet from Don Giovanni was the composer’s first work for piano and orchestra, written when he was only 17. Chopin’s 1829 Vienna premiere of the work won great acclaim with a performance that moved him into the public spotlight. After hearing the piece in 1831, Robert Schumann—a contemporary and lifelong fan—was famously quoted as saying, “Hats off, gentlemen, a genius.”
Digital files of the recording are available on request for press use.
One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, pianist Orion Weiss has performed to worldwide acclaim with all the major American orchestras, including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics. Also known for his enthusiasm for chamber music, Weiss performs regularly with such artists as violinists James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, and William Hagen; the pianist Shai Wosner; the Ariel, Parker, and Pacifica Quartets and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Weiss has appeared across the U.S. and world at venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, the Ravinia Festival, St. Petersburg White Nights Festival, the Bard Music Festival, Hong Kong Performances, and the Kennedy Center. He has released 15 commercial CDs, among them 5 solo albums. Among his impressive list of honors is a Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School, and a Recording Foundation Young Artist of the Year Award.
The Orchestra Now
The Orchestra Now (TŌN) is a group of 72 vibrant young musicians from 14 different countries across the globe: Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Peru, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. All share a mission to make orchestral music relevant to 21st-century audiences by sharing their unique personal insights in a welcoming environment. Hand-picked from the world’s leading conservatories—including the Yale School of Music, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Royal Academy of Music, and the Eastman School of Music—the members of TŌN are enlightening curious minds by giving on-stage introductions and demonstrations, writing concert notes from the musicians’ perspective, and having one-on-one discussions with patrons during intermissions.
Conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein, whom The New York Times said “draws rich, expressive playing from the orchestra,” founded TŌN in 2015 as a graduate program at Bard College, where he is also president. TŌN offers both a three-year master’s degree in Curatorial, Critical, and Performance Studies and a two-year advanced certificate in Orchestra Studies. The Orchestra’s home base is the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center at Bard, where it performs multiple concerts each season and takes part in the annual Bard Music Festival. It also performs regularly at the finest venues in New York, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others across NYC and beyond. HuffPost, who has called TŌN’s performances “dramatic and intense,” praises these concerts as “an opportunity to see talented musicians early in their careers.”
The Orchestra has performed with many distinguished guest conductors and soloists, including Hans Graf, Neeme Järvi, Vadim Repin, Fabio Luisi, Peter Serkin, Gerard Schwarz, Tan Dun, Zuill Bailey, and JoAnn Falletta. Recordings featuring The Orchestra Now include two albums of piano concertos with Piers Lane on Hyperion Records, and a Sorel Classics concert recording of pianist Anna Shelest performing works by Anton Rubinstein with TŌN and conductor Neeme Järvi. Buried Alive with baritone Michael Nagy, released on Bridge Records in August 2020, includes the first recording in almost 60 years—and only the second recording ever—of Othmar Schoeck’s song-cycle Lebendig begraben.
For upcoming activities and more detailed information about the musicians, visit theorchestranow.org.
Leon Botstein brings a renowned career as both a conductor and educator to his role as music director of The Orchestra Now. He has been music director of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992, artistic co-director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival since their creation, and president of Bard College since 1975. He was the music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra from 2003–11 and is now conductor laureate. In 2018, he assumed artistic directorship of Campus Grafenegg and Grafenegg Academy in Austria. Mr. Botstein is also a frequent guest conductor with orchestras around the globe, has made numerous recordings, and is a prolific author and music historian. He is editor of the prestigious The Musical Quarterly and has received many honors for his contributions to music. More info online at LeonBotstein.com.
Pascal Nadon Communications
Associate Vice President of Communications
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