Acclaimed Estonian conductor Olari Elts debuts as Sinfonietta Rīga guest conductor

                On 18 January, in the Great Guild Hall, Sinfonietta Rīga will perform concert programme "Dialogue with Mozart", led by the highly acclaimed and beloved by Latvian audience Estonian conductor Olari Elts. The programme includes two works composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the height of his creative mastery - the classic Symphony No. 40 in G minor and one of his best known compositions for orchestra and solo instrument - Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. Both rank among the greatest masterpieces of classical music. The guest soloist - Russian-Estonian pianist Irina Zahharenkova - is a revered Mozart expert. Seeking the links between Mozartian world and the music of today is intriguing and, at the same time, obvious next move. In this programme, two contemporary composers carry on the dialogue with the Saltzburg genius - Hungarian Peter Eötvös and Ukrainian Valentyn Sylvestrov - their reverent, intricate and deeply erudite compositions are homage to the heritage of the great master.


              It is Eötvös's polysemantic, four-dimensional work “Dialog mit Mozart” from which the Estonian maestro and Sinfonietta Riga musicians have borrowed the theme and title for this concert programme that includes two monumental works by the Austrian genius along with two small contemporary compositions attempting to decipher the metaphysical character and the essence of being inherent in the timeless musical heritage of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The tender shackles of sorrow, intertwined with radiant faith and youthful playfulness, are fitting companions in the struggle with the ghouls of the wintry limbo. Sinfonietta Rīga and Olari Elts will open the more melancholic pages of Mozart's music, while also reminding of his unfading optimism, generously handed out to the world through his lifetime.

            Along with the famed Järvi family, Olari Elts is without a doubt one of Estonia's most highly praised talents. The chief guest conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, continuously absorbed in opera stagings and recordings - among other, the recording of his compatriot Erkki-Sven Tüür's music for Finlandia and Ondine record labels, in the past Elts has founded and led the contemporary music ensemble NYYD, and served as the conductor of the Estonian Song Festival's grand choir. From 2001 to 2006 Olari Elts was the chief conductor of Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, also taking up the baton at one of the orchestra's 90th anniversary concerts in 2016. Elts has collaborated with the top European and international orchestras, including Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, RTÉ Dublin Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Seattle Symphony, Seoul and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestras, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has performed together with many acclaimed soloists - pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, violinist Renaud Capuçon and cellist Gautier Capuçon, violinists Isabelle Faust and Baiba Skride, percussionist Martin Grubinger and violist Maxim Rysanov among many others.

            This season, Elts will make his debut with BBC Symphony Orchestra, French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Budapest Festival Orchestra.

            Symphony No. 40 in G minor belongs to Mozart's "grand final trilogy", marking the culmination of his professional maturity. The three symphonies of the series - No. 39 in E-flat major, No. 40 in G minor and No. 41 in C major (Jupiter) were written over a relatively short period of time - in the summer of 1788. The scores of the symphonies were not published during the composer's lifetime, leading to the speculation that the symphonies were intended as an artistic whole rather than as separate independent works. Over the years, the trilogy has remained in the spotlight, continuing to move the audiences to their very core, and, predictably, generating a wide array of, at times, conflicting opinions about the three symphonies across the years and nations.

              Well known is the direct and lasting impact of Mozart's piano compositions on the last of the three grand masters of Viennese Classicism - Ludwig van Beethoven. American musicologist Lewis Lockwood writes: "Just as Mozart had once told his father that he was 'soaked in music', so Beethoven was soaked in Mozart." While working on his Fifth Symphony, Beethoven copied passages from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in his notebook, and wrote his own cadenzas to replace the lost ones in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20.

               Like many of Mozart's pieces, his Piano Concerto No. 20 amazed and impressed the 18th century audiences. Composer's father Leopold Mozart wrote to his daughter Nannerl about the first performance of the concerto, which took place on 11 February 1785 in Mehlgrube Casino: "[I heard] an excellent new piano concerto by Wolfgang, on which the copyist was still at work when we got here, and your brother didn't even have time to play through the rondo because he had to oversee the copying operation." Piano Concerto No. 20 is one of two Mozart's works for piano and orchestra composed in minor key, and ranks among his most popular compositions of all time.

               For many years neglected by the Soviet regime, Ukrainian composer Valentyn Sylvestrov (1937) has now reclaimed the international spotlight. His composition for string orchestra and piano “The Messenger” was written in 1996, and is described by its author as follows: "A visitor from another world has arrived with an important message... perhaps it is Larissa herself, perhaps - an echo of a distant muse, speaking to us from the 18th century. This archaic and, simultaneously, contemporary and vital voice is postmodern and sensual."

               Sylvestrov composed the musical piece for his late wife Larissa Bondarenko; its intertwining Mozartian motifs, a subtle mirage of the gallant age, tell of waning memories and pastel-coloured sorrow. Time is not important; the past, present an eternity exist concurrently.

               Hungarian composer and conductor Peter Eötvös (1944) is one of the most prominent and revered contemporary figures in European culture. From 1968 to 1976 Eötvös frequently collaborated with Karlheinz Stockhausen's ensemble, and from 1971 to 1979 he worked at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk electro-accoustic studio in Cologne. In 1978, on the invitation of the 20th century musical luminary, French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, Eötvös conducted the inaugural concert of the IRCAM centre in Paris. At the same time Eötvös was appointed the musical director of Ensemble InterContemporain, established in 1972 by Boulez himself.

                “Dialog mit Mozart” is the commission of Mozarteum Orchestra Saltzburg, dedicated to the 175th anniversary of the legendary university. Arranged for orchestra from a composition for cymbal, marimba and chamber ensemble written two years earlier, the musical piece weaves together mainly leftover fragments of Mozart's musical drafts, motifs and notions. With Mozartian glee, Eötvös immerses himself in the analyses of the genius's musical ideas and rearranges them into a whole new edifice infused with the worldview of the 21st century, as well as his own personal imagery. 


                  Irina Zahharenkova is one of the top Estonian pianists of her generation. She has won first  prizes from major international competitions, including International Bach Competition in Leipzig and Alessandro Casagrande International Piano Competition in Italy (both 2006), as well as International Competition George Enescu in Romania (2005). Irina Zahharenkova was born in Kaliningrad, and began studying piano at the age of four with her mother. In 1989, the family moved to Estonia, where Irina Zahharenkova enrolled in Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, studying piano with professor Lilian Semper  and  harpsichord with professor Maris Valk-Falk. She also studied in Helsinki Sibelius Academy with professor Hui-Ying Líu-Tawaststjerna. In addition, Irina has taken masterclasses with András Schiff, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich and Angela Hewitt. She has also studied chemistry and Estonian and Finnish philology. Irina Zahharenkova is a well-rounded pianist, frequently performing solo and with orchestra. Her repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary. The pianist visited Latvia in 2007, performing at the festival Restart Bach and Liepāja International Piano Stars Festival. She has released a recording of Bach Goldberg Variations, as well as a solo album of Pachelbel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, performed on piano, harpsichord and fortepiano. She also often performs as a continuo musician in different orchestras and baroque ensembles.

                 On 18 January, Irina Zahharenkova will perform in place of previously announced soloist Diana Ketler.


                 Continuing the series of “Conversations after the Concert”, chief editor, philosopher and music enthusiast Ilmārs Šlāpins invites the listeners to join him for a chat in the White Hall of the Great Guild. On 18 January, the concertgoers will have the opportunity to meet the guest musicians of the evening - conductor Olari Elts and pianist Irina Zahharenkova. Entrance free on presentation of the concert ticket.

The series of events are supported by design store chain “Alan Deko”.


Photo: ©Katrin Viil 

W. A. Mozart - Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter"
F. Mendellsohn - Symphony No. 3
Linda Leimane - Guesstimations
R. Strauss - Oboe Concerto
We are playing