Sinfonietta Rīga season closing with the romantic Brahms
Chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga closes its 13th concert season sharing the stage with the brilliant Argentinian pianist Nelson Goerner. Led by conductor Normunds Šnē, in two concerts - May 17 at the Great Guild Hall and May 18 at the Embassy of Latgale "GORS" - the orchestra will perform two compositions of the German grand-master of the romantic era Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 2 in D major and Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major.
In the crown of its concert season, Sinfonietta Rīga bravely steps outside the orchestra's usual comfort zone of the classical era into the age of the great uncertainty through which the masters of the 19th century carved each his own path of symphonic music development. Among the most popular German composers of the romantic era, the creative approach and legacy of Johannes Brahms is the closest to classicism; perhaps that is why Sinfonietta Rīga, by virtue of its always-inquisitive and adventurous nature, has come to it.
Speaking of the programme, the artistic director of the orchestra Normunds Šnē says: "Not just in our modern times people, exhausted by the relentless pace of city life, leave for countryside. Brahms, too, spent his summers on the lakeshore, creating tranquil music inspired by the eternal rites of nature. Neither his masterful Second Symphony nor the Second Piano Concerto requires large body of performers, but both are full of grand and deeply felt musical notions. These works are perfect for Sinfonietta Rīga - for our size, our approach and our performance style."
Brahms has contributed a number of symphonic compositions to the world's musical heritage, including four symphonies and two piano concertos. Composed in summer 1877, the Second Symphony is considered one of the greatest achievements of the romantic master. Pastoral in tone, it delivers a bright and joyful range of emotions. A year later Brahms began working on his Second Piano Concert, similarly inspired by the scenic nature of Austria. Before its premiere - Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra had the honour - the score was studied by Brahms's colleague and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, who commented of his impressions of the concerto: "At the first reading this work seemed to me a little gray in tone; I have, however, gradually come to understand it. It possesses the pregnant character of a distinguished work of art, in which thought and feeling move in noble harmony."
Argentine-born and currently Swiss-based pianist Nelson Goerner (1969) is one of the world's foremost pianists. At the age of 17 he was awarded First Prize at the Liszt Competition in Buenos Aires, and just three years later, in 1990, he won First Prize at the Geneva Competition, after which Goerner left his motherland for Europe. Today he lives in the picturesque city where in his youth he gained his achievements and acclaim. Goerner is the piano professor at the High School of Music in Geneva, from where he embarks on concert tours across Europe and beyond, and to Berlin where he teaches at the Barenboim-Said Akademie.
The influential BBC Music Magazine comments: “This Argentinian pianist possesses artistry of a very high order… Goerner purveys poetry as natural as breathing.”
Nelson Goerner has performed with many of today’s major orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Bilbao Symphony, and the National Orchestra of Belgium; and with several of today’s leading conductors such as Neeme Järvi, Sir Mark Elder, Vassily Sinaisky, Jonathan Nott, Fabio Luisi and Frans Bruggen.
Goerner has often performed at the most notable classical music festivals in front of enthusiastic audiences - including the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Schleswig-Holstein and Verbier festivals, and, of course, the famous BBC Proms.
Nelson Goerner is also a keen chamber musician; the first among his closest collaborators is his compatriot, world-renowned pianist Martha Argerich, but he has also performed with other celebrated musicians, including violinist Janine Jansen and cellists Steven Isserlis and Gary Hoffman.
In the 2013-14 season, Nelson Goerner was the subject of the Artist Portrait series at London’s Wigmore Hall. There he gave four recitals exploring diverse repertoire including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy and Bartók.
British newspaper The Guardian gushed about Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand performed by Goerner in 2012 with the Manchester's Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder: "Nelson Goerner delivered a thrilling and fastidiously faithful account, generating a richness of tone in which you'd swear there must be 10 fingers at work, despite using his right hand solely for mopping his brow."
Goerner is very active in the recording studio too. His discography on Alpha Classics label includes recordings of Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Busoni. He has received critical acclaim for his recording of Debussy's preludes and miniatures (2013), Schumann's Kreisleriana, Symphonic Studies and Toccata (2014), Chopin's Preludes (2015) and Nocturnes (2017), as well as Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata (2015). Last year he also recorded Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra.