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Beethoven extravaganza opens NZSO Season

27 January 2015

Beethoven extravaganza opens NZSO Season

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra opens its 2015 Season with more great music from master composer Beethoven.

Following last year’s popular NZSO concert series, Beethoven: The Symphonies, the first national tour for 2015 features the famous composer’s much-loved piano concertos performed and directed by British piano star Freddy Kempf.

Renowned for his supreme musicianship and dramatically physical performances, Kempf captures both the lyricism and the passionate fire that defines Beethoven. Freddy finds the emotion in every note. He is a charismatic force of nature at the piano famous for his mesmerising finger work. This is the ideal concert series for this internationally acclaimed musician.

The delicacy of his touch was almost excruciating… His right-hand twinkled like a music box… The subtle, refined tenderness of Kempf’s musicianship keeps you leaning in… Kempf has the ability to turn his hand to every mood and style necessary. timeout.com.hk (2013)

This is Freddy Kempf’s fourth visit to New Zealand. He last performed with the NZSO in 2012 when he played works by Gershwin, Bernstein and Shostakovich. The NZ Herald said he:

…had the sleekness of a cheetah on the keys; Ravelian cascades were dispatched with feline grace and he subtly caressed the work's moody chromaticisms into sinuous life.

In 2010, Freddy performed Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Third with Maestro Alexander Lazarev and in 2007 he performed works by Beethoven and Prokofiev.

This time, Wellington audiences will hear Freddy play all five Beethoven piano concertos over two concerts - from the elegance of the First to the epic sweep of the Fifth, known as the Emperor. Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill will encounter the Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5 and the fiery drama of the Third Concerto. Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, conducted by Freddy, will also be performed in all centres.

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is a study of elegance, with music that seems to suspend time itself. Echoing the works of Mozart and Haydn, the classical Piano Concerto No. 2 charms audiences with radiant exuberance. A more heroic composer begins to emerge in the Piano Concerto No. 3. With its dramatic opening, wondrous largo and final racing rondo, there is ample opportunity to revel in Kempf’s virtuosic range, exquisitely expressive yet filled with musical fireworks.

From its emphatic opening chords, the Egmont Overture reveals Beethoven’s genius as he shifts effortlessly from the terrifying to the sublime. Intimate yet expansive - these contradictory qualities come together again in his Piano Concerto No. 4, while revolutionary ideas stalk the majestic Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5. This self-assured work is one of the most beloved Beethoven concertos. It perfectly embodies Beethoven’s spirit.

Watch Freddy Kempf perform the final movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 >

Celebrate the start of our phenomenal Season with one of the great masters of music. Join your national orchestra in the concert hall for Freddy Kempf’s Beethoven, in association with Principal Partner Newstalk ZB.

Experience Beethoven at his finest, played by Freddy Kempf at his best.

FUN FACTS:
• Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770 but no one is sure of the exact date. He was baptised on 17 December, so he was probably born the day before.
• Beethoven reportedly dipped his head in cold water before he composed.
• Beethoven was temperamental and would, on occasion, end a performance if he was aware of any audience members talking.
• Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, written during 1796 and 1797, isn't actually the first one he composed. His Piano Concerto No. 2 was written before his First Concerto, between 1787 and 1789, but it was published much later in 1801. Beethoven also composed another concerto at the age of 13, titled Piano Concerto No. 0 or WoO 4. (WoO = ‘works without opus number’).
• Beethoven was the soloist at the premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 2 on 29 March 1795 at Vienna's Burgtheater. The Concerto was an important display piece for the young Beethoven as he sought to establish himself after moving from Bonn to Vienna.
• Beethoven composed his Piano Concerto No. 3 in 1800, and it was first performed three years later in 1803 by Beethoven himself. He even performed most of his Piano Concerto No. 3 from memory - though reportedly not by choice, but because he’d run out of time to transcribe the piano part.
• After completing the Piano Concerto No. 4 in 1806, Beethoven struggled to find a soloist to perform it. So the work sat on a shelf gathering dust for two years until he decided to play it himself in its public premiere in December 1808 when he also conducted his Symphony No. 5 and No. 6.
• Beethoven started to lose his hearing at the age of 26. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own Piano Concerto No. 5, which was premiered by his student Carl Czerny a year later, he never performed in public again until he conducted the Ninth Symphony in 1824.
• Beethoven’s loss of hearing was possibly the result of lead poisoning, which was one of the factors that led to his death in 1827 at the age of 57. However, following his death, his autopsy also revealed a shrunken liver due to cirrhosis (the great composer was reportedly more partial to a pint than most) so the exact cause of his death is still unclear.
• Beethoven’s legacy is far-reaching. The third largest crater on the planet Mercury is named in his honour and his music features twice on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes in 1977.
• He is a pivotal figure in the transition from 18th century musical classicism to 19th century romanticism and is acknowledged as one of the giants of classical music, occasionally referred to as one of the ‘three Bs’ (along with Bach and Brahms) who epitomise that tradition.

NZSO: Freddy Kempf’s Beethoven
Principal Partner NEWSTALK ZB

PROGRAMME ONE
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor

WELLINGTON / Michael Fowler Centre / Saturday 28 February / 7.30pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

PROGRAMME TWO

Egmont Overture
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’

WELLINGTON / Michael Fowler Centre / Saturday 14 March / 7.30pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

PROGRAMME THREE
Egmont Overture
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’

TAURANGA / Baycourt Theatre / Wednesday 4 March / 7.30pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

HAMILTON / Founders Theatre / Thursday 5 March / 7.30 pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

AUCKLAND / Bruce Mason Theatre / Friday 6 March / 7.00 pm
TICKETMASTER / 0800 111 999 / TICKETMASTER.CO.NZ

NAPIER / Municipal Theatre / Saturday 7 March / 7.00pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

CHRISTCHURCH / Horncastle Arena / Tuesday 10 March / 7.00pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

DUNEDIN / Town Hall / Wednesday 11 March / 7.00 pm
TICKETDIRECT / 0800 224 224 / TICKETDIRECT.CO.NZ

INVERCARGILL / Civic Theatre / Thursday 12 March / 7.30 pm
TICKETDIRECT / 0800 224 224 / TICKETDIRECT.CO.NZ

www.nzso.co.nz

PRE-CONCERT TALK: NZSO players Donald Armstrong and Robert Orr will speak at the free pre-concert talks inside the venues, 45 minutes prior to each concert.

ENDS

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