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Star pianist and conductor Lars Vogt to debut with the NZSO

Star pianist and conductor Lars Vogt to debut with the NZSO

He’s an international sensation at the piano and on the podium. Now acclaimed German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt is coming to New Zealand for the first time.

Maestro Vogt will conduct and perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington and Auckland this month.

Vogt, praised by The New York Times for his “deeply lyrical yet intricately ornamented” performances, will open his Lars Vogt Plays Mozart concerts with Beethoven’s Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, from the composer’s only full-length score for a ballet.

He’ll then swap the conductor’s podium for piano to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, one of Mozart’s best-known works. The Concerto is used often in films, television shows and commercials, and for the past 50 years has also been known as ‘Elvira Madigan’ after featuring in the 1967 Swedish film of the same name.

When Vogt was recently asked what he loved about Mozart’s music, he said it contained beauty, drama and poetry that was “beyond words”.

“Often, I feel like kneeling down to thank God, or whoever made this genius happen in the history of mankind. Mozart himself would have said: ‘I want my music to make people laugh and cry.’ And that he does. Sometimes miraculously at the same time.”

For the concert’s second half Vogt will conduct Austrian Anton Webern’s light-hearted and passionate Langsamer Satz. While composed in 1905, the work wasn’t performed in the composer’s lifetime and had its premiere in the early 1960s. The NZSO will perform an arrangement by conductor and composer Gerard Schwarz, first performed in 1982.

Vogt will conclude the concert with Mozart’s joyous Symphony No. 36, famously composed in Linz, Austria, in just four days.

Vogt first shot to attention when he won second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1990 at age 20. His talent was noticed by the renowned British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, who was conducting the competition final. The two became friends and it wasn’t long before Vogt, a passionate soccer player in his youth until music took precedence, became a sought-after pianist.

Vogt performs often with many of the world’s great orchestras and is a prolific recording artist. In 2016, as part of a trio, he was nominated for a Grammy Award with violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.

Vogt’s approach to the piano, he told Pianist magazine in 2016, is “to sing, to sound like a singer or string or wind player … trying to get the sound out of the keyboard rather than into it.”

While Vogt continues to be praised for his virtuosity at the piano, in recent years he’s also been hailed for his skills as a conductor. “A conductor is there to shape and colour a performance, making decisions the musicians can’t make spontaneously,” he’s said.

Since 2015 he’s been Music Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia, based near Newcastle in the UK.


ENDS

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