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Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra perform works by Beethoven and Rachmaninov in Ferrara and Reggio Emilia

04-01-2010 12:06 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.

To usher in the spring, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) will return to Ferrara and Reggio Emilia with Claudio Abbado. Orchestra and conductor are equally at home in these cities: Since he suggested that the ensemble become the orchestra-in-residence in 1998, Claudio Abbado conducts the MCO in the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara at least once a year. Their last joint appearance was in April 2009. This year, Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and his Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor are on the programme, as is Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major. Rachmaninov's works will be performed by the Chinese virtuoso pianist Yuja Wang, and these pieces will be recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Ferrara. The album is set to come out in spring 2011.

The evening will open with Sergei Rachmaninov's last work for piano and orchestra, the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, op. 43. This theme, taken from Niccolo Paganini's 24th Caprice for Solo Violin, proved inspirational to Brahms and Schumann as well: both composers also used it as a basis for variation. After Schumann wrote a piano accompaniment to the work and Brahms transcribed the work for piano, Rachmaninov tried his hand at the melody in the summer of 1934.

Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of his most beloved and successful compositions. As he began writing the piece, he had just worked through a serious compositional crisis caused by the failure of his Symphony No. 1 and his Piano Concerto No. 1. Neurologist Nikolai Vladimirovitch helped him to overcome depression, and Rachmaninov dedicated the work to him.

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the composers whose works the MCO and its founder have played most frequently in Ferrara. Alongside the 9th, the 8th is the only symphony which they have not yet performed together (though Abbado conducted the 9th in 2007 with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which is comprised largely of MCO members). Reception history tends to neglect the 8th in favour of the 7th and the 9th, as this symphony seems much simpler and more playful, and is also shorter - Beethoven himself called it the "the little F major", which clearly refers to the symphony's length. He composed the work in 1812, just after finishing the 7th. The premiere took place in 1814, in the Redoutensaal of the Viennese castle.

Rachmaninov's works will be performed by the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who was also featured at the LUCERNE FESTIVAL with the LFO and Claudio Abbado in summer 2009, and on the subsequent concert tour to Beijing. Born in 1987 in Beijing, the pianist with the "flying fingers" is one of today's most promising keyboard talents. She studied in Beijing and Philadelphia and has already won numerous international awards. This performance of Rachmaninov's Rhapsodie on a Theme by Paganini and his Piano Concerto No. 2 will appear in spring 2011 on Deutsche Grammophon. It will be the pianist's third recording with the record label.

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO), with its unusual structure, internationality and outstanding quality, is an ensemble unique to the present time. Its organisation and method of operation make it a model for the future of the European orchestral landscape. Composed of around 40 musicians from 20 different nations, and independent of external sponsorship, the MCO plays operas and concerts all over the world, in cities as well as at exclusive festivals from the North Pole to the Red Sea. The orchestra was founded in 1997 by the musicians themselves and Claudio Abbado, and the two have been reaching milestones of European musical life together ever since.

Merit Vareschi
Communications Manager
Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.
Hasenheide 54 / D-10967 Berlin
Phone + 49.30.41 71 79-21
Fax +49.30.41 71 79-29
Mobile +49.160.90 96 91 03

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