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  • ESA-PEKKA SALONEN LEADS SHOSTAKOVICH'S FIFTH SYMPHONY AS PART OF THE PHILHARMONIC'S SHOSTAKOVICH CYCLE
  • May 2, 2003
  • CELLIST PIETER WISPELWEY MAKES MAJOR AMERICAN ORCHESTRAL DEBUT IN DVORÁK'S CELLO CONCERTO

    Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, 8 PM; Sunday, May 4, 2:30 PM

    Special "Upbeat Live" Events Feature Philharmonic Musicians in Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 5

    Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic continue their five-year survey of the complete symphonies and string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich with performances of the Russian composer's Symphony No. 5 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 4, at 2:30 p.m. Cellist Pieter Wispelwey will make his major American orchestral debut, replacing Truls Mørk (who cancelled his appearance due to a broken leg), in one of the cornerstone works of the instrument's repertoire, Dvorák's Cello Concerto.

    As part of the Shostakovich Cycle, the pre-concert Upbeat Live events on May 2, 3 and 4 feature Philharmonic musicians performing Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 5 in B flat, Op. 92. Chris Russell hosts these presentations, which take place one hour prior to each concert in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Grand Hall and are free to all ticket holders.

    The Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 (1895) was the last major work that Dvorák composed during his three-year stay in America. A dramatic score tinged by tragedy and infused with heartrending melodic beauty, Dvorák's composition towers above the other cello concertos in the Romantic repertory. While working on the slow movement, Dvorák received news from Prague that his beloved sister-in-law Josefina, whom he had courted passionately in his youth, was seriously ill. In response, he embedded a theme from a song of which she was particularly fond: his "Lasst mich allein," Op. 82, No. 1. In June 1895, Josefina succumbed to her illness. This tragedy inspired the composer to memorialize her by revising the last movement of the Concerto to include an elegiac coda in which the "Lasst mich allein" theme intertwines with echoes of the first movement.

    "The theme of my Symphony is the stabilization of a personality," explained Shostakovich, writing about his Fifth Symphony. "In the center of this composition, which is conceived lyrically from beginning to end, I saw a man, with all his experiences. The Finale resolves the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements into optimism and the joy of living." Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, was first performed in Leningrad on November 21, 1937. It is said that the applause lasted longer than the 48-minute symphony itself, so overcome was the audience. Having lost favor with the Soviet government for his "un-Soviet, unwholesome, cheap, eccentric, tuneless, leftist" opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Shostakovich regained official approval with this large, powerful, and tuneful symphonic work. In spite of the symphony's political overtones, the Western world embraced Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony as the finest work to date by a composer who would become recognized as one of the 20th century's preeminent symphonists.

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, the tenth conductor to head the Los Angeles Philharmonic, began his tenure as Music Director in October 1992. Salonen made his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in November 1984, and he has conducted the orchestra every season since. Among the many highlights of Salonen's activities with the Philharmonic have been world premieres of new works by composers John Adams, Bernard Rands, Rodion Shchedrin, Steven Stucky and Salonen himself, well-received Ligeti and Stravinsky Festivals, appearances at the Ojai Festival, eight critically acclaimed international tours since 1992, and his extensive discography with the Orchestra for Sony Classical. Salonen was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1958. He made his conducting debut in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra in September 1983. He served as principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia of London from 1985 to 1994 and as a principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 1995.

    PIETER WISPELWEY is one of the first of a generation of performers equally adept on either the baroque or modern cello. His expert stylistic knowledge, and original and profound musical thinking, augmented by a phenomenal technique, enable him to render individual, yet remarkable interpretations of the cello repertoire from J.S. Bach to Elliott Carter. For years, he has won the hearts of critics and public alike with his unique performances of the Bach and Britten unaccompanied cello suites, and with his recitals of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas either on baroque or modern instruments. Born in Haarlem, Netherlands, Wispelwey was the first cellist ever to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, which is endowed upon that country's most promising young musician. His career spans five continents with regular recital appearances in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London (Wigmore Hall), Paris (Châtelet), Buenos Aires (Teatro Colón) and New York (Lincoln Center). He has appeared as soloist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Academica Salzburg, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Svizzera Italiana, and Australian Chamber Orchestra and has recorded with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He has made numerous recordings for the Channel Classics label, of which no less than six have won international awards. These include the Bach and Britten cello suites, the Dvorák and Elgar concertos, and much of the sonata repertoire.

    EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:

    Friday, May 2, 8 PM

    Saturday, May 3, 8 PM

    Sunday, May 4, 2:30 PM

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, conductor

    PIETER WISPELWEY, cello

    DVORÁK: Cello Concerto

    SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5

    Upbeat Live, a free pre-concert event, takes place one hour before each performance in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Grand Hall. Chris Russell hosts the events on May 2, 3, and 4, which feature Philharmonic musicians performing Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 5 in B flat, Op. 92.

    Tickets ($14 - $82) are on sale now at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (Robinsons-May, Tower Records, Ritmo Latino, and selected Wherehouse locations), and by credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. Tickets are also available online at www.laphil.com. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available two hours prior to the performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts. For further information, please call 323.850.2000.

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