December 6, 2019 at 6 pm — Estonia Concert Hall (pre-concert event)
December 6, 2019 at 7 pm — Estonia Concert Hall

1st concert of the PIANO CONCERTO series

Władysław Szpilman
Little Overture   7′

Frédéric Chopin
Piano Concerto No. 1   40′

Thea Musgrave
Song of the Enchanter (Hommage à Sibelius)   5′

Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 1   40′

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor OLARI ELTS

Garrick Ohlsson (© Dario Acosta) has attracted a lot of attention with a really special sound that he can make with the piano – ‘There are no histrionics, no flailing or thumping or grandstanding, just an incredible technique with razor-sharp accuracy, producing a sound so lush it almost glistens.’ (Seattle Times, 13 January 2016).

The American pianist Garrick Ohlsson will perform in Estonia for the first time. He has won numerous international competitions and his career really started when he won the gold medal at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1970. The artist, who is popular all over the world, will be performing with ENSO for the third time now – the inspirational first meeting took place in 2018 on the American Tour in Florida and Michigan under the baton of Neeme Järvi. His repertoire includes over 80 piano concertos, starting with Haydn and Mozart and ending with 21st-century music, including many pieces that he has commissioned. In 2010, when the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of Chopin, he participated in a documentary film The Art of Chopin, created jointly by Polish, French, British, and Chinese TVs.

The conductor is ENSO’s principal guest conductor Olari Elts, who was inspired by the music of Chopin and Sibelius in putting together the programme. Elts says that Symphony No. 1 by Sibelius is his most romantic work in this genre: ‘Its canvas and brush are bigger than in later pieces. It is a symphony where shadows are not long, where night is night and day is day, where darkness is impenetrable, and the day arrives unexpectedly, blinding the listener in its brightness. One can sense the influence of Beethoven and Bruckner and, naturally, the always mentioned occasional similarity to Tchaikovsky.’

Each half of the concert is opened by a miniature that engages with the main work. Władysław Szpilman, who lived in Warsaw, was a Jewish pianist and composer with an incredible fate. He performed Nocturne in C-sharp Minor by Chopin in 1939 and with this, the Polish Radio was closed. It was this same piece, again performed by Szpilman, that the Polish Radio first played when it started broadcasting music again after the war. Szpilman’s increasingly popular orchestral music, including Little Overture, is simultaneously neoclassical and expressionistic. The 2002 film The Pianist by Roman Polanski, which has won many awards, introduces the life of Szpilman to the viewers. Thea Musgrave is a Scottish composer living in the U.S., whose Song of the Enchanter, which is based on the episodes of Kalevala, was written in 1990 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Sibelius and, according to the conductor, highlights the impressionist side of his music.

The conductor Olari Elts and Kristjan Hallik, Member of the Board of ENSO, will talk at the pre-concert at 6 p.m.

To celebrate the opening of the series ‘Piano Concerto’, piano music can also be enjoyed at the pre-concert in addition to the main concert. The legendary pianist and piano teacher Erna Saar, who celebrated her 95th birthday this year and who has played an important role in the music career of Olari Elts, will perform in addition to Tähe-Lee Liiv, who won first place at the IX Estonian Piano Competition last week. Erna Saar will perform Jean Sibelius’ Romance in D-flat Major Op. 24 and Tähe-Lee Liiv will perform Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. posth., which will lead to the first half of the concert thematically as well as musically.

BUY TICKET: €25/€18

PIANO CONCERTO concert series

I: CHOPIN & OHLSSON, December 6, 2019

II: LISZT & BERLIOZ,  January 10, 2020

III: BOTSTEIN & DVOŘÁK, February 28, 2020

IV: JÄRVI & SUMERA, May 8, 2020

Tickets for the concert series (four concerts): €74/€59