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  • Pianist Emanuel Ax Joins Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a Program of Works by Mozart, Pärt and Brahms
  • Jan. 9, 2009
  • Pärt's Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles," is a World Premiere and LA Phil Commission


    Media Sponsor (Jan. 9): Time Warner Cable; The Jan. 10 Concert is Generously Sponsored by Acura - All Acura Vehicles Park Free for the Evening

    Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen joins close friend and frequent collaborator, pianist Emanuel Ax, in a program that features Mozart's Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor, Pärt's Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles," (not performed on Friday) and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. This concert is part of the season-long celebration of Salonen's final season as Music Director. Pärt's Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles," a Los Angeles Philharmonic commission underwritten by Lenore and Bernard Greenberg, receives its world premiere.

    Mozart was busy with The Marriage of Figaro, when a hard-to-ignore imperial commission arrived from Emperor Joseph II, who wanted to feature his Italian and German opera companies in a combined, bilingual work. Antonio Salieri got the Italian portion and the German fell to Mozart. The German portion of the work, a comedy featuring feuding sopranos, did not survive the first public performances, but the richly scored Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor held its own.

    By the mid-'70s Arvo Pärt arrived at a new style he called "tintinnabulation." "The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity," Pärt has said. "I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements - with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitive materials - with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I called it tintinnabulation."

    Since developing tintinnabulation, Pärt has not composed any orchestral work that could be called symphonic in scope or structure. Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic long desired to commission a new work by Pärt, however, and when this project was proposed to the composer in February 2007, the suggestion came at an opportune moment. Pärt took the commission partly because he was inspired by "the idea of seeing this work performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic...under its music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, and in Walt Disney Concert Hall, one of the most exciting concert buildings of our time," as a note for the score indicates. Pärt's Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles," adopts his preferred instrumental forces for the tintinnabulation style - strings with percussion.

    The creation of Brahms' monumental Piano Concerto No. 1 occupied the composer for at least five years. Conceived originally as a sonata for two pianos, it then became a symphony before it reached its final format as the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor. It is an uncompromising and awesome piece of work, and it remains so even 150 years later.

    Upbeat Live pre-performance discussions are free to ticket-holders, and occur one hour prior in BP Hall. Christopher Russell, Director of Orchestral Studies at Azusa Pacific University and Coordinator of the Orchestral Program at Orange County High School of the Arts, hosts Upbeat Live Jan. 9 - 11.

    The Jan. 9 performance is part of the LA Phil's Casual Fridays series, which encourages audience and orchestra members to attend attired in comfortable clothes. These shorter programs - without intermission - feature free post-concert activities for all ticket-holders to enjoy. These activities include a TalkBack discussion with musicians held on stage after the performance and a chance to mingle with members of the orchestra in the Concert Hall Caf'e.

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, who was born in Helsinki in 1958, studied at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. In 1979, he made his conducting debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1984. He was recently appointed Principal Conductor of London's Philharmonia for this season, his last with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition, Salonen has won acclaim for his work as a composer. Among the many highlights of Salonen's career with the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been world premieres of works by composers John Adams, Franco Donatoni, Anders Hillborg, William Kraft, Magnus Lindberg, Witold Lutoslawski, Bernard Rands, Kaija Saariaho, Rodion Shchedrin, Steven Stucky, Tan Dun, and Augusta Read Thomas, as well as his own works. He has led critically acclaimed festivals of music by Ligeti, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Berlioz, and Beethoven, and the Tristan Project. He and the Philharmonic have toured extensively since 1992. In October of 2003, Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic opened Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry. In March 2003, Salonen signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The following year, DG released a disc devoted to his recent orchestral works, featuring Foreign Bodies, Insomnia, and Wing on Wing. In January 2006, Salonen and the Philharmonic recorded their first CD together for DG, the first live recording at Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Salonen and the Philharmonic also have several live concert recordings available for download on iTunes from DG Concerts.) Before signing with DG, Salonen recorded regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony Classical. Salonen is the recipient of several major awards including the Siena Prize from the Accademia Chigiana in 1993, the first conductor ever to receive the prize; the Royal Philharmonic Society's Opera Award in 1995; and their Conductor Award in 1997. In 1998, he was awarded the rank of Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. Musical America named him 2006 Musician of the Year.

    Born in Lvov, Poland, EMANUEL AX moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In the 2008-09 season, Ax returns to several orchestras with which he has had relationships for many years including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony, where he will perform the world premiere of Stephen Hartke's Piano Concerto. Special projects include a duo recital tour with Yefim Bronfman including performances at Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall; a performance with Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall; and a solo recital tour in both North America and Europe. Other European engagements include a tour of the Far East with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Fabio Luisi, with whom he will record the Strauss Burleske for Sony BMG; and performances with the Tonhalle Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra in Munich and Carnegie Hall, the London Philharmonia, and Orchestre National de France. Highlights of the 2007-08 season included performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and National symphonies. In Europe, he appeared with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra, the London Philharmonia, the London Philharmonic, and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin. A solo recital tour in Europe and North America included performances at London's Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall. For the opening Gala of the New York Philharmonic in September 2006, Ax appeared with Mr. Bronfman in Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos conducted by Lorin Maazel with live national TV coverage. As an "On Location" artist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2006-07 season, he contributed to a series of chamber and orchestral programs centered around Mozart and Strauss works. With his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki, a project with the Mark Morris Dance Group originally conceived for New York's Mostly Mozart Festival in the summer of 2006 was repeated in Vienna and London. Tours included a series of Mozart Concerti with Orpheus on the west coast, Florida with the Atlanta Symphony conducted by Robert Spano, a ten-city recital tour, duos with bassist Edgar Meyer, and concerts in Japan with his long-standing colleague and partner Yo-Yo Ma. In the 2005-06 season, Ax served as Pianist-in-Residence with the Berlin Philharmonic, performing with the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin and New York. Other recent performance highlights have included separate recital tours with two longstanding colleagues, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Yefim Bronfman; a tour of the United States with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Myung-Whun Chung (with performances in Carnegie Hall and Boston's Symphony Hall); and a season-long "Perspectives" series focused on the music of Debussy. Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. Recent releases include Strauss' Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart; discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman; and period-instrument performances of Chopin's complete works for piano and orchestra. Ax has received Grammy awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams' Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004-05 season Ax also contributed to a BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and which was awarded a 2005 International Emmy. In recent years, Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, premiering works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. Ax is also devoted to chamber music, and he has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music - Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association's involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.





    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles


    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, conductor

    EMANUEL AX, piano

    MOZART Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor

    PäRT Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles" (except the Casual Fridays performance)

    BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

    Media Sponsor (Jan. 9): Time Warner Cable

    The Jan. 10 Concert is Generously Sponsored by Acura - All Acura Vehicles Park Free for the Evening

    Tickets ($42 - $147) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at, or via credit card by phone at 323.850.2000. When available, choral bench seats ($17), will be released for sale to selected Philharmonic, Colburn Celebrity Recital, and Baroque Variations performances beginning at noon on the Tuesday of the second week prior to the concert. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Lisa Bellamore, 213.972.3689,; Photos: 213.972.3034