Three Heroes: Wagner, Liszt, Strauss

June 7, Friday

Lithuanian National Philharmonic Concert Hall, 19:00

LNSO (artistic director and principal conductor Modestas Pitrėnas)

Soloist YOAV LEVANON (piano)

Conductor: VICTORIEN VANOOSTEN (France)

Programme:

RICHARD WAGNER – Overture to the opera Parsifal

FERENC LISZT – Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 1 in E flat major, S. 124

RICHARD STRAUSS – Symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 (A Hero’s Life)

“Fantastic” – that is how the musicians of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra describe the French master of the baton, Victorien Vanoosten. Having already attended several concerts conducted by him at the National Philharmonic, the audience is in accord with that. Vanoosten grew up in Lille, studied piano at the Paris Conservatoire, conducting in Paris and Helsinki. In 2016, he won the ADAMI Conducting Competition. Vanoosten has been invited to conduct the Paris Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Staatskapelle, Vienna Tonkünstler, Montreal Métropolitain and other orchestras. His most recent works include productions of Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) and Carmen, Massenet’s Thaïs, and Flotow’s Martha, among others, in Toulouse, Berlin, Marseille, Frankfurt. The conductor was awarded the Order of Merit of the French Republic for contributions to French culture.

“At 19 years old, Israeli pianist Yoav Levanon is already showing great maturity,” is how the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented on the young musician’s spectacular performance in front of 25,000 spectators and almost half a million TV viewers at the 2022 Europa Open Air concert in Frankfurt. The pianist has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Boulez Hall in Berlin, the Prinzregententheater in Munich, the Tonhalle in Zurich, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, the Piano Summit presented by Martha Argerich at Elmau Castle. He has recorded Liszt’s Piano Concertos for Warner Classics. Levanon first appeared on stage at the age of four, won the National Piano Competition in Israel at the age of five, garnered the Gold Medal at the International Piano Competition in the USA at the age of six and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York.

The programme of this Vilnius Festival concert features three amazing heroes. The first is Parsifal, the saviour of the world, the hero of the last eponymous drama-mystery by opera reformer Richard Wagner. The overture to this opera could be called a symphonic poem. The First Piano Concerto by the great romantic composer Ferenc Liszt is often described as a musical novel: the development of the material in this concerto resembles a rhapsodic storytelling – the piano solemnly recites its part as if it were an authoritative orator, then plunges into the melodic twists and turns like a youthful romantic hero, and then explodes into a blazing virtuosity that requires a special technique. Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), unlike his other works in the same genre, has no literary source, which has given rise to all sorts of speculations – who is this hero? The composer once confessed that the epigraph of the work could read as follows: “Through struggle – to perfection of spirit, achieved at the cost of painful losses.”

    

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