New Year's Concert
The Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili is the soloist for Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Conductor Elim Chan conducted the Nobel Concert the last time she was in Oslo, in 2021, and she returns to conduct Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s emotionally charged Symphony No. 4 and a new work by the American composer Elizabeth Ogonek.
Elizabeth Ogonek (born 1989) grew up in New York. After studying in Los Angeles, London and elsewhere, in 2015 she was appointed composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a three-year period, and in 2017 the orchestra premiered the commissioned work All These Lighted Things, whose title is taken from a poem by Thomas Merton. Ogonek’s music often has a close relationship with text, and she has collaborated with poets on a number of occasions. At this concert, a completely new work will be played.
Franz Liszt (1811–1886) was the most celebrated musician of his day, shifting the boundaries of what a pianist could do, while also having considerable influence as a conductor and composer. Liszt’s two piano concertos were premiered two years apart, in 1855 and 1857, and both were the result of over 20 years’ work. While his first concerto overflows with dazzling piano virtuosity, the soloist plays a more subdued role in his Piano Concerto No. 2. The concerto is in one single, long movement, and has much in common with the composer’s innovative symphonic poems.
In 1877, Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1841–1893) received a surprising enquiry from the wealthy businesswoman Nadezhda von Meck: she was very enthusiastic about Tchaikovsky’s music, and wanted to support him financially so he could concentrate on composing. One of the conditions was that they could never meet, but they exchanged letters frequently for many years, and von Meck continued her financial support until 1890.
1877 was also the year when Tchaikovsky composed his fourth symphony, and von Meck pressed him to reveal the meaning behind the music. Tchaikovsky did not like making such “revelations”, but he explains in his reply that the fanfare right at the beginning is the seed of the whole symphony and that it represents Fate, in the same way that the celebrated opening theme dominates Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Whatever its significance, the explosive opening is the starting gun for an exceptionally colourful and emotive symphony.
What is played
- Elizabeth Ogonek
- Franz Liszt
- Pyotr Tchaikovsky