Leif Ove Andsnes
One of the most successful pianists of the generation that came of age at the end of the 20th century, Leif Ove Andsnes is particularly known for his attention to the music of his native Norway. "I always played a lot of Grieg from my childhood," he has said. "I always loved Grieg and I don't know if it's only because I'm Norwegian." He entered Bergen Conservatory in 1986 and studied with Jirí Hlinka, a well-known Czech piano professor. Andsnes made his U.S. debut in 1989, appearing in New York and Washington, then traveling to Canada. In the same year he appeared with great acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival where he played with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Mariss Jansons. Since then he has undertaken frequent touring. He debuted with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1992, and in the same year he made his first appearance at the BBC's Henry Wood Proms in London, playing Britten's piano concerto. He has returned to the Proms, playing in Beethoven's second piano concerto and Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 3. His first trip to Japan came in 1993, where he played in Tokyo with the Bergen Philharmonic, and he gave his first concerts in Australia in 1994. Among the other orchestras with which he has collaborated are the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He joined the Danish Radio Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on major tours. Andsnes also performs frequently as a solo recitalist, accompanist, and chamber music participant. He tours as part of a piano trio with the violinist and cellist brother-and-sister team of Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff. He is an exclusive recording artist with the EMI Classics label, on which he has presented a repertory with an unusual mix of well-known and lesser-known music. "I had a teacher who was always very conscious that one should play things that people don't normally hear as well and I find often that pianists are very conventional in their repertoire thinking. I like to explore new things that are not often done," Andsnes says. Alongside Rachmaninov's third concerto and works of Brahms and Schumann, he has made discs of piano music of Grieg, Janácek, and Nielsen, as well as a recital disc of Norwegian piano music. Andsnes is a winner of the Hindemith Prize (1987), the Norwegian Music Critics Prize (1988), the Grieg Prize (1990), the Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award (1992), the Gilmore Prize (1997), the Choc de la Monde de la Musique (a coveted French magazine award) (1998), and, in the year 2000, a Royal Philharmonic Society award for best instrumentalist. His recording activities have won two German Record Critics' awards. In 2012, Andsnes signed with Sony Classical and began a project to record live performances of the five Beethoven concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
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Solo Piano - Released September 1, 2017 | Sony Classical
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
Sibelius’s piano music remains a secret – chronically neglected or approached from an entirely unsympathetic aesthetic standpoint. Sometimes, criticism is justified. “I will be the first to admit that Sibelius’s piano music is uneven in quality”, says Leif Ove Andsnes, pointing to the composer’s own cynicism towards his piano works as a possible reason for the neglect of the genuine gems. But Andsnes also professes in no uncertain terms that he is “on a mission” to bring Sibelius’s piano works out of the shadows. “I really believe in this music and I want people to hear it”, he says. After scouring every published note of the composer’s piano music, Andsnes has selected works for this recording that speak to him not just as a pianist but as a musician who for a long time has felt particularly close to Sibelius. Here are piano works in which Sibelius’s orchestral thinking advances the language of the instrument even if it can test the technical orthodoxies of the player. As may be imagined, Andsnes masters them with elegance and ease.
Classical - Released September 12, 2014 | Sony Classical
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Leif Ove Andsnes has treated his survey of the piano concertos of Ludwig van Beethoven as a journey of musical and historical significance, and this final CD in the series presents the Piano Concert No. 5 in E flat major (shorn of its nickname, "Emperor"), and the Choral Fantasy in C minor as a destination. It is Andsnes' position that the Fifth Piano Concerto was intended by Beethoven to be an act of defiance against Napoleon, so the work is not a glorification of imperial aims, but the opposite. Similarly, the concerto-like Choral Fantasy is an expression of liberation from oppression, and a musical declaration of Beethoven's humanist values. In terms of the performances, Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra deliver streamlined renditions that are lean and muscular, if not exactly guided by period practices, and the orchestra sometimes approximates Classical textures without using historically informed techniques or original instrumentation. Of course, Andsnes' piano is a modern instrument, and this is always obvious, despite his caution in reining in its dynamics to match the smaller volume of the orchestra. Whether or not listeners want a pared-down and intimate version of the Fifth Piano Concerto, without a thorough period treatment, is a matter of taste, but Andsnes' compromise between styles of performance works for his purposes. The Choral Fantasy is similarly reduced in scale, which allows the soloistic instrumental writing to shine through wonderfully, though when the full Prague Philharmonic Choir enters, it is a bit out of proportion to what preceded it. Still, if expressing the joy of freedom is Andsnes' aim, he comes close to achieving that in this traditional conclusion.
Classical - Released October 1, 2010 | Warner Classics
Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
This release by Leif Ove Andsnes was anxiously awaited by both fans and EMI executives after the pop sales levels achieved by his album featuring the first two Rachmaninov concertos, and it seems likely that the Norwegian pianist will once again serve those who stand and wait. He has executed the undeniably neat trick of breathing new life into some of the most stolidly ensconced works of the piano concerto repertory, draining them of Russian sentiment and replacing those vital fluids with stunning technical mastery delivered at breakneck speed (especially in the outer movements of the Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 30), and with a sort of hard edge. In so doing he runs counter to the type established by generations of keyboard-pounding Russians, and those who want that kind of a reading have many other choices. It's clear, however, that Rachmaninov has survived the disrespect heaped on his music during the modernist tyranny, and that his music is strong enough to reveal unsuspected facets in new readings. Andsnes finds plenty of them; hence the excitement. The two concertos have different flavors, and buyers may prefer one or the other. The Piano Concerto No. 3, a work explicitly composed with blood-and-guts-desiring American audiences in mind, is a bigger surprise for the listener, while the delicate and even bluesy Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 40, from late in the composer's life (played here in its 1941 revision), benefits from his subtle control over the entire range of the keyboard. Only confirmed members of the old school, however, should be discouraged from trying this out. Booklet notes are in English, German, and French.
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