Sydney Symphony Orchestra to perform complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies with former Principal Conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy

Published by: Caitlin Benetatos | 21-Jan-2016
Revered conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy will make his much-anticipated return to Sydney to conduct all nine Beethoven Symphonies with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and some of the world's best soloists in a Beethoven Celebration. @sydsymph
These performances mark Ashkenazy's first visit to Sydney since his highly successful tenure as SSO Principal Conductor from 2009 to 2013. American pianist Garrick Ohlsson, Canadian violinist James Ehnes, Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii and Australian pianist Jayson Gillham will join Ashkenazy across six concert programs in February and October devoted solely to the music of Beethoven.

"I enjoy working with this orchestra tremendously," Ashkenazy says. "There is a wonderful feeling of coming back... I have enjoyed my visits to Australia immensely and Australian audiences have always greeted me warmly. I've always felt very much at home.

"Beethoven's music has an eternal value. It has resonated with listeners emotionally and spiritually for nearly 200 years, so performing this music is just a wonderful feeling," he added.

The Celebration opens with Beethoven Alive, a concert focused entirely on the Beethoven symphony. It opens with the 'Grand Symphony' No.1, showing a composer who's already pushing the envelope of his classical inheritance. That same vitality can then be heard in the Seventh and Eighth symphonies, with their passion, playfulness and sheer rhythmic exhilaration.

The second concert "“ Beethoven Triumphant "“ will feature masterful American pianist Garrick Ohlsson as the soloist in Beethoven's grand Emperor Piano Concerto. This will be followed by a performance of the Fourth Symphony, with its distinctive display of wit, lyricism and invention.

Beethoven Ascendant sees Canadian violinist James Ehnes returning to the Concert Hall stage to perform Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Ashkenazy will then conduct Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a symphony so deeply ingrained in our culture that it almost needs no introduction.

Ashkenazy will return to Sydney in October to conduct the second instalment of the SSO's Beethoven Celebration, featuring performances of the Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth symphonies and the Third and Fourth piano concertos with Nobuyuki Tsujii and Jayson Gillham respectively.


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Thu 4 Feb, 1.30pm
Fri 5 Feb, 11am*
Sat 6 Feb, 2pm
Mon 8 Feb, 7pm
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.1*
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.8
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.7*

Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Tickets: $39-$159


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Thu 20 Oct, 1.30pm
Fri 21 Oct, 8pm
Sat 22 Oct, 2pm
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.6 (Pastoral)
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Nobuyuki Tsujii piano
Tickets: $39-$159


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Wed 10 Feb, 8pm
Fri 12 Feb, 8pm
Sat 13 Feb, 8pm
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.5 (Emperor)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.4
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Garrick Ohlsson piano
Tickets: $39-$159


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Wed 12 Oct, 8pm
Fri 14 Oct, 8pm
Sat 15 Oct, 8pm
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.4
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 (Eroica)
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Jayson Gillham piano
Tickets: $39-$159


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Wed 17 Feb, 8pm
Thu 18 Feb, 8pm
Fri 19 Feb, 8pm
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.5
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
James Ehnes violin
Tickets: $39-$175


Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Wed 26 Oct, 8pm
Fri 28 Oct, 8pm
Sat 29 Oct, 8pm
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.2
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.9 (Choral)
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Christiane Oelze soprano
Fiona Campbell mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim tenor
Teddy Tahu Rhodes baritone
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Tickets: $39-$159

Artists appearing in February:

Vladimir Ashkenazy

One of the few artists to combine a successful career as a pianist and conductor, Russian-born Vladimir Ashkenazy inherited his musical gift from both sides of his family; his father David Ashkenazy was a professional light music pianist and his mother Evstolia (née Plotnova) was daughter of a chorus master in the Russian Orthodox church. Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and as first prize-winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956. Since then he has built an extraordinary career, not only as one of the most outstanding pianists of the 20th century, but as an artist whose creative life encompasses a vast range of activities and continues to offer inspiration to music-lovers across the world.

James Ehnes

Known for his virtuosity and insightful musicianship, violinist James Ehnes has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world's great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors. James has an extensive discography of over 40 recordings featuring music ranging from J.S. Bach to John Adams. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a GRAMMY, a Gramophone, and ten JUNO Awards. James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his wife and family.

Garrick Ohlsson

Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although long regarded as one of the world's leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him.

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