DSO Welcomes French pianist Helene Grimaud in Beethoven & Vaughan Williams


 Concerts include DSO Premiere of Jacques Hétu’s Le Tombeau de Nelligan

 DETROIT, (Mar. 24, 2010) –The DSO and Principal Guest Conductor Peter Oundjian welcome French pianist Hélène Grimaud for a performance of Beethoven’s serenely intimate Piano Concerto No. 4 in Beethoven & Vaughan Williams on Apr. 9-11. The concert opens with the DSO premiere of Jacques Hétu’s Le Tombeau de Nelligan based on the poetry of Émile Nelligan, and concludes with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 4. Performances take place in Orchestra Hall on Fri., Apr. 9 at 10:45 a.m.; Sat., Apr. 10 at 8:30 p.m.; and Sun., Apr. 11 at 3:00 p.m.

A dynamic presence in the orchestral world, Peter Oundjian, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, continues to make his mark as one of today’s most exciting faces on the conducting scene. Through his communicative gifts on and off the podium, Oundjian’s concerts draw capacity audiences. His probing musicality, collaborative spirit, and engaging personality have earned him accolades from musicians and critics alike.

 For Hélène Grimaud music is a limitless passion which started early, attending the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris at the age of 12.  Her first highly praised recording, a MIDEM Classical Award, and high profile engagements in France and Japan helped to establish her career, along with regular invitations to collaborate with world-class orchestras, as well as solo appearances throughout the world. She regularly performs with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, New York Philharmonic, NHK Symphony and München Philharmoniker and has collaborated with leading conductors including Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski and Andris Nelsons. Recordings have always been important in Hélène’s creative activity. Exclusively signed to Deutsche Grammophon since 2002 and one of their most important artists, she has produced a string of imaginative and highly successful discs encompassing Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Bartók, Rachmaninov and Pärt.

Jacques Hétu’s Le Tombeau de Nelligan was given its world premiere in Paris in 1993. The symphonic work is inspired by the poetry of Émile Nelligan. Born in Trois-Rivières, Hétu began studying piano late, at 15, before taking composition lessons in Montreal with Clermont Pépin and in Paris with Henri Dutilleux and Olivier Messiaen. Hétu’s compositional output comprises over 50 works in diverse forms. Hétu passed away earlier this year on Feb. 9, in Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec. He was 71 years old.

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 premiered in a four-hour marathon at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on Dec. 22, 1808, which included premieres of his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. While the audience sat in a chilly hall, the irascible composer publicly humiliated the orchestra for missing a cue, gesticulated so wildly as he played the solo part to the concerto that he knocked over the candelabra on the piano, and inadvertently slapped an unwary page turner on the cheek. While those superficial mishaps dominated the conversation and commentary of those attending the concert, what matters to today’s concertgoers is the flood of great music that poured from the composer’s pen in those early years of the nineteenth century.  In their separate ways, the two symphonies and the concerto were landmark works in Beethoven’s artistic development.  The gentle, song-like character of the concerto, especially its opening movement, attests to the spirit of Romanticism developing in his music. 

Ralph Vaughan Willliams began his Fourth Symphony in 1931 and completed it in 1934, and the first performance took place in London on April 10, 1935. Vaughan Williams, 62 years old when he wrote his Fourth Symphony, was recognized as the most important British composer of his time. He had composed his Sea Symphony, the “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis,” “The Wasps” and the ballet Job-A Masque for Dancing, to mention his better known orchestral works.


Tickets to Beethoven & Vaughan Williams range in price from $19 to $71 with a limited number of box seats available for $65 to $123.  Tickets may be purchased at the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit); by calling (313) 576-5111; or online at www.detroitsymphony.com.  Seniors (60 and over) and students with a valid student ID can purchase 50% off RUSH tickets at the box office 90 minutes prior to concerts based on availability.  For group discount information (10 people or more), please contact Chuck Dyer at (313) 576-5130 or cdyer@dso.org


 Classical Series

Beethoven & Vaughan Williams

Orchestra Hall

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Peter Oundjian, conductor; Hélène Grimaud, piano

Fri., Apr. 9 at 10:45 a.m.; Sat., Apr. 10 at 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Apr. 11 at 3:00 p.m.

HÉTU                                                     Le Tombeau de Nelligan, Op.52    

BEETHOVEN                                        Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op.58 

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS                         Symphony No. 4 in F minor

Get the most out of each concert by attending Ford ConcerTalks, one hour prior to performances (excluding Coffee Concerts).   ConcerTalks are informal and may include special guests, lectures and music that reveal interesting facts about the program and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the art of making music.



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