LSM Newswire

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The VSO debut of pianist Benjamin Hochman

Pianist Benjamin Hochman plays Mozart’s rarely heard Piano Concerto No.9 in his VSO debut. This is followed up by the huge, exciting, passionate music of Russian master Sergei Prokofiev. Conductor Laureate Kazuyoshi Akiyama returns to conduct the final PricewaterhouseCoopers Masterworks Silver concerts of the season, which take place on Saturday, May 30th and Monday, June 1st at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre.

Benjamin Hochman came into prominence when he made his New York solo recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006. Since then, he has achieved widespread acclaim for his performances. Mr. Hochman has performed with several prominent orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, Seattle Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Portland Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

"Hochman's demeanor is poised, and quietly confident. His playing is beautiful to hear. From the first moment, his crisp, articulated touch was noticeable, clear but not forceful, even with pedal, and he shaped the phrases in the long cadenza with grace."

- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Hochman recently appeared at the Bard Music Festival, Bridgehampton Music Festival and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Just prior to travelling to Vancouver, Hochman returned to his native Israel for a special series of concerts and masterclasses. He will also be performing in London, Barcelona, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw later in the year.

Born in Jerusalem, Benjamin Hochman is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music where his principal teachers were Claude Frank and Richard Goode. His studies were supported by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.9 in E flat Major was a groundbreaking, revolutionary work in its time, helping to “raise the bar” for the piano concerto as a genre and leaving its mark on later concertos by Beethoven and other Romantic composers. Certainly the greatest of the concertos written by Mozart in his time in Salzburg, Classical music author and commentator Charles Rosen also called it “the first unqualified masterpiece in any genre,” and legendary pianist Alfred Brendel characterized the work as “one of the greatest wonders of the world.” The relationship between soloist and orchestra is given unprecedented depth in this concerto, the dialogue and juxtaposition of ideas heightened to a remarkable degree compared to earlier piano concertos. The very opening of the concerto itself is a strong statement for change in the way in which piano concertos were previously written: the soloist is introduced right away after a short heraldic statement by the orchestra; afterword, the orchestra is given a typical, though brief, opening exposition, but it is on the piano’s terms. Later, Mozart goes so far as to turn this dialogue on its head, with the orchestra answering the piano. The second movement is one of utterly poignant expressive brilliance. The C minor atmosphere holds the listener in its thrall as the solo parts, written with such a highly personal and expressive voice, weave their way in and out of discourse with the orchestra in a dreamy, almost tragic manner. And though the finale – one of Mozart’s greatest Rondo finales – is one of virtuosic energy and joy, there is a serious undercurrent at play which keeps the concerto grounded, as if Mozart knew he was creating a work that would lasting impact through generations of composers.

CONCERT INFO

PricewaterhouseCoopers Masterworks Silver Series:

Melody and Power: Mozart and Prokofiev

Saturday & Monday, May 30 & June 1, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre

Kazuyoshi Akiyama, conductor

Benjamin Hochman, piano

Kabalevsky Colas Breugnon: Overture, Op. 24

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, Jeunehomme

Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

Tickets $25 to $78.50 (Student, Senior and Subscriber discounts available)

Tickets available by phone at 604.876.3434 or online at www.vancouversymphony.ca

Generously Supported By:

Series Sponsor: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Video Screen Sponsor: TELUS

Video screen presentations created and produced by students and staff of digital video productions at Columbia Academy.

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