Concerts include the U.S. premiere of Fedele’s Scena
Conductor Roberto Abbado and pianist Jonathan Biss make return appearances with the SF Symphony in performances June 13-15 at Davies Symphony Hall. The program includes Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva and Piano Concerto in A minor (performed by Biss), the U.S. premiere of Ivan Fedele’s Scena, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 in D major.
Born in 1953, Italian composer Ivan Fedele has an expansive list of compositions for film, orchestra, chorus and chamber ensembles. Scena was commissioned by the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, founded in 1982 by Claudio Abbado, and premiered at the La Scala theater in 1998. As the title implies, Scena can be thought of as an operatic scene performed entirely by the musicians of the orchestra (without text, singing or stage movement), with references to Italian theater and La Scala in particular.
Jonathan Biss made his SFS debut at age 21 in 2002, performing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor with Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, and has returned five more times since, including most recently in 2011 performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major with conductor Peter Oundjian. His current season includes performances with the National Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Symphony, the Prague Philharmonic, and the Danish National Symphony. Biss’s chamber music series entitled Schumann: Under the Influence, with tenor Mark Padmore, soprano Miah Persson, violist Kim Kashkashian, and the Elias Quartet, was performed in San Francisco at the Herbst Theater in March, and includes performances at Wigmore Hall in London and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Biss made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2011 and will present his second recital there in January 2014.
In 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Biss performing Beethoven’s complete sonatas. He wrote about this project in Beethoven’s Shadow, an essay that was published electronically by Rosetta Books as a Kindle Single. He is also the author of the Kindle Single A Pianist Under the Influence. His previous recordings include an album of Schubert and Kurtág for the Wigmore Hall Live label, an all-Schumann recital album for EMI Classics which won a Diapason d’Or de l’année award, and a recital album of Beethoven piano sonatas for EMI Classics which received an Edison Award. Biss has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Schleswig-Holstein Festival’s Leonard Bernstein Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.
Roberto Abbado made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1999, and appeared most recently in 2007 leading the Orchestra in Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 Organ with Jonathan Dimmock, and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist Ingrid Fliter. He was Chief Conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra from 1991-1998, and is currently an Artistic Partner with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he appears regularly. In 2009, Abbado was honored with the Franco Abbiati Award of the National Association of Italian Music Critics as Conductor of the Year. In 2012-13, he leads Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Bari’s Teatro Petruzzelli, Ponchielli’s La Gioconda at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, and a celebration of the centenary of Verdi’s birth with a production of Macbeth at Teatro Comunale in Bologna. He also appears with the orchestras of Cincinnati and Atlanta and continues his collaboration with the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI in Torino and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
Abbado has made several recordings for BMG (RCA Red Seal) including award-winning recordings of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Rossini’s Tancredi, as well as discs of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Puccini’s Turandot, ballet music from Verdi operas, the two Liszt piano concertos with Gerhard Oppitz, a collection of arias with tenor Ben Heppner, and a CD of opera scenes with soprano Carol Vaness. For Decca, he has recorded aria albums with soprano Mirella Freni and tenor Juan Diego Flórez. His other recordings include Bel Canto with mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča on Deutsche Grammophon and the world premiere recordings of two works by Luca Francesconi for the Stradivarius Label. On DVD, Abbado can be seen leading Giordani’s Fedora for Deutsche Grammophon, Rossini’s Ermione for Dynamic, and on Hardy Classic Video, the 2008 New Year Concert from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.
Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva saw its SFS debut in 1919 at the Curran Theater under Music Director Alfred Hertz, and Hertz also conducted the SFS premiere of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor in 1922 at the Columbia Theater (now the American Conservatory Theater); Conductor Kirill Karabits and pianist Hélène Grimaud performed the most recent SFS performances in 2011. The Orchestra last performed Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 in 2006 with Herbert Blomstedt conducting.