March 19, 2019
Pianist Francesco Piemontesi Returns to U.S. for Boston and National Symphony Debuts, April 18–20 and May 30–June 1
Marco Borggreve

Additional spring performances include solo recitals at Lincoln Center (May 19), San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (May 21), and the Concert Hall at California State University, Fresno (May 24)

Francesco Piemontesi and the HR-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt under Manfred Honeck perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503 at the Alte Oper Frankfurt on March 27, 2015.

“…stunning technique with an intellectual capacity that few can match.”
— 
The Spectator

“…one of those pianists who bring something original to everything they play.”
— 
Sunday Times

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 19, 2019) — Returning to the U.S. after performances at last year’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, K. 459 (April 18–20) and National Symphony Orchestra debut in Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (May 30, June 1), while also giving recitals of Bach, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (May 19), San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (May 21), and the Concert Hall at California State University, Fresno (May 24).

Mr. Piemontesi, “a one-time pupil of Alfred Brendel [and] a Mozartian to cherish” (The Observer), makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut performing Mozart with conductor Andrew Manze, one of his close collaborators in the composer’s music. Mozart’s works occupy a special place in Mr. Piemontesi’s wide repertoire, and he has received particular recognition for his recent recording of Piano Concertos Nos. 25 and 26 with Mr. Manze and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, released by Linn Records in 2017. Mr. Piemontesi and Mr. Manze recently reunited with the SCO to record Piano Concerto No. 19 for release in 2020. They perform this concerto with the BSO at Symphony Hall on Thursday, April 18 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, April 19 at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Among Mr. Piemontesi’s Mozart performances in recent seasons, highlights include piano concertos at the BBC Proms, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Salzburg Festival, as well as a recital series of the complete piano sonatas at London’s Wigmore Hall. He also recorded an all-Mozart solo piano album in 2014.

In May, Mr. Piemontesi performs recitals in New York, San Francisco, and Fresno that pair the music of Bach with works by Debussy and Rachmaninoff. Bach was a recent focus of Mr. Piemontesi’s programming for the Italian music festival Settimane Musicali di Ascona, of which he has been Artistic Director since 2012, and in his upcoming U.S. recitals, he continues his exploration of the composer’s music.

On Sunday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m., Mr. Piemontesi returns to Lincoln Center as part of its Great Performers’ Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts series at Walter Reade Theater, performing Bach’s Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971 alongside Debussy’s Images, Book 2, L. 111 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36.

Francesco Piemontesi performs Debussy’s Feux d'artifice

Performed at the Alte Oper Frankfurt on March 27, 2015.

For his West Coast recitals, Mr. Piemontesi expands the program to also include a late Romantic perspective on Bach, in the form of transcriptions by Ferruccio Busoni (Prelude in E-flat major, BWV 552; “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland,” BWV 659; Cantata No.140: “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme,” BWV 140; and Fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552) and Wilhelm Kempff (Flute Sonata in E-flat major, BWV 1031, II. Siciliano). These concerts take place at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. and the Concert Hall at California State University, Fresno on Friday, May 24 at 8:00 p.m.

Describing his approach to creating and performing this recital program, Mr. Piemontesi said:

“One of the aspects I especially like about the modern piano is that you have an almost unlimited range of colors and dynamics at your disposal. The instrument can imitate a big tutti of a symphony orchestra or of an organ; it can render the thunderous sonority of a timpano, the singing line of a clarinet, or even the plucked-strings peculiarity of the harpsichord. The first part of the program is meant to explore these characteristics through the original music of Bach and its transcriptions for the modern piano from composers and performers of the 20th century.

“For the Italian Concerto I was able to spend several weeks studying on a historical harpsichord; for the E-flat Prelude and Fugue I practiced the piece on the organ; and for the transcriptions I was helped by the recordings of Egon Petri (Busoni´s student) and Kempff´s own splendid account on disc. During this learning period I found it challenging to bridge the gap between the sound world of the harpsichord and the orchestral fullness of the Kempff and Busoni transcriptions. Yet, it has been a fascinating journey to discover Bach through these many different perspectives, and it has been a real joy to translate them into the sound of my instrument.

“The second part of the program combines two different worlds. The mystery and water-like pianism of Debussy is contrasted with one of the most virtuosic pieces I’ve ever played, Rachmaninoff´s Second Sonata, which will be heard in its splendid first version from 1913.”

Mr. Piemontesi concludes his 2018–19 U.S. season with his National Symphony Orchestra debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, May 30 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 1 at 8:00 p.m. He performs Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on an Italian-themed program conducted by NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda, who also leads the orchestra in Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” from Suite No. 2 and Casella’s Symphony No. 2.

Additional highlights of Mr. Piemontesi’s season are performances with the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen with Roger Norrington, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Antonio Pappano, Oslo Philharmonic with Marek Janowski, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic with Ton Koopman, NDR Radiophilharmonie and Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Andrew Manze, Swedish Radio Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France with Ingo Metzmacher, Hallé Orchestra with Mark Elder, and Konzerthausorchester Berlin with Eliahu Inbal.

 

About Francesco Piemontesi

Francesco Piemontesi is a pianist of exceptional refinement of expression allied to consummate technical skill. He is recognized for his interpretations of the Classical and early Romantic repertoire, and his pianism and sensibility also have a close affinity with the later 19th- and 20th-century repertoire of Brahms, Liszt, Dvořák, Ravel, Debussy, Bartók, and beyond. He says that Alfred Brendel, one of his most influential mentors, taught him “to love the detail of things.”

He has performed in the U.S. with orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony, and internationally with such ensembles as the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Philharmonia Orchestras; the Czech, Israel, London, Munich, Oslo, Seoul, and St. Petersburg Philharmonics; the Bavarian Radio, BBC, Berlin Radio, Danish National, London, and NHK Symphonies; and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Orchestre National de France, and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

In recital, he has performed in prestigious venues and festivals around the world, including Carnegie Hall and David Geffen Hall in New York, as well as Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, Berliner Philharmonie, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Lucerne Festival, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, the Verbier Festival, Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Musikverein, and Zürich’s Tonhalle.

His discography comprises 13 recordings, including most recently a double CD of Liszt’s “Première année: Suisse” from Années de pèlerinage and St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots, released in 2018 by the Orfeo label along with a companion documentary on DVD by French filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon. Upcoming recordings include Liszt’s “Deuxième année: Italie” from Années de pèlerinage, to be released in May 2019 by Orfeo; late sonatas by Schubert, to be released in September 2019 by Pentatone; and Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 27 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Andrew Manze, to be released in 2020 by Linn Records.

Born in Locarno, Mr. Piemontesi studied with Arie Vardi before working with Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Cécile Ousset, and Alexis Weissenberg. He rose to international prominence with prizes at several major competitions, including the 2007 Queen Elisabeth Competition, and between 2009 and 2011 he was chosen as a BBC New Generation Artist.

Since 2012, he has been the Artistic Director of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona.

For more information, visit francescopiemontesi.com.

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