April 24, 2019
Pianist Francesco Piemontesi Performs Bach, Debussy, & Rachmaninoff at Lincoln Center's "Great Performers" Sunday Morning Coffee Concert, May 19 at 11 a.m. at Walter Reade Theater
Marco Borggreve

Program comprises Bach’s Italian Concerto in F major;

Debussy’s Images, Book 2; and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor

 

Francesco Piemontesi performs Debussy’s Feux d’artifice at the
Alte Oper Frankfurt on March 27, 2015.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (April 24, 2019) — Returning to Lincoln Center after critically acclaimed performances with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at last summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi performs Bach’s Italian Concerto in F major; Debussy’s Images, Book 2; and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor at Walter Reade Theater on Sunday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m. in a “Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts” recital presented by Lincoln Center as part of its Great Performers series.

A one-time student of Alfred Brendel, Mr. Piemontesi takes a similarly intellectual and immersive approach to the music he plays—studying not only the score but also the cultural and historical contexts in which the composer was writing. In shaping his interpretation of the Italian Concerto, he spent several weeks studying on a historical harpsichord, working to translate the peculiarities of that sound world to his modern instrument. His understanding of Bach’s music is also informed by his experience planning a recent Bach-themed season of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona festival, of which he has been Artistic Director since 2012.

As a Debussy interpreter, Mr. Piemontesi is best known for his “masterly account of Debussy’s Préludes” (Gramophone) on Naïve Classics. Released in 2015, the recording was given five stars by BBC Music Magazine, which said: “In a crowded field with many classic performances, Piemontesi brings a new perspective.”

On the upcoming recital program, Mr. Piemontesi contrasts the mystery and water-like pianism in Debussy’s second book of Images with what he describes as “one of the most virtuosic pieces I’ve ever played”—Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata, which will be heard in its first version from 1913. After performing in New York, he takes this program—expanded to also include Bach transcriptions by Busoni and Kempff—to San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (May 21) and the Concert Hall at California State University, Fresno (May 24).

Mr. Piemontesi’s U.S. season also includes his first appearances with the Boston and National Symphony Orchestras. He made his BSO debut last week at Symphony Hall performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, K. 459, conducted by Andrew Manze, one of his close collaborators in the composer’s music, both in concert and on record. Describing Mr. Piemontesi as “a celebrated Mozartean,” The Boston Globeremarked that his playing “evoked [a] feeling of awe,” yet “sounded absolutely effortless.” He makes his NSO debut performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, conducted by NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda (May 30, June 1).

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.

Mr. Piemontesi’s next recording, comprising Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage “Deuxième année: Italie” and Légende No. 1, is released by Orfeo on May 10. This follows last year’s double CD of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage “Première année: Suisse” and St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots. The latter recording was released along with a companion documentary on DVD by French filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon, and the upcoming recording also includes documentary video.

 

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 Boston Symphony, 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, and in addition to the Liszt album this May, upcoming recordings include 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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Sunday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m.
Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater

Great Performers “Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts”

Francesco Piemontesi, piano

BACH Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971
DEBUSSY Images, Book 2, L. 111
RACHMANINOFF Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36

Tickets can be purchased online at LincolnCenter.org/GreatPerformers, by phone via CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, or by visiting either the Alice Tully Hall or David Geffen Hall box office at Broadway and 65th Street.

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