5 - 9 Nov '19

Tour II
5 - 9 Nov '19

Francesco Piemontesi


Concert dates and locations

  • 05 November 2019 | Casino Bern | 19:30
  • 08 November 2019 | Tonhalle Maag Zurich | 19:30



Overture As a prelude to each concert, talented Swiss singers and instrumentalists will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. This is a twofold "overture", which not only serves as an introduction to the concerts but also as a career gateway for our "our stars of tomorrow”.


Following the triumphant premiere of Der Freischütz in Berlin in 1821, Carl Maria von Weber was commissioned by the director of a Vienna theatre to compose a new opera in a similar style. The composer chose the romantic author Helmina von Chézy to write the libretto for Euryanthe. The premiere in Vienna on 25 October 1823 received a warm welcome, but the work never really became a box-office success, probably because of the libretto's dramatic weaknesses. The work's central themes – chivalric romance, marital fidelity and transfiguration – pave the way for Wagner's later operas. Weber's music also anticipates the Wagnerian style by sketching out the Leitmotiv technique. The three sections of the Euryanthe Overture present the opera's principal motives. The piece begins with a bravura run (March theme), to which responds a superb love motive. The central part is a short Largo, a mystical passage played by muted violins that announces the ghost scene in the first act. The Overture ends with a boisterous fugato that culminates with the bravura fanfare heard at the beginning and which foreshadows the opera's happy end.
Chopin composed and premiered his two piano concertos shortly before leaving Poland to establish himself in France. These works are far more related to the virtuoso style of concerto practised by John Field and Johann Nepomuk Hummel than to the Mozart or Beethoven classical concerto. Chopin's concertos may well fail to stand out as far as the form is concerned. They nevertheless have a subtle and intimate character that surpasses other concertos written at the same time. Regarding his E minor Concerto, Chopin even claimed that the work was "far too original: I will eventually no longer be able to learn it myself!" The work's immediate and everlasting success obviously proved him wrong, even though several generations of performers thought themselves well advised to retouch and reduce Chopin's orchestration, which Berlioz found "cold and almost superfluous". This practice was however abandoned in the middle of the 20th century. Despite its numbering, the Op. 11 was composed in the summer of 1830, several months after the Concerto in F minor (Op. 21). The latter was however published later, which explains the current numbering. The Concerto in E minor was first played by Chopin at his farewell concert in Warsaw on 11 October 1830 and was published three years later. Chopin dedicated it to Friedrich Kalkbrenner, a pianist and teacher he held in high esteem.
Nine years separate the first of Schumann's four symphonies - composed in 1841 shortly after the composer's marriage - and the final "Rhenisch" symphony (1850), which is wrongly referred to as Symphony No. 3. The Symphony Op. 61 (1845) is actually the last symphony Schumann composed. In his correspondence, Schumann acknowledged the fact that he wrote the work at a time when he was suffering from the first signs of his mental illness. Dedicated to Oscar I, King of Sweden, the Symphony No. 2 was premiered on 5th November 1846 in Leipzig, with Mendelssohn conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra. This Symphony in C major is a testimony of self-conquest and delivers a feeling of hard-won affirmation and triumph. The composer later wrote to a musical colleague: "Only in the final movement did I begin to feel my old self again, but it was after I had completed the whole work that I really felt any better. Otherwise, as I say, it reminds me of a black period." The second part of the last movement picks up the brass theme already presented in the initial Allegro and which appears several times in the course the symphony, like a solemn landmark. The Scherzo is interrupted by two trios, the first graceful and carefree, the second more lyrical, with an almost chamber music character. The Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet described the melancholic Adagio in C minor as "one of the most beautiful melodies ever written by a symphonist".

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Good to know

Ten years ago, Francesco Piemontesi was chosen as a BBC New Generation Artist. This was the starting of an international career that has since taken the Locarno-born pianist around the world. Piemontesi studied with legendary pianists such as Alexis Weissenberg, Murray Perahia and Alfred Brendel and has performed in major venues including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonie in Berlin. He has also toured the USA, Japan and China. In January 2016, the Swiss pianist launched his complete Mozart Odyssey at the Wigmore Hall, performing the sonatas in a series of recitals over three seasons. He was also highly praised for his recording of Debussy's 24 Préludes (2015), which was followed by the first volume of Liszt's Années de Pèlerinage (2018). The Independent has praised his "gloriously transparent sound throughout", whereas the Neue Zürcher Zeitung regards him simply a "sound magician". Since 2013, Piemontesi is the Artistic Director of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona.

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