With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes, has won worldwide acclaim, giving recitals and playing concertos in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras. Also an avid chamber musician, he is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival in Norway. In the current season Andsnes performs in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia, Vienna Philharmonic and NHK Symphony Orchestra amongst others. He gives solo recitals across South America and Japan, joins Matthias Goerne for dedicated Schubert lieder projects and Marc-André Hamelin for a programme of Mozart, Debussy and Stravinsky for piano four-hands. Following the enormous success of his recent 3 volume Beethoven Journey on Sony Classical, Leif Ove Andsnes recently returned to the studio to make two new recordings, both due for release in 2017-18: a Stravinsky four-hands album, recorded with Marc-André Hamelin for Hyperion, and a solo Sibelius collection for Sony Classical. His previous discography comprises more than 30 discs for EMI Classics – solo, chamber, and concerto releases, many of them bestsellers – spanning repertoire from the time of Bach to the present day. Andsnes has received Norway’s distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. In 2007, he received the prestigious Peer Gynt Prize, awarded by members of parliament to honor prominent Norwegians and, in Spring 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from New York’s Juilliard School. He is also the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award and the Gilmore Artist Award. He was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2013 and, saluting his many achievements, Vanity Fair named Andsnes one of its ‘Best of the Best’ in 2005. Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory under the renowned Czech professor Jirí Hlinka. He has also received invaluable advice from the Belgian piano teacher Jacques de Tiège who, like Hlinka, has greatly influenced his style and philosophy of playing. He is currently an Artistic Adviser for the Prof. Jiri Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen where he gives an annual masterclass to participating students. Andsnes lives in Bergen and in June 2010 achieved one of his proudest accomplishments to date, becoming a father for the first time. His family expanded in May 2013 with the welcome arrival of twins.
Dvorák: Poetic Tone Pictures, Op.85Artists Leif Ove Andsnes
Release Date: 10/28/2022
Berlin, October 28, 2022: "have to say I think this is the great forgotten cycle of the 19th century piano music. Maybe those are big words, but I do feel that," states Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes about his latest release on Sony Classical. On this album, he presents the most substantial piano collection by the great Romantic composer Antonín Dvořák - the unjustly neglected Poetic Tone Pictures.
According to the Norwegian pianist, these undiscovered gems show an entirely different side to the composer known for his symphonies and string quartets. "I love this music and no-one seems to play it," says Andsnes, who also championed the rarely played piano works of Jean Sibelius with the release Sibelius in 2017.
The 13 postcards for piano that make up Dvořák’s Poetic Tone Pictures were written in the Spring of 1889, and signal a shift in style from a composer moving away from formal constructions towards a more free, inspired aesthetic. Among these charming pieces are evocations of magic and mystery (The Old Castle), rustic dances (Furiant and Peasant Ballad), nostalgic mood pieces (Twilight Way), and tragic reminiscences (At a Hero’s Grave). The works range from the deeply profound to the playful, from lighthearted to furious - "I feel a very strong, wonderful narrative in them," says Leif Ove Andsnes, who firmly believes Dvořák conceived the pieces of this ‘exceptional’ set as a cycle to be played together.
"It’s a cycle of many stories but it also feels like one big story. I feel it’s like someone opening a book and saying, ‘Listen, I’m going to tell you something. And then it just opens, piece by piece", he further concludes. One of the world’s pre-eminent pianists, Andsnes was first inspired to play Czech music when a new teacher arrived at his conservatory in Bergen, Norway, from Prague. His enormous fascination for Poetic Tone Pictures led eventually to him performing parts of the repertoire at a Youth Competition at the age of 12.
Years later, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, Andsnes used the downtime to delve deeper into the Poetic Tone Pictures and commune with their stories. He found works of unerring charm and copious instances of Dvořák unfolding an orchestral breadth of color from the piano - in addition to his wickedly exciting use of cross-rhythms and syncopations, in the manner of Czech folk dances.
"I think he creates unique colours at the piano, and he uses the full range of the piano convincingly, even if he was not a pianist composer" says Andsnes of Dvořák’s craftsmanship, which the pianist himself captures across a recording of spellbinding focus made at Olavshallen, Trondheim and produced by John Fraser.
The full album is out now.