German conductor Ruth Reinhardt makes her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in a concert which stars Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov performing the West Coast Premiere of Mason Bates’ new Piano Concerto, co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The program opens with Finnish composer Lotta Wennäkoski’s Om fotspår och ljus (Of Footprints and Light) – Helsinki Variations – and also features Dvořák’s Symphony No 5.
In recent years, Ruth Reinhardt, described by the Cincinnati Business Courier as “…. clearly a rising star to watch”, served as assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony, and was a Dudamel Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a conducting fellow at the Seattle Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center, as well as an associate conducting fellow of the Taki Concordia program. She made her debut with several American orchestras during the 2019-20 season – including the Los Angeles and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras, and her European debuts included, among others, the Orchestre national d’Île de France, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, DSO-Berlin and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony.
Daniil Trifonov – GRAMMY Award-winner of the Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018, and Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year – is renowned as a concert pianist, as a chamber music and vocal collaborator, and also as a composer. Referred to by the LA Times as “….. an astonishing pianist”, he undertook a European tour earlier this season, during which he focussed on The Art of Fugue, as well as a US tour of works by Prokofiev, Szymanowski, Debussy and Brahms. Other orchestras with whom he has appeared this season include the Dallas Symphony, the Philharmonia Zurich and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In addition, he performed all five of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos in various combinations with eight different orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Budapest Festival Orchestra and Toronto Symphony.
Mr Trifonov gave the world premiere performances of Mason Bates’ new Piano Concerto – which was composed for him during the pandemic – with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, before performing it with the New Jersey Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. The London Times writes that he is “….. without question the most astounding young pianist of our age”.
Mason Bates – who has been championed by legendary conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas and Riccardo Muti – has been named the second most-performed composer of his generation in a recent survey of American music, his symphonic music being the first to receive widespread acceptance for its unique integration of electronic sounds. Composer, DJ and curator, he was the first composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has written a Grammy-winning opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, with libretto by Mark Campbell, described by The Atlanta-Journal Constitution as “…. a magnificent, wondrous opera”.
The 2021-22 season sees the premiere of Philharmonia Fantastique: The Making of the Orchestra, a concerto for orchestra and animated film commissioned by Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and the American Youth Symphony. He has also written Hymn for the Future for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Soundcheck in C Major for the opening of The Shell with the San Diego Symphony, and a new concert opener The Rhapsody of Steve Jobs, based on his hit opera. Mason Bates is currently at work on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay for the Metropolitan Opera, with librettist Gene Scheer.
The composer of the opening work of this concert, Lotta Wennäkoski has had her works played by orchestras such as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish RSO. The BBC commissioned her orchestral work Flounce, the premiere of which was held at the Last Night of the Proms on September 9th, 2017. The following year the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned Wennäkoski’s chamber work Hele, the premiere of which took place in November 2018 in Walt Disney Hall. Om fotspår och ljus was commissioned by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and premiered in September 2019. Wennäkoski, who has made a number of recordings, has recently finished her first big opera Regine, a commission from Savonlinna Opera Festival.
The final work in the program is Dvořák’s Symphony No 5 in F major Opus 76. Composed in June and July of 1875 – with a revision in 1887 – this cheerful work is regarded as representing a turning point in the composer’s style. It was the first of the series of works which would ultimately be recognized as Dvorak’s symphonic masterpieces. The premiere of Dvořák’s Fifth Symphony was given in Prague on March 25th, 1879, by the ‘Filharmonie’ Orchestra led by Adolf Cech.
Ruth Reinhardt leads the San Francisco Symphony, with guest soloist Daniil Trifonov, in works by Mason Bates, Lotta Wennäkoski and Antonín Dvořák at Davies Symphony Hall from June 2nd to 5th. For further information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
Information sourced from:
San Francisco Symphony program notes