It’s hard to believe that the artist described by The Telegraph as “One of the best-loved pianists in the world” has never appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, so concert-goers will be delighted that this week, the Symphony and Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt welcome to Davies Symphony Hall Maria João Pires. Ms Pires will play the Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3, and the program also features Bruckner’s towering Symphony No 3 – the 1873 Nowak edition – dedicated to Wagner.
With a career which could be said to have started in 1948, when she gave her first public performance at the age of 4, Maria João Pires has performed with some of the world’s finest orchestras, and made a vast number of recordings, which include solo and chamber works, as well as her repertoire of orchestral music. Of her 2014 recording of the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto – with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra – The Times said: “Pires’s fingers bring nothing but enchantment, tracing patterns with eloquence and clarity”, and in Gramophone, Bryce Morrison wrote that “few performances come within distance of Pires’s Classical/Romantic perspective … she achieves wonders of eloquence and transparency … Pires’s performances are quite simply of another order”.
Ms Pires also has a passion for education, and with a particular interest in the influence of art on life, she has spent the past 45 years developing new ways of implementing educational theories based on this concept. Ms Pires has held a number of workshops with students from around the world, and has visited countries from as far afield as Japan and Brazil, to Portugal, France and Switzerland, with her philosophy and teaching.
Having more recently joined the teaching faculty of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium, she is working on two projects simultaneously. Together with a group of highly gifted young pianists, she has initiated the Partitura Project, with the aim of creating a more altruistic attitude among artists of different generations, to counter the focus on competitiveness. Ms Pires also heads up the Equinox Project, a social program for young disadvantaged children between the ages of 6 and 14 years, who are being helped through choral singing.
Herbert Blomstedt served as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1985 to 1995, during which time they undertook a number of European tours, appearing at major concert venues and festivals, including those in Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich and Lucerne. He has also held the position of Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, and of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He currently holds the title of Honorary Conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and also of the NHK Symphony in Japan, the Danish National Symphony, the Swedish Radio Symphony and the Bamberg Symphony. Maestro Blomstedt continues to guest worldwide, making regular appearances with the San Francisco Symphony.
Herbert Blomstedt leads Maria João Pires and the San Francisco Symphony in a concert of works by Beethoven and Bruckner at Davies Symphony Hall on February 25, 26 and 27. For more information, and for tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
Then on Sunday afternoon, February 28, a group of eleven members of the Symphony can be heard in a delightful concert of chamber music – one of the series of chamber concerts which takes place throughout the season at Davies Symphony Hall. This one features Brahms’ Intermezzo Op 118, no 2 (arr. Sperry), Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 6, and the Five Novelettes for String Quartet by Alexander Glazunov.
For more information, and for tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.