Yefim Bronfman plays Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dima Slobodeniouk conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony

Grammy-winning virtuoso Yefim (Fima) Bronfman’s commanding technique, power and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike:

The Chicago Sun Times writes “the pianist is, indeed, a bear of a man, and when that heft is called for...he is there to deliver it. He can roar, but he also can whisper. He can conjure a multitude of dynamics, shifting quickly from one extreme to another.” Those talents come in handy when performing Brahms’ monumental Piano concerto no.2.

Brahms’ ironic sense of humor was in evidence when he wrote to Clara Schumann: "I want to tell you that I have written a very small piano concerto with a very small and pretty scherzo." His friend Dr. Bilroth received a similar epistle with the score--[Here are] "some little piano pieces [with] a little wisp of a scherzo.” To another confidante, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg he claimed: “It is a tiny, tiny little concerto with a tiny, tiny little scherzo.” Imagine their shock when they discovered Brahms had written a massive concerto that requires an extra movement, and the talents of a formidable pianist.

Following this tour de force, Finnish conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will lead the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4. On his Instagram page, the Finnish conductor describes himself as “Homo Sapiens (at least trying), Father, Pilot, Sailor, Curious.” That's the blue jeans version.  His official biography offers the tuxedo version. It reads: “Praised for his exhilarating approach and energetic leadership by musicians and audiences alike, Dima Slobodeniouk has become one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation.” 

Tchaikovsky explained that his 4th symphony represents mankind’s pitched battle with fate, “the power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness.” Inspired by Beethoven’s 5th, and passing through psychological stages from darkness to light, the composer derives his happiness from his community: “if you cannot find reasons for happiness in yourself, look at is bearable after all.”

Tchaikovsky had it right: this is the magic of live music. it is well documented scientifically that listening to music with others has measurable mental and physical benefits. The proof is in the magic and the joy that sharing live performances bring to us.


Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor (NSO debut)
Yefim Bronfman, piano
National Symphony Orchestra

Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Thursday, November 30 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, December 1 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday December 2 at 8 p.m.
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Photo Credit: Frank Stewart

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts Presents Two x Four, Koh & Laredo

I was five years old. My family had just arrived in Vientiane, Laos for my father’s first State Department posting. One day, my dad came back from the PX, excitedly brandishing an LP whose cover featured a young man playing a violin. There weren’t a lot of classical music records on sale in the Vientiane PX, so this was a very special find. The violinist was Jaime Laredo, and he accompanied my whole time in Laos before we were eventually evacuated to Bangkok.  This indelible aural and visual memory inspired a lifelong love of the violin. 

Jennifer Koh must have more direct memories of Jaime Laredo since she studied with him at the Curtis Institute. She created this 2x4 project (two violinists x four composers) “as a musical means to honor our teachers, who are our thread to a long performance tradition.” She adds: “Jaime and I will be performing alongside students of Juilliard, so you’ll get to hear THREE generations of musicians!” Showcasing double concertos, the concert includes works by great composers of the past and present.

Between a double violin concerto by Bach, and the Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart, the program features Echorus by Philip Glass, who describes it thus: “Echorus (derived from the word echo) was composed in the winter of 1994-05 for Edna Mitchell and Yehudi Menuhin...The music is inspired by thoughts of compassion and is meant to evoke feelings of serenity and peace.”

The Washington Post explains David Ludwig’s Seasons Lost of 2011 as “...a sort of global-warming-era take on Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece, a wistful look at how the seasons are slowly losing their identity.”

Anna Clyne’s Prince of Clouds from 2012 was nominated for a Grammy, and was composed for Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo. Clyne says “when writing Prince of Clouds, I was contemplating the presence of musical lineage—a family-tree of sorts that passes from generation to generation. This transfer of knowledge and inspiration between generations is a beautiful gift.”

This finely crafted program, inspiring on so many levels, will perhaps create new memories for us all.

Jennifer Koh, violin
Jaime Laredo, violin
Sasha Scolnik-Brower, conductor

Members of the Juilliard Orchestra
Gabrielle Després, violin
Matthew Hakkarainen, violin
Hina Khuong-Huu, violin
Maya Kilburn, violin
Coco Mi, violin

Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043


DAVID LUDWIG           
Seasons Lost

Prince of Clouds

Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K. 364

Friday, December 1, 7:30
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

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