Pianist Benjamin Hochman to perform rarely played piece with VSO

Pianist Benjamin Hochman plays Mozart’s rarely heard Piano Concerto No.9 in his VSO debut. This is followed up by the huge, exciting, passionate music of Russian master Sergei Prokofiev. Conductor Laureate Kazuyoshi Akiyama returns to conduct the final PricewaterhouseCoopers Masterworks Silver concerts of the season, which take place on Saturday, May 30th and Monday, June 1st at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre.

Benjamin HochmanBenjamin Hochman came into prominence when he made his New York solo recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006. Since then, he has achieved widespread acclaim for his performances. Mr. Hochman has performed with several prominent orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, Seattle Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Portland Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Hochman recently appeared at the Bard Music Festival, Bridgehampton Music Festival and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Just prior to travelling to Vancouver, Hochman returned to his native Israel for a special series of concerts and masterclasses. He will also be performing in London, Barcelona, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw later in the year.

Born in Jerusalem, Benjamin Hochman is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music where his principal teachers were Claude Frank and Richard Goode. His studies were supported by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.9 in E flat Major was a groundbreaking, revolutionary work in its time, helping to “raise the bar” for the piano concerto as a genre and leaving its mark on later concertos by Beethoven and other Romantic composers. Certainly the greatest of the concertos written by Mozart in his time in Salzburg, Classical music author and commentator Charles Rosen also called it “the first unqualified masterpiece in any genre,” and legendary pianist Alfred Brendel characterized the work as “one of the greatest wonders of the world.” The relationship between soloist and orchestra is given unprecedented depth in this concerto, the dialogue and juxtaposition of ideas heightened to a remarkable degree compared to earlier piano concertos. The very opening of the concerto itself is a strong statement for change in the way in which piano concertos were previously written: the soloist is introduced right away after a short heraldic statement by the orchestra; afterword, the orchestra is given a typical, though brief, opening exposition, but it is on the piano’s terms. Later, Mozart goes so far as to turn this dialogue on its head, with the orchestra answering the piano. The second movement is one of utterly poignant expressive brilliance. The C minor atmosphere holds the listener in its thrall as the solo parts, written with such a highly personal and expressive voice, weave their way in and out of discourse with the orchestra in a dreamy, almost tragic manner. And though the finale – one of Mozart’s greatest Rondo finales – is one of virtuosic energy and joy, there is a serious undercurrent at play which keeps the concerto grounded, as if Mozart knew he was creating a work that would lasting impact through generations of composers.

Tickets are $25 to $78.50 (Student, Senior and Subscriber discounts available) and are available by phone at 604.876.3434 or online at www.vancouversymphony.ca.

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