PSO Music Director Manfred Honeck’s return next week features powerhouse Russian pianist Matsuev playing Rachmaninoff

Program includes ‘A Night on Bald Mountain’ made famous by ‘Fantasia,’ Beethoven’s 7th Symphony

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) Music Director Manfred Honeck returns to Heinz Hall for a weekend of BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts showcasing Russian pianist Denis Matsuev performing Serge Rachmaninoff’s masterpiece, Piano Concerto No. 2.

The concerts will begin at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, and 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17. Tickets, ranging from $20 to $85, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412.392.4900, or at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

The first half features A Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky’s well-known tone poem tells the story of a witch’s Sabbath near Kiev; its theme made more famous by Disney’s 1940 classic film, Fantasia, and Matsuev performing Rachmaninoff’s well-known Piano Concerto No. 2.  The second half features Honeck leading the PSO in a performance of Beethoven’s exciting and electrifying Symphony No. 7.

Matsuev, Denis 2Gramophone magazine once wrote of Matsuev, “For here is a virtuoso in the grandest of Russian traditions who returns us to the great days of Emil Gilels. …He literally possesses the sort of technique which begins where others end.” The Times of London said, “Perhaps he is the new Horowitz.”

As part of the PSO’s Explore & Engage concert prelude program, Honeck will be interviewed on stage by Robert Moir, senior vice president of artistic planning, discussing the concert’s program. This event is free and open to all ticket holders, and begins one hour prior to the concert.

Outside the auditorium, audiences can also browse through displays about Beethoven and his world as part of the PSO’s multi-year Beethoven Project, as well as Rachmaninoff and composer-pianists.

The PSO Book Club with WQED-FM’s Jim Cunningham will be held at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17, in the Grand Tier Lounge. Cunningham will lead a discussion of Parallels and Paradoxes, Explorations in Music and Society by Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said. The session is free to all ticket holders to the Sunday afternoon performance. Availability is limited, so registering in advance is required. To register, please call 412.392.4876, or email explore@pittsburghsymphony.org.

The PSO would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2012-2013 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the Official Hotel of the PSO. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the PSO.

Since his triumphant victory at the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1998, Denis Matsuev has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation. Laureate of prestigious Shostakovich Prize in Music and State Prize of Russian Federation in Literature and Arts, Matsuev has appeared in hundreds of recitals at the most prestigious and legendary concert halls throughout the world. Matsuev collaborates with the world’s best known orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, WDR of Cologne, Frankfurt Radio and BBC Symphony, Philharmonia orchestra of London, Verbier and Budapest Festival Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala and Zurich Opera House Orchestra, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, NHK Symphony, Rotterdam and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Israel and Helsinki Philharmonic and the European Chamber Orchestra; he is continually re-engaged with the legendary Russian orchestras such as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Mariinsky Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra. He appears regularly with prominent conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov, Kurt Masur, Paavo Jarvi, Leonard Slatkin, Myung-Whun Chung, Antonio Pappano, Semyon Bychkov, Ivan Fischer and Adam Fisher, Gianandrea Noseda, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, James Conlon, Vladimir Spivakov, Mikhail Pletnev, and Vladimir Fedoseyev.

Manfred Honeck was appointed the ninth Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in January 2007, and began his tenure at the start of the 2008-2009 season. After a first extension in 2009, his contract was extended for the second time in February 2012, now through the 2019-2020 season. Following their successful European Tour in 2010 and the European Festival Tour 2011 with appearances at the major music festivals, such as BBC Proms, Lucerne, Grafenegg, Rheingau, Schleswig-Holstein or Musikfest Berlin, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returned to Europe in October-November 2012. The tour took them to Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Luxembourg, and Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart in Germany. During a week-long residency at the Musikverein in Vienna, the orchestra performed four concerts. Honeck’s successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim. Their recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 won a 2012 International Classical Music Award (ICMA).  Honeck was born in Austria and studied music at the Academy of Music in Vienna. An accomplished violinist and violist, he spent more than 10 years as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

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