Nikolaj Znaider rings in New Year with Elgar and Mendelssohn

If the opening months offer any indication, 2010 looks to be a big year for “phenomenally gifted” (Chicago Sun Times) young violinist Nikolaj Znaider. His initial focus is on Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto, which celebrates its centennial in the coming year. Having toured the work across Europe, Znaider now brings it to the States, performing the concerto under Leonard Slatkin in Washington DC (Jan 7-9), Sir Colin Davis in Boston (Jan 14-19), and Edo de Waart in Milwaukee (Jan 22 and 23), as well as on Znaider’s latest recording, also directed by Davis, and due for release by Sony Masterworks on January 5. Next the Danish violinist turns to another cornerstone of the Romantic violin repertory, the seminal Mendelssohn Concerto, which he plays with Leipzig’s legendary Gewandhaus Orchestra on its U.S. tour in February, culminating with a Carnegie Hall performance on February 27. And, as if these world-class solo appearances were not enough, Znaider also returns to the podium as principal guest conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (Jan 30).

Described by critic David Dubal as “the greatest English contribution to the treasury of Romantic violin concertos,” Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 was premiered by its dedicatee, Fritz Kreisler, in November 1910. For his new CD on Sony Masterworks, Znaider performs the work with Sir Colin Davis and the Staatskapelle Berlin, alongside Elgar’s rarely-performed Violin Sonata, for which the violinist is joined by Palestinian pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar. The album is due for release on January 5, 2010 (the concerto’s centennial year), just in time for Znaider’s American performances of the work with the orchestras of Washington (the National Symphony Orchestra), Boston, and Milwaukee. Znaider is an exclusive Sony/BMG recording artist. The Elgar recording is his sixth recording for the label; his most recent release was a highly-praised pairing of the violin concertos by Brahms and Korngold, performed with the Vienna Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev on a disc Fanfare “urgently recommended for its penetrating performance of Brahms’s Concerto and for its revelatory one of Korngold’s.”

German violin virtuoso Ferdinand David, to whom Mendelssohn first proposed the idea of his Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, was at that time concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Fittingly, it is with this same ensemble, under its current music director Riccardo Chailly, that Znaider will tour the work this February, making stops in Palm Desert, CA (Feb 18), Costa Mesa, CA (Feb 19), and Newark, NJ (Feb 26) before the final concert of the tour at Carnegie Hall on February 27. Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette wrote of Znaider in March 2009: “No one person should have the range of ability that Znaider possesses. A ravishing tone across the complete register, virtuosity for the quick and the nuanced and artistic soul that allows him to sing out in the most compelling fashion. At 33, he already stands in an elite class of violinists worldwide.”

Star violinist becomes leading conductor

The new year also sees Nikolaj Znaider returning to the podium as Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, for performances of Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 2, as well as Eliasson’s Concerto for Violin and Viola (Jan 30). Later in the spring, Znaider also has guest engagements with Britain’s celebrated Hallé orchestra, which he conducts in works to include Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony (March 24-28), and with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he will conduct Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with baritone Peter Mattei as well as Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. (April 12-17).

Nikolaj Znaider’s engagements, early 2010:

January 7, 8, and 9, 2010

Washington, DC

Kennedy Center Concert Hall

National Symphony Orchestra

Leonard Slatkin, conductor

Elgar: Violin Concerto

January 14, 15, 16, and 19

Boston, MA; Symphony Hall

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Sir Colin Davis, conductor

Elgar: Violin Concerto

January 22 and 23

Milwaukee, WI; Uihlein Hall

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Edo de Waart, conductor

Elgar: Violin Concerto

January 30

Örebro, Sweden

Örebro Concert Hall

Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Nikolaj Znaider, conductor

February 4 & 5

Bergen, Norway

Bergen Philharmonic

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Feb 18

Palm Desert, CA

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Feb 19

Costa Mesa, CA

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Feb 26

Newark, NJ

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Feb 27

New York, NY

Carnegie Hall

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

Riccardo Chailly, conductor

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