Hans Graf Returns to Conduct the Houston Symphony

Hans Graf. Photo (c) Bruce Bennett
This weekend (Nov. 29-Dec. 1) Hans Graf returns to Jones Hall as Conductor Laureate to lead the Houston Symphony in performances featuring Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.  Also on the program, Edvard Grieg’s overture In Autumn.  Dean Dalton talks to both artists about this weekend’s music.

Beethoven wrote to a friend, “no one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear.” Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony reflects sounds of nature with its musical depiction of the countryside, sweet birdsongs, the first drops of an unexpected storm, violent thunderclaps and the joyous return of the sun.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K.488, was the last of three concertos he completed in Vienna between December 1785 and March 1786. According to Mozart's own catalogue, the concerto was finished on March 2, 1786, around the time of the premiere of his opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

Grieg’s concert overture In Autumn, Op. 11, is one of his earliest large orchestral works.  It dates from 1866 when the composer was only 23 and was again living in his native Bergen after returning from his studies at the conservatory in Leipzig.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1973, pianist Ingrid Fliter moved to Europe in 1992 where she continued her studies in Freiburg, Rome, and at the Academy “Incontrui col Maestro” in Imola, Italy.  She made her professional orchestra debut at age 16 at the Teatro Colon in her hometown.  In 2000 she won the silver medal at the Frederic Chopin Competition in Warsaw.  Winner of the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award, she is one of only a handful of pianists and the only woman to have received this honor.

Fliter made her American orchestral debut with the Atlanta Symphony, just days after the announcement of her Gilmore award. Since then, she has appeared with the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco, Toronto, St. Louis, National, Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas, Cincinnati, Vancouver and Seattle symphonies among others, as well as at the Mostly Mozart, Grant Park, Aspen and Ravinia festivals.

Recent engagements abroad include appearances with the Rotterdam, Israel, Hong Kong, Monte Carlo, Osaka, Helsinki and Royal Liverpool Philharmonics, the BBC Symphony and Philharmonia in London, and the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra; as well as recitals in Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Prague, Tokyo, Sydney and in London at both Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

In June 2013, Fliter recorded both Chopin concertos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Jun Maerkl for Linn Records and in January 2014, she records the complete Chopin Preludes for the same label. Her two all-Chopin recordings for EMI earned her the reputation as one of the pre-eminent interpreters of that composer.

She divides her time between North America and Europe.