Michael Schønwandt, a native of Copenhagen, served as Music Director of the Royal Orchestra and the Royal Opera in Copenhagen from 2000 to 2011, while he held the post of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra from 2010 to 2013. He currently serves as the Principal Conductor of the Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier, a position he’s held since September 2015. Maestro Schønwandt has conducted at leading opera houses around the world and maintains an active concert career amongst Europe’s leading ensembles. Additionally, he enjoys a special interest in Danish music and is regarded as a leading interpreter of Carl Nielsen works, having recorded all his symphonies and concerti. His most recent release, from 2015, is a recording of Maskarade to mark the 150th anniversary of Nielsen’s birth.
Daniel Hope, raised in London, began studying the violin with Zakhar Bron. He is a champion of contemporary music, having commissioned over thirty works. He is also a prolific recording artist, with over 25 albums, some of which have been honoured with the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or of the Year, the Edison Classical Award, the Prix Caecilia, and ECHO-Klassik Awards. Mr Hope has been an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2007 and has written four books, published in Germany, by the Rowohlt publishing company. In Germany, he presents a weekly radio show for the WDR3 Channel and, since 2016, has developed a music and discussion series with well-known guests from culture and politics at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Hope has been Associate Artistic Director of the Savannah Music Festival since 2004 and recently began new roles as Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco, and Artistic Director of the Frauenkirche Dresden. Daniel Hope plays the 1742 ex-Lipiński Guarneri del Gesù, lent generously by an anonymous family from Germany.
Krzysztof Penderecki was born on November 23, 1933, in Dębica. He comes from a multi-cultural family with Armenian, German, and Polish roots. He started his musical training with piano lessons but was more interested in his father’s violin. As a student, he went to Kraków to study composition. Penderecki studied composition first with Franciszek Skołyszewski and then with Artur Malawski and Stanisław Wiechowicz at the Academy of Music in Kraków. In 1958, he began lecturing in composition, and in 1972, he became a professor. He also gave lectures as an assistant professor in Essen at the Folkwang-Hochschule and at Yale University. From 1987 to 1990 he was the artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic, and since 1993 he has been the artistic director of Festival Casals in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Starting in 1997 he became the music director of Sinfonia Varsovia, and in 1998 he began advising the Beijing Music Festival. Since 2003 he has served as the Artistic Director of the Sinfonia Varsovia. He regularly works with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Iuventus, the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
Hi most successful works include Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), St. Luke Passion (1966), Cello Concerto No.2 (1983) written for Mstislav Rostropovich, Polish Requiem (1984), Symphony No.3 (1995), Violin Concerto No.2 written for Anne-Sophie Mutter (1995), Symphony No.7 The Seven Gates of Jerusalem (1997) and the Double Concerto (2012). Also a prominent film composer, Penderecki wrote music for one full-length feature film The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Wojciech Jerzy Has, and his work can also be found in Kubrick’s The Shining, Friedkin’s The Exorcist, The Mask by the Quay brothers and Shutter Island by Martin Scorsese.
Dmitri Shostakovich completed his First Violin Concerto in 1948 but had locked it away until after Stalin's death in 1953, releasing it once the timing was more favourable. The concerto was dedicated to the Russian violinist David Oistrakh, who performed the premiere on October 29, 1955, with the Leningrad Philharmonic. As with his Soviet contemporaries, Shostakovich’s career was frequently sidetracked by the demands of the Soviet state for music that glorified Russia and the Soviet political system. The First Violin Concerto is a technically demanding piece written in four movements. Oistrakh noted that it "does not fall easily into one's hands" and its first and third movements call for a clever amount of interpretive and logistical dexterity.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed Sheherazade in the summer of 1888 and conducted the first performance on November 3, the same year in Saint Petersburg. As a boy, Nikolai fell in love with the idea of the Orient via the letters his older brother Voin sent from the Far East, where he was serving in the navy. The composer later noted that after reading the Arabian Nights' Entertainments he conceived "an orchestral suite in four movements, closely knit by the community of its themes and motives, yet representing, as it were, a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale images and designs of Oriental character." For centuries, the stories that comprise The Arabian Nights circulated individually throughout the Middle East and were attributed to anonymous authors. They were not widely known in Europe, however, until the 19th century, when a number of translations appeared in print. Rimsky-Korsakov provided no specific program for the work, however in his explanation of the title Scheherazade, he wrote an introduction for its premiere, “The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.”
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator