Sunday, February 14, 2021 3:30 pm, Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. West

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SINFONIA TORONTO
Nurhan Arman, Conductor
Dmitri Levkovich, Pianist

Two deeply Romantic composers and a volcanic virtuoso!

Nurhan Arman conducts Sinfonia Toronto in a supremely romantic program, featuring the volcanic virtuoso Dmitri Levkovich in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and concluding with the beloved melodies of Dvorak’s “American” Quartet in a lush orchestral arrangement.

Program
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 chamber version
DVORAK The American Quartet op. 96a orchestra version 

About the program:

Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 by Sergey Rachmaninov  (1873 - 1943)
Chamber version by Jeremy Liu 
Unlike a classical-period concerto opened by the orchestra before we hear
the solo instrument, this concerto opens with a series of chords played by the
soloist. They grow in volume and intensity to usher in the orchestra, which
states the main theme over the piano’s rippling arpeggios. Unusually, even for
a Romantic piano concerto, the soloist’s participation in this movement is more
accompaniment than solo right up until the appearance of the second theme, one
of Rachmaninoff’s most familiar and beloved. The movement continues with a
rousing march in the piano which dissolves back into the second theme and a
lyrical coda. A brief return to the intensity of the beginning brings the movement
to a dramatic close.

The sensual beauty of the second movement Adagio sostenuto creates an
atmosphere of enchantment. The primary melody again belongs first to the
orchestra, with the piano accompanying. But when the soloist does take over the
melody, it is gradually developed into the quintessence of lyrical romanticism.
A brief interlude prepares the solo cadenza and one last statement of the theme.

For the Allegro scherzando finale, the lower instruments do this time offer a brief
introduction to a showy early cadenza by the soloist which segues into a highly
rhythmic first theme. The second theme is a gentler, contrasting motif. The two
themes alternate abruptly as the movement bounces between driving agitation
and rhapsodic contemplation. Rachmaninov concludes with a virtuoso display
featuring the rhapsodic theme.

String Quartet No. 12, op. 96 by Antonin Dvorák  (1841-1904) 
orchestra version by Nurhan Arman
Dvorák composed the quartet in 1893 during a summer vacation from his position as director (1892–1895) of the National Conservatory in New York City. He spent his vacation in the town of Spillville, Iowa, which was home to a Czech immigrant community. Dvorák had come to Spillville through Josef Jan Kovarík who had finished violin studies at the Prague Conservatory and was about to return to Spillville, his home in the United States, when Dvorák offered him a position as secretary, which Josef Jan accepted, so he came to live with the Dvorák family in New York. He told Dvorák about Spillville, where his father Jan Josef was a schoolmaster, which led to Dvorák deciding to spend the summer of 1893 there.

In that environment, and surrounded by beautiful nature, Dvorák felt very much at ease. Writing to a friend he described his state of mind, away from hectic New York: "I have been on vacation since 3 June here in the Czech village of Spillville and I won’t be returning to New York until the latter half of September. The children arrived safely from Europe and we’re all happy together. We like it very much here and, thank God, I am working hard and I’m healthy and in good spirits." He composed the quartet shortly after the New World Symphony, before that work had been performed.

Dvorák sketched the quartet in three days and completed it in thirteen more days, finishing the score with the comment "Thank God! I am content. It was fast."[3] It was his second attempt to write a quartet in F major: his first effort, 12 years earlier, produced only one movement.[6] The American Quartet proved a turning point in Dvorák's chamber music output: for decades he had toiled unsuccessfully to find a balance between his overflowing melodic invention and a clear structure. In the American Quartet it finally came together. Dvorák defended the apparent simplicity of the piece: "When I wrote this quartet in the Czech community of Spillville in 1893, I wanted to write something for once that was very melodious and straightforward, and dear Papa Haydn kept appearing before my eyes, and that is why it all turned out so simply. And it’s good that it did."

For his symphony Dvorák gave the subtitle himself: "From the New World". To the quartet he gave no subtitle himself, but there is the comment "The second composition written in America."

Biographies
Pianist and composer Dmitri Levkovich was born into both avocations. His performances were praised for "artistic sophistication far above the ordinary" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and "understanding of the music far beyond most young pianists” (American Record Guide).  
Dmitri feels fortunate to have studied piano with the great Sergei Babayan for 11 years. However, his first professional degree was in composition (Curtis Institute of Music). His compositions have been performed by orchestras in the United States and in Europe. The style of his music is described in the Philadelphia’s Broad Street Review – “…the musicians could jump right into the heartfelt melodies and big emotional surges of Levkovich’s slow movement.” He also enjoys teaching. His experience in teaching began as an assistant to Sergei Babayan. Since then, Dmitri has successfully taught piano and chamber music master classes at various universities across the world and also served as a jury member in various piano competitions.

His performing credits include solo engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra, Sinfonia Toronto, China National, Dresden Philharmonic, Gulbenkian, Frankfurt HR Radio, Marinsky, Slovak Philharmonic, and Utah Symphony.  He has performed at Great Halls of the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Berlin Philharmonie, Gulbenkian Foundation, Moscow Conservatory, Théâtre des Champs Elysées,  Warsaw Philharmonie, as well as Mariinsky Theater’s Concert Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Most recent highlights include a feature episode on "Living the Classical Life", a solo recital at the Mozart Saal of Alte Oper Frankfurt and appearance at the II International Mariinsky Far East Festival with a solo recital as well as Rachmaninoff's 4th Piano Concerto with Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. 

Sinfonia Toronto now in its 22nd season, has toured twice in Europe, in the US, South America and China, receiving glowing reviews. It has released four CD’s, including a JUNO Award winner, and performs in many Ontario cities. Its extensive repertoire includes all the major string orchestra works of the 18th through 21st centuries, and it has premiered many new works. Under the baton of Nurhan Arman the orchestra’s performances present outstanding international guest artists and prominent Canadian musicians.  

Maestro Nurhan Arman has conducted throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and the US, returning regularly to many orchestras in Europe. Among the orchestras Maestro Arman has conducted are the Moscow Philharmonic, Deutsches Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Filarmonica Italiana, St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra, Orchestre Regional d’Ile de France, Hungarian Symphony, Arpeggione Kammerorchester, Milano Classica and Belgrade Philharmonic.