Richard Strauss / Franz Schubert
Junge Philharmonie / Ildiko Raimondi / Lessky
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Under the title of 'Dedication', the Austrian Kammersängerin Ildiko Raimondi and the Junge Philharmonie Wien conducted by Michael Lessky present selected songs by Richard Strauss and Franz Schubert. Whereas the orchestrations of the Strauss songs were written directly in the temporal context of the composer's working life, the majority of Schubert's works were only later arranged for larger ensembles in the course of the emerging great popularity of the orchestral song at the beginning of the 20th century - frequently by arrangers whose names are hardly known today. The more multi-layered sound and wealth of timbres of the orchestral version in comparison with the accustomed piano score cast a new light on songs such as 'Ständchen', 'Heimliche Aufforderung', 'Freundliche Vision', 'Winterweihe' (Strauss) or 'An die Musik', 'Du bist die Ruh', 'An den Mond' or 'Wiegenlied' (Schubert).
KS Ildiko Raimondi was born in Arad, Rumania, where she began her music education and completed her vocal studies in Italy with Flaviano Labo and Carlo Bergonzi. She has performed in Dresden, Munich, Berlin, Valencia, Zurich, Helsinki as well as at Festivals in Salzburg, Edinburgh, Ludwigsburg, Bregenz and the Wiener Festwochen. Since 1991 she is member of the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper. She made her debut here in November 1991 as Sophie (Rosenkavalier). After that she performed as Marzelline (Fidelio), Zdenka (Arabella), Pamina (Zauberflöte), Antonia (Contes d'Hoffmann), Micaela (Carmen), Susanna (Nozze di Figaro), Adele and Rosalinde (Fledermaus), Hanna Glawari (Lustige Witwe), Nedda (Pagliacci), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Mimi and Musetta (Bohème), Alice (Falstaff), Dame (Cardillac), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni). She performed in the gala concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the Wiener Staatsoper, as well as at guest appearances in Asia (2007), Japan (2008), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (2009). In 2004 she became Österreichische Kammersängerin. Roles at the Wiener Staatsoper 2013/2014: u. a. Pollicinos Mutter, Gutrune (Götterdämmerung), 1. Dame (Zauberflöte).
The Austrian conductor Michael Lessky hails from a highly musical Viennese family. He primarily gained his training as a conductor with Karl Österreicher at the Vienna Music Academy, acquiring additional important stimulus by frequently assisting Claudio Abbado at the Vienna State Opera as well as with working with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. In addition, he studied law, piano, organ, church music and the theory of jazz in Vienna.
In 1995, together with Ildikó Raimondi, Hans-Peter Blochwitz and Bernd Weikl as soloists and the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic Orchestra, he held his successful debut in the Vienna Musikverein, conducting Haydn's Creation. This was the starting point for many successful concerts with masterpieces such as Verdi's Requiem, Mozart's C minor Mass, Bruckner's Te Deum, Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem and numerous works from the French and Italian repertoires.
In the seasons 1999 and 2000, Lessky also conducted successful productions of Die Zauberflöte and Nabucco with which the St. Margarethen Opera Festival was able to establish itself as the second-largest open-air opera festival in Europe.
In 1997, Lessky founded the Austrian national youth orchestra 'Junge Philharmonie Wien', which under his direction became the Austrian 'elite youth orchestra', according to Austrian radio ORF and the weekly journal News. The orchestra has already played in all the leading concert halls in Europe and has been invited twice to tour China as the 'Official Austrian Cultural Ambassador'.
An important aspect of his work is his intensive co-operation with internationally renowned vocal soloists, such as Agnes Baltsa, Ildikó Raimondi, José Carreras, Janina Baechle, Saimir Pirgu and Robert Holl. In 2006, he conducted the world premiere of José Carreras' new programme 'Belle Epoque' in the Vienna Konzerthaus (released on CD by Sony/BMG). Other CD releases are Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4, and, of particular value, the live recording made in the Vienna State Opera of Orchestral Songs by Schubert, Strauss, Mahler and Zemlinsky with Ildikó Raimondi. In 2010, the CD Weit flog ich was released with Raimondi and works by Mahler, Schoenberg, Webern and Nono (Gramola 98891).
Due to his great love of literature and the theatre, Michael Lessky often combines music and text, be it by including actors or in half-scenic adaptations. In this context, Schubert's Rosamunde and Lazarus or Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream should be mentioned. An important concern is his contact to contemporary music: many commissioned compositions, e.g. to German Toro-Perez, Johanna Doderer or Thomas Pernes, are the results of his initiative.
The works by Mahler and Bruckner are another major focus. His interpretations of Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4 and Bruckner's Nos. 4 and 9 have attracted special attention among the public and press.