The Cleveland Orchestra releases new recording of two 20th century orchestral gems led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst
Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings with Yefim Bronfman and Prokofiev’s Second Symphony
Available worldwide November 5 via streaming, download, and CD, with preorders available October 15
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra’s newest audio recording, featuring Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979) together with Prokofiev’s Second Symphony (1925) showcasing the pairing of an older and newer work led by Music Director, Franz Welser-Möst, will be available worldwide on Friday, November 5. The new album, available on CD (Hybrid SACD), or digitally via online streaming or download purchase, is the Orchestra’s third release on its own label with Franz Welser-Möst, following its inaugural album titled A New Century, released in June 2020, and a recording of Schubert’s “Great” C-major Symphony paired with Ernst Křenek’s Static and Ecstatic, released in October 2020.
The Schnittke Concerto for Piano and Strings was recorded in October 2020 at Cleveland’s Severance Hall during the Covid-19 pandemic. It features pianist Yefim Bronfman with the Orchestra’s strings, and was part of The Cleveland Orchestra’s In Focus digital broadcast series. Prokofiev’s Second Symphony was recorded in January 2020 on tour in Miami, in Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, and features full orchestra ensemble in this work inspired by the early 20th century’s fascination with mechanics and industry.
The album will include a booklet featuring essays by Franz Welser-Möst and President & CEO André Gremillet, and program notes about each piece also will be included.
This album release is part of a vision to share the unique artistry of the Welser-Möst/Cleveland Orchestra partnership with audiences in Cleveland and around the world, while expanding the Orchestra’s extensive recording catalogue, which includes video/DVD releases of Bruckner and Brahms under Welser-Möst’s baton.
On Friday, November 5, 2021, the Schnittke/Prokofiev recording will be available worldwide, via international retail outlets and the Cleveland Orchestra Store. On Friday, October 15, the recording will be available for pre-order. The physical set can be purchased through the Orchestra’s Store at cleveland-orchestra-store.myshopify.com/. For additional details, see the Production Information section below and clevelandorchestra.com/recordings.
“We offer this album as the latest testament to the extraordinary music-making happening in Cleveland today. The label was launched in 2020 to showcase today’s Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst, who leads his 20th season as music director during the 2021-22 season. Now entering its third decade, this partnership continues to grow in depth and in breadth, as evidenced through this ongoing series of remarkable recordings,” said André Gremillet, President & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra.
“This recording is the third album released on our own label. Like the previous two, released in 2020, this one captures particular moments in history, both musically and in the disruption that the pandemic brought with it.
“The Prokofiev was recorded just before the Covid pandemic in what it seems like a different era — where seasons were planned and unfolded seamlessly year after year, and music was rehearsed, honed, and perfected for a traditional concert hall with a receptive live audience. The Schnittke was chosen as an invention of necessity, the product of a collaboration with a curious and daring artist who remains one of the greatest pianists before the public today, and the whole-hearted embrace of innovation and experimentation in the midst of uncertainty and lockdown.”
“I would say that The Cleveland Orchestra is always ready for a challenge. For example, an extreme athlete will hike mountains of twenty-four or five thousand feet and get addicted to that rush, that exhilaration. And I feel this how our musicians approach their craft. They are driven by these challenges and we are constantly on a journey of discovery, said Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra.
“When the pandemic hit, we were not allowed to have winds on stage. We had to socially distance. And Yefim suggested this piece by Schnittke. I had never heard of it. But everyone was blown away by the quality and the profound depth of that piece.
“With Prokofiev’s Second Symphony, which had not been played before in Cleveland we encountered similar challenges. And the first rehearsals were really difficult. But, you know, it seems no hurdle is too big for The Cleveland Orchestra to overcome.
“This is a side of Prokofiev that I didn't know until I discovered this piece. He wrote it in Paris, but deep down, he was carrying his Russian soul — though he was struggling with the political establishment at that time. The symphony was written in the Roaring Twenties, but somehow predicts World War Two, and you can hear the war machine stirring in its mechanical motifs.
“Schnittke, in the years after World War Two, was also suffering from the legacy of Russia’s communist regime. And I think that both composers were so grounded and bound to Russian soil that they could not deny that that spirit in their music. You can hear that they are inspired by the same history, the same tradition, and the same heart.”
Access to the recordings for media reviewing is available upon request as well as high-resolution images of the product packaging, and photos of The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.
Released by The Cleveland Orchestra, the Schnittke/Prokofiev recording will be available on all major digital download and streaming services worldwide (including Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, Qobuz, IDAGIO, Primephonic, and QQ Music China.)
A dedicated Cleveland Orchestra microsite: clevelandorchestra.com/recordings will include:
- Recording set and project overview
- Embedded audio stream/link to the entire album (via Apple Music)
- Product & release information
- Links to pre-order options (both physical and digital)
- Video featurettes
Suggested Retail Price: $24.95
Schnittke: Concerto for Piano and Strings (in one movement) with Yefim Bronfman — Prokofiev: Symphony No. 2 available November 5, 2021, on CD (Hybrid SACD) for streaming and download on all major digital music platforms including Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
Schnittke recorded live at Severance Hall, October 2020
Prokofiev recorded live at Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, January 2020
ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)
Concerto for Piano and Strings (in one movement) with Yefim Bronfman
Track 1 total timing 19:56
Moderato — Allegro — Temp di valse — Moderato — Tempo 1
SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No. 2 in D minor, Opus 40
Tracks 2 – 10 total timing 34:18
Track 2 – 1. Allegro ben articolato – 2. Theme and Variations 10:53
Track 3 – Theme: Andante 1:48
Track 4 – Var. 1: L’istesso tempo 1:59
Track 5 – Var. 2: Allegro non 3:23
Track 6 – Var. 3: Allegro 2:09
Track 7 – Var. 4: Larghetto 3:30
Track 8 – Var. 5: Allegro con brio 2:56
Track 9 – Var. 6: Allegro moderato 5:19
Track 10 – Theme 2:13
CD box size dimensions: 7.625” x 7.625” x 0.25”
Companion booklet: Forty pages, including an essay from Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra and Andre Gremillet, President & CEO, The Cleveland Orchestra, about the recording along with program notes about the two musical works, and photographs of The Cleveland Orchestra performing the pieces.
About The Cleveland Orchestra
One of the few major American orchestras founded by a woman, The Cleveland Orchestra’s inaugural concert took place in December 1918, at a time of renewed optimism and progressive community ideas. By the middle of the century, decades of growth and sustained eff ort — along with its own concert hall — had turned the ensemble into one of the most-admired around the world.
Under the leadership of Franz Welser-Möst since 2002, The Cleveland Orchestra continues to extend its artistry and musical abilities, and remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. Year after year, the ensemble exemplifies extraordinary artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement. In recent years, The New York Times has called Cleveland “the best in America” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion, “virtually flawless,” and “one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world).”
A long history of strong community support from across the ensemble’s home region continues to drive the Orchestra forward and has provided remarkable energy and focus throughout the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The past decade has seen an increasing number of young people attending concerts, bringing fresh attention to The Cleveland Orchestra’s legendary sound and committed programming. A series of annual opera presentations has also showcased the ensemble’s unique artistry and collaborative work ethic. Productions have included Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (2019), Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande (May 2017), a doublebill of Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard’s Castle (April 2016), and an innovative presentation of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (May 2014, with encore performances in Cleveland and Europe in 2017).
The partnership with Franz Welser-Möst marks its 20th year with the 2021-22 season and has earned The Cleveland Orchestra unprecedented acclaim around the world, including a series of residencies at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra. The Orchestra’s 100th season in 2017-18 featured two international tours, concluding with the presentation on three continents of Welser-Möst’s Prometheus Project, featuring Beethoven Symphonies and overtures presented in May and June 2018, at home in Cleveland, in Vienna’s Musikverein, and in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.
The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of DVDs (available through Clasart Classics) and CD recordings under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of audio recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble’s earlier music directors. In 2020, it launched its own recording label to great fanfare and praise, and also created a brand-new series of streaming broadcasts for audiences at home during the pandemic.
Seven music directors — Nikolai Sokoloff , Artur Rodziński, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi and Franz Welser-Möst — have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound since its founding in 1918. Through concerts at home and on tour, via radio broadcasts and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and growing group of fans around the world. For more information, visit: clevelandorchestra.com.
About Franz Welser-Möst
Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors. The 2021-22 season marks his twentieth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra. With the future of their acclaimed partnership extended to 2027, he will be the longest-serving musical leader in the ensemble’s history. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be “America’s most brilliant orchestra,” praising its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion.
With Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has been acclaimed for its inventive programming, its ongoing support for new musical works, and for its innovative work in presenting semi-staged and staged operas. An imaginative approach to juxtaposing newer and older works has opened new dialogue and fresh insights for musicians and audiences alike. The Orchestra has also been hugely successful in fostering a new and, notably, a young audience. To date, the Orchestra and Welser-Möst have been showcased around the world in nineteen international tours together. In 2020, despite shutdowns caused by the global pandemic, the ensemble launched its own recording label — and new streaming broadcast performances — to continue and extend sharing their artistry globally.
In addition to his commitment to Cleveland, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a particularly close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic as a guest conductor. He has twice appeared on the podium for their celebrated New Year’s Concert, and regularly leads the orchestra in subscription concerts in Vienna, as well as on tours in Japan, China, Australia, and the United States. Highlights of appearances in recent seasons include performances of Strauss’s Die Aegyptische Helena at Teatro alla Scala, as well as concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, where his work leading a series of opera performances has been widely admired. These have included Rusalka, Der Rosenkavalier, Fidelio, Die Liebe der Danae, Aribert Reimann’s Lear, and Strauss’s Salome and Elektra.
From 2010 to 2014, Franz Welser-Möst served as general music director of the Vienna State Opera. His partnership with the company included a wide-ranging repertoire, including a series of critically-praised new productions. Mr. Welser-Möst had earlier led the Zurich Opera across a decade-long tenure, conducting more than forty new productions.
Franz Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major international awards and honors. With The Cleveland Orchestra, his recordings include a number of DVDs on the Clasart Classic label, featuring live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies and a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms. A number of his Salzburg opera productions, including Der Rosenkavalier, have been released internationally on DVD by Unitel.
In 2019, Mr. Welser-Möst was awarded the Gold Medal in the Arts by the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts in recognition of his long-lasting impact on the international arts community. Other honors include The Cleveland Orchestra’s Distinguished Service Award (given during the ensemble’s 100th season celebrations for his focus on community and education), a Cleveland Arts Prize citation, the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor” for his personal and artistic relationship with the ensemble, recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.
Franz Welser-Möst’s book From Silence: Finding Calm in a Dissonant World was published in Austria in July 2020, under the title Als ich die Stille fand, and rapidly rose to number one on the [German-language] best-seller lists, where it remained through much of 2021. The English version of From Silence was released worldwide in Summer 2021. To read more about Franz Welser-Möst, visit this link: clevelandorchestra.com/about/musicians-and-conductors/franz-welser-most/.
About Yefim Bronfman
Russian-American pianist Yefim Bronfman is regarded as one of today’s most talented piano virtuosos, praised for his technique and lyricism, and in demand for performances around the world. He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut in April 1986, and has returned regularly for musical collaborations with the ensemble, including performances on tour and at Carnegie Hall.
As a guest artist, Mr. Bronfman performs with the world’s most esteemed ensembles, from North America’s major orchestras to those of Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Israel, London, Paris, Vienna, and Zurich, among others. Recent engagements include as artist-in-residence with the Vienna Symphony, a tour to Asia with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a series of recitals celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. He is a frequent guest at international festivals and has served as artist-in-residence with Carnegie Hall as well as with the Dresden Staatskapelle, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic
A devoted chamber musician, Yefim Bronfman has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, and Juilliard quartets, as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has also performed with Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, Magdalena Kožená, Yo-Yo Ma, Shlomo Mintz, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Pinchas Zukerman, and many others, and presents solo recitals throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.
Mr. Bronfman’s recordings are highly praised. He is featured on The Cleveland Orchestra’s DVD release of both Brahms piano concertos, recorded with Franz Welser-Möst at Severance Hall. His album of Bartók’s three piano concertos won a 1997 Grammy Award, and both his album featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen’s piano concerto and recording of Magnus Lindberg’s second piano concerto have received Grammy nominations. His discography also includes the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas and concertos, Beethoven’s five piano concertos and triple concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and sonatas by Bartók, Brahms, and Mozart, recorded with Isaac Stern.
Yefim Bronfman was born in 1958 in Tashkent in the current Uzbekistan. After moving to Israel with his family in 1973, he worked with Arie Vardi at Tel Aviv University. Following his family’s relocation to the United States in 1976, he studied at the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, and Marlboro. His teachers included Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin. In 1991, he returned to Russia for the first time since emigrating, to perform recitals with Isaac Stern. Mr. Bronfman’s honors include the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991. For additional information, please visit yefimbronfman.com.