British piano star joins NZSO for Gershwin special

Explosive British pianist Freddy Kempf and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will perform major classics by the American legend George Gershwin in a special two-concert tour next month.

In a coup for his New Zealand fans, Freddy Kempf plays Gershwin will showcase the virtuoso and the NZSO in joyful form in Wellington on December 7 and Auckland on December 8, with a programme of sparkling jazz-inspired rhythms and eye-popping finger work.

Kempf will play three of Gershwin’s four piano concertos – ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations, Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra and the 1924 instant classic, Rhapsody in Blue. The Orchestra completes the evening with Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs – a ‘written-out’ jazz-in-concert hall composition for jazz ensemble – and Shostakovich’s Tahiti Trot, an orchestration of the memorable Tea for Two from Vincent Youmans’ musical No, No, Nanette.

Freddy Kempf won hearts on his last NZSO tour in 2010, setting concert halls alight with stunning performances of Rachmaninov’s notorious Third Piano Concerto.  He is internationally acclaimed for his musicality and technique.

According to The Telegraph, “He is prepared to take risks, a readiness that brings spontaneous combustion to his playing; but he has sensitivity too.”

Freddy Kempf says Gershwin will push him to the limit, and the exuberance of the pieces will thrill the audience:  “Gershwin was the first person to truly bring music to the masses. His music appeals to anybody, whether they are classically trained, or whether they’ve never ever heard classical music before. I hope all the listeners will feel touched, moved, excited and happy from the wonderful music he wrote”.

Gershwin’s compositions are among the largest-scoring in the repertoire and his works are breathtakingly difficult for the pianist. Kempf masters Gershwin’s piano concertos on his CD Rhapsody in Blue, released by BIS Records earlier this year. This breath-taking recording, conducted by recent NZSO guest conductor Andrew Litton, includes all three Gershwin piano concertos featured in this exciting NZSO concert: Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Rhapsody in Blue, and Variations on I Got Rhythm for piano and orchestra.

Guest conductor Matthew Coorey will lead the NZSO for the two-date tour. Coorey, an Australian conductor now based in the United Kingdom, has led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Hallé Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

Concert info >