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Beethoven Blockbusters

Hugh Wolff, conductor & Juho Pohjonen, piano

Saturday, July 25th, 2009« view all past events

Hugh Wolff

Hugh Wolff is among the leading conductors of his generation. He has appeared with all the major North American orchestras including those of Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Toronto and Montreal. Wolff is much in demand in Europe, where he has worked with such orchestras as the London Symphony, the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Orchestre National de France, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and the Bavarian and Berlin Radio Orchestras. He is a regular guest conductor with orchestras in Japan, Scandinavia and Australia and a frequent conductor at summer music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood and Ravinia.


A conductor whose interests span baroque performance practice to the championing of new works, Wolff began his professional career in 1979 as Associate Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich later going on to become Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (1986-1993) and Music Director of Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival (1994- 1997).


Wolff was Principal Conductor and then Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (1988- 2000), with whom he recorded twenty discs and toured the United States, Europe and Japan. Of this partnership, the New York Times wrote: ‘The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Hugh Wolff, has developed an effortlessly polished sound … Wolff shapes his interpretations with impeccable taste.


Wolff was later Principal Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (1997-2006), with whom he maintains a close relationship. The Sunday Times wrote of their recording of George Antheil’s Symphonies Nos 1 & 6, ‘the Frankfurt Radio SO under Wolff dazzles throughout.’ Together they have toured Europe, Japan and China, and appeared at the Salzburg, Rheingau, and Mozart Würzburg Festivals.


Wolff has an extensive discography on the Teldec label, with works ranging from Haydn to Stravinsky with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His recordings for Decca include a disc of works by Aaron Jay Kernis with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Argo label), and a disc with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has also recorded the Barber and Meyer Violin Concertos with Hilary Hahn for Sony Classical, which along with the disc of Antheil Symphonies 1 & 6, won a 2001 Cannes Classical Award.


Born in Paris in 1953 to American parents, Wolff spent his early years in London and Washington DC.


After graduating from Harvard, Wolff returned on a fellowship to Paris, where he studied conducting with Charles Bruck and composition with Olivier Messiaen. He then continued his studies in Baltimore with Leon Fleisher.


Wolff and his wife, Judith Kogan, have three sons and live in Boston.




Juho Pohjonen

‘If we needed proof that exciting new talent is in the pipeline, there was the marvellous American debut of Juho Pohjonen at [Carnegie’s] Weill Recital Hall. Mr Pohjonen, offered a formidable mixed program, topped by thrilling accounts of two fiendishly difficult works by a fellow Finn, Esa-Pekka Salonen.’
-New York Times


One of the brightest young instrumental talents to emerge from Finland today, Juho Pohjonen has attracted great attention as one of the Nordic country’s most intriguing and talented pianists. Pohjonen’s studies began in 1989, when he entered the Junior Academy of the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki. He has studied with Meri Louhos and Hui-Ying Liu at the Sibelius Academy, where he completed his Master’s Degree in 2008. In addition, Pohjonen has participated in several master classes of world-class pianists such as Andràs Schiff, Leon Fleisher, Jacob Lateiner and Barry Douglas.


Juho Pohjonen has won numerous prizes in both Finnish and international competitions, including: First Prize at the 2004 Nordic Piano Competition in Nyborg, Denmark, First Prize at the International Young Artists 2000 Concerto Competition in Stockholm, the Prokofiev Prize at the AXA Dublin International Piano Competition 2003, and was a prize winner at Helsinki International Maj Lind Piano Competition 2002.


Pohjonen has given recitals in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany, Poland, Russia, China and the United States. He has performed with orchestras including the Danish National and Malmö, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestras, Helsinki Philharmonic and Lahti Symphony Orchestra with whom he toured Japan.


This season, highlights included performances with the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles under Esa-Pekka Salonen, with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Salonen, as well as a re-invitation to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra / DR to premiere a piano concerto by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holgreen.


Pohjonen has been widely praised for his interpretations of music from Bach to Esa-Pekka Salonen. Anthony Tommasini, senior music critic of the New York Times, selected Pohjonen’s New York debut recital at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in 2004 as one of the most memorable concert events heard in New York during that year.



More Info: http://www.atlantasymphony.org

Thrill to two pathbreaking works, the Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 7, in which Beethoven set aside thoughts of pleasing the tastemakers and gave full rein to his tempestuous personality. The third work of the evening, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, showcases a rising young star from Finland with enviable credentials: “If we needed proof that exciting new talent is in the pipeline, there was the marvelous American debut of Juho Pohjonen” – New York Times. The eminent international conductor Hugh Wolff conducts.

BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Hugh Wolff, conductor
Juho Pohjonen, piano