Thierry and the Utah Symphony have released the first recording in their Saint-Saëns cycle for Hyperion, with Volume 1 now available for purchase. Volume 1 comprises Symphony No.3 in C minor (“Organ”), featuring Paul Jacobs; “Danse Bacchanale” from Act III of the composer’s opera Samson et Dalila; and Trois tableaux symphoniques d’après La foi, based on the composer’s incidental music for a play by Eugène Brieux. It was recorded live in concert in December 2017 at the Utah Symphony’s home in Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City. The cycle will be first complete, commercial recording of the composer’s five symphonies by an American orchestra and include two more releases.
Click here to purchase Volume 1 from Hyperion Records.
Thierry appears in Strasbourg this month to conduct The Dark Mirror, Hans Zender’s 1993 reimagining of Schubert’s Winterreise at le Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg on 17 and 18 January. The performances are the French premiere of a new production from Kornél Mundruczó, who uses Zender’s work and video filmed in a Hungarian refugee camp in 2014 to examine migration and the eternal strangeness of humanity. Thierry and his musicians are joined for the performances by singer János Szemenyei.
The following week, Thierry returns to Seoul to lead the Seoul Philharmonic in an all-Russian programme with pianist Boris Giltburg. Thierry opens the concert with Glinka’s overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila, which is followed by Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 with Giltburg at the piano and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Performances take place at Seoul’s Lotte Concert Hall on 24 and 25 January.
Watch an extract of Thierry and the Seoul Philharmonic performing Berlioz in Paris at the Maison de la Radio, in the culmination of their European tour. Together they played Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique to a full house, earning much praise even from the Francophone press for this most quintessentially French masterpiece. Critics in Geneva and Luzern earlier in the week were equally enthusiastic.
“The Seoul Philharmonic was particularly persuasive, under the firm yet non-autocratic leadership of Thierry Fischer: the layering of sound desk by desk, the volume of the different forces which Berlioz takes such pleasure in disrupting, all kept constantly in balance. Particularly delicious were the silky, cohesive strings, while the woodwinds pulled their respectable colleagues along without flinching” Concerto.net, December 2018
“Thierry Fischer brought out the still striking modernity of Berlioz’ programmatic work – with quick tempi and energetic accents, which turned the gloriously colourful orchestra into one huge percussion instrument. Orchestral fortissimos occasionally pushed details or contours into the background, but they did reinforce the obsessive, driven character of the music which hurled towards its finale” Luzerner Zeitung, December 2018
“This vitality and sense of abandon were reflected in the public’s enthusiasm…The energy, commitment and power of conviction of the former flautist were given room for expression and space to blossom as he turned to the orchestra as his instrument… clarity and flexibility vied with powerful solidity…remarkable precision and brilliance” Le Temps, December 2018
“ …our first glimpse of this stunning orchestra. The care they took with the sound quality, the musicality of the phrases, and the supple articulation was even more in evidence later on in the programme, during the monumental expressionism of Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Here one could hear the way the Seoul musicians used their refined sound (particularly from the strings) to create a tumult of contrasting effects, variety of texture and of musical ambiance.” Tribune de Geneve, December 2018
Thierry leads the Seoul Philharmonic on a major tour of Europe this month, beginning at Geneva’s Victoria Hall on 25 November. Thierry and the orchestra are joined for the tour by pianist Sunwook Kim, a regular partner of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and winner of prestigious piano competitions such as Clara Haskill and Leeds International Piano competitions.
Following the concert in Geneva, the tour visits Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine on 27 November, KKL Luzerne on 29 November and Grenoble MC2 on 30 November before culminating with a performance at Auditorium, Maison de la Radio in Paris on 1 December. The programme features Isang Yun’s Muak, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op.73 ‘Emperor’, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 and Berlioz’s symphonic tour de force, Symphonie Fantastique.
In Utah in November, Thierry conducts two weeks of concerts. On 9 and 10 November, he conducts Bernstein’s Candide, and on 16 and 17 November he leads a programme of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos alongside Pierre Boulez’ Dérive and Copland’s Third Symphony.
Thierry and the Utah Symphony have launched a recording cycle of works by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns on Hyperion Records. This three-volume set will be the first complete, commercial recording of the composer’s five symphonies by an American orchestra, as well as the orchestra’s first recording project with the independent British label. Volume 1 is set for a January 2019 release (available in the shops and online from 28 December) and comprises Symphony No.3 in C minor (“Organ”), featuring Paul Jacobs; “Danse Bacchanale” from Act III of the composer’s opera Samson et Dalila; and Trois tableaux symphoniques d’après La foi, based on the composer’s incidental music for a play by Eugène Brieux. Pre-orders are currently available here.
The Utah Symphony embarks on these milestone Saint-Saëns recordings having also been the first American orchestra to record the complete Mahler symphonies. Since Mr. Fischer became Music Director in 2009, he has conducted numerous symphonic cycles at Abravanel Hall, and these works by Saint-Saëns were recorded live during the 2017–18 season. Volume 1 was recorded on December 1 and 2, 2017.
Throughout his career, Mr. Fischer has been especially active as a conductor of the French repertoire—from classics by Debussy and Ravel to contemporary works by Pierre Boulez and Tristan Murail. Of his 14 previous recordings on Hyperion, over half are devoted to works by Francophone composers, including Fauré, Françaix, Honegger, d’Indy, Lalo, Martin, Poulenc, and Widor. The Saint-Saëns cycle marks his first recordings of the French repertoire with the Utah Symphony, and following this project, an all-Berlioz album with the orchestra is also planned for release on Hyperion.
Thierry makes his first visit of the season to Seoul this month when he leads the Seoul Philharmonic in two performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide on 10 and 12 October. The two concerts at Seoul Arts Center are part of the worldwide commemmorations of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birthday. Candide is an adaptation of Voltaire’s comic novel in which the hero Candide’s sunny outlook on life is challenged by a series of disasters. Bernstein’s adaptation opened on Broadway in 1956.
In Seoul, Thierry conducts Jonathan Johnson as Candide, Lauren Snouffer as his sweetheart Cunegonde and Hugh Russell as his mentor, the philosopher Dr Pangloss. He also conducts the work in November, this time with the Utah Symphony.
Thierry joins the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra on 13 September 2018 to give the South American premiere of Philippe Manoury’s new flute concerto with soloist Emmanuel Pahud. Thierry couples the concerto with Massenet Scènes de féerie and Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, and they repeat the programme on 14 and 15 September.
Thierry then returns to Salt Lake City to open the Utah Symphony‘s new season with a celebratory performance of Beethoven Symphony No.9 featuring the University of Utah choruses and a starry cast of soloists. In a typically idiosyncratic pairing, Thierry couples the symphony with Andrew Norman’s 2014 work for piano and orchestra Suspend, with soloist Jason Hardink.
Thierry begins July in Seoul, where he conducts the Seoul Philharmonic in two performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Lotte Concert Hall on 6 and 7 July. Thierry and the orchestra are joined for the concerts by an all-star cast led by Ian Bostridge and Roderick Williams. The following week, Thierry travels over to Japan for a return to the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. He conducts Nicolas Alstaedt in Dutilleux’s cello concerto, Tout un monde lointain and, in a nod to the season, Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Thierry then returns to Europe for a concert at Monaco’s Prince’s Palace with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo on 29 July, when he leads the orchestra in a programme of Honegger, Mendelssohn and Schubert. Earlier this season in France he conducted the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the Orchestre du Pays de la Loire, both with immediate reinvitations. Next season he debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.
Thierry Fischer closes his 2017/18 Utah Symphony season this month with the US premiere of Reflections / Reflets III, a new work by pioneering French composer Tristan Murail. Co-commissioned by the Utah Symphony, this complements the Saint-Saens symphony cycle conducted by Fischer throughout the season, which has been recorded for future release.
Murail’s work represents the trajectory of French music from Saint-Saëns’ Romanticism and Debussy’s Impressionism into the modern era. In Reflections / Reflets III, listen for Murail’s signature use of the “spectral” technique, a compositional aesthetic developed in the 1970s. Spectral technique focuses on the color, timbre, and texture of different instruments and pitches, concentrating less on melody and rhythm and more on the acoustical science of sound. This shifting focus changes the way we as listeners engage with music, opening up a whole new world of possibilities while not entirely letting go of our musical foundations. In the words of Thierry Fischer, the Utah Symphony strives to be “an orchestra looking to the future as much as immensely enjoying the past.”
This month in Salt Lake City, Thierry and the Utah Symphony are joined by pianist Boris Giltburg for two concerts of Shostakovich at Abravanel Hall on 27 and 28 April. The concerts open with Giltburg performing the composer’s First and Second Piano Concertos, followed by his 10th Symphony.
Elsewhere this month, Thierry returns to the Seoul Philharmonic for two concerts in their Ars Nova contemporary music series. He conducts regular collaborator Håkan Hardenberger in a programme that features works by Haydn, Ives, Zimmermann, Beethoven and Richard Strauss.