Thierry Fischer today announced plans to conclude his 13 -year tenure as Music Director of the Utah Symphony in August 2022, continuing to conduct the orchestra regularly thereafter as Music Director Emeritus. During his tenure as Music Director he has revitalised the orchestra and raised its national and international profile through creative programming, renewed excellence in performance, and ambitious tours and recording projects.
Thierry and the Utah Symphony give the final concerts of their Masterworks Season this month with four varied concerts. On 17 and 18 May, Thierry and the orchestra are joined by Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes, who performs Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1. Also on the programme are two American classics by Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid.
The following week, Thierry and the orchestra close the season with two performances of a fittingly epic work on 24 and 25 May. They return to Mahler’s mighty First Symphony, the “Titan”, which Thierry selected to launch the recent series of acclaimed Utah Symphony commercial recordings in 2014. The program opens with Haydn’s Symphony No. 9 and a visually and satirical work by Alfred Schnittke, Moz-Art à la Haydn.
Thierry and the Utah Symphony continue their critically acclaimed Saint-Saëns symphonic cycle for Hyperion this month, with Volume 2 available from 3 May. Recorded at Abravanel Hall, the album features Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.2, the tone poem Danse macabre featuring Utah Symphony Concertmaster Madeline Adkins and finally his Symphony in F major, also known as ‘Urbs Roma’. Click here to purchase the album from Hyperion Records or click here to purchase from Amazon.
Volume 1 of the cycle was released in January and was warmly received by the press, with Limelight Magazine praising Thierry and the Utah Symphony for their blend of “American muscle and Gallic lyricism”. Click here to purchase Volume 1.
Thierry returns to the Bergen Philharmonic this month for two concerts on 11 and 12 April. The concerts focus on Russian Orthdox psalms, opening with the Easter psalm ‘Grob tvoi, Spase’ and culminating with Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. Also on the programme is Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3, which was heavily influenced by ‘Grob tvoi, Spase’. Thierry and the orchestra are joined for the concerto by French pianist Lise de la Salle. The concert on 12 April be streamed live on the Bergen Philharmonic’s website – click here for more information.
Later in the month, Thierry returns to Seoul for a concert with the Seoul Philharmonic on 25 April. Thierry conducts a programme of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements and Violin Concerto with soloist Vilde Frang and extracts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
Thierry and the Utah Symphony return to the Utah Opera pit from 9 March for Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Paul Peers’ production stars Andrew Stenson, Zulimar López-Hernández, Joo Won Kang and Grace Kahl and runs at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre until 17 March.
Thierry and the Utah Symphony then return to their regular home of Abravanel Hall at the end of the month for concerts with pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk and cellist Alban Gerhardt. On 21, 22 and 23 March, Thierry conducts Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Piano Concerto No.2 with Gavrylyuk as soloist, alongside Andrew Norman’s Play: Levels 1, 2 and 3. Then on 29 and 30 March, Gerhardt joins them to perform Dutilleux’s cello concerto Tout un monde lointain…, which is performed alongside the famous overture to Rossini’s opera Guillaume Tell and Dvorák’s popular New World Symphony.
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.