The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles.
UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI COLLEGE-CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC (CCM) VOCALISTS: Victor Cardamone, Elana Bell, Joyner Horn, Antonio Cruz, Brenda Iglesias Zarco, Yewoon Yoon, Raven McMillon, Ryan Wolfe, Georgina Jacobson, Anyeé Farrar | JAMES BONAS director | THIBAULT VANCRAENENBROECK set and costumes | CHRISTOPHE CHAUPIN lighting | CCM CHAMBER CHOIR Earl Rivers, music director and conductor
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
At the Concert
The French conductor Louis Langrée has been Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in New York since 2002 and of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since the 2013/14 season. The Mostly Mozart Festival celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2016, in a programme including Così fan tutte with the Freiburger Barockorchester, the latter following performances at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. With Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, recent and future highlights have included a performance in New York as part of their anniversary season of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, a tour to Asia and several world premieres, including three Concertos for Orchestra by Sebastian Currier, Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian.
Guest conducting projects over the next two seasons include Louis Langrée’s debut with the Philhadelphia and Konzerthaus Berlin Orchestras and return engagements with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Wiener Symphoniker and Hallé. With the Orchestre National de France he will conduct Debussy’s opera and Schoenberg’s tone poem based on Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande. He will also return to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Wiener Staatsoper and Opéra Comique in Paris.
Louis Langrée has conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker (in concert in both Vienna and Salzburg) and London Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with many other orchestras around the world including the London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Santa Cecilia in Rome, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Budapest Festival, Sao Paulo and NHK Symphony Orchestras. Festival appearances have included Wiener Festwochen, Salzburg Mozartwoche and Whitsun, BBC Proms and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He has held positions as Music Director of the Orchestre de Picardie (1993-98) and Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège (2001-06) and was Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg (2011-16).
Louis Langrée was Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1998-2000) and Glyndebourne Touring Opera (1998-2003). He has also conducted at La Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opéra-Bastille and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dresden Staatsoper, Grand Théâtre in Geneva and the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam.
Louis Langrée's first commercial recording with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra features Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait (narrated by Dr Maya Angelou) and world premieres by Nico Muhly and David Lang. Louis Langrée’s recordings have received several awards from Gramophone and Midem Classical. He was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2006 and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2014.
For more than three decades, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has performed world-wide, recorded more than 50 albums, and built a reputation as one of today’s finest pianists. He plays a range of solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire – from Beethoven through Liszt, Grieg, and Saint-Saëns; to Khachaturian and Gershwin, and to Qigang Chen and James MacMillan. From the very start of his career, he delighted in music beyond the standard repertoire, from jazz to opera, which he transcribed himself to play on the piano. His profound professional friendships crisscross the globe and have led to spontaneous and fruitful collaborations in film, fashion, and visual art.
In 2019-20, Thibaudet renews many longstanding musical partnerships. As the St. Louis Symphony’s Artist-in-Residence, he plays a pair of season-opening concerts conducted by longtime friend and collaborator Stéphane Denève, returning for additional programming later in the season. He also tours a program of Schumann, Fauré, Debussy, and Enescu with Midori, followed by the complete Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin. Thibaudet gives the world premiere of Aaron Zigman’s Tango Manos concerto for piano and orchestra with the China Philharmonic, and goes on to perform it with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and San Francisco Symphony. Zigman composed the score for Robin Swicord’s Wakefield, for which Thibaudet was the soloist; this was the first time that the composer had allowed a pianist other than himself to perform his film work.
A noted interpreter of French music, Thibaudet performs works by Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Connesson and Debussy around the world; as one of the premiere interpreters of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, Thibaudet plays the piece in his hometown as Artist-in-Residence of the Orchestre National de Lyon, with conductor Susanna Mälkki. He also brings along his passion for Gershwin this season, performing the Concerto for Piano in F Major in Lyon as well as in Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Naples, Tokyo, and at the Bad Kissinger Sommer Festival, where he is Artist-in-Residence.
He also expresses his passion for education and fostering young musical talent as the first-ever Artist-in- Residence at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he makes his home. The school has extended the residency for an additional three years and has announced the Jean-Yves Thibaudet Scholarships to provide aid for Music Academy students, whom Thibaudet will select for the merit-based awards, regardless of their instrument choice.
Thibaudet’s recording catalogue has received two Grammy nominations, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Diapason d’Or, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, the Edison Prize, and Gramophone awards. In 2017 he released to great acclaim Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop, with whom he previously recorded Gershwin, featuring big jazz band orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, Variations on “I Got Rhythm”, and the Concerto in F. In 2016, on the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth, Decca released a box set of Satie’s complete solo piano music performed by Thibaudet – one of the foremost champions of the composer’s works. On his Grammy-nominated recording Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerti Nos. 2&5, released in 2007, he is joined by Charles Dutoit and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Thibaudet’s Aria–Opera Without Words, which was released the same year, features aria transcriptions, some of which are Thibaudet’s own. His other recordings include the jazz albums Reflections on Duke: Jean-Yves Thibaudet Plays the Music of Duke Ellington and Conversations With Bill Evans.
Thibaudet has also had an impact on the worlds of fashion, film, and philanthropy. In addition to Zigman’s score for Wakefield, Thibaudet was soloist in Dario Marianelli’s award-winning scores for the films Atonement (which won an Oscar for Best Original Score) and Pride and Prejudice, and recorded Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack for the 2012 film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. He had a cameo in Bruce Beresford’s film on Alma Mahler, Bride of the Wind, and his playing is showcased throughout. In 2004 he served as president of the prestigious charity auction Hospices de Beaune. His concert wardrobe is designed by Dame Vivienne Westwood.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. At twelve, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age fifteen, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and, three years later, the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. Among his numerous commendations is the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique. In 2010 the Hollywood Bowl honored Thibaudet for his musical achievements by inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Previously a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Thibaudet was awarded the title Officier by the French Ministry of Culture in 2012.
Multiple Grammy Award-winning Isabel Leonard continues to thrill audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage. In repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Nico Muhly, she has graced the stages of the Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Carnegie Hall, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Charlotte in Werther, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Costanza in Griselda, the title roles in La Périchole and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as Sesto in both Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito and Handel’s Giulio Cesare.
She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her time: Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Franz Welser-Möst, Plácido Domingo, Edward Gardner, James Levine, Edo de Waart, James Conlon, Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Michele Mariotti, Harry Bicket, Andris Nelsons, and Michael Tilson Thomas with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, among others. Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist and is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall.
She is a multiple Grammy Award winner, most recently for Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges on Decca (2016) and The Tempest from The Metropolitan Opera on Deutsche Grammophon (2014), both Best Opera Recording. Television and film appearances include Sesame Street and host for The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD movie theater transmissions. Ms. Leonard is the recipient of the Richard Tucker Award and has lent her voice, in honor of her father who died from the disease, to the Prostate Cancer Foundation by filming a public service announcement (PSA).
This season she makes debuts at Royal Opera House Covent Garden as Charlotte in Werther, Dutch National Opera as Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cincinnati Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and The Glimmerglass Festival as Maria in The Sound of Music. In concert, she will sing L’enfant et les sortilèges with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony, Shéhérazade with the New York Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and La damnation de Faust with the Saint Louis Symphony. Additional performances include a concert with the University of North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and a recital at the University of Connecticut.
CINCINNATI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. With a determination for greatness and a rich tradition that dates back over 120 years, the internationally acclaimed CSO attracts the best musicians, artists and conductors from around the world to Cincinnati. With new commissions and groundbreaking initiatives like LUMENOCITY®, One City, One Symphony, and the MusicNOW Festival collaboration, the Orchestra is committed to being a place of experimentation.
Louis Langrée began his tenure as the CSO's 13th Music Director in the 2013-2014 season with a celebrated program The New York Times said “deftly combined nods to the orchestra's history, the city's musical life and new music.” Over the Orchestra's 120-year history, it has also been led by Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens, Max Rudolf, Thomas Schippers, Jesús López-Cobos, and Paavo Järvi, among others.
A champion of new music, the Orchestra has given American premieres of works by such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Mahler and Bartók and has commissioned works that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire, including Copland's Fanfare for theCommon Man. The CSO was the first orchestra to be broadcast to a national radio audience (1921) and the third to record (1917). The Orchestra continues to commission new works and to program an impressive array of music. In recent years, the CSO has performed the world premieres of Nico Muhly's Pleasure Ground, David Lang's mountain, Caroline Shaw's Lo and Daniel Bjarnason's Collider as part of the groundbreaking collaboration with the MusicNOW Festival, Cincinnati's premier new music festival, as well as the world premiere of André Previn's Double Concerto. More recent commissions include Gunther Schuller’s Symphonic Triptych, three works set to the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou by T. J. Cole, Jonathan Bailey Holland and Kristin Kuster, as well three new concertos for orchestra by composers Sebastian Currier, Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian, which will be released on a commercial recording in November of 2016.
The CSO was the first American orchestra to make a world tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and continues to tour domestically and internationally, most recently to Europe in 2008 and to Japan in 2009, including two concerts at Tokyo's Suntory Hall and the CSO's first-ever nationally televised concert in Japan. The CSO has performed at New York's Carnegie Hall 48 times since its debut there in 191, most recently to rave reviews in May of 2014. In January of 2016, the Orchestra performed at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the invitational Great Performers series.
LOUIS LANGRÉE conductor | JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET piano | ISABEL LEONARD mezzo-soprano, l’Enfant (“The Child”) | UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI COLLEGE-CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC (CCM) VOCALISTS: Victor Cardamone, Elana Bell, Joyner Horn, Antonio Cruz, Brenda Iglesias Zarco, Yewoon Yoon, Raven McMillon, Ryan Wolfe, Georgina Jacobson, Anyeé Farrar | JAMES BONAS director | THIBAULT VANCRAENENBROECK set and costumes | CHRISTOPHE CHAUPIN lighting | CCM CHAMBER CHOIR Earl Rivers, music director and conductor
Concerto No. 5 in F Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 103. Egyptian
In December 1906 the CSO welcomed the great French composer and pianist Camille Saint-Saëns to perform his own music. Originally the program included the audience favorite Piano Concerto No. 2, but Saint-Saëns opted to play Piano Concerto No. 5, Egyptian. His visit to Cincinnati was an historic event that drew a record audience to the CSO. In this 125th anniversary season, it only seems fitting to bring this historic event to life once again. This weekend we welcome back Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the ideal interpreter of this music with his elegant touch and stunning flair. He will take us on a sea voyage with sounds from the Middle East, Spain, Egypt and Java.
Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges is a fantastical tale of childhood, expertly written by French librettist Colette. L’enfant et les sortilèges was premiered with legendary conductor Victor de Sabata, who made his U.S. conducting debut with the CSO in 1927, just a few years after the premiere of L’enfant et les sortilèges. We are thrilled to present a fully staged version directed by James Bonas. We are honored and excited that Isabel Leonard will be back with us performing the role of “the Child.” The remarkable Isabel Leonard will be joined by talented young soloists from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
CSO notable performances: 5 previous subscription weekends | Premiere: December 1906, Frank Van der Stucken conducting; Camille Saint-Saëns, pianist | Most recent: April 2012, Stéphane Denève conducting; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pianist | In addition to Saint-Saëns himself and Mr. Thibaudet, pianists who have previously performed this work with the CSO include Rudolph Ganz, Maria Tipo and Lorin Hollander.
Duration: approx. 29 minutes
December 1906, CSO Music Director Frank Van der Stucken with Camille Saint-Saëns, pianist at Music Hall
Romantic Virtuosity, Classical Reserve
Camille Saint-Saëns climbed up onto the piano bench when he was two and spent a large part of the rest of his life there. At four-and-a-half, he played the piano part of a Beethoven violin sonata, and prodigiously made his formal debut in 1846, when he had ripened to the age of ten. As a teenager, he became organist at the Church of Saint-Merry in Paris; five years later, he moved to the prestigious post at the Church of the Madeleine. His artistry (and later his compositions) gained the respect of Liszt, who performed and conducted several of Saint-Saëns’ important scores in Germany. (Liszt oversaw the premiere of Samson et Dalila, in Weimar in 1877.) Berlioz said of him that “he is an absolutely shattering master-pianist.” He impressed even the redoubtable Richard Wagner by playing Tristan und Isolde from memory at the piano. Saint-Saëns was so constantly in demand throughout his life as a pianist in his own and other composers’ works, especially those of Mozart and Beethoven, that he religiously practiced for two hours each morning, an activity he continued, literally, until the day he died.
To perform, of course, meant to tour, and travel became one of Saint-Saëns’ chief pastimes. He went to the corners of the earth, from Singapore to San Francisco, but he tried to spend his winters in the baking sun and relative anonymity of Algiers, away from the drab Parisian weather. His fondness for North Africa carried him on at least two occasions to Egypt, each visit inspiring from him a work for piano and orchestra: Africa, of 1891, was based on native songs; the Fifth Piano Concerto (“Egyptian”) was composed at Luxor in 1896. The composer was the soloist in the premiere of the Concerto on June 2, 1896 in Paris at a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of his debut as a pianist.
Musical Inspiration Spanning the Mediterranean
The F major Piano Concerto, despite its pictorial and atmospheric effects, exhibits the formal clarity and emotional restraint that characterize Saint-Saëns’ music. Of Saint-Saëns’ aesthetic, the French scholar Romain Rolland wrote, “He was not troubled by any sort of passion. Nothing disturbed the clearness of his reason.” In its form, harmony, orchestration and texture, the “Egyptian” Concerto is indebted to the Classical models of Mozart, a composer Saint-Saëns revered. The opening movement follows the traditional sonata-concerto structure, with a chordal main theme and a complementary, dance-like subordinate melody. “The second movement,” Saint-Saëns wrote, “takes us on a journey to the East and even, in one section, to the Far East. The G major passage is a Nubian love song that I heard sung by the boatmen on the Nile as I went down the river in a dahabieh.” The finale is a breathtaking tour-de-force of keyboard technique, proof that Saint-Saëns had lost none of his piano facility during the half-century of his performing career. Arthur Hervey, one of the composer’s early biographers, interpreted the incessant rhythmic motion of the finale as Saint-Saëns’ attempt “to describe his experiences on the sea voyage” home from Egypt. “A note of realism,” Hervey continues, “is introduced by the sound of the propeller, while the serenity of the voyage is interrupted by a short storm.” Storms, propellers and voyages there well may be, but the real point of this music is its dazzling display for the soloist in one of Saint-Saëns’ most breathtaking exercises in virtuosity.
Born: March 7, 1875, Ciboure, Basses Pyrénées, France Died: December 28, 1937, Paris
L’enfant et les sortilèges (“The Child and the Sorceries”)
Work composed: 1921–25
Premiere: March 21, 1925, Monte Carlo, conducted by VIctor de Sabata
CSO notable performances: These performances are the CSO premiere of L’enfant et les sortilèges
Duration: approx. 44 minutes
A French Literary Phenomenon France loved Colette (1873–1954). For five decades, from the appearance in the first years of the 20th century of the four Claudine novels (the tales of an uninhibited teenage girl whose popularity inspired a musical stage play and a Claudine uniform, as well as Claudine soap and Claudine cigars and Claudine perfume) until her death in 1954 as the most honored female author in French history (Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, member of the Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature, Honorary Associate of the American National Institute of Arts and Letters), Colette captivated the readers of her 50 books and numerous short stories with her precise and elegant prose, her passionate concern for the independently minded woman’s place within society, and her honest portrayal of sensuality, both amorous and in the natural world. She is best known in America for Gigi, her 1945 novel about a turn-of-the-20th-century Parisian cocotte who is transformed into an elegant lady, which was made into a French film in 1948, a Broadway play in 1954 (which made Audrey Hepburn a star), and an Oscar-winning Hollywood musical with a Lerner & Loewe score in 1958.
Child’s Fantasy Born in Wartime
In 1916, during the darkest days of World War I, Jacques Rouché, director of the Paris Opéra, asked Colette to write a scenario for a fantasy opera or ballet, and within a week she had completed the libretto for L’enfant et les sortilèges (“The Child and the Sorceries”). Rouché suggested several possible composers to set the text, but none sparked her interest until the name of Maurice Ravel was mentioned. “I expressed my approval without reservation,” she recalled. Colette had met Ravel a decade earlier at the chic salon of Madame René de Saint-Marceaux, whose habitués included the crème de la crème of musical Paris—Fauré, Debussy, d’Indy, Hahn, Cortot, Viñes, Casals—where she remembered him for his small stature and his dandified dress, especially the “showy ties and frilly shirts.” No friendship formed between them, but during the intervening years, Ravel had earned a reputation as a meticulous and sensitive craftsman able to summon wondrous and fragrant worlds on stage—Mother Goose and Daphnis et Chloé had both premiered in 1912—and he seemed the perfect creative match for Colette’s evocative verses.
In 1916, Rouché sent a copy of Colette’s libretto to Verdun, where the delicate Ravel had been assigned to drive an ambulance in the war effort, but it failed to reach him; the impresario had better luck with a second copy the following year, shortly after Ravel had been discharged from military service for medical reasons. Ravel quickly agreed to the collaboration, but the damage to his health caused by the war and the shock of the death of his beloved mother in 1917 made creative work painfully difficult for him during those years. He sent Colette a letter in 1919 apologizing for his lack of progress, but assured her that the piece was beginning to form itself in his head. A few sketches appeared in 1921, but it was not until Raoul Gunsbourg, whose Monte Carlo Opera had enjoyed a sensational success staging Ravel’s sparkling operatic comedy of 1911, L’heure Espagnole (“The Spanish Hour”), offered him a firm contract in 1924 that Ravel disciplined himself to finish L’enfant et les sortilèges. The opera was received enthusiastically at its premiere in Monte Carlo on March 21, 1925 (Victor de Sabata conducted; George Balanchine provided the choreography), and it was soon staged in Paris, Prague, Leipzig, Vienna, Oslo, Milan, San Francisco and elsewhere; Ravel was presented with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of King Leopold of Belgium when L’enfant et les sortilèges was produced in Brussels in March 1926.
A Microcosm of Musical Styles
Ravel said that he conceived L’enfant et les sortilèges, with its almost cinematic speed and its quick procession of characters, both animate and (conventionally) inanimate, in the nature of a fast-paced American revue, for which he employed what he described as “a well-blended mixture of styles from all periods, from Bach to…Ravel, with a little of Massenet, of Puccini, of American music [i.e., jazz, the hottest musical import of the day] and even of Monteverdi.” The story, simple in narrative but rich in characters and incident, concerns a mischievous six-year-old boy who is reproved by his mother for not doing his homework. When she leaves, he flies into a tantrum, assaulting everything in the room, including the cat. Then, as if by magic, the mistreated furniture, clock, books, garden, household animals and even the fire in the grate come to loquacious life to torment the boy in his turn. At the opera’s end, the child is forgiven by his assailants when he thoughtfully tends to a squirrel injured in the mêlée. In his study of the composer, H.H. Stuckenschmidt wrote:
Ravel succeeded [in L’enfant et les sortilèges], as perhaps no one else has but the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen, in finding the rare language of fairy tales to build insubstantial bridges of fantasy between reality and imagination and in understanding how to reconcile the highly sophisticated with the most naïve.