Having electrified Philharmonie audiences on several occasions in the past, Flemish conductor Philippe Herreweghe is returning this season as Artist in residence, offering us an opportunity to discover his multifaceted talents over the course of four concerts that will reveal him as the ceaseless explorer in a remarkably wide-ranging repertory.
It was early music that initially fired his enthusiasm as a young man and that he decided to explore in tandem with his second great passion, medicine. At this stage his future already seemed to have been laid out in advance: he would become a psychiatrist and conduct amateur performances of Bach’s cantatas. But fate determined otherwise following a crucial encounter with Gustav Leonhardt, who suggested they record the cantatas together.
There followed a long career as a pioneer in the field of early music, during which time he became one of its most distinguished specialists. Passionate about history, he emerged as an ardent champion of historically informed performance practice, drawing in the process on his study of treatises from the period in question. He will offer the Grand Duchy a glimpse of this first love of his in an exceptional concert in St John’s Church at Neumünster Abbey, where he will conduct a performance of madrigals by Monteverdi.
And now for the Germanic repertory. For him, this love was inspired in his youth by hearing the symphonies of Anton Bruckner conducted by Bernard Haitink in St Bavo’s Cathedral in his home town of Ghent. The conductor believes that in spite of the fact that this repertory comes centuries later, it is still essentially the same kind of music, only it is expressed in rather different ways: «There is less distance between Bach and Bruckner, who emerged on the scene one and a half centuries later, than between Bach and his contemporary Vivaldi. By the same token, there are evident links between Bach and Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms.»
This music’s underlying way of «speaking» occupies a central place in his thinking, as he explained on the occasion of a Beethoven concert in the Grand Auditorium in November 2017: «The whole of the nineteenth-century Germanic repertory rests on the intimate marriage between song and instrumental music. Brahms, Beethoven and Bruckner all felt an overwhelming sense of an omnipresent poetic text and a concern to transfer a type of articulation based on pronunciation from a spoken text to instrumental music.»
Audiences will have an opportunity to hear this for themselves, initially at an all-Mozart concert devoted to his Requiem and Symphony N° 41 «Jupiter» performed with Herreweghe’s two ensembles, the Collegium Vocale Gent, which he formed in the late 1960s, and his Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, which has just celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. For his second concert Herreweghe will conduct works by Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto will be the brilliant Isabelle Faust. Conductor and violinist have worked together frequently over the course of many years and, as Herreweghe told France Musique, «developped together a shared inner world».
Philippe Herreweghe’s residency will end with his much anticipated appearance with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg which includes a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto N° 1 with the German pianist Martin Helmchen, with whom he has already recorded Mendelssohn’s two Piano Concertos. For the orchestra, this will surely be an opportunity to learn from one of the great conductors of our age.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem is shrouded in a mystical aura and chiefly because it was written so shortly before the composer’s own death. Artist in residence Philippe Herreweghe sheds a new light on this musical farewell by contrasting it with Mozart’s radiant «Jupiter» Symphony.
Après un concert à la tête de sa propre formation, l’Orchestre des ChampsÉlysées, Philippe Herreweghe poursuit sa résidence à la Philharmonie avec le Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, une phalange qu’il connaît bien pour avoir été régulièrement invité à la diriger. Pour l’occasion, le chef belge interprète notamment Schubert et retrouve, dans le Concerto pour violon de Beethoven, la violoniste Isabelle Faust, une collaboratrice de longue date dont le «Stradivarius éclaire [cette oeuvre] d’une lumière neuve, intime, proche du coeur et de l’esprit» (Le Temps). La Symphonie N° 2 de Schumann, hymne à la vie entreprise par le compositeur après plusieurs mois d’inactivité, viendra clore cette soirée toute entière dédiée au grand répertoire germanique.
Concert en hommage à Son Altesse Royale La Grande Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte
The Orchestre Philharmonie du Luxembourg awaits a memorable event on May 17: Philippe Herreweghe completes his artistic residency as leader of the orchestra. The evening’s soloist is the German pianist Martin Helmchen, whom ResMusica describes as one «who shows no interest in impressing by superficial virtuosity, but rather illuminates the innermost character of the work». He will be heard in Johannes Brahms’ monumental First Piano Concerto, followed by the composer’s Fourth Symphony. In addition, the composer will be the subject of a comparison of recordings presented by the musicologist Hélène Pierrakos at the Salle de Musique de Chambre in French at 18:45.
REMARQUE: Nous avons le regret de vous annoncer que Martin Helmchen, souffrant, est contraint d’annuler sa prestation avec Philipppe Herreweghe et l’OPL, ce vendredi 17 mai à la Philharmonie Luxembourg. Nous tenons à remercier la violoniste Carolin Widmann d’avoir accepté de le remplacer dans un si court délai, avec le Concerto pour violon de Mendelssohn.
Ce concert sera enregistré par radio 100.7 et retransmis ultérieurement.