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photo: Alfonso Salgueiro photo: Alfonso Salgueiro

Concerts for the 21st century

Jean-François Zygel, man of many talents, returns to the Philharmonie Luxembourg for a second year’s residency.

He has done it all: accompanied dancers, improvised for silent films, created an improvisation class at the Conservatoire de Paris to satisfy his passion for teaching, tackled a variety of musical genres, played soundtracks for videos, played concerts for little children as well as in museums, and was awarded the Victoire de la Musique Classique in 2006. He has done everything except follow the usual path for a virtuoso pianist who has come through the Conservatoire, that of playing solo recitals and concerts with orchestras. Above all, his work has included the «concerts with words», as accessible as they are educational, which have been enthralling audiences far and wide for several years now.

You see, Jean-François Zygel is interested in reinventing and reshaping the classical concert: in turning it into an event that is profoundly rooted in the 21st century and that directly connects with the audience. With this in mind, he has returned to the Philharmonie Luxembourg for the third year running to present the eagerly-awaited «Dating:» series. The programme is made up of Debussy’s celebrated La Mer, Haydn’s atypical Symphony N° 103, the first work in the history of music to begin with a prolonged timpani roll, and Mendelssohn’s refreshing «Italian» Symphony N° 4. The «Dating:» series will be followed by an improvised concert covering each of the three composers, though not exclusively.

In residence at the Philharmonie once again this season, Jean-François Zygel will present a theatrical concert in December 2016 «between heaven and earth, a journey to the land of the birds along with the world’s greatest birdsong virtuosos». Earlier, in November 2016, he will have returned to his beloved piano improvisations, for Fritz Lang’s film Siegfried (The Nibelungen), «the first blockbuster in the history of German cinema, made in 1924, just before Metropolis», he recounts. «Deriving inspiration, like Wagner, from Germanic and Scandinavian legends, the film tells the story of Siegfried, son of the king of Nederland, who forges himself a magical sword, slays a terrifying dragon, becomes invulnerable by bathing in its blood, and seizes the treasure of the dwarves, the Nibelungen…». He will thus create for the audience «music of legend and myth» on the piano.