The Nice Philharmonic Orchestra brings the 2021/22 season to a close with a programme of music by Smetana, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák.
The concerts are led by Niçois conductor Lionel Bringuier – the Philharmonic’s Artiste Associé – with guest soloist Parisian cellist Edgar Moreau.
Edgar Moreau charted the course of his career at a young age, becoming the winner of the Young Soloist Prize in the 2009 Rostropovich Cello Competition in Paris at the age of 15, and two years later as the recipient of Second Prize in Russia’s formidable Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
“Rostropovich,” he says, “was always a hero for me! I remember when I was little, I used to have fun playing along to his recording of the Haydn concerto; that’s how I cut my teeth on the repertoire.”
Moreau regularly performs in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Paris Philharmonie and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Scala de Milano, La Fenice and the Wigmore Hall. He frequently appears at festivals such as Verbier, Salzburg, Gstaad, Montreux, Hamburg and Edinburgh, collaborates with some of the world’s finest soloists and conductors, and performs with major orchestras internationally, such as Filarmonica della Scala, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic and Simon Bolivar Orchestra.
Lionel Bringuier travels extensively across the globe, appearing with symphonies, chamber orchestras and at opera houses. He is well known across Europe, in the United States and in Asia, and his appointment as Artiste Associé of the Nice Philharmonic gives him the opportunity to curate and conduct a series of special programmes to which he is able to invite several of his closest musical partners.
He is described by the Financial Times as “A natural talent whose good instincts are bolstered by good taste plus a strong technique. And unlike those Wunderkinder, past and present, who value personal flash over artistic substance, he steps back and just lets the music show off.”
The Moldau is a symphonic poem by Bohemian composer Bedřich Smetana, which forms the second of a six-movement suite Má vlast (My Country), a devoutly patriotic work which captures in music Smetana’s love of his homeland. Each movement of the suite – which took Smetana the better part of the 1870s to write – is a self-standing symphonic poem with its own story. The Moldau describes the flow of the Vltava River (Moldau is the German translation of Vltava), from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside, to the city of Prague.
Má vlast was premiered in its entirety in Prague on 5th November, 1882.
The Variations on a Rococo Theme Op 33 for cello and orchestra was the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to writing a full cello concerto. Written between December 1876 and January 1877, these Variations were inspired by Mozart – whose music Tchaikovsky greatly admired – and the work was dedicated to the cellist Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, who premiered this masterpiece in Moscow on 18th November, 1877, with Nikolay Rubinstein conducting the Russian Musical Society.
It would appear that Tchaikovsky first wrote an arrangement for cello and piano which he gave to Fitzenhagen for checking. Fitzenhagen made some changes to a large section of the cello part, inserting them over parts of Tchaikovsky’s manuscript, and it seems as though Tchaikovsky orchestrated the work from the piano arrangement as amended by Fitzenhagen, even though he was apparently distraught by the changes that the cellist had made. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Tchaikovsky’s original text of the Variations was completely reconstructed, and published in a 1956 edition of Tchaikovsky’s Complete Collected Works under the editorship of Viktor Kubatsky.
The concert ends with Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No 9 in E minor Op 95, known as From the New World. Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in 1893, it premiered on December 16th of that year at Carnegie Hall, with Anton Seidl leading the Philharmonic. It was written at a time of great contentment for the composer, within the first year of his residence in the United States. With strong impressions of his new environment, financial independence, a sense of his role as an ‘ambassador’ of Czech music, and his ambitions to ensure that he would not fall short of expectations, Dvořák was at the height of his creative powers.
There has been much discussion about the extent to which this symphony was inspired by Native American music and Afro-American songs, however in an article published in the New York Herald shortly before the premiere, Dvořák was quoted as saying: “It is merely the spirit of Negro and Indian melodies which I have tried to reproduce in my new symphony”. What is unquestionable, though, is the fact that it’s widely regarded as Dvořák’s most popular symphony in an international context.
Lionel Bringuier leads the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, with guest soloist Edgar Moreau, in works by Smetana, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák, in the final programme of the 2021/22 season. Performances take place on 17th June at 20h00, and 18th June at 16h00 at Nice Opera. Reservations may be made online.
Lead image courtesy Opéra de Nice Côte d’Azur