Klaus Mäkelä

Klaus Mäkelä
Klaus Mäkelä, conductor & cellist. Photo by Heikki Tuuli (2015)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique | Maurice Ravel: Tzigane | Camille Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor | Guillaume Connesson: Flammenschrift – Benjamin Beilman, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin – Saturday, February 24, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, February 25, 2018, 3:00 AM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream

Benjamin Beilman (Photo by Giorgia Bertazzi)

"Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip; you wind up screaming at your own funeral." — Leonard Bernstein

Part symphony, part psychedelic episode, Berlioz guides us through encounters with budding passion, festive parties, the despair of unrequited love, and ultimately, execution and hideous revelries ushering us into the underworld. The lines between reality and hallucination blur among the sounds of pleading winds, relentless brass, and foreboding percussion.

American violinist Benjamin Beilman performs Camille Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op.28, and Maurice Ravel's Tzigane.

Saturday, February 24
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM
Brasília: 11:00 PM

Sunday, February 25

London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw: 02:00 AM
Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 3:00 AM
Moscow, Ankara: 04:00 AM
Beijing, Manila: 09:00 AM
Tokyo, Seoul: 10:00 AM

Live on Livestream

The DSO thanks violinist Benjamin Beilman for stepping in for Renaud Capuçon for the final two programs of the French Festival. Mr. Capuçon is unable to appear due to illness.


Guillaume Connesson (b. 1970)

♪ Flammenschrift (2016)

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

♪ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op.28 (1863)*

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Tzigane, M.76 (1924)*

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

♪ Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste, H.48 / Op.14 (1830)

i. Rêveries – Passions (Daydreams – Passions)

ii. Un bal (A ball)
iii. Scène aux champs (Scene in the Country)
iv. Marche au supplice (March to the Scaffold)
v. Songe d'une nuit de sabbat (Dream of a Witches' Sabbath)

Benjamin Beilman, violin*

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, February 25, 2018, 3:00 AM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream

Photo by Giorgia Bertazzi
Born in 1989, American violinist Benjamin Beilman is winning plaudits across the globe for his compelling and impassioned performances, his deep rich tone and searing lyricism and is quickly establishing himself as one of the most significant artists of his generation. The New York Times has praised his "handsome technique, burnished sound, and quiet confidence [which] showed why he has come so far so fast". Reviewing his latest recording, The Strad said "Beilman imbues every idea with a scorching expressive imperativeness... soaring aloft with ear-ringingly pure intonation... then lacerating our sensitivities with hectoring explosions of sound".

In Europe Beilman has performed with many of the major orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle and in 2016-2017 made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras and the Orchestre National de Capitole de Toulouse. In the US recent highlights have included a return San Francisco Symphony, and debuts with Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony and Nashville Symphony orchestras. In 2016-2017 he returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform with Nézet-Séguin both in subscription concerts at Kimmel Center and at Carnegie Hall, and with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra he performed the world premiere of In Silence by Elizabeth Ogonek, as part of CSO's MusicNOW series. Conductors that Beilman has worked with include Gabel, Nesterowicz, Valčuha, Shani, Urbanksi amongst others.

Beilman performs regularly in recital and chamber music, appearing at halls such as Wigmore Hall, Stockholm Concert Hall, Louvre (Paris), Rudolfinum (Prague), Philharmonie (Berlin) and at festivals including Verbier, Aix-en-Provence Easter, Colmar, Moritzburg, Heidelberg and in 2017 he made his debut at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in the Robeco Summer Concerts in trio with Louis Schwizgebel and Narek Hakhnazaryan. In the US Beilman performs regularly at Carnegie Hall and is a frequent guest artist at festivals such as Music@Menlo, Marlboro, Seattle Chamber Music; further afield he made a ten-city recital tour of Australia in 2016 with Andrew Tyson and looks forward to recitals in SE Asia in the coming seasons.

Highlights of Beilman's 2017-2018 season include his Australian concerto debut with the Sydney Symphony where he performs Jennifer Higdon's Concerto, debuts with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony, Houston Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and his return to the London Chamber Orchestra. In recital he returns to Wigmore Hall with Boris Giltburg, makes his recital debut in Seoul and in the US he premieres a new work written for him by Frederic Rzewski, commissioned by Music Accord, at the Boston Celebrity Series and elsewhere. In chamber music, he returns to Heidelberg Spring Festival and to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Beilman has received several prestigious awards including a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a London Music Masters Award. In 2010 he won the First Prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and as First Prize Winner of the 2010 Montréal International Musical Competition and winner of the People's Choice Award, Beilman recorded Prokofiev's complete sonatas for violin on the Analekta label in 2011. In 2016 he released his first disc for Warner Classics titled Spectrum, featuring works by Stravinsky, Janacek and Schubert.

Beilman studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago, Ida Kavafian and Pamela Frank at the Curtis Institute of Music, and Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy. He plays the "Engleman" Stradivarius from 1709 generously on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.

Source: intermusica.co.uk

Photo by Giorgia Bertazzi

Camille Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op.28

The Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op.28, is one of Saint-Saëns' few genuine showpieces. It was composed for his friend, the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908), for whom he had already written the Violin Concerto in A major, Op.20 (1859), and for whom he would eventually create the Violin Concerto in B minor, Op.61 (1880). Whereas the Op.20 Violin Concerto was written when the violinist was only 24 years of age, the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso is deliberately challenging – a testimony to the mature master's technique. Sarasate's frequent programming of the work did a great deal for its popularity in the years after its publication (1870); its appeal was wide enough, in fact, that both George Bizet and Claude Debussy made arrangements of it – the former for violin and piano, and the latter for piano, four hands.

As one would expect from the title, the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso begins with a slow section, marked Andante malinconico and characterized by a plaintive falling leap and rising arpeggio. Becoming gradually more animated, the introduction culminates in a scintillating mini-cadenza that leads into the Rondo proper (Allegro ma non troppo). When the violin enters, it states a theme that has a Spanish flavor, stemming from syncopation and chromatic inflections. The melody spins out into wild arpeggios and gigantic leaps before the orchestra begins a bridge to the contrasting theme, marked con morbidezza. This lyric melody is especially entrancing because it is in 2/4 time, played simultaneously with the continuing 6/8 time of the orchestra. The Rondo theme returns quietly in the solo violin before an orchestral outburst that is a reprise of the earlier bridge passage. The oboe takes the final statement of the rondo theme, which becomes fragmented and developed until the beginning of the brilliant coda, which is mainly a showcase for Sarasate's technical ability.

Source: John Palmer (allmusic.com)

Maurice Ravel: Tzigane, M.76

While a good part of Ravel's energies during the period 1920-1925 were spent on the opera L'Enfant et les sortilèges, the composer did find time to produce a handful of smaller-scale works, most notably the Sonata for violin and cello (1920-1922) and Tzigane, a virtuosic, gypsy-inflected vehicle for solo violin and piano. Though Ravel did not complete Tzigane until spring 1924, the idea of composing such a work came to him many years earlier, on the occasion of his introduction to the enormously gifted Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi. D'Aranyi had given a private London performance of the Sonata for violin and cello in the early 1920s, and after the concert had so impressed Ravel with her stock of gypsy tunes and bravura technique that he kept her playing until the sun rose the following day. By April 22, 1924, Tzigane was ready, and a few days later, it was premiered in London by d'Aranyi and pianist Henri Gil-Marchex. (True to form, Ravel continued to tinker with the piece for several weeks after the first performance.) During the summer of the same year Ravel made an orchestral version of the piano part; he also allowed for the substitution of the piano by a luthéal (a piano with a sound-modifying mechanism placed on its soundboard). Neither of these incarnations, however, entirely captures the nuances of the original.

Tzigane opens with an extended solo for the violin (Lento, quasi cadenza), buried in the middle of which is a theme characterized by a dotted-rhythm, falling-fifth figure which serves as the melodic meat for much of the work. The piano (or harp, in the orchestra version) enters with its own chromatic mini-cadenza as the soloist's fiery technical gestures and robust double stops subside into flickering double tremolos and a pair of unaccompanied trills that usher in the main body of the piece. The remainder of Tzigane is worked out in a clearly sectional manner. After a restatement of the falling-fifth idea by the violin, the piano produces its own little theme, a staccato tune that makes thorough use of the typically "gypsy" interval of an augmented second. Some time later, a bombastic Grandioso breaks in. After a brief pause, the violin resumes in sixteenth note perpetual motion, colored by such features as Paganini-like left-hand pizzicato. The musical line accelerates and decelerates time and again until it finally achieves unstoppable momentum. The work comes to an end with three incisive chords (marked pizzicato, but often played with the bow).

Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste, H.48 / Op.14

Symphonie fantastique, H.48 / Op.14, in full "Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste", English "Fantastic Symphony: Episode in the Life of an Artist", orchestral work by French composer Hector Berlioz, widely recognized as an early example of program music, that attempts to portray a sequence of opium dreams inspired by a failed love affair. The composition is also notable for its expanded orchestration, grander than usual for the early 19th century, and for its innovative use of a recurring theme – the so-called ideé fixe ("fixed idea" or "obsession") – throughout all movements. The Symphony premiered in Paris on December 5, 1830, and won for Berlioz a reputation as one of the most progressive composers of the era.

After completing medical studies at the behest of his father, who was a doctor, Berlioz rebelliously pursued music and literature, for which he had harboured passions since childhood. In the fall of 1827, at age 24, he attended the opening night of Shakespeare's Hamlet, performed in Paris by an English theatre company. Because his formal education had exposed him only to Latin and Greek, Berlioz understood little of the language. Nevertheless, he was transformed by the experience and recalled it in his memoirs: "Shakespeare, coming upon me unaware, struck me like a thunderbolt".

On that night, however, Berlioz was fascinated by more than the work of the revered English poet: he was enchanted by Harriet Smithson, the young Irishwoman who played Ophelia. That enchantment soon turned to obsession as Berlioz haunted the stage door and inundated Smithson with love letters only to have his advances ignored. Motivated by the pain of unilateral love, Berlioz began after three years to compose an elaborate quasi-autobiographical piece of program music, a symphony that would depict a disconsolate lover driven to the brink of suicide by his lady's indifference. That work became Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste, or simply Symphonie fantastique.

Berlioz declared in his memoirs that the music portrays the dreams of a young man who, in the aftermath of a failed love affair, has taken an overdose of opium. The first movement, which begins gently but increases in intensity, is intended to depict the delights and despairs of love. The second movement, an elegant waltz, evokes a ball where the lover again encounters the woman he can never possess, now in another man's arms. The idyllic strains of the third movement portray his attempt to escape his passions by traveling to the countryside, but, as memories of the unattainable woman return to his thoughts, the tone grows sombre. The composition takes a highly dramatic turn in the ponderous fourth movement, when the young man imagines that he has murdered his beloved and is about to be executed for the crime. The music depicts his march to the guillotine, where his last thought is of the woman he loves. In the final movement, he is in hell at a witches' sabbath over which his beloved herself presides, surrounded by echoes of the ancient hymn Dies irae ("Day of Wrath"), from the Catholic requiem mass.

Aside from its pioneering role as a symphony with a program – that is, with a story to tell – Symphonie fantastique is remarkable for its use of the idée fixe, which surfaces in every movement and unites the entire work. The recurring theme is essentially the tune of the beloved, representing in its varying moods the woman's ever-changing image in her lover's eye. Berlioz's idée fixe paved the way for the development of similar compositional devices in the mid-19th century, including the thematic transformations associated with the works of Franz Liszt and the leitmotifs of Richard Wagner's operas. Symphonie fantastique also constituted the largest-scale symphony composed by anyone to that time, with its five movements spanning nearly an hour and a dauntingly large orchestra that employed new wind instruments – such as the ophicleide (predecessor of the tuba) and the valve trumpet – as well as doubling on the harp and timpani parts.

Although the lover and the beloved are nowhere united in Symphonie fantastique, Berlioz, against all odds, eventually achieved the union in life. Two years after the piece's premiere, when the composer was planning another Paris performance of the massive symphony together with its new choral sequel entitled Lélio, or Le Retour à la vie (1832; "The Return to Life"), he arranged for an English newspaper correspondent to attend the concert with Smithson as his guest. The unsuspecting actress was not warned about what music was on the program, nor was she aware that Berlioz himself would be there. She took the shock reasonably well and was observed to be reading the composer's descriptive program notes closely and paying keen attention to the music. The performance was well received, and soon afterward Smithson consented at last to meet Berlioz. The following year, on October 3, 1833, the two were married. Their marriage, however, was not a happy one, and the couple separated less than a decade later.

Source: Betsy Schwarm (britannica.com)

More photos

See also

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Lionel Bringuier (HD 1080p)

Live on Livestream: All Past Events

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