Louis Langrée, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, is opening his Philadelphia Orchestra debut concerts with a laugh: Schnittke’s Moz-Art à la Haydn.
The acclaimed conductor promises that even if you’ve never heard anything by Schnittke (a 20th-century Russian-German composer), this work will sound very familiar. “There’s not one original note from Schnittke; it’s all quotations from Mozart and Haydn” aided and abetted by unusual staging and lighting. “It’s a beautiful, wonderful, funny joke, using a lot of Mozart’s and Haydn’s theatricality. It will start the concert with a big smile!”
The rest of the program promises more profound emotions. Philadelphia favorite Midori solos in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. “There is a gravitas to this Concerto, but you need to give it the kind of space and flexibility you find in chamber music,” says Langrée. He’s very much looking forward to performing with Midori for the first time.
Brahms’s Second Symphony, in a season that sees all of the composer’s symphonies performed, rounds out the program beautifully. “This Symphony is definitely part of the Orchestra’s DNA. There is this elegance. The beginning has the shape and movement and sensuality of a waltz. There’s so much complexity in the rhythmical structure, yet it has to have a flow, an aristocracy.”
With Schnittke’s humorous nod to Mozart and Haydn, followed by Beethoven, and then Brahms (noted for paying homage to his musical predecessors), “These three pieces make a wonderful program together!”
In addition to his post with Cincinnati, Langrée has been music director of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival since 2002. He’s conducted everywhere from Berlin to Vienna, from La Scala to the Met. But to say he’s looking forward to his Philadelphia Orchestra debut is a major understatement.
“I can’t wait, not only to listen to that sound, but to be right in the middle of it. It’s not only the level; it’s the specific tone, the very specific density of the sound. There’s a feeling of shape, of structure; it’s not just a nice sound. It’s certainly one of the most impressive sound cultures I know. It’s a great privilege for me to have been asked to conduct this amazing orchestra, in such a glorious program. It’s an honor … and I’m sure it will be a joy!”
(Louis Langrée conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in Schnittke’s Moz-Art à la Haydn; Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Midori; and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2, November 3-5. For more information, please click here).
Photo by Benjamin Ealovega