The gentle undulations of a French autumn: Sinfonietta Rīga season opening concert
Chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga opens its 14th concert season on September 27 at the Great Guild Hall. Led by conductor Normunds Šnē, the orchestra will present a vibrant offering of autumnal tones. The brilliance of the court kapellmeister of the Esterhazy family, Joseph Haydn, in one of his many graceful symphonies; the Indian summer-like mellowness of the Double Concerto for Flute and Harp by the mischievous genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composed during his sojourn in Paris - the latter performed by two charming and excellent guest artists - Principal Flute of the Orchestre de Paris Vincent Lucas and the leading harpist of the Berliner Philharmoniker Marie-Pierre Langlamet. The lyric overtones of the dreamy Petite Suite by French impressionist Claude Debussy; and the subtle strokes of Estonian Lepo Sumera's dedication to the secular world Musica Profana.
In the words of Normunds Šnē: Why is Mozart one of the best known composers of all times? Because of his genius, the freedom of his musical creativity and his divine, manifestly romantic touch."
The program of Sinfonietta Rīga's 14th season opening concert is a musical stroll through three centuries - rich in flavours of different eras and moods, the crowning glory of which will undoubtedly be the 1778 Double Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
Seven months the composer spent in Paris didn't bring Mozart the career opportunities he had hoped for, but his creativity wasn't stifled by this setback. He was giving composition lessons to Marie-Louise-Philippine, the eldest daughter of French army general and diplomat Adrien-Louis de Bonnières, duc de Guines. The father, a connoisseur of fine arts, was a keen flutist; the daughter - gifted harpist. And so one of the most romantic of the master's opuses was born; until this day it keeps bringing together the greatest flutists and harpists of each generation of performers. This time, on the Great Guild Hall stage, the spirit of Mozart will beckon the chamber orchestra led by Normunds Šnē, and two top-ranked French musicians - flutist Vincent Lucas and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet. It should be noted that the French musicians performed Mozart's double concerto with Sinfonietta Rīga already in 2016 at Pärnu Music Festival (that time conducted by Estonian maestro Paavo Järvi). Now, this excellent interpretation of these romantic pages of Mozart's musical heritage is presented to listeners in Riga.
The other titan of Classical era music who has been dubbed 'the father of symphony' - Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) can be considered the cornerstone of Sinfonietta Rīga regular repertory. Many critics view his Symphony No. 102, featured in the concert program, to be among the most brilliant works of the composer's career. It is also one of the last of Haydn's symphonic tapestries - in 1794 he wrote Symphonies No. 102, 103 and 104. And while the latter, Symphony No. 104, has become a sort of trademark of Sinfonietta Rīga, the chamber orchestra has not yet performed Symphony No. 102 - until now.
Next to the majestic monuments of Classical era, the concert program features the Petite Suite (1886/1889) - the small-form musical fantasia in four movements by French impressionist Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Originally, the piece was composed for piano four hands, but arranged by French conductor and composer Henri Büsser it has now become a favourite for orchestra. Like impressionist painters, in his music Debussy too tried to capture the elusive, shifting light-and-shadow play and dreamy water reflections, and to delicately render and contemplate the nature. Estonian composer Lepo Sumera (1950-2000) also commanded musical forms and timbral possibilities with ingenuity and ardour, and it is his dedication to the secular world, Musica Profana (1997) that will finish the Sinfonietta Rīga season opening concert program that spans across three centuries.
The leading harpist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Marie-Pierre Langlamet (1967), began her musical training at the Nice Conservatoire. At the age of only 15, the young French musician won the top prize at the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition, and one year later - the first prize at the Louise Charpentier Cité des Arts Harp Competition in Paris. At the age of 17 she was engaged in the Nice Opera Orchestra, but a year later she gave up this position and crossed the Atlantic to continue her studies in Philadelphia at the prestigious Curtis Institute. At the same time Langlamet continued to collect prizes of notable musical competitions - in 1986 she won the CIEM award in Geneva, and in 1989 - the first prize at the Concert Artist Guild Competition in New York. A year before that Marie-Pierre had become a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. But after almost 10 years in the United States, she returned back home to Europe. Today her home is Berlin - already for almost 30 years. Along with her work in the Berliner Philharmonic, since 1995 she has taught in the Orchestra Academy, established by Herbert von Karajan. In 2009, Marie-Pierre Langlamet was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture for her contribution to French music.
Born on the same year as Marie-Pierre Langlamet, the acclaimed French flutist Vincent Lucas (1967) is currently the Principal Flute of the Orchestre de Paris. He began his training at the Clermont-Ferrand Conservatoire, but at only 14 years old was selected to study at the Paris Conservatoire, as one of its youngest students ever. At the age of 17, the young musician won the first prize of the international competition Concertino Praga, securing excellent starting position for his further career.
His first long-term engagement was with the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, followed by six years in the ranks of Berliner Philharmonic. In 1994 Vincent Lucas returns to Paris and becomes the soloist of the Orchestre de Paris. He also turns to teaching: since 1995, he has been the Associate Professor at the Paris Conservatoire, and since 1999 - the Senior Professor at the Regional Conservatoire of Paris. Besides his academic and orchestra work, Vincent Lucas is highly sought-after chamber musician. Among his most prominent stage partners are pianist Christoph Eschenbach, harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet, clarinetist Paul Meyer, pianist Brigitte Engerer, and hornist Radek Baborák.