Performance Thursday, January 28, 2016 | 8 PM

Orchestre National de France

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
With daring harmonies and subtle orchestral strokes, Debussy set music on a bold new path in Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, a work inspired by symbolist poetry. Shostakovich cast his moody Violin Concerto No. 1 in five movements, peppering it with sardonic wit and writing one of the most technically daunting solo parts in the violin repertoire. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, a quintessentially Romantic work, provides fascinating contrast to the 20th-century music as soaring melodies chart a course from melancholy to triumph.


  • Orchestre National de France
    Daniele Gatti, Music Director and Conductor
  • Julian Rachlin, Violin


  • WAGNER Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  • DEBUSSY Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 1
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

  • Encores:
  • YSAŸE Sonata in D Minor, Op. 27, No. 3, "Ballade"
  • FAURÉ Prélude from Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Daniele Gatti

    Born in Milan, Daniele Gatti studied composition and conducting at that city's "Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory. He has been music director of the Orchestre National de France since 2008 and was recently appointed the new chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, beginning in the 2016-2017 season. He has also served as music director of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (1992-1997), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1994-2007),  and Teatro Comunale di Bologna (1997-2007); as principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1994-1997); and as principal conductor at the Zurich Opera House (2009-2012).

    Mr. Gatti has conducted many new productions at leading opera houses and festivals worldwide, including the Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Zurich Opera House, Metropolitan Opera, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He opened the 2008 Bayreuth Festival with a new production of Parsifal, repeated every year until 2011, and has appeared at the Salzburg Festival with performances of Elektra (2010), La bohème (2012), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (2013), and Il trovatore (2014).

    With the Orchestre National de France, Mr. Gatti has conducted the Mahler symphony cycle at the Théâtre du Châtelet, a concert performance of Parsifal at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Beethoven symphony cycle in combination with five new commissions of French contemporary composers, the Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, and a series featuring music inspired by Shakespeare at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Verdi's Macbeth in a new production by Mario Martone and two symphonic concerts based on Shakespearean dramaturgy in music). He appears regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala.

    Highlights of Mr. Gatti's season include a US tour with the Orchestre National de France and three concerts at Vienna's Musikverein. He returns to the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to conduct a Schumann symphony cycle and completes a Beethoven symphony cycle at the Lingotto Theatre in Turin with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He also embarks on a European tour with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and a summer festival tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In opera, he leads Tristan und Isolde at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and will open the 2016-2017 season with the same production at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome. In 2017, he will conduct Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Teatro alla Scala.

    Orchestre National de France


    The Orchestre National de France, founded in 1934 by Radio France, was France's first full-time professional symphony orchestra, and 80 years later, its history is embossed with unforgettable concert performances, countless French and world premieres, outstanding recordings, and world-class tours in collaboration with exceptional international artists who exemplify the orchestra's passion for excellence.

    The orchestra has a distinguished list of conductors emeriti, including Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Manuel Rosenthal, André Cluytens, Roger Désormière, Charles Munch, Maurice Le Roux, Jean Martinon, Sergiu Celibidache, Lorin Maazel, Jeffrey Tate, Charles Dutoit, and Kurt Masur. Since September 2008, current music director Daniele Gatti has energized the multiple facets of the orchestra's symphonic repertoire from masterpieces by French composers like Debussy, Ravel, and Berlioz, to symphonic milestones like the complete symphonic works of Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.

    Worldwide touring success has also established the Orchestre National de France on the international circuit far beyond its Paris home. During the 2015-2016 season, the orchestra performs in Ottawa, Boston, New York, Newark, Greenvale, Vienna, and Washington, DC. Other season highlights include the orchestra's return to residency at Paris's Maison de la Radio, while retaining its 70-year partnership with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées for lyrical repertoire. The orchestra's first American tour took place in 1948.

    The Orchestre National de France is proud of having premiered many major works of 20th-century music, including pieces by Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen, Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis, and Henri Dutilleux, among many others. In addition, numerous recording projects stand out as landmarks in the history of the orchestra. Recent successes include Dutilleux's Le temps l'horloge with Renée Fleming and Seiji Ozawa, as well as Daniele Gatti's interpretations of Debussy's La mer, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune,  and Images.

    Each year since 2013 on Bastille Day, the Orchestre National de France and Mr. Gatti perform for more than 700,00 people at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The concert features many special guests and is broadcast on television worldwide.

    Concert activities that engage younger audiences have been considerably increased by the creation of several new series, and musicians of the orchestra continue to visit schools-often meeting with children who are discovering a symphony orchestra for the first time.

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  • Julian Rachlin

    Julian Rachlin captivates international audiences with his distinctive musicianship as violinist, violist, and, more recently, conductor.

    This season, following a European tour with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly, Mr. Rachlin tours North America with the Orchestre National de France and Daniele Gatti as the orchestra's 2015-2016 artist in residence. He opened the seasons of the Filarmonica della Scala with Riccardo Chailly and the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana with Vladimir Ashkenazy. He performs next with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Andrey Boreyko.

    Also this season, Mr. Rachlin begins his tenure as principal guest conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia and conducts, among others, the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital and chamber music, he performs with Magda Amara, Itamar Golan, Evgeny Kissin, and Mischa Maisky.

    During the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Rachlin held a residency at Vienna's Musikverein, where he opened the season with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and Semyon Bychkov, and conducted the English Chamber Orchestra on its European tour. Other recent highlights as soloist include appearances with the Bavarian State Orchestra and Zubin Mehta, Philharmonia Orchestra and Mr. Ashkenazy, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov, China Philharmonic Orchestra and Long Yu, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Juanjo Mena, and Boston Symphony Orchestra with Alan Gilbert.

    Mr. Rachlin's recordings can be found on the Sony Classical, Warner Classics, and Deutsche Grammophon labels. He plays the 1704 "ex Liebig" Stradivarius, on loan courtesy of the Dkfm. Angelika Prokopp Privatstiftung.

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TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 (Finale: Andante maestoso—Allegro vivace)
Pierre Monteux, Conductor | Orchestre National de France

At a Glance

This concert presents three colorful works from the 19th and 20th centuries—one quintessentially French, the others thoroughly Russian. Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune(Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) inaugurated a new concept of harmony, rhythm, melody, and orchestration, in which all these elements take on a mysterious ambiguity and freedom from formula. Tchaikovsky’s large-scale Fifth Symphony movingly depicts struggle and triumph over adversity. Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 is also a journey from darkness to light, written during the composer’s shrinking from Soviet censorship and kept under wraps for seven years. It is an exciting virtuoso vehicle for the soloist as well as a stellar example of Shostakovich’s subtle sense of architecture, including his mastery of passacaglia form.
Program Notes