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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Les Violons du Roy

Saturday, May 5, 2018 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
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Les Violons du Roy by Camirand Photo
Many of Bach’s most eloquent statements were made at the organ keyboard, where he would improvise on Lutheran chorale tunes and spin complex webs of counterpoint. Bach was also a master of instrumental music, and his violin concertos are melodically rich and highly virtuosic works. Les Violons du Roy explores the best of both these worlds in a program that features concertos and striking new arrangements of the Leipzig master’s keyboard works.

Part of: Baroque Unlimited


Les Violons du Roy
Bernard Labadie, Founding Conductor
Isabelle Faust, Violin


Three Leipzig Chorale Preludes (transcr. Bernard Labadie)
·· Fantasia on Komm, Heiliger Geist, BWV 651
·· Trio on Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, BWV 660
·· Trio on Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 655
Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582 (arr. Bernard Labadie)
Violin Concerto in E Major
Violin Concerto in A Minor
Contrapunctus XIV from The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (completed by Bernard Labadie, after Davitt Moroney)
Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor

Event Duration

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

Mix and Mingle

Join us immediately after this concert at Zankel Hall’s Parterre Bar for a 45-minute mix and mingle.
Learn More

Les Violons du Roy would like to thank the following partners: Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Canada Council for the Arts, and Gestion Marthe Bourgeois Ltée.

At a Glance

One of the outstanding virtuosos of his age, Johann Sebastian Bach composed music for organ and harpsichord throughout his life. The five keyboard pieces on tonight’s program—heard in modern arrangements for string orchestra similar to those that Bach himself might have made—attest to the sophistication of his technique as both composer and performer. Bach’s keyboard playing, like his music, reflected a synthesis of the “learned” and heavily contrapuntal German idiom; the melodious, extraverted Italian style; and the French penchant for florid, speech-like arioso. He studied and admired the works of François Couperin and his fellow claveciniste composers, whose harpsichord music demanded exceptional lightness and evenness of touch.

Although the organ was Bach’s principal instrument, he was also an accomplished violinist and violist. In his later years, he was often to be seen at Zimmermann’s coffeehouse in Leipzig, conducting the resident Collegium Musicum ensemble from the concertmaster’s stand. The three concertos that Les Violons du Roy will perform date from this period of the composer’s life. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach told his father’s biographer, Johann Nikolaus Forkel, that his father “understood to perfection the possibilities of all stringed instruments.” The younger Bach quoted an eminent violinist of the time as saying that “he had seen nothing more perfect for learning to be a good violinist and could suggest nothing better to anyone eager to learn” than Bach’s six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin.


Les Violons du Roy

The chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy takes its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. With a core membership of 15 players, the group was brought together in 1984 by Founding Conductor Bernard Labadie and specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra. Using copies of period bows on modern instruments, the ensemble plays works from the Baroque and Classical periods with an approach strongly influenced by current research into performance practice in the 17th and 18th centuries. The orchestra also regularly delves into the repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Les Violons du Roy is at the heart of the music scene in Quebec City and a regular feature on the Montreal cultural calendar. The orchestra is known throughout North America thanks to the many broadcasts of its concerts and recordings on CBC/Radio-Canada and NPR. The ensemble makes regular visits to New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and has performed dozens of times in Europe at such legendary venues as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonie in Berlin.

Les Violons du Roy’s discography boasts 32 titles, winning three JUNO Awards and one Félix Award. The ensemble has made 12 albums with Dorian Recordings and 11 with ATMA Classique. Les Violons du Roy has also released four albums on Virgin Classics (now Warner Classics) with soloists Vivica Genaux, Truls Mørk, and Alexandre Tharaud. Jonathan Cohen was appointed as Les Violons du Roy’s new music director in October 2016. His first official season will be in 2018–2019.

Bernard Labadie

Bernard Labadie, an internationally recognized specialist in repertoire of the 17th through the early 19th centuries, is the founding conductor of Les Violons du Roy. He was the ensemble’s music director from 1984 to 2014 and remains the music director of the choir La Chapelle de Québec, which he founded in 1985. He has toured to Europe and North and South America as the head of both ensembles, performing with them at some of the world’s greatest concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, Barbican Centre, Philharmonie Berlin, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Palais des Beaux-Arts, as well as the major festivals of Salzburg, Bergen, Rheingau, and Schleswig-Holstein. In the spring of 2018, he leads Les Violons du Roy on a US tour with violinist Isabelle Faust, and a tour to Mexico and Brazil with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.

In 2017, Mr. Labadie was named principal conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City, beginning in the 2018–2019 season. As such, he will conduct the orchestra’s annual concert series at Carnegie Hall. In great demand as a guest conductor, Mr. Labadie makes frequent appearances with major North American and European orchestras. In the 2017–2018 season alone, he performs with The Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, and NAC Orchestra. Since the start of his international career in the late 1990s, he has also made appearances with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, as well as other major orchestras across the US.

Isabelle Faust

Isabelle Faust captivates her listeners through her insightful and faithful interpretations, based on a thorough knowledge of the historical context of the works as well as her attention to current scholarship. At an early age, Ms. Faust won the prestigious International Violin Competition Leopold Mozart and International Violin Competition Premio Paganini. Soon after, she was invited to appear with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Boston Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Freiburger Barockorchester, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

In the 2017–2018 season, Ms. Faust will appear in North America with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra, as well as on tour with Les Violons du Roy. She also has a five-concert residency at Wigmore Hall and continues as Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. In addition to her mastery of the great violin concertos, Ms. Faust performs works such as György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments with soprano Anna Prohaska and Schubert’s Octet on period instruments. She will premiere several new works for violin and orchestra in the coming years, including concertos by composers Ondřej Adámek, Marco Stroppa, Oscar Strasnoy, and Beat Furrer.

Throughout her career, Ms. Faust has regularly performed or recorded with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Philippe Herreweghe, Daniel Harding, Bernard Haitink, and Andris Nelsons. She also had a close relationship with the late Claudio Abbado; their recording of Beethoven’s and Berg’s violin concertos with the Orchestra Mozart received a Diapason d’Or, ECHO Klassik, Gramophone Classical Music Award, and Record Academy Award Japan.

Ms. Faust has recorded many albums for Harmonia Mundi with pianist Alexander Melnikov, including Brahms’s violin sonatas, Schumann’s piano trios, and Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet. Other recent releases include Mozart’s violin concertos with Il Giardino Armonico, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Freiburger Barockorchester, and Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Kristian Bezuidenhout.

Pascale Giguère

Pascale Giguère has been a member of Les Violons du Roy since 1995. She was co-concertmaster from 2000 to 2013, and has been concertmaster since 2014. She has performed with the ensemble in some of the world’s leading venues, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and at leading festivals in the US, Canada, and Europe. In recent years, Ms. Giguère has appeared as a soloist with Les Violons du Roy in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Piazzolla’s Estaciones Porteñas; the latter work was recorded by ATMA Classique and received a JUNO Award. She has also performed with the Orchestre Métropolitain, Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and Orchestre Symphonique de Québec. Ms. Pascale was awarded the Canada Council Instrument Bank’s 1700 Bell Giovanni Tononi violin to play from 2006 to 2008. Her current instrument is a 1745 Milanese violin by Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, on generous loan from its owner, Marthe Bourgeois.

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