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Conductor Rafael Payare Returns to Philadelphia Orch Today (Dec 1–3), Before Making Orch National de France Debut & Leading Royal Stockholm Phil & Tonhalle Orch in New Year

(December 2023) — It was after Rafael Payare’s first appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra that the Wall Street Journal called him “a fireball of energy onstage,” proclaiming: “He is a musician to watch.” This weekend, the Venezuelan conductor returns to the same ensemble for a pairing of Mahler’s First Symphony with the U.S. premiere of Jimmy López Bellido’s Ephemerae, a Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission, with International Classical Music Award-winner Javier Perianes as soloist (Dec 1–3). The concerts mark the first in a series of high-profile guest engagements for Payare, who also serves as Music Director of both Canada’s Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra/OSM) and California’s San Diego Symphony. After returning to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (Jan 31 & Feb 1) and Zurich’s famed Tonhalle Orchestra (March 20 & 21), he makes his eagerly anticipated Orchestre national de France debut with a program showcasing the world premiere of a new Radio France commission from Bechara El-Khoury (April 18).

The great tone poems of Richard Strauss figure prominently in Payare’s winter and spring programming. For his first appearances in Paris with the Orchestre national de France, he juxtaposes the German composer’s Also sprach Zarathustra with Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto, featuring James Ehnes – “a violinist in a class of his own” (The Times of London) – and the world premiere of a new Radio France commission: Concerto for Orchestra, “Le Mont Hermon, la montagne sacrée,” by Franco-Lebanese composer Bechara El-Khoury (April 18).

With both the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Tonhalle Orchestra, Payare undertakes Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. In Stockholm he couples the work with Barber’s Cello Concerto, featuring MacArthur fellow Alisa Weilerstein (Jan 31 & Feb 1). The cellist is the conductor’s wife and one of his most trusted collaborators; “We are wired the same way when it comes to making music,” he told Canada’s Globe & Mail, and their recent account of Dvořák’s concerto with the San Diego Symphony at New York’s Carnegie Hall got “big-league results” (New York Classical Review). In Zurich, Payare instead pairs Strauss’s tone poem with Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, with Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein as soloist (March 20 & 21). After a previous collaboration, the conductor’s “riveting musical conversation” with the Tonhalle Orchestra drew a five-star review from Bachtrack.

Payare’s interpretation of Ein Heldenleben may also heard on his second recording with OSM, due for release by Pentatone early next year. This follows the success of their first, which offers “a reading of Mahler’s Fifth of intensity and rich orchestral exploration, a real marker in their ongoing partnership” (Gramophone). As the Philadelphia Inquirer has put it, “Payare is electric. … He seems to hit the jackpot wherever he goes.”

High-resolution photos are available here.

Rafael Payare: upcoming guest conducting engagement
Dec 1–3
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra
Jimmy LÓPEZ BELLIDO: Ephemerae, Piano Concerto (U.S. premiere of Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission; with Javier Perianes, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1

Jan 31 & Feb 1
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
BARBER: Cello Concerto (with Alisa Weilerstein, cello)
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben

March 20 & 21
Zurich, Switzerland
Tonhalle Orchestra
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Kirill Gerstein, piano)

April 18
Paris, France
Orchestre national de France (debut)
Bechara EL-KHOURY: Concerto for Orchestra, “Le Mont Hermon, la montagne sacrée” (world
premiere of new Radio France commission)
MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 5 (with James Ehnes, violin)
R. STRAUSS: Also sprach Zarathustra

July 6, 9 & 14
Berlin, Germany
Berlin State Opera
Staatskapelle Berlin
PUCCINI: Turandot

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© 21C Media Group, December 2023


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