The always fantastique Orchestre de Paris celebrates its 50th anniversary in this gala evening, with a varied program to appeal to all tastes! Daniel Harding masterfully conducts an offbeat selection of works, beginning with Berio's Sinfonia, a heavily allusive work that cites texts by Claude Lévi-Strauss and Samuel Beckett as well as musical motifs by Stravinsky, Beethoven, and a host of others. The piece calls for eight amplified voices, and the London Voices fill their roles to perfection.
One 20th-century masterwork gives way to another, with Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms next up, intense and epic and gloriously interpreted by the Orchestre de Paris Choir. Then a dazzling world premiere reminds us we are in the City of Lights: the cinematic Au coeur de Paris (In the heart of Paris) is a rich pastiche of Parisian songs and quintessential French melodies by clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann, featuring passages for unusual instruments like the accordion and rainstick.
An established masterpiece by a favorite French composer follows: Debussy's beautifully evocative La Mer (The Sea), a prime exemplar of the 20th-century French orchestral idiom that found its high point in the music of Debussy and Ravel. During the same time period, Stravinsky composed his ballet The Firebird, whose majestic finale closes the concert on a heart-pounding high.