François-Xavier Roth double debuts in US
This month, François-Xavier Roth has made his debuts with two of the leading US orchestras.
In Cleveland, he led the US premiere of Debussy's Rève, as reconstructed by Philippe Manoury, performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (a late substitution for Peter Eötvös' Seven due to illness of the soloist) and Stravinsky's Petrushka.
Rarely has the ballet, heard here in its 1947 revision, conjured its tale so readily or vividly. Like Nijinsky, its original dance interpreter, the music leapt to life, evoking the movements and emotions of puppets and other characters with striking realism.
In San Francisco, he opened with Schumann's Manfred Overture before partnering with Cédric Tiberghien for Liszt's Piano Concerto no.1. Brahms' Second Symphony completed the programme.
Making his debut with the San Francisco Symphony, guest conductor François-Xavier Roth led a spectacularly successful concert .... Rarely do we experience the Brahms Symphony No. 2 ... in the scale delivered by Roth and the SFO ... the first movement ... assumed a grand expanse, lyrical yet poignant with the underlying sense of tragic grandeur. The rhythmic shifts and emotional urgencies of the piece sang most fluently, as they would again in the second movement ... By now, our appreciation of conductor Roth’s ability to balance his various voice choirs had impressed for their homogeneity of effect ... The last movement emerged from a quiet melody in the strings, rising by degrees to a triumphant and blazing peroration ... Fellow composer ... Hugo Wolf had once vaunted that Brahms “cannot exult.” But the performance from conductor Roth and the ever-responsive San Francisco Symphony put the lie or the canard to a permanent rest.
... as the [Brahms] progressed from movement to movement, it was easy to believe that Roth was consistently keeping the entirety in his head, defining every step of the journey in the context of what had ensued and what would follow ... He knew how to make every detail click right into place without ever putting any of those details under a microscope ... his knowledge of what makes this symphony tick was the most comprehensive I have encountered