›Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune‹
›Concert champêtre‹ for Cembalo and Orchestra
Symphony No. 3 in C minor ›Organ Symphony‹
- Jean Rondeau – Harpsichord
- Thomas Ospital – Organ
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
Conducted by Marie Jacquot, who, after her brilliant DSO debut four years ago, last delighted the Berlin audience in November 2021, this programme features two instruments in leading roles that have rarely been entrusted with solo tasks in the orchestral repertoire from Classical to modern: the harpsichord and the organ. Francis Poulenc wrote his ‘Concert champêtre’ (roughly translated as ‘Outdoor Concert’) for harpsichord and orchestra in the late 1920s as a contribution to the neo-Baroque movement emerging at the time. In contrast to Manuel de Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto, which was written almost at the same time but with chamber music orchestration, Poulenc presents the contrast between the rather delicate keyboard instrument and the modern symphony orchestra with audible pleasure. In the opening solo of the last movement, for example, the composer pushes the reference to French Baroque music to the limit of copying the style. Elsewhere, he intersperses the work with harmonic surprises and glaring dissonances. Jean Rondeau, who is one of the most successful protagonists of the early music scene but is also well versed in jazz, takes on the solo part.
Camille Saint-Saëns’ Third Symphony is one of the most important and at the same time most effective French contributions to the genre. In the ‘Organ Symphony’, which premiered in 1886, the four movements of the traditional model become two, and the contraction of formal parts in the first movement allows the composer to do without the recapitulation, which seems somewhat academic from a French perspective. Similar to prominent guests at festivities, the organ as the “queen of instruments” takes its time to make an appearance; her mighty entrance in the second movement then achieves an all the greater effect. The programme opens with Claude Debussy’s ‘Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune’ (‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’), which was not only composed between the two other works in the concert, but which also mediates stylistically as a beacon of modern tonal magic between the late Romanticism of Saint-Saëns and the neo-Baroque of Poulenc.