Copland, Rouse, and Boléro

The New York Philharmonic

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Copland, Rouse, and Boléro

Recorded October 30, 2014



Leonard Slatkin

In 2017–18, conductor Leonard Slatkin celebrates his tenth and final season as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), and his first in the new role of honorary music director of the Orchestre national de Lyon (ONL). He also welcomes the publication of his second book, Leading Tones: Reflections on Music, Musicians, and the Music Industry, and serves as jury chairman of the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors. His guest conducting schedule includes engagements with the St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Polish National Radio Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the New York Philharmonic.

Recent highlights include a three-week tour of Asia with the DSO; tours of the U.S. and Europe with the ONL; a winter Mozart Festival in Detroit; and engagements with the St. Louis Symphony, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and Naples’s Orchestraof the Teatro di San Carlo. He also served as chairman of the jury and conductor of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Mr. Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have garnered 7 Grammy Awards and 64 nominations. His recent Naxos releases include works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and Berlioz (with the ONL) and music by Copland, Rachmaninoff, Alla Borzova, Cindy McTee, and John Williams (with the DSO). In addition, Mr. Slatkin has recorded the complete Brahms, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky symphonic cycles with the DSO (available as digital downloads).

 A recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, Mr. Slatkin holds the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor. He has received Austria’s Decoration of Honor in Silver, the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton Award, and the 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award for his debut book, Conducting Business.

Leonard Slatkin has conducted virtually all the leading orchestras in the world. He has served as music director in New Orleans; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; London (with the BBC Symphony Orchestra); and Lyon, France. He has also served as principal guest conductor in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.

Learn more about Leonard Slatkin



Robert Langevin

With the start of the 2000–01 season, Robert Langevin joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Flute, in The Lila Acheson Wallace Chair. In May 2001, he made his solo debut with the Orchestra in the North American premiere of Siegfried Matthus’s Concerto for Flute and Harp with Philharmonic Principal Harp Nancy Allen and Music Director Kurt Masur. His October 2012 solo performance in Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, was recorded for inclusion in The Nielsen Project, the Orchestra’s multi-season traversal of all of the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, to be released by Dacapo Records.

Prior to the Philharmonic, Mr. Langevin held the Jackman Pfouts Principal Flute Chair of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was an adjunct professor at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. Mr. Langevin served as associate principal of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for 13 years, playing on more than 30 recordings. As a member of Musica Camerata Montreal and l’Ensemble de la Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, he premiered many works, including the Canadian premiere of Pierre Boulez’s Le Marteau sans maître. In addition, Mr. Langevin has performed as soloist with Quebec’s most distinguished ensembles and has recorded many recitals and chamber music programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also served on the faculty of the University of Montreal for nine years.

Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Robert Langevin began studying flute at age 12 and joined the local orchestra three years later. While studying with Jean-Paul Major at the Montreal Conservatory of Music, he started working in recording studios, where he accompanied a variety of artists of different styles. He graduated in 1976 with two first prizes, one in flute, the other, in chamber music. Not long after, he won the prestigious Prix d’Europe, a national competition open to all instruments with a first prize of a two-year scholarship to study in Europe. This enabled him to work with Aurèle Nicolet at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, where he graduated in 1979. He then went on to study with Maxence Larrieu, in Geneva, winning second prize at the Budapest International Competition in 1980.

Mr. Langevin is a member of the Philharmonic Quintet of New York with which he has performed concerts on many continents. In addition, he has given recitals and master classes throughout the United States and in countries such as Canada, Spain, Costa Rica, Japan, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. He is currently on the faculties of The Juilliard School, The Manhattan School of Music, and the Orford International Summer Festival. 

Learn more about Robert Langevin


El Salón México

El Salón México (1936)

In this sonic souvenir of his first trip to Mexico, Aaron Copland captured the colors, sounds, and spirit of the land. El Salón México refers to a popular dance hall in Mexico City that the composer visited, and its rhythms inspired this spicy, effervescent piece. “All I could hope to do was to reflect the Mexico of the tourists, because in that hot spot one felt, in a very natural and unaffected way, a close contact with the Mexican people. It wasn’t the music that I heard, but the spirit I felt there which attracted me and what I hope I have put into my music.” After an introduction, four sections follow: a languid and lyrical beginning, featuring trumpet solo; a fast section with ever-changing rhythms, ending in a loud crashing chord; another lyrical, sleepy section; and an intense and melodically and rhythmically complex finale, with “the folk tunes [presented] simultaneously in their original keys and rhythms,” according to Copland.


Flute Concerto

Flute Concerto (1993)

In a program note about this work, The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse wrote: “I feel a deep ancestral tug of recognition whenever I am exposed to the arts and traditions of the British Isles, particularly those of Celtic origin…. The first and last movements bear the title ‘Amhrán’ (Gaelic for ‘song’) and are simple melodic elaborations for the solo flute over the accompaniment of orchestral strings. They were intended … to evoke the traditions of Celtic, especially Irish, folk music … perhaps not unlike some of the recordings of the Irish singer Enya. The second and fourth movements are both fast in tempo. The second is a rather sprightly march [and] the fourth a scherzo which refers more and more as it progresses to that most Irish of dances, the jig. However, by the time the jig is stated in its most obvious form, the tempo has increased to the point that the music seems almost frantic and breathless in nature.... The central movement of this work is an elegy dedicated to James Bulger’s memory, a small token of remembrance for a life senselessly and cruelly snuffed out.”



MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
Boléro (1928)

Maurice Ravel composed and Nijinsky choreographed the ballet Boléro for the legendary dancer Ida Rubinstein, and its premiere in Paris caused a sensation. Ravel himself once described the piece as “an experiment … consisting wholly of orchestral tissue without music — one long, very gradual crescendo.” Two short measures repeat over and over to the hypnotic beat of the snare drum, which becomes the focal point of the entire work. starting softly, increasing in intensity and volume, and reaching a powerful climax some 17 minutes later. “The ideal is an absolutely steady beat that never wavers — that you lay down for all to follow — a seamless crescendo from the nearly inaudible beginning to the final explosion of sound,” says New York Philharmonic Principal Percussionist Christopher S. Lamb. Shifting combinations of instruments are layered over each other to create rich and ever richer sonorities. The result is nothing short of stunning.


Gaspard de la nuit

MAURICE RAVEL/orch. Constant (1875–1937)
Gaspard de la Nuit (1908)

The evocative title of Ravel’s solo piano work, orchestrated by Marius Constant, was said to be a name for Satan, according to Aloysius Bertrand, author of the three poems that are the inspiration for this composition. The meaning is apt, as the resulting “piano poems” have an aura of the mysterious, dark, gothic. Constant said that when he set about orchestrating the pieces he was inspired by Ravel’s own mastery of orchestration but came up with “new instrumental combinations and attempted to enlarge the sound-spectrum.” “Ondine,” a water nymph, is rejected by a mortal and her lament is melancholy, with the music a rippling, liquid image of the waters she calls home. With macabre, desolate harmonies, punctuated by the incessant tolling of a bell, “Le Gibet (“The Gallows”) depicts a dead man’s carcass hanging in the setting sun. “Scarbo” is a gnome who haunts the narrator with wild shrieking, crazed leaping, eerie laughter, and other nightmarish mischief.

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