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Yan Pascal Tortelier enjoys a distinguished career as a guest with the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He began his musical career as a violinist and at fourteen won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire and also made his debut as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Following general musical studies with Nadia Boulanger, Tortelier studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and from 1974 to 1983 he was Associate Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Further positions have included Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Ulster Orchestra (1989-1992) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-2008). He was Principal Conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, from 2009-2011, and currently holds the position of Guest Conductor of Honour, in which capacity he returns to the orchestra a number of times each season. Following his outstanding work as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic between 1992 and 2003, including annual appearances at the BBC Proms and a very successful tour of the US to celebrate the orchestra's 60th anniversary season, he was given the title of Conductor Emeritus and continues to work with the orchestra regularly. He also holds

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Yan Pascal Tortelier enjoys a distinguished career as a guest with the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He began his musical career as a violinist and at fourteen won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire and also made his debut as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Following general musical studies with Nadia Boulanger, Tortelier studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and from 1974 to 1983 he was Associate Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Further positions have included Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Ulster Orchestra (1989-1992) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-2008). He was Principal Conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, from 2009-2011, and currently holds the position of Guest Conductor of Honour, in which capacity he returns to the orchestra a number of times each season. Following his outstanding work as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic between 1992 and 2003, including annual appearances at the BBC Proms and a very successful tour of the US to celebrate the orchestra's 60th anniversary season, he was given the title of Conductor Emeritus and continues to work with the orchestra regularly. He also holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Yan Pascal Tortelier has collaborated with major orchestras including the London Symphony and London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras, Czech Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala Milan, and in North America, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Boston, Chicago and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. Further afield he has collaborated with the Melbourne Symphony, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and the Hong Kong and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestras.

Recent highlights have included his debut performances with the Iceland and Stavanger Symphony Orchestras, return visits to the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras, the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the San Francisco, St Louis, Cincinnati and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. He also undertook a long-awaited return to Australia, for performances with the Melbourne, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, and toured China with the London Philharmonic, and South America and Europe with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of the 2013/14 season and beyond includes performances with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Utah Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestras.

Tortelier has enjoyed a long association with Chandos Records, resulting in an extensive catalogue of recordings, notably with the BBC Philharmonic and Ulster Orchestras, and including award-winning cycles of the orchestral music of Debussy, Ravel (featuring his own orchestration of Ravel's Piano Trio), Franck, Roussel and Dutilleux. He has also conducted critically acclaimed discs of repertoire ranging from Hindemith and Kodaly to Lutoslawski and Karlowicz. Recent releases for Chandos include the Ravel piano concertos coupled with Debussy’s Fantaisie, with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, and a disc of works by Florent Schmitt with the Sao Paulo Symphony.

SEASON  2013/2014

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Reviews

"Mr. Tortelier’s conducting style is fascinating to watch. Working without a baton, he uses his very expressive hands to shape phrases. He seems to be all about economy of movement, holding the big gestures in reserve for when they’re really needed—the volcanic final moments of the “Symphonie,” for example. There’s subtle shading there that parallels his interpretive approach. "

Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX (Radio)

"Every visit by conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier seems to ignite the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Audiences get pretty worked up, too. [...] Tortelier fashioned an invigorating visit to Mussorgsky's sonic gallery. The performance, conducted from memory, had a remarkable spontaneity and sweep. "

Tim Smith, Clef Notes, February 2013

"Tortelier led Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 with authority and conviction. His reading, completely from memory, was fully romantic, with close attention to detail and a vivid response from the CSO. [...] The first movement’s complex lines were all attended to, building to a stirring climax and leaving a last ring of harp and string pizzicato in its wake. Tortelier, who conducts without a baton, shaped the Andante second movement with similar care, handling its yearning, Tchaikovskian theme with outspoken emotion, from full cry to its ever-so-gentle restatement at the end. [...] Tortelier -- whose whole-body conducting included more than one leap on the podium during the evening – drew considerable warmth from his players in the finale, with its lush strings and sometimes giddy rhythms. "

www.concerto.net

"Yan Pascal Tortelier and his Brazilian orchestra go all out for Schmitt [...] Tortelier relishes the rich Wagnerian colours and the fluidity of harmony and directs a radiant account of Psalm 47, with the chorus's singing fully matching the music's jubilation. [La tragédie de Salomé] has strong dramatic impetus."

Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone Magazine, September 2011

"Tortelier’s Berlioz was easily the highlight of the evening. His attention to detail was clear to see as he shaped early passages with individual gestures for almost every note. An intriguing conductor to watch, he was scoreless and batonless all evening and maintained very literal, direct instructions for his players. This made for some wonderful moments in Berlioz’s unconventional writing, notably in the first-movement principal horn solo and third-movement dialogue between cor anglais and offstage oboe. The second-movement waltz lilted along by the thrust of a gentle second beat push in the strings, and the third handled pastoralism and menace very well. "

Rohan Shotton, www.bachtrack.com

"Yan Pascal Tortelier [...] drew warm, dynamic playing from the BSO. Cello, flute and horn solos purred beautifully. The program also offered terrifically animated, nuanced performances of two prismatic masterpieces: Ravel's "Valses nobles et sentimentales" and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra. "

Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

"Tortelier gets these players to dig into music with a palpable freshness and enthusiasm, and he did so on this occasion to memorable effect with a well-organized program. The BSO responded vividly to Tortelier's obvious affection. "

Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

"Yan Pascal Tortelier and the BBCSO were spot-on in capturing the white-heat of Hindemith’s inspiration with precise ensemble, clean textures and a sense of urgency which made this a compelling listen. The playing throughout was flawless, rasping brass a prominent feature. [In Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition] they delivered a performance resonant with incisive characterisation coupled with some outstanding solo turns. The closing ‘Great Gate at Kiev’ was thrillingly caught without ever descending into bombast. "

Andrew Maisel, www.classicalsource.com

"[Hindemith’s Konzertmusik op.50] is a brilliant, virtuoso work, scored for strings and brass alone and in the right hands, it packs a real punch. Tortelier certainly has the right hands. This was as fine a performance as one could have hoped for with resplendent brass full-voiced and richly sounding, balanced by the large string body, which Hindemith said should be ‘as strong as possible’ sounding dazzling and opulent. [...] Tortelier didn’t hang around for this performance [of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition] choosing generally fast tempi and running the pieces together so that a large canvas was revealed instead of a group of separate pieces. This approach worked and there was a cumulative growth in the music as it progressed; Gnomus and Baba-Yaga were suitably malevolent, the Tuileries and Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks were delightful in their energy and lightness, while The Old Castle and Bydlo were mysterious and lumpen by turn. The whole was topped with a stunning Grand Gate at Kiev. "

Bob Briggs, www.musicwebinternational.com

"The 'Left Hand' concerto, helped by Tortelier's incisive conducting, is simply awe-inspiring. Chandos' superb engineering and Tortelier's masterly handling of Ravel's intricate orchestration make the work sound less malevolent than usual. In all three concertos there is an innate mutual empathy between Bavouzet and Tortelier regarding tempi, phrasing, dynamics and the musical character of each work. One sparks off the other in their palpably enjoyable collaboration. It's exceptional to have a soloist and conductor so in tune with each other in both Ravel concertos. This is a great partnership, a stunning disc and an early contender for those end of year awards. "

Jeremy Nicholas, Classic FM Editor's Choice

"This is a disc of pure pleasure, with some revelations thrown in for good measure. These are glittering performances of the Ravel Concertos, the outer movements of the G major being full of joy, while the slow movement is delectably phrased. The BBC Symphony Orchestra is on top form, playing with Gallic panache under Yan Pascal Tortelier. Their performance of the Left Hand Concerto is equally strong, the pacing of its many awkward corners negotiated effortlessly. Debussy's early Fantaisie often partners the Ravel Concertos, but can too easily lack conviction, seeming like a filler in every sense. There is no danger of that here, with one of the most committed and convincing accounts on disc, the opening glowing with promise that is, for once, fulfilled. "

Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine

"Yan Pascal Tortelier conducts the Prokofiev with magnificent precision. Forboding violin draws you into the rumbustious conflict of ‘Montagues and Capulets’; the pleading strings, as Romeo weeps at the grave of Juliet, are mesmerising; while the finale of the ‘Death of Tybalt’ is a bravura performance from the whole orchestra, the brass section clashing with an inexorable surge of power from woodwind, strings and percussion. "

Jonathan Camp, www.makemeneon.com

"This disc is an absolute stunner. [...] Tortelier, always at his best in French music, captures the sensuality and sultry eroticism of this music to perfection with a gripping performance, notable for the refined orchestral playing of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, that could hardly be bettered. Schmitt’s short symphonic study ‘Le Palais hanté’ [...] captures the atmosphere of the poem in strongly characterized music clothed in glittering orchestration. Schmitt’s setting of Psalm XLVII is also something of an aural blockbuster. It requires huge orchestral forces as well as an organ, chorus and a solo soprano and is composed on a grand scale.[...] The gradual build up of the psalm’s closing section to its tumultuous final bars is almost overwhelming. It would be hard to imagine the impact and grandeur of the music being better reproduced on disc. "

Graham Williams, www.sa-cd.net

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Discography

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Repertoire