Conductor Stéphane Denève opened his 2023/24 season with the St Louis Symphony Orchestra last Saturday (23 Sep), at the Stifel Theater. The magical programme featured Strauss’ Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (played by Grammy Award winning violinist Hilary Hahn), Mozart’s The Magic Flute Overture and Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Chris King from St. Louis American wrote:
“So, the magic was heady and swirling before Denève ever struck up the band. When he did, the old magic went on, the magic of programming that is both crowd-pleasing and inventive, performances that are both bravura and ensemble, with so much to absorb that it almost becomes too much for one sitting, but paced in a way that keeps you in your seat trying to withstand yet another sea change of emotion, melody and tone.”
“…the first half concludes with fan-favorite guest soloist Hilary Hahn playing the proverbial out of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto…Hahn stood at Denève’s left hand so close he could have touched the scroll of her violin. Standing so close, the intensity with which he absorbed the intensity of her playing was (Denève set us up for this …) magical. That is, when she didn’t back away from the conductor’s stand and dance like a dervish while working through Mendelssohn’s long, dynamic, athletic lines.”
Denève and the SLSO held their annual free concert at Forest Park on the 21 September. The programme featured the works of Prokofiev, Johann Strauss I and II, John Philip Sousa, John Williams, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and others, performed by the SLSO along with members of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and In Unison Chorus. “It’s officially my favorite event of the year because I feel like I meet the community, I meet the town,” Denève says to St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There is something quite magical there. There are so many people, and I feel so close to them. You are really with the audience — inside the audience. And we have a fun program once again.”
Find out more about the SLSO’s 2023/24 season here.
Photo credit: Brendan Batchelor