The programme features a work of imagination, charm and humour: the opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges written by Maurice Ravel to a libretto by Colette. In fantastic, magical images, the plot traces the development of a child, from his angry tantrums which damage his surroundings and consequently also himself, to a boy who is compassionate and self-aware. The composer set this story to music in the manner of an “American operetta” (Ravel). Like in a revue, he employs a wide range of musical styles one after another, from the neo-Baroque bicinium and bel canto arias to ragtime and music hall. Moreover, there is Ravel’s subtle, multifaceted orchestration which makes L'Enfant et les sortilèges one of his most impressive and most personal works. The conductor is Mikko Franck, who steps in for Seiji Ozawa.
In the first part of the concert Noah Bendix-Balgley is the focus of the musical action. Born in North Carolina, the musician has been concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2014. He opens the concert – without the participation of Mikko Franck– as the soloist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s A major Violin Concerto. The work is the last of the five violin concertos Mozart wrote between 1773 and 1775. It is characterised by the brilliance of the solo violin part, its original – often surprising – harmonies, and its folk music-based final theme. The cadenzas in this performance were written by Noah Bendix-Balgley himself. Then follows Camille Saint-Saëns’s Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso, an equally atmospheric and highly virtuoso piece for violin and orchestra which the composer wrote for the famous violinist Pablo Sarasate.