Mozartfest 2022 with François Leleux
23-28 May 2022
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe is delighted to be working with François Leleux again, after our last project at this year’s Salzburg Mozartwoche was unfortunately cancelled due to the spread of the Omicron variant. François is very special to all of us at the COE as he was our principal oboe for a number of years. Like a number of wind players at the COE over the years – Thierry Fischer, Dougie Boyd, Jaime Martin – he developed his career as a conductor and is now Artistic Partner of Camerata Salzburg and Artist-in-Residence at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, we have played many concerts with François as a soloist, the most recent being a concert with conductor Andrew Manze at the Mozartwoche 2020 in Salzburg where François performed Mozart’s Oboe Concerto. Some of the COE projects with François have also involved his wife, violinist Lisa Batiashvili, whether François was within the Orchestra or performing as a soloist as well – for example at the Mostly Mozart Festival 2012 in New York where François and lisa and, with both artists, the COE recorded a CD of works by JS Bach for Sony Classical in 2007. Other highlights included a tour to Italy, France and Belgium with Sir Antonio Pappano in 2016 where François performed Strauss’s Oboe Concerto and in 2005, an extensive tour of Japan with violinists Akiko Suwanai and Cho-Liang with François featuring in works by Bach and Veress.
This time, François will perform his own arrangements for oboe and orchestra of arias from Mozart’s operas The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni, as well as Cimarosa’s Concerto for Oboe and Strings. Widmann’s Aria for violin, viola and eleven strings (only in Augsburg), Haydn’s Symphony No. 22 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 28 will be directed from her seat by the COE Leader on this tour, Maria Wloszczowska.
At the Mozartfest in Würzburg, COE cellist Kate Gould will perform Le Corps des Cordes for Violoncello Solo by Isabel Mundry, who is “artiste-étoile” at this year’s Mozartfest. Physicality and body awareness are terms that Isabel Mundry gives as important keywords for her compositions. “I could never write a note that didn’t pass through my fingers and through my skin.” Kate shares her reaction to learning Le Corps des cordes: “I can honestly say I have never played anything like it before. Mundry has a highly individual compositional style that produces music that is hyper-sensitive and volatile. Each of the elements – pitch, tone colour, rhythm, dynamics – is exceptionally unpredictable and fragile. I imagine the random movements of microscopic lifeforms in absolute contrast to anything mechanical or repetitive.”
François Leleux – conductor and oboist – is renowned for his irrepressible energy and exuberance. He is currently Artistic Partner of Camerata Salzburg. Leleux was previously Artist-in-Association with Orchestre de Chambre de Paris and has featured as Artist-in-Residence with orchestras such as hr-Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Berner Symphonieorchester, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife.
In the 2021/22 season, Leleux returns as conductor to Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, BBC Scottish Symphony, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Chamber Orchestra Europe, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Nederlands Chamber Orkest and Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. He has previously conducted orchestras such as Oslo Philharmonic, HR and WDR Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and the Sydney, Gulbenkian, Swedish Radio and Tonkünstler orchestras.
As an oboist, Leleux has performed as soloist with orchestras such as New York Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the Swedish Radio and the NHK symphony orchestras. A dedicated chamber musician, he regularly performs worldwide with sextet Les Vents Français and with recital partners Lisa Batiashvili, Eric Le Sage and Emmanuel Strosser.
Committed to expanding the oboe’s repertoire, Leleux has commissioned many new works from composers such as Nicolas Bacri, Michael Jarrell, Giya Kancheli, Thierry Pécou, Gilles Silvestrini and Eric Tanguy. In recent seasons, he has premiered the cor anglais version of Debussy’s Rapsodie for saxophone, arranged especially for him by Silvestrini (2017/18); Jarrell’s oboe concerto Aquateinte (2016/17); and Thierry Escaich’s Double Concerto for Violin and Oboe, whose premiere performances Leleux and his wife Lisa Batiashvili gave with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and New York Philharmonic.
Leleux’s latest recording, ‘Bienvenue en France’, released on Warner Classics is a collaboration with pianist Emmanuel Strosser featuring 20th century French composers including Saint-Saëns, Dutilleux and Debussy and the contemporary Thierry Pécou. As a conductor, Leleux and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra released an album of works by Bizet and Gounod for Linn Records in 2019. His album of works by Hummel and Haydn, recorded with Münchener Kammerorchester, received award recognition in 2016. Other recordings include works by J.S. Bach with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mozart with Camerata Salzburg, and Strauss’s Oboe Concerto with Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding.
François Leleux is a Professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München.
Kate Gould has an exciting and varied international performing career. During her studies at the Royal Academy of Music she formed the Leopold String Trio, which rocketed to fame through the numerous prizes and awards it achieved, including Young Concert Artists Trust, ECHO Rising Stars, Royal Philharmonic Award, BBC New Generations Artists and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust award. They performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall. Each disc they recorded for Hyperion Records was met with the deepest praise from national press and the major music magazines. The trio often collaborated with exceptional pianists such as Paul Lewis and Marc Andre Hamelin, with whom they also made recordings for Hyperion.
Kate is now thrilled to be focusing on the piano trio repertoire with her present group, the London Bridge Trio, with violinist David Adams and pianist Daniel Tong. She set up the flourishing Winchester Chamber Music Festival for the group, which celebrated its tenth year in April by commissioning a new trio by Colin Matthews. She also established the Ironstone Chamber Music Festival with her sister, violinist Lucy Gould, which takes place in September in the distinctive ironstone villages of north Oxfordshire. She is a regular guest at other special festivals around the world, such as Festival de los Siete Lagos in north Patagonia, Argentina, Sunnmore Chamber Music Festival, Norway, Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival, Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival and Penarth Pier Chamber Music Festival.
Since 2000, Kate has been a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. She is invited as guest principal cellist of many orchestras in the UK, most frequently Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
In September 2017 she started teaching at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. In addition to private teaching, other teaching includes performance classes at the Royal Academy of Music, annual classes and orchestral sectionals at the Festival de los Siete Lagos, Argentina, coaching the cello section of the Ulster Youth Orchestra and numerous public masterclasses at chamber music festivals world-wide.
Jose Maria Blumenschein
José Maria Blumenschein, a native of Freiburg, Germany, born of Brazilian parents, currently serves as 1st Concertmaster of the WDR Radio Symphony Orchestra in Cologne after serving as Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra for three seasons. During his tenure with WDR he also took 2 Seasons off to perform as first Concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera and Philharmonic.
As a passionate leader he regularly performs with many Orchestras and Ensembles such as Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Bayerische Staatsoper, Dresden Staatskapelle, NDR Radio Orchestra and many more.
Mr. Blumenschein is also a founding member of ‘Kammermusik Köln’, a chamber music series in Cologne founded by members of WDR Radio, Gürzenich Orchestra, and Cologne Conservatory members to be the first all year chamber music series.
Born in 1985, Mr. Blumenschein received his first violin lesson at the age of four in Freiburg, Germany, at the “Pflüger Institute for Highly Gifted Children”. In 1990 he began studies with Vera Kramarowa in Mannheim. In 2001 Mr. Blumenschein was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with conductor and violinist Joseph Silverstein and served as Concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.
Nimrod Guez was appointed Principal Viola of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in May 2019.
Born in Israel in 1977, he started playing the violin at the age of seven. His teachers were Nahum Liebermann, Ilona Feher, Shlomo Tintpulver and Haim Taub. After meeting Tabea Zimmermann at the age of 16, he decided to shift to viola and started studying at her class at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts in 1996. After five years, he moved to Luebeck in 2001 and continued his studies at the violin class of Professor Nora Chastain. Alongside his violin studies, Nimrod Guez attended viola classes with Professor Barbara Westphal from 2002 to 2004.
Nimrod Guez was a first prize winner of the”Aviv” competition in 2002.
In 2005 he became 1st principal violist at the Gewandhaus Orchester zu Leipzig. From 2008 to 2012 he held the same position at the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Out of his great affection for early music, he has been playing the baroque violin since 2010. With musicians from the Bavarian Radio Symphonic Orchestra he founded “L’accademia giocosa”, an ensemble for early music.
In 2012, Nimrod Guez was appointed professor for viola at the Wuerzburg University of Music.
Nimrod Guez performs as a violin, viola and baroque violin soloist. He is a highly sought-after chamber musician. He plays alongside well-known artists such as Janine Jansen, Vilde Frang, Liza Ferschtman, Sebastian Klinger, Nicolas Altstaedt and Maximilian Hornung at various festivals, for instance the “Utrecht Kamermuziek Festival”(NL), the “Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival” (AT) and “ErstKlassik”(Sarnersee, CH).
After many years as principal oboe it was a delight for us to welcome back François Leleux to the COE, this time as soloist and conductor. The Orchestra exploded into life with the force of his musicianship and character with concerts at the Mozartfest in Würzburg and Augsburg. François joined the COE as Principal Oboe taking over from founding member Douglas Boyd who had left to take up the baton and develop his conducting career. To find out about François’ COE adventure, please listen to Episode 17 of the COE podcast, Interlude, here. In the Augsburger Allgemeine, the reviewer praised the musicians’ ability to listen to each other and the clarity of the sound, even in the fast passages of the Haydn Symphony “The Philosopher” where other orchestras usually sound more blurred. There was also a sense of historic performance, despite playing on modern instruments, stemming from the crucial influence of Nikolaus Harnoncourt on the COE. Following a fantastic display of oboe virtuosity in arias from Mozart operas arranged by François himself and in Cimarosa’s oboe concerto, the versatility of the COE was showcased in contemporary composer Isabel Mundry’s Le Corps des cordes for solo cello performed by COE Cellist Kate Gould and also Jorg Widmann’s “Aria” for violin, viola and 11 strings. We were delighted by the author’s comment: “What a formidable orchestra the COE is.”
Aside from the concerts themselves, one of the highlights of this project was to be able to rehearse in the newly built, not yet open, Casals Forum in Kronberg. This beautiful concert hall is being built by the Kronberg Academy for its students to perform in a hall that truly showcases the outstanding level of music education provided by the Academy. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe is thrilled to have been invited as orchestra-in-residence at the Casals Forum where it can rehearse ahead of tours as well as perform smaller scale concerts in partnership with the Academy. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the acoustics are very “direct” and “the trills of the Orchestra pearl and sparkle” in the Andante of Mozart’s Symphony KV200. The COE’s second oboe Rachel Frost said about the hall: “The sound is lively, simply wonderful. In this hall, it is possible to play real pianissimos… This hall is warm, round, it sings. It’s beautiful to look at with its light wood and its height.”
The concert hall will be officially opened in September and the COE is proud to be performing a number of launch concerts for the Friends of the Kronberg Academy and also for the general public on 24th and 25th September. Artists performing with the COE on that occasion include Vadim Gluzman, Steven Isserlis, Janine Jansen, Sir Andras Schiff, Antoine Tamestit, as well as Kronberg Academy alumni and students Irene Duval, Seiji Okamoto, Timothy Ridout and Mishka Rushdie Momen.