PIERRE WISSMER, CONCERTOS ET ŒUVRES ORCHESTRALES
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PIERRE WISSMER OR THE POETRY OF THE SPRIRIT
While twentieth century Swiss composers often synthesize the Latin and Germanic sources of their country’s inspiration in their aesthetics, it is to France that Pierre Wissmer (1915-1992) is resolutely attached, both in his life’s journey as in his artistic ideals.
Imbued at first with a post-Ravellian neoclassicism, over the years his style has shifted toward a more distanced relationship with tonality and a more inner language. However, the refinement of the contrapuntal writing and instrumentation will always remain a constant feauture of his art.
The orchestra occupies a preponderant position in his production. If he readily references classical structures, such as the symphony (composing nine of them between 1938 and 1989), or the concerto, he has likewise written free-form works whose construction continues to remain meticulously elaborate.
This is the case of Clamavi, a symphonic triptych composed in 1957 and premiered the same year on Radio-Genève as part of the International Red Cross Day. The most “Honeggerian” work of Wissmer, it is based on the Lutheran chorale Herr, nun lass in Frieden which runs through the three parts uninterruptedly. Each of the three sections is headed by a Biblical verse: "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation XII.12)—”Let your gentleness be known to all men” (Philippians IV.5)—”Do not be afraid, O earth, but rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done great things” (Joel II.21).
The first part expresses human anxieties and stands out in its harshness in a language bordering on atonality with a relentless rhythmic violence. The second section is a meditation on charity and love in a peaceful atmosphere with extensive solos by the oboe, violin and flute. The certainty of divine power permeates the third part wherein orchestral forces seem to struggle with the chorale. The latter asserts itself more and more clearly, and then a joyful motif from the brass leads to the peroration. Treated as a cantus firmus, the chorale finally prevails as proclaimed by the trombones and tuba, and the work ends in A major in a cheerful carillon of the entire orchestra.
That same year of 1957, Pierre Wissmer composed L’Enfant et la rose, a symphonic score inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. The composer did not use the original title on purpose as his goal was to recreate the poetic universe of the book devoid of any descriptive intention. The work bears the incription of the famous quotation “One can only see well with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes.” It is constructed in the form of twelve variations, very freely taking up the material set out in the introduction: a motif presented by the flute, then the main theme, a soaring melody in A minor performed by the whole orchestra. [..]
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NORA CISMONDI Oboe
Born in Drôme (France), it is thanks to her first teacher Cesar Ognibene that Nora Cismondi was admitted to the CNSM of Paris at the age of 16 in the classes of Jean-Louis Capezzali, Jacques Tys and David Walter, and decided to devote herself to music.
After receiving first prizes in oboe and chamber music, she continued her studies with Maurice Bourgue. She is a laureate of the International Competitions of Prague Spring (2001), Toulon (2002), ARD of Münich (2003), Sonymusic Foundation Tokyo (2006). She performs as a soloist in many European venues and is supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Association for Artistic Action for several tours in Asia and the Gulf States.
Recognized by her peers, she was named Classical Revelation by Adami in 2005 at the Midem in Cannes. After 7 seasons with the orchestra of the Opéra National de Paris, which she joined at the age of 20, Nora Cismondi joined the Orchestre National de France in 2006 as principal oboe.
At the same time, she is a regular guest of prestigious orchestras (LSO, Bayerische Rundfunk, Santa Cecilia), as well as internationally renowned ensembles such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. She has collaborated with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink, Valery Gergiev and Daniele Gatti.
In 2018, she was appointed principal oboe of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Always happy to share her experience, she taught at the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Paris between 2012 and 2019. She regularly gives masterclasses in Asia, as well as in Europe and also sits on juries for international competitions.
On the recording front, she has collaborated with the clarinetist Florent Héau and the Prague Chamber Orchestra (Mozart’s Symphonie Concertante). Nora Cismondi has also participated in the recording of the complete chamber music of Henri Dutilleux, praised by Classica magazine (5 stars).
Oleg Kaskiv was born in Kremenetz, Ukraine, in 1978. He first studied at the Krushelnytska Special School of Music, then at the Lysenke Conservatory in Lviv, Ukraine. During this period he won numerous prizes, including the International Dvarionas (Lithuania) and Kotorovych (Ukraine) Competitions. He joined the Menuhin Academy as a student in 1996, under the guidance of Alberto Lysy. Today he teaches violin and conducts the Academy orchestra. Since 2007, he also teaches at the Geneva Conservatory. Within the Menuhin Academy, he has played with the Camerata Lysy during world tours.
He has won numerous violin competitions, including the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition (Belgium), the International Oistrakh Competition (Ukraine), the International Spohr Competition (Germany), the International Montreal Competition (Canada), the International Premio Lipizer (Italy), and the International Molinari Competition (Switzerland).
He has performed as a soloist with Camerata Lysy, Camerata de Lausanne, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Baden-Baden Symphony Orchestra, Kiev National Orchestra, and Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra. Oleg Kaskiv plays the Giuseppe Guarneri filius violin of Andrea Cremona c. 1690 ex Rybin generously provided by a private Swiss sponsor.
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Since its creation by Ernest Ansermet in 1918, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande has seen over 700 musicians contribute to its history. Currently led by Musical and Artistic Director Jonathan Nott, the OSR is made up of 112 permanent musicians represented by 16 different nationalities. It performs over 80 concerts every year, including 20 abroad.
In addition to subscription concerts in Geneva and Lausanne, it performs symphonic programmes for the City of Geneva and the annual United Nations Day concert and accompanies operatic performances at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva. Over the decades, the OSR has built up an international reputation thanks to its historic recordings and its interpretation of the 20th-century French and Russian repertories.
The British conductor Jonathan Nott has served as the OSR’s Music and Artistic Director since January 2017, following in the steps of the OSR’s founding head and successive music directors: Paul Kletzki (1967-1970), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1970-1980), Horst Stein (1980-1985), Armin Jordan (1985-1997), Fabio Luisi (1997-2002), Pinchas Steinberg (2002-2005), Marek Janowski (2005-2012), Neeme Järvi (2012-2015), and its principal guest conductor Kazuki Yamada (2012-2017). Under their guidance, the world-renowned OSR has actively contributed to the history of music through the discovery and support of contemporary composers. Works by Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Frank Martin, André-François Marescotti, Benjamin Britten, Witold Lutosławski, Heinz Holliger, William Blank, Péter Eötvös, James Macmillan, Pascal Dusapin and Michael Jarrell constitute just some of the OSR’s world premieres. The OSR has continually pursued the promotion and performance of new symphonic music, especially by Swiss composers, as one of its important missions. [..]
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JOHN FIORE conductor
John Fiore has conducted in many of the world’s important opera houses and concert halls. American born and trained, Mr. Fiore’s life as a professional musician began at the age of 14, when he was hired to be the rehearsal pianist for the Seattle Opera’s Wagner Ring Cycle.
He studied at the Eastman School of Music, following which he became an assistant conductor in the three major American companies: San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. His official conducting debut was in 1986 with Gounod’s Faust at the San Francisco Opera, following which he made many debuts and formed continuing relationships–in North America, Europe and Australia–with among others, the Metropolitan Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Dresden’s Semperoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Royal Swedish Opera and the Grand Théâtre de Genève, among others.
From 1999 to 2009, John Fiore was the Chief Conductor at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, as well as the Generalmusikdirektor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, and from 2009 to 2015, he was the Music Director of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Oslo, the first Music Director of that company in its new opera house. Also active as a symphonic conductor, John Fiore has conducted orchestras including the Boston Symphony, the Dresdner Staatskapelle, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Some highlights of his life in music are his leading of the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, the very first staged performances of Berlioz's Les Troyens in Sydney, the first complete Ring cycle in Prague since the Second World War (in co-production with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein); and concert performances of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder in Düsseldorf and his own full evening arrangement of music from Wagner’s Ring in Oslo.
Since 2015, John Fiore has been enjoying a freelance career, and lives in Geneva.
Read more in the booklet and French texts