Conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus is synonymous with the Orchestre National de Lille, the ensemble he founded in 1976. Now preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that partnership, we introduce their latest disc featuring works by Richard Strauss and Albéric Magnard, released this month to mark Casadesus' 80th birthday on December 7. We also present a selection of the artists' critically acclaimed recordings from the Naxos catalogue.
The tone poems of Richard Strauss’s early career represent a remarkable extension of the ideas of Liszt and Wagner, and the autobiographical Ein Heldenleben exceeds its predecessors in terms of its demands on the orchestra. Its intricately interwoven sections create a single symphonic movement depicting heroism, love, and ultimately peace. Albéric Magnard became a French national hero when he died defending his home at the outbreak of World War I. The Chant funèbre was written in memory of his father. This recording celebrates both the 40th anniversary of the Orchestre National de Lille and the 50th year of its founder Jean-Claude Casadesus’s career.
Listen to an extract from
Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life): Der Held (The Hero)
Listen to Raymond Bisha's podcast
about this release
About the Artists
Jean-Claude Casadesus founded the Orchestre National de Lille in 1976, since when he has served continuously as its principal conductor. Additionally, his international career has seen regular invitations to direct the prestigious orchestras of Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Salzburg, St Petersburg, Prague, London, Vienna, Dresden, Leipzig, Lisbon, Philadelphia, Berlin, Montréal, Taipei and Singapore. As a composer, he has written music for both the cinema and the theatre. He is also an ardent champion of contemporary music, which he has actively promoted through collaboration with resident composers since 2001.
Since its creation in 1976 the Orchestre National de Lille has established itself as a leading French orchestra open to all audiences. Each year the orchestra performs in its own concert hall, regionally in France, and abroad. Its mission includes the performance of the major symphonic repertoire, together with an annual opera production and a focus on contemporary music, particularly the works of invited guest composers.
“Berlioz's youthful Cantatas are brimful with wild passion and energy that shaped his larger-than-life adventures in his early days as a struggling composer. Jean-Claude Casadesus and dramatic soprano Michele Lagrange give a suitably full blooded account of Herminie, a winning performance packed with raw emotions.”
– Music Week
“Casadesus gets right under the skin of Berlioz’s incredible orchestration, Myers (Faust) has a fine tenor voice and Vernhes is thrillingly malevolent as Mephistopheles…a highly recommended recording.”
– Classic FM ★★★★
“Naxos assembled a particularly outstanding team of performers for this one. The choir ... and orchestra perform flawlessly and with infectious Gallic flair. The soloists are truly outstanding ... This release is essential listening for any fan of Bizet or French music of his time.”
– American Record Guide
“Véronique Gens, one of the finest French singers of her generation, with her fresh, finely projected voice gives performances of this generous selection of the Chants d’Auvergne that bring out the folk qualities far more than usual.”
– Penguin Guide
“Take yourself to Notre-Dame for a fiver with this live performance by the one-time organist at the Cathedral with alert forces from Lille under a young member of the Casadesus clan. Lefebvre obviously knows the massive organ like the back of his hand and the audience are quiet as church mice, so their applause at the end comes as a nice shock.”
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