A praise paid by one reviewer through the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s European tour final week confirmed that music is the last word diplomacy.
“The French conductor and his orchestra … depart behind them the absolute best picture of America,” wrote Tristan Labouret for the website Bachtrack.
The orchestra’s three-week, 11-concert tour to six countries (Aug. 22 to Sept. 10) concluded in Paris last weekend. In every city, there was considerable press interest, including feature stories and radio and newspaper interviews with maestro Louis Langrée.
“This journey, from the first concert in Edinburgh to the last concert in Paris, was really a beautiful crescendo,” said Langrée, back home in Cincinnati on Thursday. “I think we are stronger than ever, after having been the ambassadors for the city and the country. It was important for people to discover ‘Lincoln Portrait,’ and this beautiful text that shows the best of Cincinnati, and the best of the United States.”
At the tour’s start, the orchestra made a splash in debuts at the Edinburgh International Festival and the BBC Proms in London. Their only snafu occurred while trying to get from London to Northern Spain, for performances in San Sebastian and Santander. The charter flight was delayed for hours while an engine part was flown from Denmark.
But after they made it to Spain, the musicians were front-page news in the local newspapers.
The CSO was front-page news in Spanish newspapers. (Photo: Provided)
Concerts in The Netherlands (Sept. 3 and 4) included a special program performed by several players for Syrian refugees and their families. The country’s national newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, was most impressed by the “large, brilliant sound” in Bernstein’s “On the Waterfront,” and praised CSO soloists “such as the clear horn and the warm, creamy flute.”
The orchestra rose to the occasion, sometimes playing three consecutive days in three different cities, Langrée said.
“It requires so much courage,” he said. “‘On the Waterfront’ starts with a horn solo. So starting a concert at the Royal Albert Hall with 6,000 people, and (principal horn Elizabeth) Freimuth has to start alone, so exposed.
“The range of dynamics and emotion and expression that she did every night was so beautiful. And it was not only her. She symbolized…