With a reputation for enterprising programming and a repertoire to match, François-Xavier Roth is developing a career that reflects his eclectic approach. Described by The Guardian as “a restlessly intelligent maverick”, his dedication to exploring music from Lully to Stravinsky – played on period instruments –is equalled by his passion for classics of the second Viennese school, romantic music, opera, collaboration with other art forms and contemporary music ranging across the 20th century into the 21st. His incisive approach and communication skills are highly valued around the world, with education and outreach projects forming a vital part of his music making.
On 26 August François-Xavier Roth will bring the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden to the BBC Proms in a programme of Ligeti, Bartók and Boulez. It will be a poignant moment for both Roth and the orchestra before they embark on a final season during 2015/16 – the 70th anniversary of the orchestra – and the merger with the SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart. Roth and the musicians were heartened by support from great contemporary figures including Pierre Boulez in the campaign to retain this orchestra, which has made an unrivalled contribution to the commissioning and dissemination of contemporary music since it was established in 1945.
Roth will also conduct the music of Boulez with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 12 August, alongside music by Ravel and Stravinsky’s The Firebird. Roth’s recent recreations of the original sound world of Stravinsky with his own group Les Siècles has garnered great critical acclaim, with The Sunday Times review of The Firebird declaring: “There is much that is revelatory here.”
September 2015 sees Roth take up his position as General Music Director of the City of Cologne, with dual responsibility for the Gürzenich Orchestra and Cologne Opera. A festival concert on 13 September showcases the orchestra’s great musical heritage – it premiered both the Brahms Double Concerto and Strauss Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche – but also illustrates the city’s openness to innovation, even at the cost of scandal. When Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin finally reached the stage in Cologne in 1926 a critic wrote “… a city of churches, monasteries and chapels... has lived to see its first true [musical] scandal”. His first season with the orchestra will explore a characteristically wide range of music, collaborative projects and education work. He will then open the opera season in the refurbished Cologne Theatres with a new production by La Fura dels Baus of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini on 7 November, with further productions to be announced.
Roth makes his Berlin Philharmonic debut on 29 November in a trademark concert embracing Varese, Lully, Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel. In January 2016 he returns to the Boston Symphony with two programmes, one including the US premiere of completed version of Dutilleux’s Le temps l’horloge written for Renée Fleming, who appears as soloist. Roth makes his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on 22 June with Emanuel Ax as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4.
In January 2016 Roth embarks on a series of concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra exploring the evolution of the language and form of late romantic music into the new sound worlds and structures of the 20th century. On 21 January he conducts the prelude to Wagner’s Parsifal, followed by Berg’s Seven Early Songs with Camilla Tilling as soloist, and Mahler’s Symphony No 5. On 24 January the early and highly romantic tone poem by Webern Im Sommerwind opens a programme including the Berg Violin Concerto, with soloist Renaud Capucon, and culminating in Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben.
On 13 March Roth conducts the LSO in two concerts. The first is a concert of two 20th century masterpieces for chamber orchestra by Adès and Schoenberg, and will also include an LSO Futures commission. The second features 20th century classics for full orchestra: Ligeti’s Atmosphères and Berio’s Sinfonia. He also maintains his involvement with the LSO’s Panufnik Composers Scheme, with workshops and public concerts.
A new recording of Alpine Symphony and Don Juan with the SWR Sinfonieorchester will be released on the Haenssler label in August 2015. “Roth draws extremely fine playing from his orchestra and I look forward to further installments in the same series.” Rob Cowan, Gramophone, reviewing Ein Heldenleben and Death and Transfiguration.
Roth’s latest CD with Les Siècles, titled ‘France/Espagne’, described by Classica as “a marvel” is available now. Repertoire: Chabrier Espana, Debussy Images for orchestra: II. Iberia, Massenet Le Cid (Suite), Ravel Alborada del gracioso (orchestral version). Actes Sud ASM17.