Gianandrea Noseda – For the Youth

Written by: Colin Anderson

The Italian conductor is about to galvanise the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain…

Berlioz’s romantic imagination created the Fantastic Symphony’s delirium, waltzes, pastoral evocation and witches, and an ideal work for the bursting-with-talent National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and its guest conductor for Easter, the dynamic Gianandrea Noseda. “It’s a good piece for a young orchestra and we can follow the story.” Gianandrea loves working with youth. “It’s very energising for myself. I’m not old, yet, but when you work with teenagers it refreshes the way you make music.”

Noseda is Principal Conductor of the Manchester-based BBC Philharmonic. They recently found a new audience through making available Beethoven symphonies as downloads. “It was a big surprise, we didn’t expect such a result, a great opportunity to make music accessible. If people find something exciting in classical music, hopefully they will find the halls for live events.” The Barbican Hall on the 18th is the place for the NYO concert. The youngsters will first work with seasoned professionals (including the BBC Phil’s clarinettist John Bradbury) then a week with Gianandrea. “With a young orchestra you build up the performance from the first second to the last. I’m writing a work on white paper. I feel a huge responsibility: don’t say idiot things. I shall be friendly and professional; they look at me as a conductor, which I hate.” You’d rather make music than tell them what to do? “Yes, absolutely.” And the white paper: you’re stepping back to be as clear as possible? “Yes, that’s the point, show them the music in the purest way. You take more time rehearsing, of course – it’s a big recharge of the batteries of me, to look at the faces and bring my experience – and take their energy!”

Also in the programme is Tchaikovsky’s wonderful Serenade (“a symphony for strings”) and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, the latter a tricky rhythmical piece. “Hugely difficult. I will work with the players slowly, step by step, and we will get there! Stravinsky is such a big personality in whatever style he wrote in. There’s a Russian flavour with Berlioz, too: he went regularly to St Petersburg and conducted in the opera house there.” Alexander Korsantya solos in the Stravinsky. “He’s Georgian and now lives in Boston. He won the Rubinstein competition and he’s the right pianist for this concerto.”

Berlioz’s country-scene third movement seems to echo Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Gianandrea isn’t sure of my suggestion but agrees that Berlioz “was looking back to Beethoven and also showing new ways; but in showing new ways you have to be very conscious of the past – otherwise you don’t go anywhere.” Certainly the NYO’s extravagant size of personnel would have delighted Berlioz, music that appeals greatly to the re-creative Noseda who will “be reactive to the suggestions that the score is giving, even during the concert. It’s one of the few pieces I cannot tell before what I’m going to do. Of course, I know the piece! With Berlioz you have areas of freedom, time for the players to express themselves, and you can leave something for the concert. The Fantastic is full of dangerous corners: if you decide to go in one direction you cannot go back!”

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