Orchestre de Paris

Klaus Mäkelä and Orchestre de Paris

Recorded Voice: Where to? Carnegie Hall, please. Okay, here are your tickets. Enjoy the show. Your tickets, please. Follow me.

Jeff Spurgeon: Bonsoir!

From the left bank of the Hudson River in New York City, this is Carnegie Hall Live. We have a festive evening of French music- making in store for you on this concert. Returning to the stage of Carnegie Hall after being away for more than 20 years is Orchestre de Paris. I'm Jeff Spurgeon and mon ami pour le broadcast is my colleague "Jean" Schaefer.

John Schaefer: Don't do that, Jeff.

Jeff Spurgeon: Okay, thank you. Yes, we have to stop it now. Thank you, John.

John Schaefer: Yes, the the Orchestre de Paris is here, but they're here with a Russian program and their young Finnish music director, Klaus Mäkelä. Mäkelä is a rapidly rising star in the classical music world. In addition to tonight's band, the Orchestre de Paris, he's also Music Director of the Oslo Philharmonic and is an artistic partner of the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where, Jeff, he will be promoted to Chief Conductor in 2027.

Jeff Spurgeon: It's really something for this young man, and tonight's concert marks Mäkelä's Carnegie Hall debut with any orchestra. He's never played in this hall before. Same is true for many members of Orchestre de Paris. First time at Carnegie for them as well. They brought two works with them, as you mentioned, John, Russian music. A Stravinsky double bill. First of all, the Firebird, and after intermission, the Rite of Spring.

Mäkelä made his orchestral debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic when he was 18 years of age. He was born in that city, two musician parents, and initially studied the cello, which he still plays, does chamber music performances with members of the orchestras he conducts.

Mäkelä is 28 years old.

John Schaefer: And if you're wondering, aren't there a lot of Finnish conductors out there? There are indeed. And the reason for that is the conductor and teacher Jorma Panula in Helsinki, who taught people like Esa-Pekka Salonen and Susanna Mälkki and Osmo Vänskä and a list that runs into the dozens.

And Mäkelä studied his craft with the great Jorma Panola in Helsinki as well. In a New York Times article from a couple of years ago, the writer Joshua Barone did a profile of Klaus Mäkelä, and for it he spoke to the violinist Christian van Eggelen from the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, who described his first meeting with this young conductor this way:

"He was the second youngest person on stage, yet after three minutes it was very clear that we were dealing with the most precocious conducting talent that we've seen in the past 50 or 75 years."

Now Jeff, as you mentioned, this is Mäkelä's first time conducting in Carnegie Hall so we asked him what he needs to think about when entering a new concert hall.

Klaus Mäkelä: I find touring one of the most fascinating things about being a music director of an orchestra because you have to adjust immediately in the new hall and usually you have quite a short sound check I usually let the orchestra play a little bit and I want to hear how it sounds on stage so then I have some reference points and then I go in the in the audience to listen a little bit and I try to find two, three different places.

You have to adjust, it's always the balance and it depends so much where we play at home. So for example in Philharmonie in Paris, it's a very generous acoustic. It's quite transparent though, so then we deal with new halls quite well because we're used to playing in a hall which has a lot of transparency and ambience, but then, for example, when we go to a hall which has a lot of personality, like the Carnegie Hall we have to adjust quite a lot, and it's good. It's very friendly. It's a very healthy thing for the orchestra.

Jeff Spurgeon: Orchestre de Paris is adjusting to a few halls. This week they're on tour stopping in Ann Arbor and Boston and Montreal, as well as in New York City.

We're just a few minutes away from the music starting here at Carnegie Hall. Most of the musicians are on stage now. But the audience is not all in tonight, and this concert is a sold out event at Carnegie Hall. So we have time to talk a little bit more with Klaus Mäkelä, offered the post to, with Orchestre de Paris after just one rehearsal session with them. We asked how they bonded so quickly.

Klaus Mäkelä: I think it was a chemistry thing when we met for the first time. It just somehow felt right. But of course we both took quite a big risk, because you know, Sometimes the first meeting can be great, but then what happens after is different. But it was really, really lovely. And we still, I think we're kind of having another honeymoon at the moment, it feels, somehow. Because we, we've been working a lot together now, and also on these pieces on multiple occasions. And also today when we came back to the same old friends, in a way, one can think of these pieces as. It, it felt again like a rediscovery. And when one feels that, it's very. healthy partnership.

John Schaefer: Klaus Mäkelä and that healthy partnership includes a recent recording of works that we will hear tonight.

Stravinsky's Firebird and The Rite of Spring, and Klaus Mäkelä told us why these works seem to be a perfect fit for this orchestra.

Klaus Mäkelä: For me playing these pieces with exactly this orchestra, it makes so much sense because you know, what this orchestra has is a very special color, a very special sound.

It comes from the transparency and certain style of playing in the woodwinds, in the brass and in the strings. It's a shared mentality and for me it's, it's the one right orchestra to play these pieces with. And I'm very happy about it, that I get to do it with them because it really makes me very inspired.

Jeff Spurgeon: Conductor Klaus Mäkelä, discussing the works and the musicians he'll play them with, Orchestre de Paris. The first piece we'll hear on the program, beginning in just a minute or two, is Stravinsky's Firebird, composed in 1909 and 1910, premiered in June of 1910. One of the commissions from Sergei Diaghilev for his amazing troupe, the Ballet Russes, premiered at Opéra de Paris. And like many of Stravinsky's works, this ballet is based on a Russian fairy tale, the story of a firebird, a fascinating character in folk literature. A magical, glowing bird, that is both a blessing and sometimes a curse to whoever it encounters. Klaus Mäkelä told us he hears a lot of other influences in this work, musical influence, from composing giants that came before Stravinsky.

Klaus Mäkelä: The Firebird is, in my opinion, the last great late Romantic work, and it's kind of, I also told the orchestra today, that it's 50 percent of this late Romantic Russian Expressionism. And then, on the other hand, it already has one foot in the Impressionism, very, very strong in the French music.

And there are, even in the same phrase, in the same line, we hear something which could be from Rimsky-Korsakov, and then suddenly we hear Debussy, Scriabin, and of course it's all Stravinsky. It's an extremely original masterpiece.

John Schaefer: That is Klaus Mäkelä, the Finnish-born conductor of the Orchestre de Paris.

And I mentioned earlier that he has recorded both of these pieces that we're hearing on the Carnegie Hall stage, Rite of Spring in the second half, Firebird in just a moment. And, Jeff, it's worth noting that this is the complete Firebird. This is the full ballet score. Stravinsky, we're most familiar with this piece through the orchestral suite that Stravinsky drew. Two of them, in fact.

Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, that's right. And they're very popular and continue to be so popular, in fact, maybe that's the reason why the first time the complete Firebird was played in Carnegie Hall was in the 1970s. Waited more than half a century for it to be given a full treatment in concert at Carnegie Hall.

But we're going to hear it tonight.

John Schaefer: Well, one of the reasons that the, the suites have sort of overtaken the complete ballet was Stravinsky was many things. Obviously, great composer, an adequate conductor, especially of his own music. [Right]. He was also a little bit of a comedian. He had a great put-down line for almost anyone else you asked him about, including his own early work.

Jeff Spurgeon: Not excluding himself.

John Schaefer: Right, so he, he attributed the, the great success of the Firebird to the fact that it was like most of the music of the period, but also, he said, not too original. Good conditions for a success.

Jeff Spurgeon: It's a wonderful commentary, and Stravinsky also made fun of the Firebird, and what he thought were maybe some youthful indiscretions, overachievements.

He said that the suites that he made out of the big score were a criticism that was better than words. So, that was how Stravinsky talked about his work.

So, the stage door closing now at Carnegie Hall, and Klaus Mäkelä is just a few feet away from us, getting ready to lead Orchestre de Paris in the balletic telling of this amazing fairy tale from Russian folklore. This fascinating character of the firebird, a glowing bird, who gives a feather to a prince and says, if you get in trouble, wave this thing around. And so, Prince Ivan, who gets stuck in a world of an evil sorcerer, who has taken lots of gorgeous young people and frozen them and turned them into stone and manages to rescue a princess and free everybody else and destroy this evil sorcerer.

And that's what happens in this one act ballet, but wow, the orchestral color and emotions that are transmitted in this story.

John Schaefer: Not all of them on stage, I should say, and in fact right here where Jeff and I are sitting, part of the orchestra will be playing offstage, playing Wagner tubas and trumpet.

But on stage now, Klaus Mäkelä, to conduct the Orchestre de Paris.

Jeff Spurgeon: We'll get him out there in just a moment. Our concertmaster has stepped on stage, Orchestre de Paris on its feet. And so the musicians get to sit down a little bit, relax, tune up. This was a low key orchestra. Everybody very relaxed around us in the few minutes before the performance has begun. People standing around just quietly chatting and having fun. Eventually going out on stage, getting ready. So it feels like this is a, a performance that they have well in hand, even though many of them have never played in Carnegie Hall before.

John Schaefer: And as I say, some of them will be in both wings off stage because there are other musicians on the far side of the building who will also be adding their offstage contributions to this performance of the complete Ballet score to the Firebird by Igor Stravinsky.

Orchestra is tuned. And that is the cue for Klaus Mäkelä to ascend to the podium at center stage here at a sold-out Carnegie Hall Orchestre de Paris, away for 20 years. Back in the big room here at Carnegie Hall with Klaua Mäkelä to play Stravinsky's Firebird.


John Schaefer: Music by Igor Stravinsky, his complete ballet score, Firebird, played live on stage and off, here at Carnegie Hall by the Orchestre de Paris conducted by Klaus Mäkelä.

Huge ovation that began even before the final piece finished ringing out here at Carnegie Hall. Klaus Mäkelä conducting with a smile throughout that performance.

Jeff Spurgeon: He had such delight on his face at every moment of this performance and he sort of let the orchestra play and pointed out things here and there, kept them together, made sure they understood they were going, but he also let them just travel their own way. It's really a wonderful, it was wonderful to see.

John Schaefer: Yeah, several moments in which he just put his hands down.

Jeff Spurgeon: Let it happen.

John Schaefer: Seemed to revel in the sound and now reveling in the sound of the audience, applauding the Orchestre de Paris, being led by the conductor who is out there facing the orchestra, miming playing an oboe as he points to the oboists, clarinetists, etc.

Huge orchestra, what Stravinsky later referred to as a wastefully large orchestra when he decided to pair this piece down to an orchestral suite. But you have gotten to hear the original 1910 version of Firebird as a young Stravinsky wrote it. It is the piece that made his reputation and played with élan here by the Orchestre de Paris.

Jeff Spurgeon: It's a wonderful fairy tale and so it's full of all kinds of fairy tale magical effects that draw all kinds of fascinating sounds and effects from the orchestra combining instruments in unusual ways and, and producing all kinds of sparkle. Add to that the choreography of Michel Fokine and Nijinsky singing dancing, dancing on stage and this was an enormous hit for the Ballet Russes in in the first decades of the 20th century.

You're hearing cheers for various members of Orchestre de Paris. Klaus Mäkelä is asking them to stand and turn, had the entire wind section on its feet, and now he's going around the string section to principal members of the orchestra. And even the harpists and the keyboard players are getting a moment, and now all the orchestra on its feet. Mäkelä turns to the audience here at Carnegie Hall at this sold-out performance by Orchestre de Paris, returning to Carnegie after being away for more than two decades. But they're back now.

John Schaefer: And mighty happy, I'm sure, that they are, because they're not the only ones standing.

The audience standing and applauding, and we're only at intermission of this concert from Carnegie Hall Live. We are backstage and while that, while most of the Orchestre de Paris was on stage, we had here, Jeff, a complement of three trumpets and four Wagner tubas.

Jeff Spurgeon: Unusual instruments to see, but called for in the Firebird, and so they all were. Yes, we had our own seven-member brass band right here making a mighty loud sound in the backstage, and you heard that as an offstage sound as you were listening to our broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live.

This is Classical New York, 105. 9 FM in HD, WQXR, Newark, and 90. 3 FM, WQXW, Ossining.

I'm Jeff Spurgeon, alongside John Schaefer backstage at Carnegie Hall, and you're hearing the movements and mumblings of members of Orchestre de Paris as they leave the stage at Carnegie Hall.

Intermission is underway on this double-bill Stravinsky concert, the first half The Firebird, and in the second half, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

But right now, we're at intermission.

John Schaefer: And joining us will be a couple of members of the of the Orchestre de Paris. We're joined right now by Joseph André, who is a violinist in the ensemble. First of all, congratulations.

Joseph André: Joseph André Thank you.

John Schaefer: Great performance. I'm going to assume, since the Orchestre de Paris has not been here for a long time, that this is your first performance at Carnegie Hall?

Joseph André: This is my very first time at Carnegie Hall.

John Schaefer: What's it feel like?

Joseph André: It's fantastic. It's better than what everyone says.

Jeff Spurgeon: Really?

Joseph André: Yeah, really. I think it's, I mean…

Jeff Spurgeon: Because people say very good things about Carnegie Hall, but you say it's even better.  What is it like as a player? What do you hear that's a little maybe different from your home in Paris?

Joseph André: It's, I mean, the complete opposite from what we're used to in Philharmonie in Paris, which is a modern hall. Here is an older hall, and we can hear everything very clearly on stage. And it's got some halls in the world have this kind of, historic sound and I think Carnegie Hall makes, is part of those.

John Schaefer: also joining us cellist Anne-Sophie Basset. So we were just talking about the difference between Carnegie Hall and your home back in, in Paris. How long have the two of you been with the Orchestre de Paris and the Philharmonie? Anne-Sophie?

Anne-Sophie Basset: Not that long actually, since 2016.

John Schaefer: Okay, so for you as well then, a first performance here on this stage.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Yes, it is the first time for me, yes.

John Schaefer: And Joseph?

Joseph André: I've been in the orchestra for five years, so it's even more, more recent.

Jeff Spurgeon: Well, one of the things that we're hearing a lot about with Orchestre de Paris is the relationship that you have with, with Klaus Mäkelä. And for instance, Anne-Sophie, you've performed with Claudio Abbado and with Mariss Jansons. These are two giant names of an earlier generation. And now you got this kid on the podium in front of you, this young guy. What is it about Mäkelä that you are all appreciating in Orchestre de Paris?

Anne-Sophie Basset: Oh, where to start? Our Klaus Mäkelä is definitely one of the talents of the century. I dare say that. He has, to start with, an exquisite technique, I mean, extraordinary technique. And he's able to show absolutely everything, and musically, and he's just so inspiring. It's, his musicality is so diversified and whatever the style we play and whatever, whatever we have to play with him, it's just such a joy each time.

Jeff Spurgeon: Joseph, what about you? What, how are you liking this Mäkelä fellow?

Joseph André: I would say it's about the, especially about the energy he, he brings. I think we can talk about all his, his musicality, a lot of technique, but I think for me that's the main thing is this tremendous energy he has and the way he actually gets, gets it over to us.

John Schaefer: Well, Jeff and I have the same viewpoint that you have in the orchestra. We get to see his face as he's conducting. I don't think I've ever seen a conductor smile as much in a performance of Firebird. I mean, is that, does that make a difference to you? To see a conductor having a good time like that.

Anne-Sophie Basset: It definitely does.

Joseph André: Yeah, it does, of course. It's a lot better than seeing a conductor not having a good time.

Jeff Spurgeon: That simple contrast is a good idea.

So, have you, has the orchestra toured? This is a, the first time it's been, you've been in the United States in some 20 years, so you're getting on the road a little bit more of late.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Well, I mean, we have many tours in Europe and quite regularly also to Asia, but it's definitely the first time for Joseph and I to to America. So that's a big first. I think the orchestra didn't come to, the U. S. since 2003. I mean 23, 23 years, something like that.

Jeff Spurgeon: You have a sold out house at Carnegie tonight. People are very excited to hear you. Has the reception been as warm elsewhere?

Joseph André: Yes. Well, this is the second concert of the tour. First concert in Ann Arbor was a very nice reception too.

Jeff Spurgeon: People are loving you here tonight, so it must feel very good. What is this hall like for you? Anne- Sophie, because you haven't played here before either.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Yes. Standing ovation is always, it's always something that we are enjoying very much. I think it's the first time at Carnegie Hall for our Chief Conductor as well, if I'm not mistaken.

John Schaefer: And so Carnegie Hall, it's a big deal, but it's not all there is in New York. Do you have time to get out and see anything, do anything else while you're here in town?

Joseph André: Not enough time. No. So many things to do here, but just. Yeah, just walking around I think is fantastic already.

Jeff Spurgeon: You had a beautiful day to do that, for sure.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Yes. Yeah, I mean, going to the MoMA and to the park and as much as I enjoy Tom Lehrer, I can assure you that the squirrels and the pigeons were in perfect state when we left the park.

John Schaefer: No poisoning pigeons in the park this afternoon.

Anne-Sophie Basset: No poisoning pigeons in the park, definitely not.

Jeff Spurgeon: That is an excellent report on New York City, I think that we can say that.

So, in the next work on the program, The Rite of Spring, how do you get ready to play that? Because, my goodness, again, another extraordinary expenditure of energy. So much energy you have to put out in that work. How do you pace yourself for that?

Joseph André: I'd say it's just mental preparation, getting in just getting in the right mindset. And it's like being in a trance for 30 minutes, really. So it's just about, yeah, concentrating and,

Anne-Sophie Basset: Yes, and actually two weeks ago, if two weeks ago we had also Petrushka. So we played the three Russian ballets in a row. So, we are kind of getting there. Getting around.

Jeff Spurgeon: You're in that place.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Slowly, yes.

Jeff Spurgeon: You're in that place, for sure. Well, thank you so much. You should get a little time at intermission to refuel, so thank you, both to violinist Joseph André and cellist Anne-Sophie Basset, members of Orchestre de Paris. Thank you. so much for talking.

Anne-Sophie Basset: Thank you so much for having us. Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone.

Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you for that, as well.

So, we have notes on, on New York park conditions, a little holiday observance.

John Schaefer: A little quote from singer songwriter Tom Lehrer.

Jeff Spurgeon: Beautiful.

John Schaefer: Happy to have that. And, you know, as as we listened to the Firebird, knowing that Rite of Spring was coming in the second half, it's interesting to hear the foreshadowing of some of the groundbreaking sounds that Stravinsky would use just three years later that would change the world of classical music. They are, there are intimations of that in the, the piece that we've heard. But of course, it is in Rite of Spring that everything changes. And we're going at intermission now to hear a unique take on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring that was recorded live in 2013 in our Jerome L. Greene Performance Space as part of the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring.  The pianist Vicky Chow in a solo performance of the Rite of Spring. Here is just a little bit of it.


John Schaefer: Well, there is plenty more where this came from. That is Vicky Chow performing a solo piano version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in our Jerome L. Greene Performance Space downtown on the 100th anniversary of the piece, back in 2013. You'll hear the full Rite of Spring in its full orchestral glory in the second half of this concert from Carnegie Hall Live.

Jeff Spurgeon: Now, at intermission, we have time to tell you about an element of Carnegie Hall you may not know about. It's a great musical venue in New York City. Great musicians, great artists perform here. Carnegie Hall, though, also does a great deal of education and community programming, and since we have a minute or two, let's learn a little bit about one of Carnegie Hall's initiatives outside the traditional concert settings.

They have a series called Well-Being Concerts, and we caught up with one of the artists who's been featured on this series, the countertenor, Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Anthony Roth Costanzo: You know, Carnegie Hall is so venerable in presenting the best of the best all the time, but I think not enough people know the amount of energy and resources they put into their engagement programs that invite communities in to experience music in a variety of ways. Hi, I'm Anthony Roth Costanzo and I'm an opera singer and producer.

Sarah Johnson: The idea for the Well-Being Concerts emerged during COVID. They are an invitation into a live musical experience that also centers wellness.

I'm Sarah Johnson. I'm the Chief Education Officer at Carnegie Hall and Director of the Hall's Weill Music Institute, which is the education and social impact programs arm.

We just ended up in these discussions about how unwell people seemed to be feeling, and we started to wonder, what might a musical response to what is happening in the world right now in relationship to this issue be? It is an invitation to be present in company with others. And, you're also in the presence of music, which we know, in various ways, is genuinely healing for folks.

Anthony Roth Costanzo: It's so important that we change some of the concert-going rituals that we normally have in our classical music world, so that people have points of access from all different places.

Sarah Johnson: They come into the space and it doesn't look quite like a concert hall usually does.

Anthony Roth Costanzo: It was wonderful to have the audience seated in different ways, not only in chairs, but on the floor, on yoga mats, so that they could feel free to maybe engage in this music in a way that they wouldn't normally in a concert setting.

I think well being in the context of these concerts has a lot of different meanings. Some people have taken it in a more yogic sense of how we breathe and how we calm ourselves down and I think my approach was more how do we confront emotions that happen in our lives. There are so many times in life when we encounter a big emotion and we don't know what to do with it and that's where the operatic voice comes in.

It's something universal in that we all have a voice. And it's something primal in that we're born with it. But it has the capacity to convey emotion on a large scale.

If we encounter that emotion through a lens of beauty, then we'll have a better method for dealing with it when it comes up in our lives.

I was really excited to work with Eddie Gonzalez, who had worked in hospice centers as a counselor before this, and we were talking about this idea of emotion, and he said they have these charts of different emotions that they use to help guide them in counseling people. And so we looked at some of those emotions, and basically I chose a piece to illustrate each emotion. It was a journey. Each song had a little introduction to give context and also to put people in the framework of an emotion so they, they could think about that. So for the idea of sorrow, we started with In Darkness Let Me Dwell by John Dowland, which has beautiful poetry about sorrow and expresses it musically really well.

Then to recover from the sorrow, for a moment of peace, Handel's Aure de per pietà, which is from Julius Caesar, in which he's asking the winds to have pity on him.

And then for the second half, as I thought of it, we, we sort of had another cycle of grief to joy.

Classical music does give us not only a moment of peace and quiet, but I know in my own experience, when I'm not performing, or in a performance attending, I'm switching from app to app, from browser tab to browser tab, from device in a car to device on the road. You know, there's never a moment when your brain is focused on one thing.

But this is a way that you can be fully engaged, but we're asking your brain to slow that tempo down, and you're not switching between different stimuli so quickly. And once your mind settles down, it is like meditation, a kind of new engagement that allows us a better window into ourselves, a better way to connect with other people, and I think ultimately promotes a kind of empathy.

Jeff Spurgeon: Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo on Carnegie Hall's Well-Being Concerts, part of the work of the Weill Music Institute that takes the work of Carnegie Hall throughout New York City, across the country, and even around the world. You can learn more about their initiatives at carnegiehall.org. Thanks to WQXR producer Lauren Purcell-Joiner for that look at Carnegie's Well-Being Concerts.

John Schaefer: And we are getting near the end of intermission here at Carnegie Hall. The members of the Orchestre de Paris filing back out on stage, and awaiting the return of Klaus Mäkelä, the conductor of one more work on the program tonight, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Now, as we mentioned in the opening of this broadcast, Klaus Mäkelä is currently working with three different European orchestras. In addition to the Orchestre de Paris, he also leads the Oslo Philharmonic, and he's the artistic partner of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, where he'll be promoted to Chief Conductor in 2027.

And we asked him about juggling these three orchestras, and how he approaches selecting repertoire.

Klaus Mäkelä: I love my three orchestras because they're also terribly different. They all have such different histories. They play in completely different halls it's a different society in all three places. What of course unites them is ambition for quality, beauty all these eternal values of art, and they're all a delight to work with.

I try to choose repertoire which would be different, because otherwise it doesn't really make sense, it's one guy in charge of three, three bands. I try to find pieces which are part of their identity. But of course then also as a music director you have to make sure the orchestra develops. So you have to choose pieces which makes them better and also pieces which make them feel a bit uncomfortable.

So it's a puzzle between choosing something they know, something unknown but then above all somehow making sure the identity remains very strong and the sound remains very independent and individual.

Jeff Spurgeon: Conductor Klaus Mäkelä talking about working with three orchestras and planning programming for them.

Sounds like the same challenges any parent faces in pleasing the children at dinnertime and expanding their culinary appetite and experiences. The same thing you have to do with an orchestra.

John Schaefer: Mäkelä is old enough to be a parent. Barely. Twenty-eight.

Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, twenty-eight.

John Schaefer: Although he looks like he might be twenty-nine.

Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, maybe just a touch. So yes, quite an amazing set of insights from this very young, very talented, and now you're beginning to understand why he is a sensation in the conducting world these days.

So we're getting ready for the second half of this Stravinsky program, the Stravinsky Concert by Orchestre de Paris, making its first return to Carnegie Hall in more than 20 years.

We heard the Firebird, next it's the Rite of Spring, a work so famous for the reaction it received at its first performance in 1913 in Paris. Like the Firebird, it was written as a score for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. There are mixed reports on why it caused such a sensation. Could have been maybe not a great performance, orchestra a little under rehearsed. Might have been the choreographer choreography. Not sure, but the thing did start a riot, a little bit of a riot in the concert hall.

John Schaefer: A little bit, actually, kind of a big bit of a riot and, you know, there, there apparently were problems with the choreography and there was someone standing at the side of the stage counting numbers which, in Russian, the numbers quickly get polysyllabic and it was very difficult to count in rhythm and so the choreography was all over the place and the booing started and Pierre Monteux, the conductor, was unable to hear himself or half of the orchestra. So yeah, it is quite likely that it was a cascade of things that, that caused this. But, Stravinsky certainly provoked people with the opening notes of this piece. The bassoon, at the extreme high end of its register, to the point where it was almost unrecognizable. In fact, it was unrecognizable as a bassoon.

Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, Saint Saëns was in the audience and he said, What is making that noise? And it was the bassoon. It was not expected at all. And that was just one of the things that made the Rite of Spring a sensation and also a challenge. So, on stage now, Orchestre de Paris and Klaus Mäkelä for the second work on this all-Stravinsky program, The Rite of Spring.

And it comes to you now from Carnegie Hall Live.


Jeff Spurgeon: The Rite of Spring, music of Igor Stravinsky, performed for you from Carnegie Hall, live, by Orchestre de Paris in their first appearance at Carnegie in more than two decades. Conducted by the young, rising Finn, Klaus Mäkelä.

A work of extraordinary power, an incredible force. Even though it is now more than a hundred years old, it doesn't seem to tarnish.

Backstage at Carnegie Hall, I'm Jeff Spurgeon alongside John Schaefer and Klaus Mäkelä. Just grabbed a little water and a towel. He's back on stage. Those cheers are for him and for Orchestre de Paris.

John Schaefer: And in no small measure for Stravinsky and his groundbreaking piece, The Rite of Spring, which this orchestra and this conductor have recorded, along with the Firebird, which was the work that we heard in the first half of the program.

Jeff Spurgeon: Klaus Mäkelä now once again asking his section leaders, various principals, to rise and receive applause. First up was, of course, the bassoon, the instrument that opens the Rite of Spring. But all of the, all of the various soloists and sections are being asked to stand and receive a little extra applause.

John Schaefer: I have to say, you know, usually the opening of the Rite of Spring, it doesn't sound like the bassoon is being played so much as it's being strangled to death. That was about as sweet a performance of the opening bassoon melody as I have ever heard.

Jeff Spurgeon: That's for sure. That's for sure. Those cheers for the wind section of Orchestre de Paris.

Yes, it was very sweet, and you could say, almost a saxophone sound. You might have thought of that, but it was, it was a really beautiful opening. And of course, this work is filled with, well, it's, it's filled with tremendous power. We talked with Klaus Mäkelä and asked him to tell us a little bit about, about what this piece is and why it's so powerful even now.

Klaus Mäkelä: The Rite of Spring is, is a completely new style. It uses a language which is based on extremely primitive, quite bold motives. But then he really works hard on them, puts together blends of instruments, sounds which which you could never even imagine. And then of course the rhythmic drive that it has is something rather different.

Jeff Spurgeon: Klaus Mäkelä talking about Rite of Spring, making a point of those instrumental blends, those new sounds that offer new colors, new power. And this music yet at bottom is also violent. It's really disturbing.

John Schaefer: Well, certainly a lot of people were disturbed at the first performance. A famous riot breaking out in Paris when the Ballet Russes led by Diaghilev performed this music with Pierre Monteux attempting to conduct it as as shouts and fisticuffs broke out in the audience.

The Orchestre de Paris on their feet. Klaus Mäkelä backstage momentarily for another drink of water. I have to say, he worked up quite a sweat with with the Rite of Spring. He, he put everything he had into that performance.

Jeff Spurgeon: He is a most expressive conductor. And at intermission we spoke with a couple of members of the orchestra who talked about his particular technique, and he displays a great deal of, of technique, but communicates so much to the orchestra through his physical movements.

I would say that if you get a chance to watch this guy conduct on television, he's really wonderful. Really wonderful to watch, as well as to hear the work that he produces with his musicians.

John Schaefer: He is back at center stage here at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra on their feet, the audience on their feet. And the Orchestre de Paris facing this sold out Carnegie Hall crowd, and so is the conductor, Klaus Mäkelä.

Now heading off again, we're we're thinking we might not have heard the last of conductor or orchestra.

Jeff Spurgeon: Well, out on stage, the orchestra's standing, and the audience is standing, so yes, this is that moment in the concert.

John Schaefer: Nobody seems to want to leave just yet.

Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, nobody's moving, so we're not saying anything's going to happen or not going to happen, but there goes Mäkelä again.

Again, more applause from the orchestra. And the audience here at Carnegie Hall. This first visit by Orchestre de Paris, a relatively young orchestra founded in 1967, so they aren't quite 60 years old. They've had an extraordinary number of really wonderful music directors over time, including Herbert von Karajan and others.

And it's Klaus Mäkelä now, just 28 years old.

John Schaefer: Well, the and the orchestra sort of founded on the ashes of the old Paris Conservatory Orchestra, which has been around for a long time.

Jeff Spurgeon: So the line, the line was long, but made anew in 1967.

And so we have now seen the house lights up. You're hearing the orchestra members go by us as the concert is concluded.

Klaus Mäkelä's first performance at Carnegie Hall and the first in more than 20 years for Orchestre de Paris.

John Schaefer: Our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff here at Carnegie Hall. WQXR engineers include George Wellington, Irene Trudel, Duke Marcos, and Chase Culpon. The WQXR production team, Eileen Delahunty, Laura Boyman, Yueqing Guo, Aimée Buchanan, and Christine Herskovits.

This concert with Klaus Mäkelä and Orchestre de Paris will be added to Carnegie Hall+, Carnegie Hall's on-demand subscription video channel, in just a couple of weeks. I'm Jeff Spurgeon.

John Schaefer: And I'm John Schaefer. Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of WQXR and Carnegie Hall in New York.