"Pressing his weight into the podium and closing his eyes with feeling, conductor Fabien Gabel looked to be waiting for this last piece. After cutting a fast tempo in the Bernstein (it was exciting, no doubt about it) and expertly supporting Currie as he traversed Corigliano’s formidable but beautiful concerto, Gabel stepped into his own spotlight. He is an unambiguous conductor, his gestures straightforward and to the point, but he rocked on his toes as the strings and winds rolled up and down melodies, and he stretched from toe to fingertip when the brass punched through the haze brightly. When the last note faded away, he smiled widely, as if to celebrate captaining the program’s successful voyage into the mist – and back out."
"Gabel showed astounding musicianship, technique and versatility in a diverse program that included Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), Leonard Bernstein’s Fancy Free, Florent Schmitt’s Rêves, and La Valse by Maurice Ravel. The orchestra played with heightened attention, as if ready for some new journey of discovery, with Gabel as a sophisticated, sure-footed guide."
"The concert, led by guest conductor Fabien Gabel, opened with a decisive performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) featuring pianist Louis Schwizgebel...
The program’s second half opened with a brash, splashy performance of Bernstein’s “Fancy Free,” capturing its musical essence. Swing rhythms, colorful brass lines, brief night-clubby piano solos, and a general air of musical abandon amid rhythmic precision were part of the mix...
French composer Florent Schmitt’s moody “Reves” ("Dreams") reminded the audience about a composer we should all stop forgetting. This fluid, engrossing piece—part programmatic and part cinematic—stirred the imagination. Gabel and the MSO created a huge palate of colors and effects.
The program ended with Maurice Ravel’s jazz-age homage to the Viennese waltz, “La Valse.” Gabel and the orchestra created the musical pull of a well-played waltz, filling it with wonderfully articulate musical dialogues and fine section and solo playing."
“Gabel chose to program music from Bernstein’s early-career ballet Fancy Free [for Bernstein’s centenary]… which Gabel and the Milwaukee players delivered with just the right dash of panache. Throughout the MSO’s cracking performance the conductor bounced and bobbed on the podium – a visual that was completely in keeping with the music…
Gabel chose to conduct [the Schmitt] without his customary baton, conjuring up the brooding, unsettled emotions to masterful effect while bringing forth the rich orchestral colors for which this composer is so justly famous…
Unlike some overly “symphonic” interpretations I’ve heard of [La Valse], Gabel’s approach emphasized the underlying rhythmic pulse while avoiding extreme or jarring variations in tempo that can make this music sound too episodic. The result was a very special performance that maintained the music’s forward propulsion even as it ushered the audience through a wide range of emotions…Magnifique!”
"This was a glorious concert delivered by a young conductor/pianist team...Fabien Gabel’s sensual reading [of Debussy’s Printemps] was beautifully considered. He realised all the shifting hues and dappled light of emerging spring in the lyrical opening movement, while the more animated second movement spoke of vitality, ardour and exuberance...Gabel also delivered a thoughtful and highly evocative La Mer. The first two sketches: “From dawn to midday on the sea” and “Play of the waves” were richly redolent of sea-watery ebbs and swells under shifting light. The storm music of the third sketch was darkly formidable indeed."
"a shock to the system...boldly evocative"
"Gabel managed to infuse the sound with a sense of human empathy with the highs and lows in the score....[he] managed to play the orchestra as one unit in a tight grip that he animated and enthused with a clear Gallic passion."
"Gabel conjured up a musical vision that was gripping in its intensity...and the Clevelanders provided wonderfully balanced musical support, in a performance that had everything coming together just right...it was a highly satisfying evening of music-making by one of America’s great orchestras under the baton of a conductor who is a tireless – and welcome – ambassador for the music of his native country."
"Maestro Gabel was graceful and elegant on the podium as he coaxed silky sounds from the strings and woodwind players...Gabel’s well-chosen program of orchestral showpieces – several of them true rarities – proved how impressive the OSQ can sound when playing music as inventive and inspired as this. It was a very special concert of some equally special music.
"Gabel delivered a strong, polished performance, leading an orchestra that sounded at the top of its game...One of Gabel's greatest strengths is his capacity for lyricism, exhibiting a kind of meta-connectivity between phrases that enhanced the concerto and gave it more nuance.”
"Few RPO guest conductors generate excitement quite like Fabien Gabel. The Quebec City Orchestra music director has become a Rochester favorite since his 2014 debut."
In 2002, Juliana Athayde and Fabien Gabel were both in the Aspen Summer Music Festival. Fifteen years later, they'll take the stage together--he as guest conductor of your Rochester Philharmonic, and she as soloist in Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2. Together, they chatted with WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras about the magic of Debussy, the earthiness of Bartok, and what took Juliana so long to get to that concerto.
"every move was compact, instantly communicative...The conductor must be able to both lead and follow, a rare skill indeed."
"Gabel was in his element here, eliciting highly expressive playing from the orchestra...This enormously talented conductor is worth a second look."