Acclaimed French conductor Fabien Gabel shares his expectations of his Chicago debut.
“Starting with an ambitious tempo, that the strings took up with gusto, conductor Fabien Gabel explored the limits of how the music could surprise the audience, with the unexpected accents and remarkably precise attacks standing as a testament to the grand concentration of the instrumentalists.”
"The interpretation of Mahler's Chant de la Terre , performed by the OSQ, Fabien Gabel, Michael Schade and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, created seismic tremors."
"Directing sans baton with expressively supple hands, Gabel coaxed a gloriously fluid account of the Prélude from the members of the MSO...maestro Gabel seemed totally in his element."
"Fabien Gabel knows how to delicately reveal all the shimmers in this type of score."
“Yet no matter how powerfully the orchestra opened up, its sound remained resonant and gleaming, never harsh.
Gabel and the orchestra spun it out in silky, caressing phrases—a seductive counterbalance to the Straussian heroics.
Gabel and the orchestra were simpatico partners with Gomyo all the way. The orchestra’s transparency enabled her to whisper without being drowned out, and Gabel kept the group in sync with her free-spirited pacing.”
"At the podium, the precise, ardent and expressive direction of the musical director of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec since 2012, endows the orchestra with a cohesion and vitality that Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 will testify to."
"His wrist, as agile as [Brueggergosman's] singing, in no way keeps Fabien Gabel from hitting every rhythmic shift, an essential skill for the work of Albert Roussel."
“From the supple and firm outset, Fabien Gabiel is in his element, mastering not only colors but also the score's line of which he conducts the unraveling with an organic clarity.”
Fabien Gabel discusses how classical French composers are often underrated in France and must be rediscovered. To that end, Fabien's work with the OSQ and programs for upcoming concerts are detailed as well.
"Each turn, each intonation were primed under the expert guidance of Fabien Gabel's baton. His passion for this repertoire was reflected in the smallest movements of his skillful dance, buoyant and full of arabesques.”
“Shaped by the same momentum and guided by the caressing gestures of musical director Fabien Gabel, the musicians expressed suspense, elation - perhaps even languor, in the second movement - of this musical tale that culminates in a round marked by carnival-like accents.”
"Conductor Fabien Gabel seemed to be imitating the sailors' moves, nearly leaving his feet at times in the exuberant galop, swaying romantically to the waltz, and moving with the Latin rhythms of the danzon."
"The orchestra sparkled in these variations, led by Gabel with pronounced baton work in his right arm and florid sculpting with his left."
“With understated but unmistakable authority on the podium, Gabel deftly led the orchestra through Bernstein’s quickly changing moods and textures, giving precise direction with uncommon ease and probing the depths of this complex but rewarding concerto.”
The San Diego Symphony is celebrating the composer Leonard Bernstein in May with a tribute to what would have been his 100th birthday. We got the chance to talk with Quebec Symphony Orchestra Music Director Fabien Gabel, who will be the Symphony's guest conductor for the first two concerts in the series this week, to chat about Bernstein, the art of conducting, and music.
Born to an accomplished Parisian musical family, Gabel started studying trumpet at the age of 6, honing his skills at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, and later at the Musik Hochschule of Karlsruhe. He went on to play for 13 years in various Parisian orchestras under the direction of prominent conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink. Gabel took an interest in conducting “quite late, considering that [he] started music very early”. In 2002 he began to pursue his interest in conducting at the Aspen Summer Music Festival, where he studied with David Zinman. Gabel later appeared as a guest conductor at the Festival in 2009.
La nouvelle image de marque de l’Orchestre symphonique de Québec continue de faire son œuvre. Les gens de Québec sont de plus en plus nombreux à vouloir goûter la musique que leur offrent les 61 musiciens et le directeur musical, Fabien Gabel. Il n’y a plus d’âge pour venir assister à ces formidables aventures. Prestige a voulu connaître quelques-uns des coups de cœur de Fabien Gabel.
"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."