Lionel Bringuier, 26, is the youngest conductor since Gustavo Dudamel to take command of a world-class orchestra. He has been announced, almost an unknown, as David Zinman’s successor at the Zurich Tonhalle and there’s much curiosity as to what he can do. This DVD of a 2010 BBC Proms concert is the first evidence of his abilities on record.
Looking even younger than he really is, Bringuier opens with a Toscanini favourite – Berlioz’s Le Corsaire overture – and makes it entirely his own. Barely a minute in, he freezes the tempo to release the most delicate of clarinet lines. It’s a daring gesture, a declaration of intent: this conductor knows exactly what’s needed to bring the music to life.
This conductor knows exactly what’s needed to bring the music to life
In the piano concerto, Chopin’s Second, the august Brazilian soloist Nelson Freire turns deeply inward, with little for the conductor to do except keep the orchestra in harness. The symphony is Albert Roussel’s Third, a relative rarity outside of France. Bringuier teases out the emotion that lies beneath its brocaded bourgeois formality, no small feat for an interpreter. DVD may not be everyone’s favourite format for listening to music but, if this young man goes half as far as the Zurich musicians predict, this debut release will be a collector’s item many years from now.
Artists: Nelson Freire (piano) BBC Symphony Orchestra/Lionel Bringuier
Norman Lebrecht is a prolific commentator on music and cultural affairs and an award-winning novelist. See his blog Slipped Disc.