A gifted, 40-year-old French conductor, Stéphane Denève, led the all-French program in Music Hall, for what turned out to be an engaging evening.(…)  Denève and the orchestra made fine partners, and the strings provided atmospheric sonorities.(…) Denève, chief conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony and the Royal Scottish National Symphony, is a rising star who is also noted for opera (he has performed with Cincinnati Opera several times). Recently, he has been making a splash in Boston, and last month took the Boston Symphony – which is also searching for a music director – to Carnegie Hall. (…) It was a supercharged performance. Denève led convincingly from memory and imaginatively brought out its various moods, from witty to intense. An undercurrent of electricity ran through this music. (…) I’m not sure how Denève achieved such a fantastic effect in this phantom-like waltz, but it unfolded in a dramatic, dizzying whirl. The audience cheered in approval.I’m not sure how Denève achieved such a fantastic effect in this phantom-like waltz, but it unfolded in a dramatic, dizzying whirl. The audience cheered in approval.

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Janelle Gelfland Cincinnati News

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The Tricolor flew proudly at Music Hall Thursday evening, as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presented an all-French program including works by Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Albert Roussel. (…) It was, tout simplement, one of the finest concerts heard in Cincinnati so far this year. (…) Denève, who has conducted both the CSO and Cincinnati Opera in prior seasons, led with warmth, keen insight and genial command. He is obviously well liked by the players, who performed splendidly for him. (…) He closed with “La Valse,” Ravel’s bitter elegy to the age of empire and excess. Denève poured himself into it, leaving no nerve untouched, from the nearly inaudible rumbles of double bass at the beginning, through lavish swaths of color as the dance unfolded, to the great, stumbling convulsions at the end. He looked exhausted as he accepted the crowd’s applause and that of the orchestra, which refused to stand at the final curtain call, granting him a well-deserved solo bow.

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Mary Ellyn Hutton Music in Cincinnati

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