The Legendary Igor Markevitch in concert this week.

The Legendary Igor Markevitch in concert this week. I'm not kidding.
The Legendary Igor Markevitch in concert this week.

Aix-en-Provence Festival 1959 – The Belgian National Radio Orchestra, Igor Markevitch, Cond. – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Another historic concert this week. From the 1959 Aix-en-Provence Festival, The Belgian National Radio Orchestra led by the legendary Igor Markevitch in music by Bizet, Messaien and Berlioz.

Igor Markevitch débuted as a conductor at age 18 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. After presiding at the Dutch premiere of Rébus, Markevitch had studied conducting with Pierre Monteux and Hermann Scherchen. As a conductor, Igor Markevitch was much admired for his interpretations of the French, Russian and Austro-German repertory, and of twentieth-century music in general.

Markevitch settled in Italy, and during the Second World War was active in the partisan movement. He married and settled in Switzerland in 1947 following the war. He pursued his conducting career worldwide. He became permanent conductor of the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris in the 1950s, conducted the Spanish RTVE Orchestra in 1965, the London Symphony Orchestra in 1966 and was also permanent conductor of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1970, after ignoring his own compositions for nearly 30 years, Markevitch began to conduct his own music frequently, triggering its slow revival. His last concert was in Kiev, his birthplace. He died suddenly from a heart attack in Antibes on 7 March 1983, after a concert tour in Japan and Russia.

Running a little over an hour, with commentary by Markevitch himself (in French), the concert features the following:

1. Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite No.2

2. Messaien: Hymne

3. Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

A very nice concert which may take a little getting used to, especially if you aren’t accustomed to hearing your orchestra really tightly miked. But Markevitch was an incredible conductor and puts this little band through its paces, so it more than makes up for the fact that you’d wish they moved the microphones back a couple feet at least.

But for history it’s take what you can get.

Enjoy the concert.

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2 thoughts on “Igor Markevitch And The Belgian National Radio Orchestra At The Aix-en-Provence Festival 1959 – Past Daily Mid-Week Concert

  1. I believe it took place during the 1959 festival in the outdoor setting, which is why the sound is rather dry with close miking. The orchestra was not so little either! Thank you for this gem.

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