Last weekend, French pianist Hélène Grimaud accompanied fellow Frenchman, conductor Lionel Bringuier, as he led the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The musicians dazzled the audience, performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 followed by the spirited and intense, Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, La Valse and Boléro at the Meyerson.
Fleet-footed and fresh, French conductor Lionel Bringuier sharply took the Meyerson’s grand stage. He wasted no time as the hop of his arms dared the strings to follow his lead through the waltz-like pieces of Ravel’s Valse nobles et sentimentales. Musician’s bows took off at the drop of his hand, the wind supported Ravel’s contemplative and melancholy tones; reading like the coveted ache for another and the loss of that same one.
Named Los Angeles Philharmonic’s youngest ever assistant conductor at 20 years old (he’s now 32), Bringuier displays a musician’s discipline in his movements. Reveling the tempo and score of Ravel’s work, Bringuier’s feet left the ground, encouraging each layer of music to play grand. Without pause, La Valse follows, the work was subtitled by Ravel: poème choréographique (choreographic poem). Revealing Ravel’s intensive vision of the swish and billow of a couples waltzing embrace, bassoon and violin crescendo a flighty but devoted melody, dancing as it plays.
Bringuier notes the clarity conductors must have in their vision for the sound, crediting the study of the score as a natural process that fuels his flow on stage.
“It’s one musician among other musicians. Of course, we need to have a very clear idea about what we want but it’s more about the way of playing together that I like.”
Bringuier phoned me en route to the airport, on his way to rejoin the LA Philharmonic and Grimaud for their performances of Gershwin and Ravel at the Walt Disney Concert Hall this weekend.
“I always loved to share the stage with many people. For me it was not the goal to be under the spotlight and be alone.”
Passing his arms over the purview of every musician, Bringuier drew an infinite symbol as Boléro began, painting an exquisitely tensive portrait delighted with tonal color.
The strings and percussion stack tightly atop of one another as soft flute sings, the musicians match the waltz-y tempo and the flick of Bringuier’s wrist. As trumpet, saxophone and trombone enter the marauding movements, Bringuier and the Dallas Symphony brought guests to the edge of their seats.
“In any work that we do, we always have to look for the best and to work very hard,” he said. “As a [young] cellist I spent six hours a day average all of my childhood, but it was a great joy.”