Conductors

Alexandre Bloch

Music Director, Orchestre National de Lille
Principal Guest Conductor, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker

© Sebastian Ene

Introduction

French-born Alexandre Bloch assumed the position of Music Director of Orchestre National de Lille (ONL) at the start of the 2016/17 season and has been Principal Guest Conductor of Düsseldorfer Symphoniker since September 2015.

Plans for the 2019/20 season with Lille include performances at the Bucharest Festival, the continuation of their Mahler Cycle (Symphonies 6, 7, 8 and 9) in Lille and performances of Puccini’s Turandot. The partnership’s strong commitment to contemporary music continues, including a new co-commission with the London Philharmonic Orchestra of a new work by celebrated Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. January 2020 saw the orchestra’s first UK tour in many years, including concerts in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and Sage Gateshead. Guest conducting includes first visits to Het Gelders Orkest and MDR Sinfonieorchester, alongside return visits to Turku Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Dusseldorfer Symphoniker, where programmes include Buckner’s Symphony No. 7 and collaboration with international renowned soloists including Till Fellner and Alexej Gerassimez.


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From The Green Room

Discography

 
  • More info  
    Belle époque - Annelien Van Wauwe

    Label: Pentatone

    Release Date: 23 Aug 19

    Alexandre Bloch
    Annelien Van Wauwe,
    Orchestre National de Lille

    Works by Charles-Marie Widor, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Pierné, Manfred Trojahn

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    Poème De L'Amour Et De La Mer / Symphonie Op.20

    Label: Outhere Music

    Release Date: 15 Mar 19

    Veronique Gens
    Orchestre National de Lille

    CHAUSSON Poème De L’Amour et de la Mer; Symphony Op.20

     

    “Véronique Gens floats Chausson’s vocal lines effortlessly over the orchestra with supreme elegance and fabulous clarity; full texts are provided with the disc, but Gens’s singing is so perfectly enunciated, so pure in its phrasing and articulation, you really don’t need them. … as Bloch’s fine performance with the Lille orchestra shows, [the Symphonie is] a work that … deserves its own regular place in the concert hall.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 28 March 2019 

     

    “A work that tends to bring out the best in the singers who have tackled it, Poème de l’amour et de la mer has always fared well on disc. Distinguished exponents include Victoria de los Ángeles, Janet Baker, Montserrat Caballé and Susan Graham, among others, and Véronique Gens now adds her name to the list with a performance that ranks, unquestionably, among the finest to date. Superbly sung, and wonderfully well conducted and played by Alexandre Bloch and his Lille orchestra, this is an interpretation of great beauty and insight. … It’s an outstanding disc, and highly recommended.”  Tim Ashley, Gramophone, June 2019

     

    “[Chausson’s] Poème de l’amour et de la mer (1893), part cantata, part song cycle, [is] rapturously sung by Véronique Gens. Maurice Bouchor’s symbolist texts about the sea, and the death of love, have a verbal richness that Chausson captures in a sensuous, throbbing score. The composer’s only symphony, in B flat, opens in bright, soaring mood, with a yearning slow movement and an “animé” finale that pulls all the work’s ideas together. Perhaps it doesn’t quite cut it as a masterpiece, but the Lille players and Bloch make a fluent, idiomatic case.”

    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 31 March 2019

     

    Album of the Week in the Sunday Times:

    “The Symphony is more seldom recorded (or programmed live) but benefits here from Bloch’s idiomatic sense of drama and evocation of atmosphere…” Hugh Canning, The Times, 2019

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    Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)

    Label: Pentatone

    Release Date: 05 May 18

    Julie Fuchs, Cyrille Dubois, Florian Sempey, Luc Bertin-Hugault, Alexandre Bloch, Orchestre National de Lille, Les Cris de Paris

    “Alexandre Bloch conducts the Orchestre National de Lille in a vivid account of the score, with muscular playing driving the faster music (a terrific storm) and the exotic dance numbers, while finding the necessary delicacy for the opera’s heady lyricism. There are fabulous contributions from the excellent chorus, Les Cris de Paris, as the villagers of the Ceylonese pearlfishing community.”

    Mark Pullinger, Gramophone Magazine, August 2018

    “De l’Orchestre national de Lille, on savoure la pureté du contour, la justesse des teintes, de même que la fougue et la cohérence narrative, assurée par la baguette d’Alexandre Bloch (lire notre entretien) qui accentue le drame par des contrastes de tempo et de dynamique. Ce qui importe, il suit les chanteurs avec attention, tout en rendant l’accompagnement orchestral à la fois tendre et tendu, naturel et théâtral, doux et vibrant d’énergie ; et c’est grâce à cette fusion que notre attention ne se détourne jamais lors de l’écoute de ce coffret”

    “From the National Orchestra of Lille, we savor the purity of the outline, the correctness of the colors, as well as the ardor and the coherent narrative, provided by Alexandre Bloch’s baton (…) which accentuates the drama by contrasts of tempo and dynamics. What matters is that he follows the singers with attention, while making the orchestral accompaniment both tender and tense, natural and theatrical, soft and vibrant with energy; and it is thanks to this fusion that our attention never turns away when listening to this disc”

    Maciej Chiżyński, ResMusica, 4 June 2018

    “Pourtant ici, ce que réussit fort bien Alexandre Bloch, la puissance d’un orchestre surtout dramatique
    donc efficace, coloré, orchestré avec raffinement (donc orientalisant) s’impose à nous, dans un geste et une lecture globale qui soignent les équilibres, la clarté voire la transparence de la pâte orchestrale.”

    “Yet here what Alexandre Bloch does well is the power of a particularly dramatic orchestra so effective, colourful, orchestrated with refinement (so orienting) imposes on us, in a gesture and a global reading that heal the balances, the clarity or even the transparency of the orchestral makeup”

    Classiquenews.com

    “Mais les grands héros de cet enregistrement sont sans conteste Alexandre Bloch et l’Orchestre National de Lille. Tout en étant à l’écoute des chanteurs, ce sont eux qui racontent le mieux cette histoire, avec de superbes effets de contrastes entre et à l’intérieur des scènes. Le chef fait confiance à la partition et s’en tient à l’écriture de Bizet sans chercher de grands effets dramatiques : la richesse de l’écriture, la beauté des solos et les jeux de spatialisation suffisent à rendre toute l’intensité de l’œuvre.”

    “But the great heroes of this recording are without a doubt Alexandre Bloch and the Orchestre National de Lille.”

    “The conductor relies on the score and sticks to Bizet’s writing without seeking great dramatic effects: the richness of the writing, the beauty of the solos and the games of spatialization are enough to make all the intensity of the art work.”

    Claire-Marie Caussin, Forum Opera, 17 June 2018

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    Camille Thomas - Saint-Saëns, Offenbach

    Label: Deutsche Grammophon

    Release Date: 06 Oct 17

    Camille Thomas
    Orchestre National de Lille
    Rolando Villazón
    Nemanja Radulovic

    SAINT-SAËNS
    Cello Concerto No. 1
    Suite for Cello and Orchestra

    OFFENBACH
    Barcarolle
    Prière et Boléro

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    03 Feb 20 Debussy, Beethoven, Ravel Orchestre National de Lille
    Leeds Town Hall

    “Still, close your eyes while Alexandre Bloch’s Orchestre National de Lille are playing Ravel and you’re struck by the polish, the elegance of the playing. Open them and marvel at how Bloch’s dance-like podium manner is matched by the musicians’ fluid movements.”

    Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk , 3 February 2020

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    30 Jan 20 Debussy, Beethoven, Ravel Orchestre National de Lille
    Cadogan Hall, London

    “French conductor Alexandre Bloch gave much more than a lick and a promise to these colourful but familiar works, firing up the imagination with shimmering imagery and a healthy sprinkle of fairy tale magic as he brought his impressive Orchestre National de Lille to Cadogan Hall in a mostly French programme to excite the senses and get the juices flowing.”

    “Debussy’s evocation of the sea, Ravel’s children’s pieces and his dazzlingly fractured waltz full of sonorous intent were enough to make you drool. But Bloch didn’t do this purely through orchestral effect, but through meticulous detail, precision and balance.”

    “This was a kaleidoscopic reading – precise and luminescent – and the massed forces of the ONL were superbly controlled in their extreme recklessness as the piece reached its cataclysmic climax.”

    Mark Thomas, Bachtrack, 30 January 2020

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    18 Oct 19 Mahler Symphony No. 7 Orchestre National de Lille
    Nouveau Siècle, Lille

    “Bloch ne laisse rien passer et ici plus que jamais le chef contrôle tout : équilibres, nuances, degré d’expressivité, rendu sonore.”

    “Bloch does not let anything pass and here more than ever the conductor controls everything: balance, nuances, degree of expressiveness, sound reproduction.”

    Augustin Javel, Bachtrack, 21 October 2019 

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    03 Apr 19 Mahler Symphony No. 3 Orchestre National de Lille
    Nouveau Siècle, Lille

    “Mais la force de Bloch n’est pas tant physique que mentale. Le maestro n’hésite jamais une seule seconde, déployant une direction chirurgicale : les moindres gestes sont étudiés, les moindres intentions sont précisées, jusque dans les inflexions du premier solo de violon que bien des chefs n’osent pas conduire.”

    “But Bloch’s strength is not so much physical as mental. The maestro never hesitates for a single second, deploying a surgical direction: the smallest gestures are studied, the least intentions are specified, even in the inflections of the first violin solo that many leaders do not dare to lead.”

    Tristan Labouret, Bachtrack, 05 April 2019

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    10 May 18 Chen’s Jiang Tcheng Tse BBC National Orchestra of Wales
    BBC Hoddinott Hall

    ★★★★★

    “The French conductor Alexandre Bloch seemed completely on top of its difficulties, and he also directed spectacular performances of a half-hour concerto for orchestra called Psalmos by his compatriot Thierry Escaich, and – more discreetly – Bent Sørensen’s Trumpet Concerto“.

    Stephen Walsh, The Arts Desk, 12 May 2018

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    20 Apr 18 Brahms & Escaich Royal Northern Sinfonia
    Sage Gateshead

    “Radical Brahms from Alexandre Bloch and Royal Northern Sinfonia”

    ★★★★

    “Keeping to a vow he says he once made to give explanations to all his performances of modern music, Bloch gave an engaging introduction to Escaich’s piece, which takes ideas from Bach’s organ music and throws them against a more brutal, Modernist sound-world. The opening was driven by relentless semiquavers from the flutes, whilst in the second, a serene bit of string quartet counterpoint was flooded by chaotic sounds, but always resurfaced unspoilt: a fragment of beauty in a landscape of destruction.”

    “Royal Northern Sinfonia returned to Brahms after the interval to give what, for me, was a revelatory performance of the Symphony no. 4, a performance that made me fall in love with this revolutionary symphony all over again. It’s easy to fall into the trap of treating Brahms like a favourite jumper – something to snuggle up in comfortably, but whilst the sound Bloch brought out of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s strings was as luxurious as cashmere, there was nothing lazy or comfortable about the interpretation. Those lilting phrases of the first movement began as a gently nostalgic dance, then as the music developed Bloch pulled and teased each new idea directly out of what came before, creating an unbroken, sweeping statement. The middle section felt startlingly bold and experimental, and each new musical development shed new light on the returns of the theme; every phrase was explorative and challenging and absolutely never comfortable or boring.After a stirring opening to the second movement from the horns, the music suddenly retreated into introspection, with tender, beautiful string playing. Bloch then spent the rest of the movement lovingly coaxing the music back out into the open, as it grew again and became ever bolder, eventually blooming into heartwarming confidence, ready for the flair and spacious optimism that he brought to the third movement.”

    Jane Shuttleworth, Bachtrack, 23 April 2018

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    20 Apr 17 Beethoven Symphony No. 3 Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Queens Hall Edinburgh

    ★★★★★

    “It is a work that most people have heard played many times, but nothing like this. The slow movement Funeral March has a wonderful tread, and the Scherzo is quite superb. Alexandre Bloch conducts with fabulous verve, and from memory; the orchestra rise to the challenge magnificently. A packed Queen’s Hall enjoy it: it is certainly a special concert.”

    Jeremy Cull, The Wee Review, 23 April 2017

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    04 Jun 16 Liadov, Tchaikovsky Adelaide Symphony Orchestra *Debut*
    Adelaide Festival Theatre

    “In tonight’s programme he excelled in eliciting the gentle and mellifluous melody lines that were a feature of all three works.”

    “The Enchanted Lake, Anatoly Liadov’s gorgeous ‘tone painting’, was beautifully conducted and Bloch and the ASO gently lifted the weight of worldly cares from the audience’s shoulders.”

    Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique – “The symphony is celebrated for its agonizing poignancy and harsh climaxes and Bloch ensured that all sections of the orchestra gave their all without resorting to self-indulgence. The whole thing was beautifully controlled.”

    Kym Clayton, The Barefoot Review, 04 June 2016

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    14 Apr 16 Stravinsky: Dumbarton Oaks Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Queen's Hall Edinburgh

    “Stravinsky’s wit, rhythmic crispness and neo-classical elegance were almost a given, all present and correct – there was a joyful bounce to Bloch’s direction that drew some immaculately crisp playing from the SCO musicians, particularly the winds on especially splendid form.”

    “But there was also a richness and a gentle smoothing of Stravinsky’s hard edges that made Bloch’s account feel especially generous, as if together he and the musicians were delving deep to discover the music behind the notes. He came up with a persuasive solution for playing Stravinsky’s reimagining of Bach in the long-limbed slow movement, too, with forthright, heavily phrased, non-vibrato strings adding a distinctive period touch. Very clever.”

    David Kettle, The Arts Desk, 17 April 2016 

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    09 Oct 15 Messiaen, Haydn, Schubert Vancouver Symphony Orchestra *Debut*
    Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

    “After a slow start to the season, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra reached its stride. Thanks to the thrilling music-making of Alexandre Bloch, the French wunderkind of the conducting world, the diverse programme of Messiaen, Haydn, and Schubert showed off the orchestra at its very best”

    “Bloch retained admirable control over the orchestra through the three contrasting parts of the work, beautifully contrasting the profound meditation of the outer sections with the nightmarish, almost hysterical middle portion.”

    “… it was Alexandre Bloch’s masterful storytelling that will make this concert an experience to remember.’

    Kevin W Ng, Bachtrack, 09 October 2015

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    20 Feb 14 Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 Royal Northern Sinfonia
    Sage Gateshead

    “How refreshing to see Bloch having such fun; every conductorial twist, lurch and twink reflected in orchestral playing which oozed style and character.”

    Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 21 February 2014  

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    23 Sep 12 Donatella Flick Conducting Competition Conducting Final
    Barbican Centre

    “Bloch had the essence of this music at his fingertips, as he most assuredly also had of the ‘Play of the Waves’ middle movement from Debussy’s La mer, in which, as a Frenchman, he was on home ground, so to speak, but his direction and –
    indeed – interpretation of his compatriot’s masterpiece was head and shoulders above those of his competitors.”

    Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source, 30 September 2012