Conductors

Cristian Măcelaru

Chief Conductor, WDR Sinfonieorchester
Music Director Designate, Orchestre National de France
Music Director, The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music

“Măcelaru has presence without being showy. He has command over musical moods. He has a fine sense of sweep and structure.” – The Herald Scotland

 

Photo credit: Sorin Popa

Introduction

Newly appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Music Director Designate of Orchestre National de France, Cristian Măcelaru is one of the fast-rising stars of the conducting world. He takes on the new positions at WDR and ONF — Europe’s leading radio orchestras — effective with the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons respectfully. Măcelaru is Music Director and Conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the world’s leading festival dedicated to contemporary symphonic repertoire. In August 2019, he led his third season in premiere-filled programs of new works by an esteemed group of composers. Among the 2019 season’s highlights are 12 composers-in-residence including Wynton Marsalis and a record-breaking 9 women, a roster of international guest artists including mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and violinist Nicola Benedetti, the World Premiere of an orchestral tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg entitled When There Are Nine, a new cello concerto by Anna Clyne, and Tan Dun’s stunning symphonic documentary for harp and orchestra, Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women.

The first half of the 2019/20 season sees Măcelaru continuing to strengthen his European presence with his BBC Proms debut conducting BBC Symphony Orchestra and pianist Seong-Jin Cho in Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and compatriot Constantin Silvestri. Following the grandeur season opening at WDR in Cologne with Mahler’s 4th Symphony and Dvořák’s Te Deum, Cristian Măcelaru collaborates internationally with the Swedish Radio Symphony, Belgian National Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresdner Philharmonie, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Seattle Symphony.

As part of the 2020 Beethoven Year celebrations, Cristian Măcelaru leads the New Japan Philharmonic in all-Beethoven programme at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, cellist Daniel Müller-Schott and pianist Lambert Orkis.

The second half of the 2019/20 season amplifies Măcelaru’s international profile by collaborations with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and Kian Soltani, Orchestre National de Lyon and Beatrice Rana, Orchestre de Paris and Nicola Benedetti, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and Sol Gabetta, Dresdner Philharmonie and Sergey Khachatryan. Măcelaru makes his debuts with Western Australian Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Gil Shaham; his debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra marks the Asian premiere to the collaboratively composed Cello Concerto by composers Nico Muhly from the USA, Sven Helbig from Germany and Zhou Long from China dedicated to and performed by Jan Vogler.


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Performance Schedule

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    19:30 23 Nov 2019 Kulturpalast Dresden, DRESDEN

    ANTONIN DVORAK 3 Legends Op. 59
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major Op. 90

    Cello: Daniel Muller-schott
    Ensemble: Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

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    11:00 24 Nov 2019 Kulturpalast Dresden, DRESDEN

    ANTONIN DVORAK 3 Legends Op. 59
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major Op. 90

    Cello: Daniel Muller-schott
    Ensemble: Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

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    20:00 25 Nov 2019 Gasteig Munich, MUNICH

    ANTONIN DVORAK 3 Legends Op. 59
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major Op. 90

    Cello: Daniel Muller-schott
    Ensemble: Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

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    20:00 29 Nov 2019 Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, BRUSSELS

    GEORGE ENESCU Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11/1
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    SERGEI PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B flat Op. 100

    Cello: Andrei Ioniță
    Ensemble: Orchestre National de Belgique

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    20:00 29 Nov 2019 Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, BRUSSELS

    GEORGE ENESCU Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11/1
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    SERGEI PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B flat Op. 100

    Cello: Andrei Ioniță
    Ensemble: Orchestre National de Belgique

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    15:00 01 Dec 2019 Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, BRUSSELS

    GEORGE ENESCU Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11/1
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    SERGEI PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B flat Op. 100

    Cello: Andrei Ioniță
    Ensemble: Orchestre National de Belgique

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    15:00 01 Dec 2019 Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, BRUSSELS

    GEORGE ENESCU Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11/1
    EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
    Interval
    SERGEI PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B flat Op. 100

    Cello: Andrei Ioniță
    Ensemble: Orchestre National de Belgique

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    19:30 05 Dec 2019 Bridgewater Hall, MANCHESTER

    HEGGIE ARR. MĂCELARU Moby-Dick Suite
    AARON COPLAND Clarinet Concerto
    Interval
    LEONARD BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
    GEORGE GERSHWIN Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture for orchestra

    Clarinet: Sergio Castelló López
    Ensemble: Hallé Orchestra

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    18:00 07 Dec 2019 Bridgewater Hall, MANCHESTER

    GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Messiah

    Conductor: Cristian Macelaru
    Bass: James Platt
    Choir: Hallé Choir
    Orchestra: Hallé Orchestra

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    19:30 12 Dec 2019 Verizon Hall, PHILADELPHIA

    PERFORMERS:
    Cristian Macelaru – Conductor
    Leonidas Kavakos – Violin

    PROGRAMME:
    Shostakovich – Violin Concerto No. 1
    INTERMISSION – Intermission
    Marsalis – Blues Symphony

    https://www.philorch.org/concert/19-20/wynton-marsalis%E2%80%99s-blues-symphony?date=2019-12-12_19-30#/

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    14:00 13 Dec 2019 Verizon Hall, PHILADELPHIA

    PERFORMERS:
    Cristian Macelaru – Conductor
    Leonidas Kavakos – Violin

    PROGRAMME:
    Shostakovich – Violin Concerto No. 1
    INTERMISSION – Intermission
    Marsalis – Blues Symphony

    https://www.philorch.org/concert/19-20/wynton-marsalis%E2%80%99s-blues-symphony?date=2019-12-12_19-30#/

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    20:00 14 Dec 2019 Verizon Hall, PHILADELPHIA

    PERFORMERS:
    Cristian Macelaru – Conductor
    Leonidas Kavakos – Violin

    PROGRAMME:
    Shostakovich – Violin Concerto No. 1
    INTERMISSION – Intermission
    Marsalis – Blues Symphony

    https://www.philorch.org/concert/19-20/wynton-marsalis%E2%80%99s-blues-symphony?date=2019-12-12_19-30#/

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    19:00 16 Jan 2020 Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

    JOHANNES BRAHMS Haydn Variations Op. 56b
    CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso Op. 28
    RICHARD STRAUSS Rosenkavalier Suite

    Violin: Ray Chen
    Ensemble: WDR Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester

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    19:00 17 Jan 2020 Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

    JOHANNES BRAHMS Haydn Variations Op. 56b
    HENRYK WIENIAWSKI Violin Concert No.1 in F sharp minor Op.14
    Interval
    BACH ARR. ELGAR Fantasy and Fugue in C minor BWV 537
    RICHARD STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier: Concert Suite

    Violin: Ray Chen
    Ensemble: WDR Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester

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    20:00 23 Jan 2020 Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

    MUHLY HELBIG LONG Concerto for cello and orchestra

    Cello: Jan Vogler
    Orchestra: Philharmonie Cologne

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    20:00 30 Jan 2020 Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, LEIPZIG

    MIECZYSLAW WEINBERG Cello Concerto in C minor, Op. 43
    Interval
    IGOR STRAVINSKY Funeral song, Op. 5
    SERGEI RACHMANINOV Symphonic Dances Op.45

    Cello: Sol Gabetta
    Ensemble: Leipzig Gewandhausorchester

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    20:00 31 Jan 2020 Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, LEIPZIG

    MIECZYSLAW WEINBERG Cello Concerto in C minor, Op. 43
    Interval
    IGOR STRAVINSKY Funeral song, Op. 5
    SERGEI RACHMANINOV Symphonic Dances Op.45

    Cello: Sol Gabetta
    Ensemble: Leipzig Gewandhausorchester

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    11:00 02 Feb 2020 Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, LEIPZIG

    MIECZYSLAW WEINBERG Cello Concerto in C minor, Op. 43
    Interval
    IGOR STRAVINSKY Funeral song, Op. 5
    SERGEI RACHMANINOV Symphonic Dances Op.45

    Cello: Sol Gabetta
    Ensemble: Leipzig Gewandhausorchester

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    19:00 06 Feb 2020 Konzerthaus Dortmund, DORTMUND

    GYÖRGY KURTÁG Grabstein für Stephan
    FRANZ LISZT Symphonic Poem No. 7 ‘Festklänge’ S101
    BELA BARTOK Rhapsody No. 1
    GYÖRGY KURTÁG Stele

    Violin: José Maria Blumenschein
    Ensemble: WDR Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester

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    20:00 08 Feb 2020 Festhalle Viersen, VIERSEN

    FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No. 1 in D major
    BELA BARTOK Rhapsody No. 1
    BELA BARTOK Rhapsody No. 2
    Interval
    FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No.39 in G minor
    FRANZ LISZT Symphonic Poem No. 7 ‘Festklänge’ S101

    Violin: José Maria Blumenschein
    Ensemble: WDR Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester

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    20:00 14 Feb 2020 Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

    AVNER DORMAN After Brahms
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77
    Interval
    ANTONIN DVORAK Symphony No. 8 in G major Op. 88

    Violin: Augustin Hadelich
    Orchestra: Philharmonie Cologne

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    20:00 15 Feb 2020 Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

    AVNER DORMAN After Brahms
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77
    Interval
    ANTONIN DVORAK Symphony No. 8 in G major Op. 88

    Violin: Augustin Hadelich
    Orchestra: Philharmonie Cologne

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    24 Aug 19 Prom 48: "Cristian Măcelaru and the BBCSO look east " BBC PROMS 2019
    Royal Albert Hall, London

    This was the first occasion on which anything by Constantin Silvestri has been performed at the Proms, although he himself appeared as a conductor in a concert in the 1960s. As with many conductor-composers of the 20th century, his time in music was largely dominated by the baton rather than the pen and certainly in the UK he is known virtually exclusively as a prestigious chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rather than a composer in his own right. His Three Pieces for Strings dates back to the 1930s, though he subsequently revised the work in 1950 and is an interesting clash in tradition – the Romanian folk heritage is palpable, though treated lightly – with modernity in bitonality of the third of the three pices. Cristian Măcelaru brought lush and expansive playing from the BBC SO, with some particularly appealing moments from the leader and the cellos, and Măcelaru managed to strike the right level of tension in the third piece.

    Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack, 26 Aug 2019

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    01 Jun 19 "A Golden Music Festival Concert" Dresdner Philharmonie
    Kulturpalast, Dresden, Germany

    …Breathtaking was how well the harp and flute blended together with the sound transmitting tellingly through the hall. In the Andantino there was one particular magical moment during a solo passage for the harp when time seemed to stand still. Under Cristian Măcelaru the Dresdner Philharmonie comprised of around fifty players, a slightly larger number than period-instrument orchestras might use today for this work, but never coming near to overwhelming the soloists, everything in fact felt ideal.

    Assuredly led by Cristian Măcelaru the orchestra excelled by adding potency and weight to its renowned standing for style and precision and the results were a remarkable range of orchestral colour together with a surfeit of drama. I am not sure it’s possible to make a masterpiece better than what it is but the Dresdner Philharmonie came close to managing it.

    Michael Cookson, Seen and Heard International, 3 June 2019

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    22 Feb 19 "All-Russian programme" RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
    National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland

    Spring seems to have come early this year and this was reflected in tonight’s programme with an advanced celebration of that great festival of Spring, Easter in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture. Leading us in an all-Russian programme was young Romanian conductor Cristian Măcelaru, joined on stage by virtuoso Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang. Both brought the tremendous energy of their youth coupled with a deep musicianship making it a rewarding partnership.

    It was clear from the start how observant Măcelaru was to the smallest of details. The slightly ominous roll on the timpani followed by the dramatic crescendo was superbly graded while the sharp rhythms of the livelier section were well delineated. Măcelaru made the work bristle with energy, and the final great hymn of “Christ is risen” was a kaleidoscope of colour and sound.

    …It’s baffling that Tchaikovsky hated his Manfred Symphony with such vehemence that he would describe it as “that repulsive work that I hate profoundly”. It’s wonderfully programmatic and while it is on the long side, its vivid characterisation, lush orchestration and powerful romanticism keeps the listener fully absorbed. There was nothing laboured about Măcelaru’s approach to it. There was foreboding in every note of the fulsome strings and the lugubrious bass clarinet that open the work while the summoning of the seven spirits was ear-smashingly loud and all-absorbing.

    The finale was exciting and powerful, a frenzied orgy that Măcelaru had us and the RTÉ NSO on the edge of our seats as he whipped the music to its dramatic conclusion.

    ★★★★

    Andrew Larkin, Bachtrack, 24 Feb 2019

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    24 Nov 18 "All-American program stays real" Philadelphia Orchestra
    Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, USA

    All pieces felt new under Cristian Macelaru. Though most Barber pieces feel rooted in a particular place, the Piano Concerto’s elaborate first movement feels unmoored, lacks the composer’s usual sense of sweep, and seemed bent on wearing the orchestral outer garments of Bela Bartok — whether or not they fit. Ohlsson beautifully acknowledged the second movement’s lyricism and, in the bravura final movement, gave stature to the music without overselling it. Macelaru provided a hair-trigger accompaniment.

    The conductor — familiar from past seasons as the orchestra’s conductor in residence — was quite the hero on other fronts: Macelaru assembled the 20-minute suite from Heggie’s Moby-Dick opera, mainly showcasing the score’s considerable atmospheric effects.

    …though Copland’s Appalachian Spring has always led an enviable double life outside of the original Martha Graham choreography of the ballet. Though the usual Appalachian Spring ballet suite cuts about eight minutes of music from the original score, the version heard on Friday restored everything, but in an orchestration that’s far larger than the original 13-instrument pit band. …Macelaru made the piece about real people — especially with the orchestra’s high-personality incidental solos — rather than jingoistic figures on an Americana landscape. Though I’m a bigger fan of Copland’s more modernist works like Connotations, this Appalachian Spring was the most convincing performance I’ve heard.

    David Patrick Stearns, The Inquirer, 24 Nov 2018

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    05 Oct 18 "Psychedelic musical bestiary meets Beethoven" BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Barbican Hall, London, UK

    ★★★★

    “This evening at the Barbican was partly formed around the idea of musical animality – Beethoven’s propulsive overture to his ballet-score The Creatures of Prometheus opened the concert and Mason Bates’ 2015 Anthology of Fantastic Zoology, in its UK première, followed to close the first half, before Beethoven’s “Emperor” after the interval.

    Cristian Măcelaru, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, produced energy and drive throughout the evening to match the high-octane animality that flowed between these three pieces. Under Macelaru’s very physical direction, the opening overture burst into life straight away, ducking and weaving between the lyrical and brio sections, after the majestic opening chords had gracefully shifted the hall into gear. The Prometheus overture is pretty short and sweet, not a grand gesture such as the Egmont but more of an energetic mood-setter for the 16 pieces which follow.

    American Mason Bates is both a Julliard/Colombia-educated composer of grand-ideas classical work and the world-performing DJ Masonic, fusing electronic dance with ‘post-classical rave’ – a blend which I haven’t yet experienced but now desperately want to! His inventiveness and his desire for “something that engages” in the concert experience both burst through in his appropriately ‘fantastical’ symphonic panorama: Anthology of Fantastic Zoology. The first, flurrying figure, slithering down the winds and echoing out into an extended trill, sets the restless tone. The piece is really a concerto for orchestra, immediately brought out in Bates’ sharing and distribution of the spatial possibilities. Sprite, the first creature, is represented by a hopping of musical material between the violin stands, a racing series of figures played in a beautifully invertebrate manner under Măcelaru’s direction. The animals come and go, interspersed by very brief evocations of Twilight, Dusk, Night and Midnight. As the ears were bombarded by some truly remarkable orchestral wizardry, Măcelaru’s mastery and enthusiasm for the material were made fully clear, and such a fiercely rhythmical and complex piece seemed perfectly tailored for the BBC SO. From the bouncing clarinet passages in Nymphs to the extremely beautiful, expressly lyrical centre, Sirens (with violins played offstage slowly summoning the onstage ones) had the effect of different sets of brilliant effects building on and complementing each other, while always building toward a completed experience at the arrival of the explosive finale. All the animals seem to meet, fight or make love in the darkest point between night and dawn, and leaving the hall for the interval felt like returning to mundane reality.”

    Gus Mitchell, Bachtrack, 08 Oct 2018

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    02 Jun 18 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Atlanta Symphony Hall
    USA

    ★★★

    “It is rewarding when a conductor who has impressed in the past gets another opportunity to show his/her talents with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). It is even better when that conductor has continued to grow in reputation and renown. Such is the case with Romanian-born Cristian Măcelaru, this week’s guest conductor, who, in addition to being music director of the Cabrillo Festival, was recently appointed as the new chief conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester.

    The final work was Tchaikovsky’s beloved Violin Concerto with Danish-Israeli Nikolaj Znaider as soloist. This concerto is frequently played and last heard in Atlanta in 2016. The most notable part of Znaider’s performance is the glorious sound of his 1741 Guarneri “del Gesu” instrument, previously owned by the legendary Fritz Kreisler. Znaider brought enthusiasm and grace to his performance but intonation and bowing issues arose from time to time. At the beginning of the second movement (Canzonetta) the delicate sound of his violin seemed a bit at odds with the more forward sound created by the orchestra. Măcelaru deserves credit for making Tchaikovsky sound more integrated, and not nearly as episodic, as he can with some other conductors. The conductor again demonstrated his attention to both the detail and overall structure of a work. Znaider played with great tone and enthusiasm, and the ASO demonstrated how powerful it can be.”

    William E Ford, Bachtrak, 03 Jun 2018 

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    18 May 18 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh
    USA

    “Debuts, like premieres, keep concert life fresh. Really successful first encounters lead to re-engagements.

    Upcoming Pittsburgh Symphony concerts feature the return of Grammy Award winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and the debut of rapidly rising conductor Cristian Macelaru. All three pieces on the program express the composers’ love of their homelands.

    Macelaru will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at May 18 and 20 concerts at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall. The program is Georges Enescu’s Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1, Antonin Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with Hadelich as soloist, and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3.

    These are beautiful for me because I identify with that nostalgia for a place one has left behind. I paired it with the Dvorak Concerto because both pieces look back with love for something they cherished. All three composers speak of nationalism, but from different perspectives.

    The conductor says he would admire Enescu’s music even if they didn’t share Rumanian heritage. Enescu was a complete musician, a “genius” Macelaru calls him, who was ahead of his time compositionally, and also a fine violinist and conductor. His two brilliantly orchestrated Rumanian Rhapsodies are early compositions and reflect his first study of the violin with gypsy musicians in his home town.”

    Mark Kanny, Trib Total Media, 16 May 2018

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    11 Mar 18 St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Powell Hall St. Louis, Missouri
    USA

    “War may be, as the classic songs says, good for absolutely nothing, but opposition to it has certainly inspired some great music, as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra program this past weekend (March 10 and 11, 2018) demonstrated.

    Guest conductor Cristian Macelaru led the SLSO in two works inspired by the horrors of World War I–Benjamin Benjamin Britten’s 1940 “Sinfonia da Requiem” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Symphony No. 4” from 1931. Also on the program was the “Violin Concerto No. 3,” one of several works Camille Saint Saëns wrote as part of a nationalist response to France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

    From the harsh, dissonant opening–cribbed, as the composer would later admit, from the opening of the final movement of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”–to the complex fugal march of the finale, this is angry and ultimately nihilistic music. There’s a kind of majestic horror to the piece, rather like a Shakespearean tragedy boiled down to its essence, and Mr. Macelaru’s intensely committed performance brought out every bit of its drama.”

    Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX Community Media, 12 Mar 2018

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    28 Jan 18 Hallé Orchestra Bridgewater Hall Manchester
    UK

    ★★★★

    Guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru tonight led the Hallé in an enjoyable evening’s entertainment with a programme which took us on a journey from the film music-esque sounds of Vaughan Williams’s Wasps Overture via the elegiac, lost world of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, closing in the second half with a surefooted performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony.

    Beethoven employs a great use of sudden accents, coupled with offbeat and syncopated rhythms to create tension and urgency and the Hallé were faithful in deploying these as directed in the score. Opting to proceed into the development section without repeating the exposition, Măcelaru effectively maintained a sense of progressive momentum – the stormy, ranging passages at the outset of this section were delivered with real drama.

    The mood changes considerably in the second movement (a funeral march in C minor) a section that examines the depths of despair and human tragedy. Not many performances capture the searing nature of this music effectively, although the Hallé came close tonight and this is a true compliment.

    Aaron Davies, Bachtrack, 29 Jan 2018

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    27 Jan 17 RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra National Concert Hall Dublin
    Ireland

    “What does a conductor do with an orchestra? Well, according to the US-based Romanian conductor Cristian Macelaru, he finds a way to let the musicians play. Or, more precisely, he frees them up so that they can play at their best

    …The big question is whether a conductor with Macelaru’s goals will just bring a group of players to the point where they achieve the best that they have already achieved, or whether he can somehow nurture them further so that they can move into a region that’s genuinely new for them.

    Macelaru’s concert on Friday suggested the former rather than the latter. It was a programme that blended folksiness and orchestral splendour, and included two late 20th-century works, one from Ireland, the other from Poland.”

    Michael Dervan, The Irish Times, 1 Feb 2017

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    15 Oct 16 Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
    Ireland

    ★★★★

    “COULD we have asked for more? The RSNO produced the goods on Saturday with a conductor new to its books. His name is Cristian Macelaru, he’s been around for some years, is attracting attention in the States and last month was appointed music director of the Cabrillo Festival where he succeeds Marin Alsop with immediate effect.

    Macelaru is the real McCoy. He has presence without being showy. He has command over musical moods on the small scale, as he demonstrated in in Jorg Widmann’s witty Beethovenian opus, Con Brio, launching the concert with a piratical edge. He has a fine sense of sweep and structure, as we heard in his red-blooded account of Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony, with the RSNO in full flight and Macelaru not getting in the way of the musicians actually playing the stuff, though the brass section did fire a few deafening salvos.

    And he was a superbly responsive partner to pianist Paul Lewis in one of the finest concert performances of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto it has been my pleasure to hear. Lewis is many things: he has wonderful mastery of the poetry and expressiveness of the Emperor. He has impenetrable acuity of insight into its structure while revealing myriad subtleties within the big paragraphs.

    In page after page he brought detail into focus. The majesty of the first movement, not overstated, was pellucid in its direction. In the heavenly slow movement, Time was suspended. And the finale was a musical life force. Macelaru and the RSNO were always on the pulse of Lewis’ superlative account. Let’s get this conductor back while we can afford him.”

    Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland, 17 Oct 2016

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    04 Dec 15 RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra National Concert Hall Dublin
    Ireland

    with RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, Eleanor Dennis, Rachel Kelly, Robin Tritschler, Marcus Farnsworth 

    “Violinist Helena Wood and rising young American conductor Cristian Macelaru both deliver exquisite performances.

    There are few – if any – extended solo arias, but Beethoven rarely gave singers an easy time and the well-balanced vocal foursome of Scottish soprano Eleanor Dennis, Irish mezzo Rachel Kelly, Irish tenor Robin Tritschler and English baritone Marcus Farnsworth repeatedly impressed.

    But, as in many works of this nature, it is always the choral force that carries the brunt of expectation and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir under chorus master Mark Hindley more than stood up to a daunting task, capturing not just the mighty grandeur of the piece, but also its striking originality.

    In many ways this solemn Mass is not as solemn as expected, being more a joyous outburst of faith and hope which was brilliantly captured on the night by all involved.”
    Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post, 13 December 2015 

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    23 Sep 15 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Symphony Hall Birmingham
    UK

    “Winner of the 2014 Solti Conducting Award, and with highly regarded appearances in Philadelphia and Chicago under his belt, Romanian-born conductor Cristian Macelaru brought to Birmingham the reputation of a rising star. By the end of the concert, this reputation was largely confirmed. A solid Sibelius Finlandia immediately showed that he is no trickster, but an artist who builds his interpretations on respect and musical insight, almost to the point of self-effacement.

    The second half was given over to Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony ‘The Inextinguishable’. This may be the Dane’s best-known work, and the most direct in its impact thanks to its timpani duels in the finale. But it covers an enormous amount of ground in its 35 minutes, and can feel episodic unless the conductor keeps a firm grip on the structure. Never tempted to over-react to passages of violent disruption, or, at the other extreme, to exaggerate the score’s repeated requests for calm, Macelaru placed the climaxes with unerring instinct and led into and away from them with consummate skill.

    The drive towards the final affirmation was irresistible, thanks to the near-ideal pacing of everything that had preceded it.”
    David Fanning, The Telegraph, 25 September 2015

    “At the helm was Cristian Macelaru. A violinist turned conductor, Macelaru made his mark in the U.S. when he stepped in for Pierre Boulez in Chicago in 2012. He is now resident at the Philadelphia Orchestra and is the first of the CBSO’s roster of guests this season while the orchestra hunts for a new permanent conductor. Macelaru was not a showy presence but assured, steady and thoughtful, capable of letting the music breathe and tell its own story. His Sibelius Finlandia opened with a heavy tread, but was confidently steered to its triumphant end…. Nielsen’s ‘The Inextinguishable’ … was bold and compelling. Each section of the CBSO gleamed: the strings meticulous and intense, with particularly gutsy violas, the wind sensitive and the brass glorious. And in the final movement, the duelling timpanists were wonderfully exhilarating — surely the embodiment of what Nielsen wanted this music to express, ‘the Elemental Will of Life’.”
    Rebecca Franks, The Times, 25 September 2015 

    “Cards on the table: The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is looking for a new music director. Having filled its new season with emerging talents … it’s an open secret that any concert directed by a youngish, more-or-less unattached conductor in Birmingham for the foreseeable future is effectively an audition for the job. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. All of which created a certain buzz around this Birmingham debut by the Romanian-born, Philadelphia-based Cristian Macelaru. As winner of the 2014 Solti Fellowship, Macelaru comes attended by reams of praise from U.S. critics – never any guarantee of success with a British orchestra. His unassuming stage presence, though, suggested a certain seriousness which, within bars of the opening of Sibelius’s Finlandia, had translated eloquently into sound. Macelaru has already identified and harnessed one of the CBSO’s greatest strengths, Oramo’s and Nelsons’s joint legacy to the orchestra – the depth of its string section. He built textures from the basses up, shaping a sombre, Wagnerian Finlandia that traded roof-raising theatricality for tense symphonic drama.

    Macelaru’s ability to shape a phrase and to characterise a melody or tone-colour also paid handsome dividends in Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto. Rachmaninoff once wrote that he conceived the first theme of the Third Concerto as something to be sung by the piano, and that’s exactly how it came across. It helped, of course, that Simon Trpceski was the soloist…. Macelaru drew seldom-heard colours from the orchestral part: a distant glint of Russian nationalist jewellery in the finale’s col legno passage; and meltingly soft horns in the transition out of the first movement’s epic cadenza – which drew from Trpceski, in turn, an exquisite tenderness of tone. I’ve heard more spectacular performances of this concerto, but rarely a more musical one.

    Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony looked on paper like a rather more severe test for Macelaru – not because in this anniversary year, we’ve heard it too many times (as if!), but because the CBSO has a Nielsen tradition dating back through Oramo and Rattle to Harold Gray’s cycle (the U.K.’s first) in the 1960s. All the more impressive, then, that he managed to say something distinctive about the piece from the very outset – and without any overt point-making or micromanagement…. Woodwind solos were fresh without being folksy; and he even managed to maintain a sense of pregnant symphonic tension throughout the Poco allegretto. The cumulative effect was powerful, coherent and entirely gripping. The orchestra looked like they were enjoying themselves too (not that one should read anything into that). But whether or not Cristian Macelaru proves to be the CBSO’s ‘Mr. Right’, this was a seriously impressive debut – and hopefully not the last time we’ll see him in Brum.”
    Richard Bratby, The Arts Desk, 25 September 2015 

  • More info  
    15 Feb 15 Danish National Symphony Orchestra Carnegie Hall, New York
    USA

    “Mr Macelaru … injected passion and drive, and they responded beautifully.”
    James R. Oestreich, New York Times, 15 February 2015

  • More info  
    21 Feb 14 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chicago Symphony Center
    USA

    “The program began with a reading of “Jeux” that was precise of rhythm, fluid of line and transparent of texture. Macelaru was alert to the kaleidoscopic changes of mood and color that infuse a late Debussy masterpiece that’s still too little-known.”
    John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, 21 February 2014

    ” … this week’s CSO program, with young Romanian-born conductor Cristian Macelaru proved to be one of the best and most exciting concerts of the season to date … You could practically touch the respect that the large orchestra reflected back on the conductor, not yet 35.  He is the most insightful and serious young conductor out there today.”
    Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Time Media, February 2014

Interviews

“Music works best in its purest form” – Maestro Macelaru in an interview with BR Klassik, Sylvia Schreiber, 12 July 2018

 

Discography