The Brussels Philharmonic was originally established in 1935 under the aegis of the public broadcasting network. In 1998, it began its independent existence as the Vlaams Radio Orkest (Flemish Radio Orchestra). From 2008 onwards, its new name “Brussels Philharmonic – the orchestra of Flanders” has highlighted its close ties both to its home city, Brussels, and to public broadcasting. The orchestra performs music from the romantic to the contemporary, from conceptual music to film music, from the great classics to unexpected cross-overs. Today its chief conductor and artistic director is Michel Tabachnik.
With Glossa the orchestra has been venturing into 20th-century repertoire, working with conductors who are specialists in the music recorded by the orchestra for the label. Thus for its first Glossa release it recorded Igor Stravinsky’s L’oiseau de feu and the Chant du rossignol under the direction Yoel Levi. A further release saw Martyn Brabbins, a conductor renowned for his understanding of British music, conduct the First Symphony of Edward Elgar.
The programme of the Brussels Philharmonic is centred on a number of series offered in Brussels, both at Flagey, where the ensemble also rehearses, and at the Centre for Fine Arts. In addition, the orchestra is also at home in Flanders, appearing both at major venues (the Concertgebouw in Bruges, de Singel and Queen Elisabeth Concert Hall in Antwerp, De Bijloke in Ghent and the Kursaal in Ostend) and in important cultural centres (Leuven, Hasselt, Roeselare, Turnhout). The orchestra has also attained international renown, as a result of which it enjoys a base in Paris (Cité de la musique and Salle Pleyel) and gives regular concerts in the Netherlands (the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, De Doelen in Rotterdam). Brussels Philharmonic – the orchestra of Flanders is a permanent partner of the Festival of Flanders, Ars Musica and the Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent, and works regularly with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. The ties with public broadcasting remain strong: the orchestra works closely with radio and television for both recordings and events.
Elgar on Glossa? And why not, when it brings together one of the UK’s leading conducting talents in Romantic music, Martyn Brabbins with the committed advocacy of an orchestra rising superbly to the technical challenges of the First Symphony with both spontaneity and energy: the Flemish Radio Orchestra, who here make there second appearance on the label. Brabbins is an ideal director to be at the helm of a work that sits comfortably in the Late Romantic European tradition of orchestral music and for marshalling the forces which can shed new light on a work from outside the grand performing practice of the British orchestras. In this 150th anniversary year of Edward Elgar’s birth it is surely right – as well as artistically exciting – to hear how musicians from outside the UK approach one of the masterpieces of the composer, the son of a piano-tuner and born in the village of Broadheath outside Worcester in England. Indeed, Colin Anderson’s perceptive booklet article has more to say on the positioning of Elgar in the general scheme of European musical history. To accompany the First Symphony conductor and orchestra have added an engaging rendition of the Prelude to The Kingdom, Elgar’s oratorio, completed in 1906, two years before he finished his First Symphony; both mature statements from Britain’s finest.[read more...]