With her last album, Mademoiselle in New York, French trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary took a musical trip to North America. Now, with Piazzolla Stories she heads south, crossing the equator to reach Argentina and its capital Buenos Aires, the home of tango.
As its title suggests, the album’s main focus is the composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). He is credited with adding new scope and sophistication to the tango in the 1950s and creating the genre of ‘nuevo tango’ or ‘new tango’. Piazzolla Stories also features works by a variety of composers who have some kind of personal and/or musical link with Piazzolla: the French-born Argentine ‘King of Tango’ Carlos Gardel; the Argentine modernist Alberto Ginastera; Johann Sebastian Bach; the virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini, and the Frenchwoman Nadia Boulanger, celebrated above all as a teacher of musicians as diverse as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Quincy Jones, Philip Glass, Burt Bacharach … and Astor Piazzolla. Lucienne is joined by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo and Austrian conductor Sascha Goetzel, and there are guest appearances by the great French accordionist Richard Galliano (who also contributes his Tango pour Claude), Erato guitarist Thibaut Garcia, and the Quatuor Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo.
Astor Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, 400km from Buenos Aires, and spent part of his youth in New York, absorbing the city’s diverse cultural influences. Even before he was a teenager, he became a brilliant player of the bandoneon, a kind of concertina that is one of the key tango instruments. He even learned to play Bach on it – hence the presence on this album of the ‘Presto’ from the German master’s Sonata in G minor BWV 1001, originally written for violin. In 1934 Piazzolla met Carlos Gardel in New York and got to know him well. Gardel even invited Astor to tour with him and his musicians, but Astor was too young (just 13!) to play professionally, so he remained at home with his family. Tragically, Gardel died in a plane crash in Colombia the following year, but he had made a decisive impression on Piazzolla, who returned to live in Argentina in 1936.
By the time Piazzolla was 17 he was making a good living as a tango musician and at the age of 20 began taking lessons with the notable Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. In the early 1950s he decided to focus on composition and studied with the distinguished German-born conductor Hermann Scherchen and, in France, with Nadia Boulanger. In 1955 he returned to Buenos Aires and resumed his performing career; it was at this time that he brought the ‘nuevo tango’ into being. He continued to experiment and innovate over the following decades, creating music that fused tango with classical music and jazz.
Lucienne Renaudin Vary was first inspired to start thinking about this album when she visited Buenos Aires in 2017 while on tour with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and Tugan Sokhiev. “I remember playing in the legendary Teatro Colón, a magnificent opera house with a fabulous acoustic,” she says. “I also remember that I didn’t have my concert clothes to perform in because my suitcase had been lost! Piazzolla wasn’t on the programme, but, weirdly, I was humming his music all the time I was in Buenos Aires … I would love to go back and play there again.
“Piazzolla’s music is very multi-faceted,” she explains. “Throughout his life he composed very varied music for different kinds of ensembles. Obviously, the tango is an element in many of his compositions. His music can be very lively and full of the spirit of the dance, but it can also be very melancholy, even heartbreaking. I love those moments on the album … But what I really associate with Piazzolla’s music is movement and dance. When you play music, you’re dancing too!
“All the tracks on the album have been superbly arranged for trumpet and ensemble by Jérôme Ducros. I think that Piazzolla’s music works well on a trumpet, because their lines are very melodic and singing. Trumpet players and singers breathe in the same way, and the trumpet is my voice.
“I included Bach on the album because in some sense he was Piazzolla’s mentor – and undeniably a source of inspiration for him, He studied Bach’s music with great care and I can feel that in his compositions, especially Chin Chin, which is the opening track on the album. As for Paganini. I included him because he and Piazzolla share some of the same spirit – they can both explode like fireworks!”
Piazzolla Stories was recorded in Monaco in September 2020. “The setting was really idyllic – even if there were too many mosquitoes! We made the recording just after the first COVID lockdown. Musical life was just getting going again and we all felt a special energy and shared a special joy as we made the album. The members of the orchestra were playing together for the first time in months. A recording always involves lots of focused work, but the atmosphere was very collaborative and supportive.”
Rising star Lucienne Renaudin Vary will now be joining the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cambridge Corn Exchange to take on Haydn’s magnificent Trumpet Concerto on Saturday 17 June.
At just 18, Lucienne has a bright future ahead of her, currently still a student of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, she will take a short break from her exams in order to make her first appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She is the first student at the conservatoire ever to have been accepted in both the classical and jazz courses concurrently.
At just 17 years of age, Lucienne was hailed ‘Revelation of the Year’ in the 2016 Victoires de la Musique Classique (the French Grammy Awards), performing live at the ceremony to a televised audience of 1.5 million. Lucienne had already appeared at the Victoires three years earlier, at the age of 14, in an tribute to French trumpet legend Maurice André. In addition to a sterling classical technique, Lucienne is also a prodigious and passionate jazz trumpeter, having studied both styles in parallel.
For her forthcoming debut album on Warner Classics, titled A Voice, she will move effortlessly between the two in wide-ranging repertoire inspired by and featuring the human voice. Future dates include her debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra, a return to the London Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy, and her album launch in November at greater Paris' new concert hall La Seine Musicale.
Next season will also see orchestral debuts with the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Les Violons du Roy and Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, as part of their rising star series.
Alison Balsom gave the following statement: ‘It’s with a heavy heart that I cannot come and perform in Cambridge next month. Performing a concerto with the wonderful Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Corn Exchange was to be one of the highlights of my season so it’s such a shame it is no longer possible for me. It has been a true honour to be Artist in Residence this season at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, and I have very special memories from my concerts there over the past year. It has therefore been an incredibly difficult decision to make, but as an expectant mother, I must take the advice of my doctors and rest at home for the remainder of my pregnancy. Thank you all for your understanding and support at this time.’
Steve Bagnall, Managing Director of Cambridge Live said:
‘We are sorry that Alison is unable to play in this season finale concert but we wish her all the best over the coming months. Inviting Lucienne to perform is part of our commitment to showcasing amazing young artists who are newly emerging on the international stage.’
Lucienne will perform Haydn’s ever-popular Trumpet Concerto in a concert, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, that opens with Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and concludes powerfully with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Click here for more information about this concert.
Lucienne’s debut album on Warner Classics, A Voice, will be released in the Autumn.
Warner Classics has signed an exclusive recording contract with French trumpet virtuoso Lucienne Renaudin Vary. Her debut album will be released in Autumn 2017.
At just 17 years of age, Lucienne was hailed ‘Revelation of the Year’ in the 2016 Victoires de la Musique Classique (the French Grammy Awards), performing live at the ceremony to a televised audience of 1.5 million. Lucienne had already appeared at the Victoires three years earlier, at the age of 14, in an tribute to French trumpet legend Maurice André. In addition to a sterling classical technique, Lucienne is also a prodigious and passionate jazz trumpeter, having studied both styles in parallel. For her forthcoming debut album, titled A Voice, she will move effortlessly between the two in wide-ranging repertoire inspired by and featuring the human voice.
“I’m thrilled to record my first album for Warner Classics, with the freedom to explore music from Baroque to jazz,” said Lucienne. “It was a great honour and privilege to collaborate with artists I admire; notably Erik Truffaz, who improvises in duet with me for a new orchestral arrangement of Gershwin’s Summertime, and Rolando Villazón who suggested we record a Donizetti aria together.” Lucienne and her guest soloists recorded with the Orchestre National de Lille, conducted by Roberto Rizzi Brignoli.
“I chose vocal music as the theme for the album, taking the melodic line from opera arias to jazz standards and musicals, because I always aim to play the trumpet as if I were singing,” she said about her debut, which will feature Handel’s Eternal source of light divine (with countertenor Christophe Dumaux) and Bellini’s Casta Diva alongside orchestral arrangements of jazz standards and hits from musicals created especially for Lucienne, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things. The young trumpeter also pays tribute to her idol in a new version of My Funny Valentine. “Chet Baker is a god for me,” explains Lucienne. “He played it and sang it, the perfect blend of voice and trumpet; I can listen to him over and over again and the way he plays touches me enormously. This arrangement is my homage to Chet.”
Jean-Philippe Rolland, Executive Vice-President International A&R and Business Development of Warner Classics & Erato, said of the signing: “At just seventeen years old, Lucienne Renaudin Vary already had complete mastery of her instrument, with a singing legato and a warmth in her sound that perfectly matches her personality. Curious about all repertoire, equally at ease in classical and jazz, Lucienne is a rare polyglot of the trumpet, making her versatility her greatest strength. She is a complete artist: the new voice of the trumpet.”
Lucienne Renaudin Vary is already in demand as a soloist internationally; she will be introduced to British audiences this week at the invitation of Classic FM when she performs at a Christmas charity concert hosted by the University of Aberdeen at St Marylebone Parish Church in London. With funds raised supporting research into dementia, the concert will be broadcast on Classic FM on 23 December, ahead of Lucienne’s official UK debut at Cadogan Hall with the London Chamber Orchestra in May 2017.
ABOUT LUCIENNE RENAUDIN VARY
"To have the kind of maturity and insight Lucienne has as a trumpet player, you would have to be 40 years old.”
–Philippe Duchemin (jazz pianist)
Winner of the ‘Révélation’ category of the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2016, French trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary was born in 1999 and studied classical trumpet with Philippe Lafitte at the Conservatoire du Mans. She then entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris in 2014.
At the age of 11, Lucienne won the Concours Selmer-Le Parnasse and the Third Prize of the Concours Européen des Jeunes Trompettistes d'Alençon in the 14-17 years old category. She has since been awarded first prizes at each competition she has participated in - Concours des Rencontres Internationales des Cuivres in Belgium, Concours des Clés d'Or in Paris and Concours des Jeunes Artistes ‘Maurice André’ in Alès.
In her native France, Lucienne has appeared at Salle Gaveau, Annecy Classic Festival, Salon Musicora, Festival Classique au Vert, Les Grandes Heures de Cluny, Les Flâneries Musicales de Reims (filmed by Medici), Un Violon sur le Sable, Colmar fête le Printemps, Antibes Génération Virtuoses, Festival de l'Epau and with Orchestre symphonique de Bretagne. In 2015/16 Lucienne performed at the closing concerts of La Folle Journée in Nantes with the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, broadcast live on ARTE. During the 2016/17 season Lucienne will perform programmes based on her new album release in Paris, Nantes, Limoges and Lille.
Further afield, Lucienne has performed at the Festival Spivakov in Moscow, concerts in Ankara, Rheingau Musik Festival and in Finland she played Sørensen’s Trumpet Concerto under Moshe Atzmon. She also appeared on the Stars von Morgen show (ARTE/ZDF) presented by Rolando Villazón, in Berlin. Most recently Lucienne made her debut with the London Chamber Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy, performing Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.1 for piano and trumpet with Daniil Kharitonov in Turkey. She will repeat this programme with the orchestra when she makes her London debut in May 2017. Other highlights of the 2016/17 season include concerts at the Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia with Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth, her German orchestral debut in Munich and a performance of Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto with Junge Philharmonie Frankfurt RheinMain. She is an exclusive Warner Classics artist with her debut album released in 2017.
Jean-Philippe Dambreville, Ensemble de cuivres et percussions du Festival de Pâques