Denève wows Saratoga

Stephane Denève, whose opening night (August 1) I missed, cemented his special connection with us and the Saratoga audience on Thursday and Friday, August 2 and 3. His American in Paris is the best I can remember with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and his Candide overture and Three Dance Episodes from On the Town were close behind. Jean-Yves Thibaudet wore amazing blue shoes for the rehearsal (sorry, no pictures) and played just as sparklingly but with great depth in both of Ravel’s piano concertos.

His last night he conducted a program of mostly John Williams while Cirque de la Symphonie performed with their usual artistry. Denève, who is only a couple of years older than I, talked about what it was like for him to conduct these pieces for the first time after they made such a huge impression on him as a teen — E.T., Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman as well as other numbers from Taras Bulba and North by Northwest.

But that American in Paris… it’s still with me. Oh, and the audience went nuts in a way I don’t remember happening in years up there.

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