FRIDAY, November 20, 2020 – 10:36 PM
Joan Pagès Valls
I have agonized for several days about how to go about spotlighting this man. I got to know his conducting recently by pure chance as I was going through all the symphonies of Schubert and ran into is performance with a young group of music students. This happened only about a week ago, and since then I’ve been listening very carefully. As all of you know, I hope, my support of great music remains tireless, and after about 50 years of working with music students myself, most of whom have been quite young, I’m incredibly committed to performances of young people. In fact, my own experience with working with a few marvelous conductors began around age 19, but that is a story for another time.
Right now I want to introduce you all to Mr. Valls and his incredible young players by starting with everything I can find, so I’ll link to every link I’ve located and let you explore. At the end of this I’ve translated a biography I found HERE.
This also appears to be from nine years ago. Of course it is the most famous piece by Smetana. It’s one of the earliest recordings I’ve found, or at least the first year. The group from back then appears to be a bit less polished than what I’ve heard more recently, so my impression is that level of playing of these young students has continued to improve, but even so the energy and overall impression you will get from this is extremely good.
This also appears to be from around nine years ago. It’s a great way to get to know this amazing composition by 17 year old Mendelssohn.
Is there anyone of us who has not heard this? But how many of you know that Mendelssohn wrote this?
Elgar was not yet 35 when he finished this. Since the world knows him more than anything else through his “Enigma Variations”, he was relatively unknown when he wrote this. Those variations would not appear until around nine years later. This is written only for strings and is quite a lovely composition I had not heard before. I challenge you to hear these students and guess how young they are. I just can’t hear it. For me this is simply first rate playing.
This is the first thing I heard from this conductor and his amazing young players. It remains not only my favorite recording of all I’ve heard but also a stunning Mendelssohn recording in general, and a great place to start if you have not heard Mendelssohn music. As you listen, remember that he was only 15 when he wrote this.
Ligeti wrote this in 1951 when he was 38 years old but it was not officially premiered until 1971. I associate Ligeti with very modern, dissonant music, but this is has a strong Hungarian folk feeling and just a touch of a more 20th century sound. At times it has somewhat of the feel of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Jörg Brückner plays horn as well as anyone I’ve heard and is just one more of a group of contempory horn players who have mastered the horn to an exent I can’t even believe. He has a huge, rich tone, and the strings are just fantastic.
I’ve talked extensively about this concerto, how it has been called all but “popular trash” by snobs and critics trying to score points. Yet Rachmaninov had an incredibly high opinion of this work, which I agree with. So here is another performance by a young pianist. You can tell Joan has incredible accompanying skills because he follows this young player perfectly.
I don’t know Ben’s exact age here, but this is from a bit more more than three years ago, so he was only 11 years old. The concerto itself has much of the feel of Mozart, but with the characteristic energy of Haydn. Mozart by this time was 28 years old, so Haydn was intimately familiar with Mozart’s playing and compositions. For obvious reasons this is a real crowd pleaser.
Now about Joan Pagès Valls
Joan Pagès Valls was born in Lleida (Spain) in 1973 and studied piano, cello and chamber music there. In 1995 he came to Germany for a supplementary course at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold, and from 1999 to 2003 he followed up with a degree in conducting in Weimar. Immediately after graduation he was given the position of solo coach and deputy choir director at the German National Theater in Weimar.
In 2006 he was awarded 2nd place at the International Competition for Opera Conducting in Orvieto (Italy).
Joan Pagès Valls has conducted concerts by the Staatskapelle Weimar and the Jena Philharmonic and has made concert tours to various countries in Latin America and Europe. In addition, he has an equally busy schedule teaching courses.
As a conductor he is just as familiar with historical performance practice as he is with world premieres of contemporary works and with film music. Among other things he premiered two children’s operas and film music for Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” in a version for chamber orchestra. He is co-founder and director of the ensemble “Iberoamericano” (with several CD and radio recordings). He is also successful as a pianist and piano accompanist.
Since 2009 he has lead the orchestra at the Belvedere Palace Music School/ Highly Gifted Center at the Weimar University of Music and taught orchestra conducting at the university mentioned. Since the 2017/2018 school year, he has also been the artistic director of the highly gifted center at the Weimar University / the Belvedere Castle Music High School.