Following the departure of Kazakh musician Alan Buribayev when his extended contract expired in 2016, the RTÉ NSO has been without a principal conductor. In the ‘interregnum’ there have been a number of visiting artists on the podium not least Nathalie Stutzmann who has been principal guest conductor since 2017.
Born in Suresnes, outside Paris, in 1965, Madame Stutzmann has proved a very popular figure on the rostrum with her NSO appearances drawing full houses. I find her performances mostly stimulating with her latest concert on January 11 being a case in point. In it symphonies by Haydn (Surprise) and Mendelssohn (Italian), separated by brilliant Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland in Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto, were incisively satisfying.
Besides her guest conducting here, Nathalie Stutzmann also directs Norway’s Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and continues as director of Orfeo 55 – a mainly Baroque ensemble, which she founded in 2009. Interestingly, Madame Stutzmann is also a fine contralto but, considering the demands of her conducting career, she confines her singing within the realm of Orfeo 55. She will continue her guest appearances with the NSO until the end of next season.
Another ‘interregnum’ visitor has been Spaniard Jaime Martin who made his NSO debut in October 2016 when his programme included Shostakovich’s volatile 11th Symphony (The Year 1905). He has returned on three occasions since and was on the rostrum again on January 18 when he delivered a riveting account of Dvôrák’s 6th Symphony and had with him Belfast’s intrepid Barry Douglas in Brahms’s massive 2nd Piano Concerto.
The occasion happily coincided with RTÉ’s announcement of Señor Martin becoming principal conductor of the NSO from September 2019. His term will extend for three years. Céad míle fáilte.
As well as his position here, Señor Martin also assumes responsibility for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra later this year and remains director of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra in Sweden’s Norrland region until 2020.
Santander-born (1965), Maestro Martin studied in Madrid and The Hague and, before pursuing his conducting career, was a distinguished flautist, enjoying acclaimed worldwide solo appearances. He was also principal flute with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, English National Opera and the Royal and London Philharmonics.
Martin also has a close association with the Orquestra di Cadaqués – based in the picturesque Mediterranean resort in Catalonia’s Girona province. Cadaqués annual music festival, as well as that of Santander, falls under Señor Martin’s remit.
All this means he is a very busy fellow indeed and one wonders exactly how many concerts he will direct at the NCH and on tour during his NSO tenure? I wish Jaime Martin well in Ireland and beyond.