Worldly guests coming to Walk Festival Hall

Fabien Gabel
Jackson Hole News & Guide

This week Gabel and pianist Denis Kozhukhin demonstrate the phenomenon, with Kozhukhin playing chamber music Thursday, then joining Gabel and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra on Friday and Saturday.

While Kozhukhin will be performing works by his countryman, Sergei Rachmaninoff, he still embodies the role of musician as global citizen. He comes from the ancient Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. He studied in Spain and Italy, where his instructors were German, Israeli, Chinese, Dutch, American and Hungarian. His international reputation was set with triumphs at the 2006 Leeds International Piano Competition in England and the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

Gabel is similarly worldly, starting his career studying trumpet in Paris and Karlsrue, Germany. He made his conducting debut in France but came to international attention in England, where starting in 2004 he served as assistant conductor for the London Symphony Orchestra. This season he will conduct in Finland, Germany, England, Australia, South Korea and Brazil, as well as half-dozen orchestras in the U.S.

“I’m conducting more and more in the U.S.,” he said. And he has been inviting more and more American soloists to perform with him in Quebec. “Music is a big, big family,” he said.

As with any families, members have their own personalities. Orchestras from different countries sound different.

“That’s exciting,” Gabel said. “You can learn from other countries and bring that knowledge to another orchestra.”

European orchestras tend to get a lot more rehearsal time.

“That’s because the subsidies come from the government,” he said.

But while orchestras in the U.S. have less rehearsal time, “the first rehearsal in the U.S. is almost immaculate,” he said. “You don’t need more than three or four rehearsals for a concert.”

Gabel has never worked with Kozhukhin, but he knows him by reputation and has heard him perform.

“He’s a fantastic pianist,” he said.

The work he will play, Rachmaninoff’s aerobic Concerto No. 2 (1901), is one of those huge, late romantic works full of recognizable themes and melodies.

“It’s so technical, it’s hard to connect the orchestra and the piano,” Gabel said. “But with an artist like Denis, it’s no problem. He’s played it so many times, it should work.”
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