Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic’s disc of Manuel de Falla’s “La Vida Breve” has been released on the Chandos label. Featuring a stellar cast of Spanish soloists and the RTVE Chorus, it was recorded last June following a performance of the work at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall to mark Maestro Mena’s last concert in Manchester as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic.
“There wasn’t a line of music that he didn’t energize, and the orchestra played with a discerning intelligence for him.”
The first performance on 24th November will celebrate Bilbao Opera’s 1000th concert.
“Mena directed a performance which had every necessary attribute. Firstly, the playing seemed absolutely flawless. The balance was perfect, choice of tempi was absolutely spot on at every point, there was a heavy sense of menace in the quieter passages and the savagery of the score was brilliantly evoked. It was all just about as good as could be.” (Alan Sanders, Seen and Heard International)
“On all counts: an emotionally challenging, yet emotionally satisfying, thought-provoking, absolutely exhilarating program.”
Juanjo Mena stepped in to conduct three performances of Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen, and Mahler’s Symphony No 1 with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks last week, following the cancellation of Gustavo Dudamel due to illness. Friday’s concert at the Herkulessaal in Munich was streamed live, and you can watch it here:
Season tickets go on sale on Thursday 11th May, and general booking opens on Saturday 13th May.
It has been a busy and rewarding start to 2017. Having seen the New Year in with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Juanjo Mena made his debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and received a warm welcome from orchestra and audiences alike. He then flew to Boston for what was due to be one week with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducting Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1, Weinberg’s Violin Concerto with Gidon Kremer and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4. Following the cancellation of Christoph von Dohnanyi Maestro Mena extended his stay in Boston to conduct the American premiere of Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi, Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and Schubert’s Symphony in C, “The Great”.
The Spanish Ministry of Culture has announced that Juanjo Mena has been awarded the ‘Premio Nacional de Música’, Spain’s National Music Prize.
“Under Maestro Juanjo Mena, the orchestra shone in a cohesion that we have not heard for a long time, which delighted our ears”
“Again, Juanjo Mena demonstrated extreme control, gleaning magnificent solos from the musicians, especially in the wind section”
“This was a real treat to hear such a beautiful version of the masterpiece Daphnis and Chloe”
“Juanjo was selected as the May Festival’s Principal Conductor because of his artistry, vision, and experience, along with his collaborative nature and approach,” said May Festival Board Member and Artistic Leadership Search Committee Chair Kelley Downing. “He has a strong track record with both orchestras and choruses, extensive experience with choral repertoire and a passion for the May Festival, its remarkable history and its role in the Greater Cincinnati community today.”
“Juanjo Mena lit a fire under the orchestra and had it sounding in great shape” (Andrew L. Pincus, Berkshire Eagle)
“The orchestra sounds so great right now, it’s hard to imagine them sounding any other way” (Ken Ross, masslive.com)
“Juanjo Mena conducted the BBC Philharmonic in one of those rare concerts in which clever programming and superb playing combine to produce a truly exhausting and memorable experience.”
“…before the tumultuous last minutes of the symphony, Mena created a powerful sense of stillness, much aided by the excellent pianissimo control of the orchestra.”
“Mena finally indulged the triumphant last pages to their maximum heroism, marking the end of a superb performance.”
(Rohan Shotton, Bachtrack)
“It was immensely moving.”
(Jonathan Payne, Manchester Confidential)
“The journey that Mena guided was one worth following. He treated much of the symphony, notably its opening Majestoso, like a force of nature to be unleashed. There was a thrilling tidal quality to the music’s progression …” (Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review)
“This was a singularly stunning performance”
“The outcome was a joy, real joy” (Harry Rolnick, ConcertoNet)
“Orchestra, conductor and especially the soloist made this performance of Bernstein’s Serenade a great experience; I hope to hear this major work many more times.” (Peter Connors, Bachtrack)
“It’s a luxury to hear Beethoven approached with this kind of spaciousness.”
“One of the most consistently absorbing accounts of this symphony I’ve heard in a concert hall in years.”
(Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun)
“This was world-class conducting. I hope to hear it in other repertoire someday soon.”
(Robert Battey, The Washington Post)
“…One of the most exciting and uplifting concerts I have attended for some time.” (Frances Wilson, Bachtrack)
“Here, the Three Mantras almost achieved the impossible and upstaged that brazenly voluptuous masterpiece, Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony, which was exuberantly performed under Juanjo Mena’s direction, with Steven Osborne cascading brilliantly on the piano and Valérie Hartmann-Claverie conjuring sounds from a kitsch parallel universe on Ondes Martenot.” (Richard Morrison, The Times)
“With Valérie Hartmann-Claverie on ondes martenot, Steven Osborne at the piano, and Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic on top form, Messiaen’s extraordinary work came over with megawatt radiance”. (Michael Church, The Independent)
“The sheer energy generated by this exciting conductor in Estancia’s final dance was one of the most exhilarating orchestral experiences in my recall”
(Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Mena was wonderfully evocative…. taking time for swells of sound to carry the audience along.”
(Mark Kanny, Trib Total Media)
“The emotional pitch was high from the outset” (Tim Ashley, The Guardian)
“Juanjo Mena was whipping the faster speeds along with all the breakneck enthusiasm worthy of a modern Beethoven expert, and the performance ended with him bouncing on the rostrum and excitement reaching dizzy heights. It was quite a night.” (Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News)
“Juanjo Mena gleaned from the pages of Beethoven’s score a powerfully emotional and dramatic intensity, extracting tenderness, jealousy, greed, love and joy in impressive quantity.” (Andrew King, Bachtrack)