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)
In May 2016 Juanjo Mena will make his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, in a programme featuring Debussy’s ‘Iberia’, Ginastera’s Harp Concerto with Marie-Pierre Langlamet and Falla’s ballet ‘The Three-Cornered Hat’. You can read more information here.
“Something happened at the Maison Symphonique on Thursday evening…. the musicians [of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra] were in the hands of the Basque conductor Juanjo Mena, who commanded a dionysian vision of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony that everyone seemed to be waiting for.”
Enthusiastic reviews follow Juanjo Mena’s debut with the Cleveland Orchestra.
This week Juanjo Mena will make his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, performing Schoenberg’s evocative “Pelleas und Melisande”. In an interview with Cleveland Classical’s Mike Telin, he said “The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the amazing orchestras in the world. It’s like a little dream, and it will be a pleasure for me to be there.”
2015 got off to a cracking start for Juanjo Mena, with standing ovations in the Avery Fisher Hall after his debut concerts with the New York Philharmonic.
This week Juanjo Mena embarks on a brilliant and tightly-packed schedule which will run until January 2015, and will include concerts with two of the most prestigious North American ensembles, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, and other orchestras with which he is closely associated, such as the BBC Philharmonic, of which he is Chief Conductor, the Spanish National Orchestra and the Madrid Symphony Orchestra.
“This was the best all-French concert I have heard for a long time…..
I can’t think of a more sympathetic/enthusiastic conductor for this music than Juanjo Mena. His sense of orchestral balance was superb, as was his care over, among other things, dynamics, colouration, and rhythmic/lyrical contrast.” (Geoff Diggings, Seen and Heard International)
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“The music glinted and sparkled as it made its inevitable, quicksilver progress…. This was a highly successful LPO debut for Juanjo Mena, a partnership that hopefully will continue, for it has great potential.”
(Alan Sanders, Classical Source)
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“Thrilling French fare from the LPO and Juanjo Mena”
(Katy Wright, Bachtrack)