A busy Philippe Entremont brings German orchestra to Florida

By Lawrence Budmen

Philippe Entremont

Philippe Entremont has been a frequent visitor to South Florida. This week the 77-year-old French-born pianist-conductor returns to West Palm Beach and Miami with the Deutsche State Philharmonic, an 88-member ensemble based in the German Rhineland cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the orchestra is in the midst of its first American tour.

Following Monday night’s performance at the Kravis Center, Entremont will lead a matinee Tuesday at the same venue in West Palm Beach and a concert Wednesday at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. At Tuesday’s matinee, Entremont will conduct Weber’s Oberon Overture, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, and Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, in which he will share the keyboard spotlight with Sebastian Knauer.

Speaking by phone en route to a concert in North Carolina, Entremont, who first led the Deutsche State Philharmonic in 2008, said: “I have had a continuing artistic relationship with this fine orchestra and I am delighted that it has been so well received in the United States.” Although he has a wide-ranging repertoire, Entremont now gravitates toward the core central European scores that comprise the repertoire for the present tour. “I resist specialization,” he explained. “I play all kinds of music, from Haydn to 21st-century works. Although my musical roots are French, since I have lived in Vienna, I have been immersed in the Germanic repertoire.”

Entremont, who is also the director of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, where he teaches between concertizing, is particularly enthusiastic about working with Knauer, one of his former students. “Sebastian is wonderfully talented – one of the top pianists in Germany. It is marvelous to collaborate on performances of concertos I have played with someone whose approach is totally different,” Entremont said.

South Florida looms even larger on Entremont’s future calendar. In addition to his annual appearances at the Kravis Center, he began a three-year tenure as principal conductor of the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia in November. “The orchestral scene locally has been dramatic with some ensembles ceasing to exist,” he recalls. “The Boca Raton orchestra is comprised of some of the area’s best musicians. I really thought the first concert went very well. We’ll see about the future.”

Marshall Turkin, founder of the Boca Raton ensemble and a veteran orchestral executive, has worked with Entremont for over five decades. “I first knew him as a precocious, brilliant pianist and I watched him develop into a fine conductor. Now This is the beginning of a new artistic relationship, and we are honored that such an international, world-class musician will be leading our ensemble.”

Philippe Entremont conducts the Deutsche State Philharmonic 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Arsht Center in Miami. 800-572-8471, kravis.org; 305-949-6722 arshtcenter.org

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Mon Feb 7, 2011
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