Jacques Lacombe - Reviews


Return to Jacques Lacombe

"Lacombe proved a skilled and zealous advocate for this music’s poundingly atavistic rhythms and its fanciful lyric scenes." - "Carmina Burana" with BSO at Tanglewood, BOSTON GLOBE, July 11, 2016

"In "La Valse" Lacombe gave the 1920 piece a bouncy tempo and excellent balance. Ravel's music contains both color and texture, and it was all audible — plus performed with panache. This continued in the Suite No. 2 from "Daphnis and Chloe," which opened with a flourish of swirling arpeggios. As before, using his compact gestures, Lacombe drew out a crisp account of the 1912 score. Ravel's melodies were gracefully articulated, with just the right amount of impressionism.

The music breathed with life and felt vital. Bravo, Maestro Lacombe — this was a fitting conclusion to your tenure with the NJSO." - Rachmaninoff and Ravel, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Season Finale, NJ, June 13, 2016

"Lacombe’s conducting brought out the rich tonal textures, and he highlighted the brass, winds, violins and bass in a way that made the piece soar." - French Masterpieces with Omaha Symphony Orchestra, THE OMAHA, February 20, 2016

"Jacques Lacombe, who conducts by memory, masters the piece and amazingly communicates with the musicians, exploiting their virtuosity to compose a picture rich of a multitude of details, ideas and nuances.  A real musical fresco unwinds in front of the public, forcing it to stay attentive." - Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Berlioz with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, LA PRESSE, February 11, 2016

"The Symphonie Fantastique, conducted by Jacques Lacombe at the MSO, will create long lasting memories. Lacombe stirred in some craziness and Berliozienne colors to the work of the two former artistic directors of the MSO, especially in the two diabolical last movements." - Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Berlioz with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, LE DEVOIR, February 9, 2016

“Lacombe led a rendition of the iconic work that brought out the contrasts in its progression from darkness to light, from seething fury to bright triumph. He culled a taut and powerful timbre for the famous “door-knocker“ opening, with its short motive leading into long-lined phrases with wringing pathos. Firm strings and insinuating winds stood out. The embracing calm of the Andante con moto, and the mystery of the scherzo came through with care and style.“   - All Beethoven concert w/ NJSO, THE STAR-LEDGER, June 9, 2015

“He can thrive as a nomadic maestro... Despite the auditorium’s acoustical challenges, with a number of players and the piano spilling out past the proscenium to the lip of the stage, Mr. Lacombe, Mr. Hamelin and the orchestra gave gritty, attractive performances.“   - All Beethoven concert w/ NJSO, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 8, 2015

“Lacombe’s conducting was sure-handed throughout, notable for its fluid, shapely phrasing, its crisp articulation and its gradual build to a satisfying conclusion.“   -NJSO & Handel‘s Messiah, THE STAR-LEDGER, December 23, 2014

“Lacombe led a performance marked by clarity, balance and authority... Lacombe led a well-calibrated rendition, knowing when to increase intensity without becoming overbearing.“    - Scheherazade and Petrouchka w/ NJSO, THE STAR-LEDGER, November 10, 2014

“Lacombe had a good operatic grip on the Overture and Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco and the Triumphal Scene from Aida.“   - Tanglewood Debut with Rachmaninoff and Verdi, THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE, July 28, 2014

“Lacombe, a French Canadian, had an equally big job... The audience loved it. Loved it.“   - Tanglewood Debut with Rachmaninoff and Verdi, THE DAILY GAZETTE, July 28, 2014

“With care and precision, music director Jacques Lacombe led the New Jersey premiere of the work...“   - Richard Danielpour‘s Clarinet Cto w/ Anthony McGill and NJSO, THE STAR-LEDGER, May 3, 2014

“The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra gave the work an appropriately sobering and poignant performance led by music director Jacques Lacombe.“   - Verdi Requiem w/ New Jersey Symphony, THE STAR-LEDGER, April 8, 2014

“Mr. Lacombe gently tapered phrase endings amid the full sound of the orchestra. [He] also worked hard to build dynamics slowly, effectively closing the concert with the orchestra in robust form.“   - New Jersey Symphony "Black Friday" concert, TOWN TOPICS, December 4, 2013

“Mr. Lacombe illuminated deeper ties among the works on the bill, and to a broader societal sphere.“   - NJSO 91st Season Opening Gala, THE NEW YORK TIMES, September 29, 2013

“The NJSO brought warmth and nostalgic affection to the enveloping melodies of the second movement, with a mostly smooth horn solo. Lacombe showed care in crafting the graceful arcs of the waltz...“   - Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, New Jersey Symphony, THE STAR-LEDGER, April 16, 2013

“Lacombe’s tempos were judicious and enhanced the clarity, impeccable rhythms, and overall unity which made this evening one to remember.“   - Ravel, Mozart and Beethoven, Toledo Symphony, TOLEDO BLADE, March 2, 2013

“Though not spotless, the performance was more persuasive than tentative. Generous applause followed. Eavesdropping on conversations among fascinated children and their parents during intermission was an added treat... Mr. Lacombe navigated a sure course, charting a luminous “Venus,” a sprightly “Mercury,” a hearty “Jupiter” and a “Saturn” in which the remorseless tread of time was powerfully conveyed.“   - Tippett‘s Symphony 4 and Holst‘s The Planets, New Jersey Symphony, NEW YORK TIMES, January 6, 2013

“[Rhapsody in Blue] provided a stunning showcase for the French guest pianist and for the ensemble at large. Lacombe led an animated, smartly paced performance. The musicians performed solidly throughout, with flowing, sinuous winds and sizzling brass capturing the work’s jazzy feel.“   - New Jersey Symphony w/ Jean-Yves Thibaudet, THE STAR-LEDGER, October 1, 2012

“This week Jacques Lacombe visited the Maison symphonique to lead a classic from the Montreal songbook, Debussy’s La Mer. Just like old times? Well, yes, if brilliant colours and vital rhythms can be said to exemplify the OSM approach. The ending of the Jeux de vagues was as calm and exquisite as the opening of the Dialogue du vent et de la mer was menacing and turbulent. Execution was superb, the principals making chamber music on a panoramic scale.“   - "Jacques Lacombe gets a great sound from the OSM" THE MONTREAL GAZETTE, September 14, 2012

"Orchestra and conductor clearly shared Hamelin's dedication to and command of the work. Lacombe's sense of its large structure was manifest throughout, as was his superb, tight collaboration with the soloist; the New Jersey Symphony offered polished collective and individual virtuosity along with unstrained depth of sound over the five-movement span."   - Busoni Cto with Marc-Andre Hamelin, Spring for Music at Carnegie Hall, CLASSICAL SOURCE, May 12, 2012

"It was an honor to be in the hall for the astonishing performance of the Busoni concerto by Mr. Hamelin, the orchestra and the chorus. In this audacious work Busoni synthesizes late Romanticism, Italianate melody and dance (including a crazed tarantella), Wagnerian harmony, exploratory late Liszt, anticipations of modernism. What came through in this stunning performance was the sheer exuberance of Busoni's daring."   - Busoni Cto with Marc-Andre Hamelin, Spring for Music at Carnegie Hall, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 11, 2012

"Busoni's Piano Concerto, rarely performed and considered one of the most challenging in the repertoire, made for a stunning focal point of the program. Marc-André Hamelin, who first performed the work under Lacombe in Canada about 15 years ago, dazzled as the soloist. Lacombe and the NJSO made a compelling case for the 1904 work, which glories in romantic grandeur and bravado as it spills out over more than an hour. Hamelin played with strength, elasticity and decisiveness as the orchestra imbued the concerto with vibrant, fully engaged performances throughout the flashes of Brahms, dashes of Liszt and forays into Wagnerian heft. Lacombe navigated its many shifts and extended excursions with finesse."   - Busoni Cto with Marc-Andre Hamelin, Spring for Music at Carnegie Hall, THE STAR-LEDGER, May 11, 2012

"Making sense of this rambling score is enough of an accomplishment, but Hamelin mastered its rising and falling cascades of scales, biting rhythms and thunderous textures as though he was Busoni himself."   - Busoni Cto with Marc-Andre Hamelin, Spring for Music at Carnegie Hall, THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS,, May 10, 2012

"What could have been a crushing series of somber meditations on loss turned out to encompass a broad, compelling range as the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra took on composers' tributes to loved ones at the State Theatre on Saturday. In an inspired program led by music director Jacques Lacombe, guest violinist Gil Shaham and the NJSO transcended expectations."   - Mozart, Berg, Danielpour concert review, THE STAR-LEDGER, April 30, 2012

"On Sunday [Lacombe] showed how well he remembers the extrovert style the orchestra once was famous for, and how capable he is of rekindling it on demand... This was a very good afternoon."   - "Jacques Lacombe gets the classic OSM Sound," THE MONTREAL GAZETTE, February 5, 2012

"Mr. Lacombe's agile, transparent and winningly energized conception made this one of the most exhilarating accounts of "Firebird" I've ever heard."   - New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival, THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 9, 2012

"At the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday, under music director Jacques Lacombe with mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, the NJSO executed these pieces with consummate skill and plenty of flair. But it was the outlier of the program that became the highlight. George Antheil's Symphony No. 6 'After Delacroix,' an obscure, high-octane work and a more challenging listen showed Lacombe and the orchestra at their best. As they did throughout, they confidently conquered its complexities, embraced varied styles with abandon, and poured forth a satisfyingly full, multi-faceted sound without sacrificing clarity."   - New Jersey Symphony Orchestra season opener, THE NEW JERSEY STAR-LEDGER, October 16, 2011

"To find some Mahler, you had to go across the Hudson to hear the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its music director, Jacques Lacombe, perform the Third Symphony. Thankfully, that observance of the anniversary - at least the performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Saturday evening - was excellent. The orchestra played with focused power when it had to, as in a sweeping first movement energized by subtle yet sturdy percussion playing. But Mr. Lacombe also highlighted the work's gracefulness, in passages like the start of the minuet in the second movement and the hints of street music in the third."   - Mahler Symphony No. 3, New Jersey Symphony, The New York Times, May 23, 2011

"There are Traviatas and there are Traviatas; Vancouver has seen many, and committed opera fans no doubt feel they know the work inside out. Wrong. There may have been more vocally ravishing Traviatas over the years, but it would be hard to imagine one with more dramatic punch. A good measure of this stems from excellent work by the VO choir and orchestra. Under conductor Jacques Lacombe, the orchestra produces a robust and extroverted Verdi sound."   - Vancouver Opera, La Traviata, The Vancouver Sun, May 1, 2011

"Under music director Jacques Lacombe, the Symphony No. 1 written by a young Samuel Barber was well balanced and shaped by the NJSO, its bursts of cinematic intrigue pulled together with crackling energy."   - New Jersey Symphony, Barber, Tchaikovsky, Daniel Bernard Roumain, The Star-Ledger, April 11, 2011

"Under music director Jacques Lacombe, the performance was mesmerizing from its first notes to its conclusion -- and one of the most compelling classical performances in New Jersey so far this season."   - "Arabian Nights" program with NJ Symphony, The Star-Ledger, March 1, 2011

"On Jan. 7, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, an underrated group with a history of adventurous programming, arrived at NJPAC to kick off its monthlong Winter Festival, which this season has water as its theme. The young Québécois conductor, Jacques Lacombe, who took over as music director last fall, led with a confident, swinging beat, showing a particularly keen ear in Fauré's "Pelléas et Mélisande" Suite."   - New Jersey Symphony, Winter Festival "Water", Alex Ross for The New Yorker, January 24, 2011

"Lacombe and the NJSO conjured a deep maelstrom of sound, never overshadowing the vocalist nor compromising expression."   - New Jersey Symphony, Winter Festival, Best of "Water", The New Jersey Star-Ledger, January 14, 2011

"The New Jersey SO's own-label issue of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana was recorded live in November 2008, at the début concert with the orchestra of Canadian Jacques Lacombe, now its music director. A fresh-voiced choir from Montclair State University, with students from the Moscow Conservatory, brings out the work's youthful exuberance...the orchestra plays with precision and verve."   - CD Review, "Carmina Burana", BBC Music Magazine, January 1, 2011

"Lacombe advised audiences to approach new music as though hearing a foreign language while traveling, taking note as certain phrases and constructions begin to grow familiar and meaningful. He encouraged listeners to imagine pictures or stories for the music, even sharing his own take on a cool, subtly quivering segment - the sound ice would make if it could...the gesture illuminated the piece and set a worthy precedent - and there was much to admire in the playing."   - New Jersey Symphony, Edward T. Cone Violin Cto, Elgar Enigma Variations, NJ Star-Ledger, November 30, 2010

"The increasingly apparent and impressive ability of the new conductor and the orchestra to pull off a kind of controlled chaos, where ferocity and clarity combine so as to avoid the extremes of sounding clinical or cacophonous, was on full display in Kurt Weill's Symphony No. 1 "Berliner."   - New Jersey Symphony, Brahms Piano Cto 1, Weill Symphony 1, The New Jersey Star Ledger, November 13, 2010

"In a program that built to Prokofiev's vibrant and imposing Symphony No. 5, Lacombe led an invigorated NJSO...sections were expertly calibrated, balanced to showcase the composer's colorful orchestration, and bristled with a taut, live-wire feel."   - Roger Sessions, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, New Jersey Symphony, The Star-Ledger, October 30, 2010

"The concert began with a taut, vividly rendered performance of the Overture from Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro." Opera, Mr. Lacombe said from the stage, is one of his passions...The orchestra had a chance to show its mettle in Stravinsky's "Firebird" suite, which concluded the program. The musicians played vividly for their new maestro, who led a vibrant and detailed performance."   - New Jersey Symphony Gala Season Opener, The New York Times, September 16, 2010

"...Lacombe shined as the NJSO's new leader. He projected authority without ego, getting the best out of the musicians whose brilliant, unified sound and charged performances created a constant sense of anticipation, even in familiar repertory. The music sounded fresh and sharp, with detailed layers of sound clearly and cleanly coming into focus - a kind of auditory version of a "new glasses" feeling."   - New Jersey Symphony Gala Season Opener, The New Jersey Star-Ledger, September 16, 2010

"The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra offered a glimpse of its future on Thursday afternoon at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center here, when Jacques Lacombe, a fresh-faced conductor from the Trois-Rivières Symphony Orchestra in Quebec, led the ensemble for the first time since being chosen to be its next music director. Based on this initial encounter, a program featuring standard works by Brahms and Dvorak, the prognosis is decidedly positive...Introducing the encore, Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 21 in Dvorak's orchestration, Mr. Lacombe referred to the friendship between those composers, and between himself and Mr. Hétu, who died in February. Signs of a comparable bond between Mr. Lacombe and his new orchestra are already evident."   - Hetu, Brahms, Dvorak, New Jersey Symphony, The New York Times, April 23, 2010

"The conducting of Jacques Lacombe drew some of the most beautiful playing from the ROH orchestra I've heard all season."   - Tosca, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, MusicalCriticism.com, July 24, 2009

"The French-Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe, making his Royal Opera debut, is supportive in pacing his music, and conducts with flair and an eye for detail throughout."   - Tosca, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Times, July 14, 2009

"Robert Carsen's new Ariadne auf Naxos has already been seen in Munich, but, judging by the cheers from the Berliners, it's found a very welcome home at its second berth, particularly with the sensitive conducting of Jacques Lacombe."   - Ariadne auf Naxos, Deutsche Oper Berlin, The London Times, February 20, 2009

"'Carmina Burana' can seem longer than its usual hour, but Lacombe's dynamic subtlety and zest made it fly by. He is a musician's conductor, the rapport he achieved in rehearsal coming through on stage; blessed with a rare memory, he worked without a score, maximizing his eye contact with the orchestra and chorus, the intimacy aurally apparent."   - Carmina Burana w/the New Jersey Symphony, The Star Ledger, November 9, 2008