MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Life Is Live Festival

Time for live performances to begin again in Lucerne. On Friday Lucerne Festival launches “Life Is Live”, a ten-day-long series of events that invite audiences back into the KKL Concert Hall and other venues.

The Opening Concert also marks a belated debut for the 93-year-old Herbert Blomstedt, who will conduct the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA for the very first time.

Here’s a list of ways to hear programs being broadcast via livestreams and radio. For example, the Opening Concert (with Martha Argerich as the soloist in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto) will be transmitted with a short time-delay, starting at 2pm EST on 14 August on SRF2.

Other notable events: two all-Beethoven recitals with Igor Levit, an all-Schumann recital by the young tenor Mauro Peter, a recital by the saxophonist Valentine Michaud, and Cecilia Bartoli and friends in the Handel-inspired program “What Passion Cannot Music Raise”.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, music news

Life Is Live

One sign of hope at least in the music world with regard to live performance: Lucerne Festival, after having to cancel its meticulously planned Summer Festival, has announced a short festival of 10 days that will take its place. Unlike the United States, Switzerland has a functioning government that has actually taken the coronavirus pandemic seriously and is thus in a position to start carefully relaxing restrictions on audience gatherings.

Titled Life Is Live, the short festival includes Martha Argerich and Herbert Blomstedt with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in the opening concerts, as well as a pair of recitals by Igor Levit, who continues his complete Beethoven sonata cycle.

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, Lucerne Festival, music festivals, music news

Bernard Haitink Bids Adieu

BH-2019

Tonight is the night: after farewell concerts in Amsterdam and London, Bernard Haitink will officially raise his baton for the last time when he conducts the Vienna Philharmonic is his very last concert at the 2019 Lucerne Festival. The concert has long been sold out.

Yesterday Haitink and his wife Patricia were the special guests at the vernissage launching the new book by Erich Singer and Peter Hagmann: Bernard Haitink: Dirigieren ist ein Rätsel. The maestro was visibly moved by the tributes to his life and legacy.

On tonight’s program, Haitink will conduct Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Emanuel Ax in the solo role. Could you imagine a more graceful exit from such a distinguished career?

Filed under: Anton Bruckner, Beethoven, Bernard Haitink, conductors, Lucerne Festival

Chailly Meets the Lucerne Festival Academy Alumni

One of the programs I’m most looking forward to in Lucerne is the Academy Alumni Orchestra program this Sunday, which will be led by Riccardo Chailly, music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

Yesterday, Wolfgang Rihm and Mariano Chiacchiarini introduced the culminating work of the program: Rihm’s early orchestral composition Dis-Kontur from 1974, which starts off with a post-’68 generation update of the catastrophic hammer blows familiar from Mahler, Berg, and Schoenberg. As Ulrich Mosch writes:

Fundamental to Rihm’s pieces for orchestra was his decision to refrain from transforming the orchestra into a large, structurally controlled “sound generator” and from reinventing the ensemble by taking the approach of reorganising it according to “internal, social” assumptions – a co-op effort of equally entitled individuals or a self-regulating social and musical system, for instance.

The rest of the program that Chailly will conduct the Soviet Alexander Mosolov’s The Iron Foundry, Bruno Maderna’s Grande Aulodia for flute and oboe solo with orchestra (Swiss premiere), and Schoenberg’s Five Orchestra Pieces.

 

UPDATE: You can watch this splendid concert here:

 

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Lucerne Festival Academy

Chailly Conducts Mahler 6 in Lucerne

A powerful program coming up tonight with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra:

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Mahler

Lucerne’s 2019 Summer Festival Opening: Livestreamed

You don’t have to be in Lucerne to listen to the Opening Concert of the 2019 Summer Festival tomorrow (16 August). The program will be live-streamed KKL Concert Hall by arte here at 18:50 Swiss time. SRF 1 will also broadcast the concert with a time delay (22.25 Swiss time) and on arte concert (18.50 Swiss time).

Riccardo Chailly will lead the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in an all-Rachmaninoff program: the Third Piano Concerto (with Denis Matsuev as the soloist); Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (orchestral version); and the Third Symphony.

 

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Rachmaninoff

Bernard Haitink Announces Retirement

Now it’s official: Bernard Haitink has announced that he will conduct his last concert on  September 2019 in Lucerne. His farewell: Bruckner’s Seventh (along with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Murray Perahia as the soloist).

Filed under: conductors, Lucerne Festival, music news

Late-Night Liszt

I’d never heard Till Fellner live before but am now a convert. He played this as an encore after his rainwater-clear account of Mozart’s K. 503 C major Concerto on the first half of the finale concert of the 2019 Easter Festival in Lucerne on Palm Sunday.

Filed under: Franz Liszt, Lucerne Festival, Mozart, pianists

Lucerne Festival Academy in Berlin

INORI

To the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy fell the honor of closing out the 2018 Musikfest Berlin — and what could possibly top their rendition of Stockhausen’s INORI as the final act?

Led by Peter Eötvös, the Academy musicians found themselves on the stage of one of the most sacrosanct spaces of Berlin’s music scene, the Philharmonie, playing the Berlin premiere of the full version of Stockhausen’s intensely beautiful “Adorations” for large orchestra and two “dancer-mimes” (hitherto given here only in a reduced version).

They’d spent the summer rehearsing it and presenting it as part of the Stockhausen homage at Lucerne Festival — the two pairs of artists who undertook the unusually demanding dancer-mime roles spent the past year mastering their parts — and everything was in place for Stockhausen’s weirdly gripping, transporting music of the spheres to cast its spell.

Spirituality and ritual comprised a thematic focus for several of the Musikfest programs. Stockhausen’s gathering of ageless gestures of prayer and worship that have been used across global cultures conveyed a contemporary longing to transcend the mania of our fragmented, restless lives and attention spans in this late-capitalist era.

Trained under the supervision of Kathinka Pasveer, Alain Louafi, and Peter Eötvösm Winnie Huang and Diego Vásquez were the dancer-mimes in this performance. At the start, they ascended the steps to the two raised platforms positioned downstage, where over the course of the 70-minute work they performed Stockhausen’s meticulously notated gestures, in sync with changes in the pitch, rhythm, and dynamics of the music. INORI has been described as a sister work to GRUPPEN, but here the focus is on synchrony rather than simultaneously unfolding polychronies.

Mostly performing from a seated position, the dancer-mimes eventually descended again from their perch, slowly retreating to an exit high behind the stage, like Bodhisattvas who have fulfilled their mission.

Filed under: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lucerne Festival, Lucerne Festival Academy

Ruth Reinhardt at Lucerne Festival

The talented young conductor Ruth Reinhardt, who returns to Seattle Symphony for a major concert next month (where she was a Conducting Fellow in 2015-16), led an impressive performance of Luigi Nono’s No hay caminos, hay que caminar … Andrej Tarkowskij this past Sunday — one of the highlights of this year’s Lucerne Festival Academy.

Reinhardt gave a brief introduction to this highly challenging piece, suggesting the possibility of perceiving in the highly structured, subtle transformations to which Nono subjects his material a “metaphor for the human journey, our pilgrimage through life.

The Nono work explores spatial music as well, with discrete groups of the players subdivided into seven and positioned throughout the hall. Before and after this concert (which also included Messiaen’s awe-inducing, terrifyingly loud Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum for winds and percussion, led by Sir Simon Rattle), the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy joined the London Symphony for Stockhausen’s Gruppen.

A fascinating juxtaposition: the devoutly Catholic Messiaen, the resolutely atheist Nono.

Filed under: conductors, Lucerne Festival, Lucerne Festival Academy

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