Mahler dominates Beijing Festival

Mahler dominates Beijing Festival


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2011

Gustav Mahler is centre stage at the 14th Beijing Music Festival, just announced.  Details here. Press release below.


14th Beijing Music Festival (BMF) pays homage to Mahler

Crossover dialogues that “deconstruct” the classical Mahler


One of the major annual cultural highlights in the Chinese capital, the Beijing Music Festival (BMF) is dedicated to presenting high-quality classical music performances, commissioning new works and advocating outreach programs and music education for the general public. During the past 13 years, the BMF’s diverse programs traverse musical cultures both from China and the West, tradition and modernity, sharing with the audience both the profound cultural heritage and potent vibrancy of classical music.

2011 marks the centennial of the death of the great Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860–1911). The 14th Beijing Music Festival, which will open on October 6, wholeheartedly offers Beijing audiences a magnificent yet innovative musical commemoration. During the 25 days of this Festival, 22 concerts, ranging from symphonies, chamber music, solos, choruses, and all the way to jazz, will be presented. Among the repertoire are 18 complete works by Mahler. Apart from his complete symphonic output, his major vocal repertoire and the early piano quartet will also be presented. This also marks the BMF’s first foray in celebrating a single composer.

Conducting maestros Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Eliahu Inbal, Manfred Honeck, Yuri Temirkanov and Daniel Harding will collaborate with such illustrious Chinese orchestras as the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra and Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Asia’s distinguished Singapore Symphony Orchestra is also invited to appear in the BMF this year. Throughout the 14th BMF, the output of Mahler—from complete symphonies to lieder and to chamber music—will be performed by the world’s best conductors and vocal artists. In addition to those listed above, Helmuth Rilling and Riccardo Muti will also come to Beijing especially for Mahler. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Beijing’s music fans! The BMF also provides a fresh and imaginative approach to Mahler: his music reconceived by jazz guru Uri Caine, revealing the infinite possibilities in the reinterpretation of classical music. Though there seems to be no connection between Mahler and jazz, this crossover program reveals to the audience new possibilities in Mahler, thereby opening up more directions in rendering classical works.

Numerous internationally-renowned musicians and orchestras will gather in Beijing to “experience” Mahler with music fans. One sees here a dialogue of the East and West that transcends time, with Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) and Das Lied auf der Erde by Mahler and Ye Xiaogang respectively staged by avant-garde director Li Liuyi.

Among the soloists at this year’s festival are the Chinese baritone Shen Yang, Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, Korean soprano Sumi Jo, Russian mezzo-soprano Marianna Tarasova and German baritone Matthias Goerne, a former student of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. To represent Mahler’s contribution to the chamber music repertoire, the Curtis Chamber Orchestra and Lucerne Festival Strings give their respective interpretations of the masterpiece.

Community outreach programs, long championed by the BMF, continue to have their important place in the program. The year’s outreach program features five pre-concert talks, four community outreach concerts and eleven master classes, including a “Conductor Series” in which Charles Dutoit, Helmuth Rilling, Daniel Harding, Yuri Temirkanov, Lan Shui and Eliahu Inbal share their thoughts about the continuation of Mahler’s art, music education, and the future of classical music.