Just in: Boulez names subs at Lucerne

Just in: Boulez names subs at Lucerne


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2015

The ailing Pierre Boulez, 90 next month, has nominated the conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and the composer Matthias Pintscher to replace him at this summer’s Lucerne Festival Academy. Andris Nelsons and Bernard Haitink are the limelight conductors.

Ze theme of ze festival is ‘humour’. Ha-ha. Very Swiss press release follows.

lucerne festival


Lucerne, 18 February 2015. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA will open the Summer Festival with concerts during the first week under the direction of Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons. Pierre Boulez has invited Pablo Heras-Casado and Matthias Pintscher to serve as conductors for the twelfth LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY. On 23 August an entire Festival day — including eight world pre­mieres — will be devoted to the work of Boulez to mark his 90th birthday this year. The composers-in-residence this summer include the Swiss Jürg Wyttenbach and the American Tod Machover. The violinist Isabelle Faust will perform as “artiste étoile.”

Festival Theme of “Humor”

Starting in mid-August, the Summer Festival will be devoted to the theme of “Humor,” with program­ming that explores the various ways in which composers of every era have interpreted this theme: whether through shifting temperaments and moods, through wit in the sense of ingenious ideas and thought-provoking punchlines, or through satire, parody, and elements of the grotesque. Alfred Brendel will give the opening address on the summer’s theme on 14 August. This will precede the opening concert, in which Bernard Haitink, who for the first time ever conducts the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, will pair Haydn’s Symphony in C major Hob. I:60 (Il distratto) — a work in which an astonishing variety of musical traits are juxtaposed — with Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Andris Nelsons will likewise conduct theLUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA in music of Gustav Mahler: namely, the Fifth Symphony, whose far-ranging emotional spectrum encompasses a funeral march, a love song, and a final hymn of jubilation. It will be played on 19 August side by side with songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn featuring the baritone Matthias Goerne. On 20 August Nelsons will pair Mahler’s Fifth with Haydn’s Surprise Symphony.

The moral “Tutto nel mondo è burla” (“All the world’s a joke”) from Verdi’s last opera Falstaff ex­presses the Festival theme in a nutshell. The Bamberg Symphony under Jonathan Nott return two years after the first-ever Lucerne Ring to present the opera in a concert performance on 26 August. All three programs featuring early music likewise demonstrate the humor angle. On 16 August Isabelle Faust explores word painting as practiced by Biber and sonatas by Bach and Froberger with Kristian Bezuidenhout at the harpsichord, while on 30 August the Swiss Meret Lüthi and the ensemble Les Passions de l’Ame bring audiences a program of “Baroque shenanigans.” And on 6 September the Concerto Italiano and Rinaldo Alessandrini will perform a madrigal comedy by Banchieri along with works of Monteverdi.

Joseph Haydn’s musical wit will be the focus in a program by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons on 30 August and in a program by the Vienna Philharmonic with Semyon Bychkov on 12 September; Simon Rattle has also chosen to give the spotlight to Haydn in the Berlin Philharmo­nic’s second program on 2 September with a “Symphonie imaginaire” constructed from the compo­ser’s instrumental movements. The theme of “Humor” surfaces in the form of bitterly angry satire in Shostakovich’s symphonic scherzos, as the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Andris Nelsons will de­monstrate on 31 August when they perform his Tenth Symphony in a concert that also includes Don Quixote by Richard Strauss.

This theme is also reflected in the masquerades and colorful collages of Prokofiev and Stravinsky. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Daniele Gatti will perform Prokofiev’s First Symphony and Stravinsky’s ballet music for Pulcinella and Jeu de cartes on 24 August, and on 4 September the St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov will illuminate Stravinsky’s techniques of musical montage inPetrushka.

The Festival theme will be the focus of this year’s NZZ panel discussion featuring the entertainer Harald Schmidt, the writer Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and pianist András Schiff — and hosted by NZZ chief arts editor Martin Meyer. With its humorous concert presentation on 10 September, the Duo Igudesman & Joo will delight audiences as they combine classical music and comedy.

Overview of Additional Orchestras, Conductors, and Soloists

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim will again bring two programs to Lucerne. The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden with Christian Thielemann and the Israel Philharmonic Or­chestra with Zubin Mehta will also perform. The San Francisco Symphony, which made its Festival debut 25 ago, will be in Lucerne for concerts on 9 and 11 September led by Michael Tilson Thomas. The Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, which likewise first performed at LUCERNE FESTIVAL in 1990, will be led this summer by Herbert Blomstedt on 23 August. Les Arts Florissants and William Christie return to the Festival following a seven-year absence.

In addition there will be performances by the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg under François-Xavier Roth as well as by the Basler Madrigalisten, the Ensemble intercontemporain, and, on 21 August, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, which makes its first Festival appearance to per­form Mendelssohn’s Overture and Incidental Music to Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Trevor Pinnock and Klaus Maria Brandauer. The television host Kurt Aeschbacher will be on hand on 18 August for a narration (in Bernese dialect) of Carnival of the Animals that goes along with the music of Saint-Saëns performed by the Festival Strings Lucerne. A new production of Britten’s tragicomic opera Albert Herring will be given at the Luzerner Theater on 5 September. Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic will close the Festival on 13 September with Ed­ward Elgar’s oratorio The Dream of Gerontius. Among the soloists for the summer of 2015 are the pianists Yefim Bronfman, Maria João Pires, Yuja Wang, and Nikolai Lugansky; the piano duo Tal & Groethuysen; the singers Anja Harteros and Matthias Goerne; the violinist Julia Fischer; the cellist Yo-Yo Ma; the clarinetist Sabine Meyer; and the trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.

LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY and “A Day for Pierre Boulez”

In 2015 the students of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY will be taught by Pablo Heras-Casado and Matthias Pintscher, who were invited by artistic director Pierre Boulez. The entire day of 23 Au­gust is dedicated to Pierre Boulez himself: this year he celebrates his 90th birthday. This “Day for Pierre Boulez” will see performances of his works by the members of the Ensemble intercontempo­rain and students of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY. And since the composer has always sought out what is new throughout his career, his own works will be presented in dialogue with eight world premieres of compositions by such well-wishers as Matthias Pintscher, Heinz Holliger, Tod Machover, György Kurtág, and Wolfgang Rihm. Under Pintscher the Academy students will conclude the celebratory day by performing Boulez’s Notations I–IV and VII along with a pair of world premieres of works by Piotr Peszat and Samy Moussa that were written as part of the Roche Young Commissions.

Pablo Heras-Casado will preside over the close study and rehearsal of two classics of early moder­nism: Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarinand Varèse’s Amériques. These will be performed on the pro­gram of 6 September, which will also feature “artiste étoile” Isabelle Faust in Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, a work which is being heard for the first time at the Festival. The fact that humor is not neglected in the Academy will be evident when the participants join with the Swiss band Hildegard Lernt Fliegen for a Late Night event on 5 September.

“Artiste étoile” Isabelle Faust
The German violinist Isabelle Faust will be featured in six concerts as “artiste étoile.” On 15 August she will be joined by soloists of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA and the actor Dominique Horwitz in Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat.

With Kristian Bezuidenhout, who himself appears on 27 August as the soloist with the Royal Concert­gebouw Orchestra Amsterdam under Daniel Harding, she will perform a program of works for violin and harpsichord on 16 August. In addition, Faust will be the soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto in A major K. 219 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Bernard Haitink on 25 August and in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam on 28 August. On 12 September she will team up with the soprano Christine Schäfer to perform Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments in a recital for violin and voice, with Dominique Horwitz reciting additional excerpts from Kafka’s writings.

Composers-in-Residence Tod Machover and Jürg Wyttenbach
The Swiss Jürg Wyttenbach, this year’s composer-in-residence, was commissioned by the Festival to set the Mani Matter’s libretto Der Unfall (“The Accident”) to music; Matter had originally written this libretto some 40 years ago for the composer. This madrigal-play will receive its world premiere on 21 August in collaboration with the Luzerner Theater and the Basel-based Gare du Nord. As part of his Lucerne retrospective, such works as Cortège pour violon as well as the Rabelais-inspired scenes Gargantua chez les Helvètes du Haut-Valais will be presented on 22 August.

Tod Machover, the second composer-in-residence for the summer of 2015, will present his Sym­phony for Lucerne, in which he explores the city’s unique sound. Lucerne residents can continue to actively participate by recording, editing, and sharing sounds using an app (www.sinfoniefuerluzern.ch). This commissioned work will be given its world premiere by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMYOrchestra conducted by Matthias Pintscher on 5 September. Other works of Machover to be presented include Fensadense for hyperinstruments and interactive electronics, this year’s new production from the LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance series: its premiere takes place on 12 September. This brings the total number of world premieres during the Festival this summer to 15. And on 29 August an ensemble of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY will perform Machover’s Hyperstring Trilogy.

LUCERNE FESTIVAL 40min, LUCERNE FESTIVAL Lounge, the Debuts, Young Series, and More
This will be the third year of the continuing brief concert series LUCERNE FESTIVAL 40min. Entrance to these concerts is free, and they always start at 18.20; the series enables concertgoers to get to know key artists and works from the summer’s programming. Bernard Haitink, Isabelle Faust, Matthias Pintscher, musicians of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, the San Francisco Symphony, and many others are among those participating. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL Lounge series likewise presents Festival artists in a performance art environment that blends classical music and club culture.

The Debut series gives young international artists an opportunity to demonstrate their talents. This summer’s lineup includes the winner of the “Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes”, the guitarist Vojin Kocić, the South-Korean violinist Dami Kim, the Swiss cellist Christoph Croisé, the Austrian clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer, the German mezzo-soprano Silke Gäng, the German-Russian pianist Igor Levit, and the American Dover Quartet.

Along with the new production by LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance, the Young series this summer will offer such presentations as a staged family concert featuring the Austrian ensemble Die Schurken, as well as children’s concerts, a coproduction with the puppet theater Petruschka, and special elementary school performances.

Open-air concerts take place at the Inseli Park in Lucerne each Thursday as part of the at the Buvette series. Together with the Kunstmuseum Luzern, there will be a presentation of an interdis­ciplinary project exploring the Festival theme of “Humor” and associated with the competition titled “Soundzz.z.zzz…z,” where music and visual art interface. “Humor is a spirit which pervades and invisibly animates everything” is the name of this year’s lecture series (in German) to be held in collaboration with the Catholic churches of Lucerne; these take place on Saturdays at 17:00 in the KKL Luzern auditorium.

Launched in 2013 by the label audite and the winner of two Diapasons d’or among other awards in 2014, the LUCERNE FESTIVAL Historic Performances CD series will continue. The seventh CD in this series from the Swiss Radio archives will be available at the end of February and contains first-ever releases by the cellist Pierre Fournier with the Orchestre Philharmonique de la RTF from 1962 and with the Festival Strings Lucerne from 1976; it also includes his performance of Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto from 1967, with the Dvořák specialist Istvan Kertesz conducting the Swiss Festival Orchestra. An additional release in this CD series is planned for the fall of 2015.

How To Purchase Tickets for LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer

Tickets may be purchased online at www.lucernefestival.ch/en as well as in person at sales outlets starting on 2 March 2015 at 12 noon Lucerne time.
Written orders start on 9 March and can be placed through post or Fax: +41 (0)41 226 44 85. Telephone ticket sales start on 1 April: +41 (0) 41 226 44 80, Mon to Fri: 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Tickets may also be purchased from the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ticket outlet in the KKL Luzern during LUCERNE FESTIVAL at Easter (21 to 29 March 2015) and during LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer starting Friday, 14 August 2015, daily from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Pintscher: a sympathetic and intelligent man, but his approach is entirely materialistic, making no distinction between music and sonic art:


    His story of meeting an African teenager, who had never ever in his life heard any Western pop music, or classical music, let alone Western contemporary music, is unintentionally revealing. The innocent young man attended a P’s orchestral première within a program including also Beethoven V, as unknown to him as anything else. He much enjoyed and easily ‘consumed’ the Pintscher piece, but was really shocked by the Beethoven, which was by far the most accessible and ‘easy’ piece, in terms of complexity, of the concert. P took this chap’s enjoying his own piece as a compliment and a signal of communication. But it seems likely that the African enjoyed P’s piece on a purely sonic level, but with the Beethoven was struck by something else: that music could SAY something as if in language. Music is a psychological art, not a sonic art. For P it seems that all music and sonic art is sonic art. No wonder Boulez would have him appointed. Sign of the times.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Tod Machover, the second composer-in-residence for the summer of 2015, will present his Sym­phony for Lucerne, in which he explores the city’s unique sound. Lucerne residents can continue to actively participate by recording, editing, and sharing sounds using an app (www.sinfoniefuerluzern.ch). This commissioned work will be given its world premiere by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMYOrchestra conducted by Matthias Pintscher on 5 September.”

    Who would take these people seriously?

    And then, another genius:


    Where does it all come from? The sixties of the last century. Why do people want to pay for it – either in terms of subsidies, or sponsorship, or ticket fare? Because the hip of half a century ago has become established convention, and an easy one at that. It makes Boulez look very young in comparison.