Lucerne Festival – Festival Theme of “Humor”

2012_lf_sommer_lfo_abbado_(c)_lf_peter_fischli_18082012_22The 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 pre¬mieres — 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.”

Starting in mid-August, the Summer Festival will be devoted to the theme of “Humor,” with program¬ming that explores the various ways in which composers of every era have interpreted this: 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 “Humor” on 14 August. This will precede the concert, in which Bernard
Haitink, for the first time ever, conducts the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, and 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 conduct Mahler’s Fifth and Haydn’s Surprise Symphony.

The moral “Tutto nel mondo è burla” (“All the world’s a joke”) from Verdi’s last opera Falstaff ex¬presses 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, whilst 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 of 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.

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Photo credits: Copyright Lucerne Festival

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