© Manuela Jans/Lucerne Festival
© Manuela Jans/Lucerne Festival
Royal Concertgebouworkest | Daniel Harding | Yefim Bronfman
A musician who is in danger of going deaf, no longer able to hear properly what he is playing and what he is composing: this fate, which would have driven others mad, led Ludwig van Beethoven to develop his heroic style. The Third Piano Concerto, performed by the American keyboard titan Yefim Bronfman, exemplifies this style. The soloist enters the scene with hammer-like double octaves; an aura of existential severity prevails. The music suggests self-assertion, radiating willpower and pride. Claude Debussy also brought about a paradigm shift in music when he wrote his tone poem La Mer. Doing away with the central compositional principle of developing thematic ideas, he loosely strung motif together with motif. But like the waves in the sea, no two are alike. And so an undulating organism is created, a veritable ocean of sounds, which Debussy orchestrated with relish and dazzle. A showpiece for the magnificent Royal Concertgebouworkest, this time led by the British conductor Daniel Harding.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam/© Anne Dokter
The Royal Concertgebouworkest (RCO) was founded in 1888 as the Concertgebouworkest for the opening of Amsterdam’s concert hall; it officially received the appellation “Royal” to mark its 100th anniversary. Willem Kees was the first chief conductor and in 1895 passed the reins on to Willem Mengelberg. For a half-century, Mengelberg influenced the orchestra and established its great Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum was the first to helm the RCO following the Second World War and was succeeded by Bernard Haitink (1961–1988), Riccardo Chailly (1988–2004), Mariss Jansons (2004–2015), and Daniele Gatti (2016–2018). Leading composers such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss conducted the RCO on more than one occasion. The orchestra still regularly collaborates with contemporary composers and premieres their works. In addition to some 90 concerts in Amsterdam, the RCO gives 40 concerts at leading concert halls throughout the world each year and will tour to Japan and Taiwan this November. In the 2019-20 season, the violist Tabea Zimmermann will serve as artist-in-residence and the British composer and conductor Thomas Adès will play a major role with a six-part concert series. More than 1,100 recordings on LP, CD, and DVD to date, which since 2004 have been released on its in-house label, document the RCO’s artistic achievements. The orchestra is also committed to developing talent through the RCO Academy, collaborative efforts with other institutions, and Young, a youth orchestra for “hidden talent” from all over Europe launched in 2019. The RCO is co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; the Municipality of Amsterdam; sponsors; funds; and numerous donors all over the world. The largest portion of its income is generated by proceeds from the concerts it gives in and outside the Netherlands.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 3 September 1972 in a program of music by Stravinsky and Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony under Bernard Haitink.
Further information: www.concertgebouw.nl
Daniel Harding © Julian Hargreaves
Daniel Harding, who was born in 1975 in Oxford, began his career as an assistant to Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado. He made his debuts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1994 and, in 1996, with the Berlin Philharmonic, with which he continues to perform regularly. His first leadership positions led him to the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which elected him Honorary Conductor for Life. He has been Principal Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007 and has extended his contract there until 2023. From 2016 to the summer of 2019, he headed the Orchestre de Paris and, from 2007 to 2016, he was additionally Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Harding also works with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Saxon Staatskapelle, the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the leading American orchestras. As an opera conductor, Harding has been a regular guest at the Aix-en-Provence Festival since 1998, where he led Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in 2017. He has conducted works including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival and Verdi’s Falstaff as well as Schubert’s Fierabras at La Scala in Milan. The Vienna, Bavarian, and Berlin Staatsoper companies as well as the Royal Opera House in London have also engaged him for a variety of productions. Daniel Harding was awarded the Premio Abbiati (Italian Critics’ Prize) in 2011. His recordings have garnered the Choc de l’Année, the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros, the Gramophone Award, and a Grammy. He has been a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres since 2002 and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music since 2012.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 16 August 2003 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in works by Haydn, Kelterborn, and Schumann.
Yefim Bronfman © Dario Acosta
Yefim Bronfman was born in 1958 in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). In 1973 he emigrated with his family to Israel, where he continued his piano studies with Arie Vardi at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. Soon thereafter, he moved to the United States and completed his training with Rudolf Firkušný, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin. His debut with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta in 1978 launched an international career that has brought him together with the leading orchestras and conductors. In the 2017-18 season, for example, he went on a tour of the United States with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta; concertized with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons in Munich, London, and Vienna; and appeared with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The Vienna Philharmonic invited him to perform four concerts in April 2018 to jointly celebrate his 60th birthday; and at the end of the season he traveled with the London Symphony Orchestra throughout Thailand and China. From the outset of his career, Bronfman has also devoted himself intensively to chamber music, for example in partnering with Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, and Yo-Yo Ma and later with Magdalena Kožená and Emmanuel Pahud. Bronfman, who appeared as LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s “artiste étoile” in 2009, is moreover a committed performer of contemporary works and has given the world premieres of piano concertos by Esa-Pekka Salonen (2007) and Magnus Lindberg (2012) and of Jörg Widmann’s Trauermarsch for piano and orchestra (2014). Bronfman, who has been an American citizen since 1989 and who received the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991, commands an extensive discography; his recording of the three Bartók concertos won a Grammy Award.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 25 August 1999 in Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto, with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.
Introduction to the Concert | 18.30 | KKL Luzern, Auditorium
with Susanne Stähr (in German)