Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Preview for 2014-2015 Season

United StatesUnited States Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Preview for 2014-2015 Season

The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande has announced their 2014 – 2015 season, which will be the third and last under the musical directorship of Neeme Järvi.

Järvi stepped in when Marek Janowski, the previous director, resigned after seven years in Geneva, during which the overall level of the orchestra very significantly improved. Janowski had been vocal about the fact that he regretted not having any say on the choice of conductors at the Grand Théâtre, where his orchestra spends half their time. The OSR management tried to convince Bertrand de Billy to replace Janowski, but he expressed the same wish to be able to choose who would conduct at the Opera and declined the position when this was not agreed upon. De Billy was supposed to conduct a concert with Vadim Repim as soloist but cancelled, and he was replaced by Kazuki Yamada who developed a good relationship with the orchestra and was named principal guest conductor.

The management of the OSR changed about a year ago. The new president, Florence Notter, was previously in charge of the Association of the Friends of the OSR. She has a long relationship with the orchestra and also has an in-depth knowledge of the Geneva/Lausanne region. The new General Manager is Henk Swinnen who previously ran the Rotterdam Philharmonic. A lot of the season’s programming was already planned when they arrived, but the new team is clearly in charge and their confident, no-nonsense style is refreshing and inspiring.

This next season, Neeme Järvi will conduct several concerts devoted to Haydn’s Parisian Symphonies, and Strauss’s tone poems will also be featured. In September, Haydn’s 82nd and 83rd symphonies will be performed, along with Strauss’s Don Quichotte, with Gauthier Capucon as soloist; in November, Haydn’s 84th and 85th symphonies will be done, as well as Strauss’s Sinfonia Domestica. These programs will be complemented by such interesting pieces as Alma Mahler’s lieder, orchestrated by Jorma Panula, and Martin Frost with Weber’s first clarinet concerto. Neeme Järvi will highlight the Scandinavian composers he has often championed: Wilhelm Stenhammar’s piano concerto will be played by Per Tengstrand, and Nikolay Znaider will play Nielsen’s violin concerto.

Several Beethoven symphonies will be performed, with conducting duties shared by Neeme Järvi and Kazuki Yamada. Järvi will take the 5th, 6th and 8th while Yamada will look after the 7th. Yamada will also conduct Prokoviev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Simon Trpceski as soloist; and he’ll conduct Roussel’s Bacchus and Ariadne, as well as Brahms’s violin concerto with Baiba Skride as soloist.

Over the years, the OSR has developed a strong relationship with various conductors. Charles Dutoit, a regular guest who always manages to draw a gorgeous sound from them, will be back with a program that should fit him like a glove: Debussy’s Iberia, Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingale and Ravel’s second suite from Daphnis and Chloe. Nelson Freire, another regular with the OSR, will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20. Dutoit will take the OSR on tour in the USA with Nicolaï Lugansky, which is a smart move: the OSR has not visited the US for a long time, and the stature of both musicians in America is very high.

Eliahu Inbal will return to conduct Sergey Khachatryan in Beethoven’s violin concerto as well as Brahms’s Symphony No. 1. His most recent appearance in Geneva with the OSR dates from 2007. Last year, Semyon Bychkov conducted a strong  Symphony No. 1 by Mahler, and he will return next year for four performances of Verdi’s Requiem, three of them co-organized by the Grand Théâtre and offered in their subscription series.

Many will look with keen interest at the newcomers, some of them clearly potential candidates to replace Järvi. Markus Stenz will conduct John Adams’s Harmonielehre, finally enabling Geneva audiences to hear some of the American composer’s outstanding music. Jonathan Nott, who lives in Lucerne, will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 7. Osmo Vänskä was due to make his debut in a special concert for the friends of the OSR with American music sung by Dawn Upshaw and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, but this will actually mark his second appearance with the OSR: he replaced an ailing Neeme Järvi earlier this year in what was a truly stunning Symphony No. 4 by Nielsen.

The OSR will be associated with many other projects. They will play at the finale of Geneva’s piano competition (whose alumni include Solti, Michelangeli, Argerich, Goerner, Zacharias and Pollini, among many others). Like members of other modern orchestras, some players are starting to work on period instruments with baroque specialists and will perform Bach and Rameau under Stephan MacLeod. Philippe Béran will conduct music for younger audiences, and Ilych Rivas will conduct a group that mixes soloists of the OSR with younger musicians of the Haute Ecole de Musique in a Shostakovich – Respighi program.

Geneva citizens and music lovers will find all relevant details at www.osr.ch.

 Antoine Leboyer

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