Musical Visitors to Swiss Cities 2014/2015

SwitzerlandSwitzerland Musical Visitors to Swiss Cities 2014/2015


Switzerland’s two prestige concert organizations have announced their program for the forthcoming season. Both have personalities, experience and a strong musical background.

The Caecilia artists agency looks after a number musicians in Switzerland, from some very prestigious names (Barenboim, Pappano, Jordan..) to some rising stars. The concert season is managed by Steve Roger, former GM of the Swiss Romande Orchestra.

The Migros concerts are run by Mischa Damev, still an active conductor himself. Interestingly, these concerts and a number of cultural and educational activities are financed from the turnover generated at Migros’ supermarkets. It was Migros’ founder Gottlieb Duttweiler wish, some 50 years ago, to devote 1% of the turnover (note: not profits) of his company to sponsoring quality cultural events for the good of the Swiss community. Where else do these things happen nowadays?

Both programs show a certain struggle to balance the usual and the unusual. There is a Russian émigré community in Switzerland so some Tchaikowsky will be played. Vladimir Fedeseyev will conduct his Moscow Tchaikowsky and Yuri Temirkanov his St-Petersburg both in the Pathétique while the 5th will be played by the Guangzhou Symphonic Orchestra under Lin Daye. The first part of this concert will be devoted to Chinese music with a work for string orchestra by Guo Wenjing and the unavoidable Yellow River Concerto by the brilliant Chinese-Swiss pianist Mélodie Zhao. The Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra will tour under Sakari Oramo and as soloist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in … Tchaikowsky’s violin concerto.  Oramo will conduct Sibelius’ first symphony. While the Finnish composer is not so played in Switzerland, could not the more daring 4th have been chosen?

Musical styles have evolved and many will hear with great interest a Mozart evening with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and chorus under Tom Koopman. Some programs will be performed in Lucerne and not in Geneva. Lucky Lucerners (and Zurichers) will be able to hear Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra with Robin Ticciati and Elina Garanca in a full French program while Genevans will be able to hear young Danill Trifonovin in both Chopin Piano concertos with the Kremerata Baltica. The Migros season will end with the LSO under Daniel Harding giving us Mendelssohn’s violin concerto with Janine Jansen as soloist, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and a creation by British-born Swiss-resident composer Edward Rushton called beguilingly “Being Mahler’s fifth symphony”.

Caecilia’s “Grands Interprètes” will celebrate prestige pianists. The season will start with Maria-João Pires playing chamber music with Antonio Meneses, himself a professor in Berne. Geneva regulars such as Grigory Sokolov and Evgeny Kissin will return. While Sokolov’s program will be announced later, Kissin’s will include the Beethoven Waldstein and Prokoviev 4th Piano sonata. Many will however want to attend the appearance of the young British Benjamin Grosvenor. Flautist Emmanuel Pahud will play French music with the Lyon National Orchestra under Alain Altinoglu and Rafal Blechacz will play with – it is unclear if he will conduct as well –the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

The “Grands Interprètes” also brings a strong line-up of chamber music to the Geneva conservatoire with the appearance of the Quatuor Gémeaux, and some newcomers such as the Quatuor Kelemen and the Quatuor Armida (Geneva’s competition laureate), the Quatuor Modigliani with Sabine Meyer and wind soloists (for marvelous works such as Mozart’s clarinet quintet and Schubert’s octet). Next to these young groups, the Quatuor Les Dissonances, Quatuor Apollon Musagète and the Quatuor Emerson feel like established ensembles. The season will end with the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival.

It has to be said, however, that these chamber music programs are actually more daring and balanced than the symphonic programs. Yes, Tchaïkovsky’s quartet will be played by the Appolon Musagète but this is rarity compared to the Pathétique and this will come after Beethoven and Webern (whose music has not been heard for the last 5 years in Geneva’s Victoria Hall!). The Emerson Quartet will mix Purcell, Mozart and Brahms, the Dissonances Quartet will perform Dutilleux, Debussy and Schubert. Bartok’s 6th quartet is a logical follow-up after Haydn and Brahms as chosen by the Kelemens.

So many things to hear next year but is there somewhat a hidden message in the ambitious selections of programs played by chamber ensembles and the less adventurous ones of the orchestral tours ?

Les “Grands Interprètes” can be found at and Migros concert details (dates, cities) are at

Antoine Leboyer and John Rhodes

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