When Beethoven’s Missa solemnis was performed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt with his Concentus Musicus Wien last summer, there was no way of knowing that this would bring the Salzburg Festival full circle, completing a cycle begun in 1992 with a performance of the very same work: at the time, it was Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s debut at the Salzburg Festival, conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Then as today, the performance was uncompromising, rousing, overwhelming. The recent announcement of his withdrawal from all conducting engagements due to reasons of health, made on the eve of his 86th birthday, was met with great sadness throughout the music world, and it remains for us to remember with the utmost gratitude all those highlights he gave to our Festival throughout a quarter-century. These were truly unheard-of performances, most recently including Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and, on the concert podium, Mozart’s last three symphonies, newly conceived as an “instrumental oratorio”. His exploration of Beethoven’s key works, begun two years ago with the Concentus Musicus Wien, was to be continued this summer with the Ninth Symphony, an event that cannot now take place as envisioned. In his stead, Andrés Orozco-Estrada will take over as the conductor of this concert on July 25 at the Großes Festspielhaus.
Andrés Orozco-Estrada is considered one of the outstanding conductors of the younger generation and has led international orchestras such as the Vienna and Munich Philharmonics, the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig. He is chief conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Houston Symphony; he is also principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. During the past summer, Orozco-Estrada gave his successful Salzburg Festival debut. We are delighted that he will now conduct not only the Vienna Philharmonic in Il templario by Otto Nicolai, as originally planned, but also Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 during the Ouverture spirituelle.
“It is an honour for me to take over this concert. Maestro Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus Wien have changed and enriched the history of music with their interpretations. For me, Mr. Harnoncourt and ‘his’ ensemble are great sources of inspiration. I look forward to working on my vision of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony together with Concentus, and I cannot wait to hear the results.”