28 Jun 2024

Musical lines of tradition

Guest Orchestras at the Salzburg Festival

Jubilation and catastrophes, sad fairy-tales and political appeals, contrapuntal masterworks and spiritual abysses: the programmes of the guest orchestras from Europe and the United States reveal a plethora of aspects and stories. They include music by Bach and Handel, from the First Viennese School to our own time – and feature plenty of great names, both among composers and performers.

A welcome Beethoven focus results from the completion of the exciting cycle of symphonies by Le Concert des Nations and Jordi Savall, which they carry on from last season on two evenings (6. August and 9. August). From here, the musical lines of tradition branch out: to Anton Bruckner, whose bicentennial is celebrated this year – and the sonic cathedral that is his Fifth Symphony, performed by Kirill Petrenko with the Berliner Philharmoniker. The next day, another anniversary is celebrated, that of Bedřich Smetana, whose fascinating cycle My Fatherland will be performed. Then there is Gustav Mahler, whose Fifth Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tackle, and the dark Sixth, the “Tragic”, which Simon Rattle and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra have chosen. Similarly moving, even devastating, is the end of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique”, with which Hankyeol Yoon presents himself as the winner of the 2023 Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award, leading the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna. Russian music is also the focus when the Oslo Philharmonic returns to the Festival with Klaus Mäkelä, the young Finn who has recently joined the champion’s league of international conductor; together, they perform Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, ending with its famous, ambiguous triumph.

Three violinists will perform great romantic violin concerti: Anne-Sophie Mutter, one of the Festival’s most popular artists for an unbelievable 47 years, returns to Brahms; Lisa Batiashvili, a regular guest since 2006, will dedicate herself to Tchaikovsky; and María Dueñas makes her debut with Bruch’s Concerto in G-minor. Yefim Bronfman will shine in Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto. Another anniversary is that of Arnold Schoenberg, who is represented with the late-romantic and symbolistic orchestral works Pelleas und Melisande, performed by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. Ingo Metzmacher conducts the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in a very special programme which plays with the effect of sound on time and space: in works ranging from Beethoven to Luigi Nono, from Richard Wagner to Arnold Schoenberg.


Walter Weidringer

First published in the Festival insert of Salzburger Nachrichten 2024

Translation: Alexa Nieschlag