Salzburg Festival 2024 – Concerts (3)

The Festival’s co-founder Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the 150th anniversary of whose birth is celebrated in 2024, is credited with the following statement: “Painting transforms space into time; music transforms time into space.” This aphorism is characteristic for the discussion about the fracturing of the time-space continuum – a discussion nascent in the early 20th century, especially in music.

Gustavo Dudamel, photo Danny Clinch

“Hard cuts in film technology and in music, with rhythmic models and layered formulas, emphasized the relativity of time and the transformation of space into time as much as the conquest of unexpected sonic spaces.” (Hartmut Möller)

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, photo Arthur Elgort

The concert programme of the 2024 Festival summer revolves around such conquests of unexpected sonic spaces, phenomena of the perception of time and space, the transformation of transient time into musical space – thereby also touching upon the conscience of the fragility and transience of life, and upon the movement between heaven and hell illuminated by the opera and drama programme.

Human life and experience is life and experience in time; it “refers to time in its consummation, to one’s own time and the time of the world” (Emil Angehrn). Limited only by the unavoidability of death, which the Lithuanian-French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas described as the “radical future”, and which is dealt with in exemplary fashion in Hofmannsthal’s “play of the rich man’s dying”. Which brings us full circle to the Ouverture spirituelle, which is dedicated to the future, to what may come, as its title “Et exspecto” suggests.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal 1910, photo Nicola Perscheid

Ouverture spirituelle

“Et exspecto” does not only point to the resurrection of the dead and life in the coming world in the Christian sense, i.e. to a desired eternity and the consolation of hope, but also to uncertain expectation, the invisible, coming time.

The Ouverture spirituelle opens with Bach’s epic St Matthew Passion, a dramatic sonic rendition of the suffering of Jesus, followed by a late-night concert at the Kollegienkirche featuring the Choralquartett by Jörg Widmann, which also touches upon the theme of the crucifixion and the “last journey”, as well as a brief Requiem by string quartet by György Kurtág and Pēteris Vasks’ Fourth String Quartet.

Pēteris Vasks, photo Wikipedia

The Latvian composer has given his work an expansive final movement, entitled “Meditation”: “I saw an angel hover above the world. The angel observed the state of the world with sad eyes, but an almost imperceptible, loving touch of the angel’s wings brings us consolation and healing.”

Sofia Gubaidulina, photo Wikipedia

Et exspecto is also the title of a sonata for solo bayan by Sofia Gubaidulina, which is combined with Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, written at the beginning of World War II, and Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum. “I had the wish to convey only one state,” Pärt writes about his Te Deum. “This state might be infinite in time, and from this stream, I meant to very gently divert a part – a part of time of infinity.” – A Te Deum setting of a very different kind is Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s famous grand motet, which will be performed together with De profundis settings by Michel-Richard Delalande and Arvo Pärt.

Arvo Pärt, photo Wikipedia

“I have never put my hope in any other but in Thee, God of Israel, who canst show both wrath and graciousness,” thus the opening words of the famous 40-voice motet Spem in alium by the Renaissance master Thomas Tallis, which marks a high point of polyphony. Another choral gem is George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt: it tells not the story of individuals, but of an entire people – the people of Israel and its exodus from slavery in Egypt – including ten Biblical plagues.

Ideals, utopian designs, visions and fantasies also point to times yet to come, building traceable pathways into the future. “I searched for him, yet I could not find him”: a woman longs for her lover in the third chapter of the Song of Songs. Hope, promises and desire – and their disappointment – are inscribed into Georg Friedrich Haas’ ensemble piece Ich suchte, aber ich fand ihn nicht, in which the Austrian composer has inscribed this incessant search into the music. In his musical theatre work Koma, on the other hand, Haas evokes the state of a female patient with a brain trauma that leaves her caught between life and death, in an intermediate realm where light and darkness merge.

George Crumb – Makrokosmos, Volume 1

The notion of the universe, its vibrancy and infinite movement is the focus of Gérard Grisey’s work Le Noir de l’Étoile for six percussionists. Far-away spheres are also the realm of George Crumb’s piano cycle Makrokosmos, while his most important vocal work, Ancient Voices of Children, evokes mysterious rituals and the suffering of children. Claude Vivier’s Lonely Child, on the other hand, describes “a long song of loneliness”.

The manner in which destroyed hope becomes the worst torture imaginable is described by Luigi Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero in a moving manner. In his short opera from the 1940s, the Italian composer uses three twelve-tone rows as the basis of his composition, associating them with the notions “Prayer”, “Hope” and “Freedom”. Another key work of anti-Fascist resistance is Luigi Nono’s Il canto sospeso, in which he set last letters of European resistance fighters sentenced to death to music. Hope, expectation – and ultimately the unreachability of the other are at the core of Beat Furrer’s musical theatre work Begehren, based on settings by Cesare Pavese, Günter Eich, Ovid and Virgil, all of them focusing on the Orpheus myth. In it, HE and SHE, archetypes in search of a lost time, pass through various stages of desperation.

The Ouverture spirituelle ends with Johannes Brahms’ Schicksalslied and the symphonic cantata Lobgesang by Felix Mendelssohn, a setting of texts from the Scriptures which is performed at the Festival for the first time. Brahms’ work for chorus and orchestra is based on Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem Hyperions Schicksalslied, ending with the famous line “Jahr lang ins Ungewisse hinab” (“Destined for years to disappearance below”) – another eloquent description of movement between heaven and hell.

Arnold (hebr. Avraham) Schönberg, photo ASC

„Time with Schönberg“ 

“Only what is new and unsaid is worth saying in art,” is an apposite statement of the Austrian composer, music theorist, composition teacher, painter, poet and inventor Arnold Schoenberg, born 150 years ago in 2024. Commemorating this occasion, the Salzburg Festival dedicates a “Time with…” focus to this influential representative of New Music.

However, it is not only Schoenberg’s oeuvre that is interesting, but the manner in which his work was embedded into the historical context: from the fall of the monarchy to World War I, the interwar years, World War II and the post-war era.

Jessye Norman in Erwartung, photo Ruth Walz

Schoenberg’s oeuvre only became an important part of the Salzburg Festival’s opera and concert programmes after World War II. His opera fragment Moses und Aron, for example, saw two staged interpretations: in 1987/88 by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and in 1996 by Peter Stein, with Pierre Boulez conducting. The monodrama Erwartung was performed by none less than Jessye Norman in 1995, in a production by Robert Wilson, with Christoph con Dohnányi conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

“Time with Schoenberg” invites the audience to explore this influential and innovative composer, with works from his various creative periods, from piano pieces and chamber music for small ensembles to symphonic works. In Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s solo recital, entitled “Klavierwerk +”, Schoenberg’s various creative periods and development as a composer are illustrated particularly audibly, juxtaposing Schoenberg’s piano output as a whole with works by composers whom he considered models and inspiration.

Karl Kraus, photo The First World War

Not only Wagner, but also Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler and others are represented in this concert series as Schoenberg’s role models; his contemporary Karl Kraus, whose oratorial style profoundly impressed Schoenberg, is featured alongside friends and students: Franz Schreker, Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Hanns Eisler were influenced by Schoenberg, and that influence can also be found in Luigi Nono’s output and today, for example, in Olga Neuwirth’s oeuvre. Some works are performed with the instrumentation they were intended for, while others are heard in versions created for Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances, among others.

Riccardo Muti, photo SF/Marco Borrelli

Vienna Philharmonic 

The Vienna Philharmonic have always set the musical standards for which the Salzburg Festival is world-famous. In 1925 it first performed under its famous name at the Salzburg Festival; even before that, members of the Vienna State Opera were involved in orchestral concerts, and from 1922 the Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Traditionally, the Vienna Philharmonic presents five concert programmes in Salzburg: in 2024,

Herbert Blomstedt

Herbert Blomstedt is the first to conduct the orchestra in Johannes Brahms’ Schicksalslied and Mendelssohn’s symphonic cantata Lobgesang. Andris Nelsons continues his Mahler cycle in Salzburg with his Ninth Symphony. Commemorating Anton Bruckner’s 200th birthday, Riccardo Muti conducts his Eighth for the first time in his career. Richard Strauss’ Alpensinfonie and Vier letzte Lieder with Asmik Grigorian will be led by Gustavo Dudamel. Yannick Nézet-Séguin concludes the Vienna Philharmonic’s concert series with the First Piano Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven and Daniil Trifonov as the soloist and Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.

Andris  Nelsons

Guest Orchestras 

Next summer, Teodor Currentzis brings his European orchestra Utopia, founded in 2022, to Salzburg. Jordi Savall concludes the cycle of Beethoven Symphonies he began with Le Concert des Nations in 2023 by performing the Ninth, among others.

Teodor Currentzis, photo Alexandra Muravyeva

John Eliot Gardiner brings his two ensembles, the Monteverdi Choir – celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024 – and the English Baroque Soloists, to the banks of the River Salzach. Václav Luks leads his Collegium 1704 and his Collegium Vocale 1704 in two performances of Mozart’s Mass in C-minor at St. Peter’s Abbey – thereby continuing the tradition of the Sacred Concerts that goes back to 1927.

Daniel Barenboim, photo SF/Marco Borrelli

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2024 and appears in Salzburg with its founder Daniel Barenboim and Anne-Sophie Mutter as the soloist. The terrible events in Israel and in Gaza which began with the brutal attack of the Hamas terrorists on Israel on 7 October underline the importance of this unique initiative. From the beginning, the orchestra pursued the goal of bringing enemies closer together through music. Most of the orchestra’s members are from Israel and the Palestinian autonomous areas, but also from other Arabic countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.

Klaus Mäkelä, photo Wikipedia

The young Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä makes his Festival debut with his Oslo Philharmonic in 2024. The great conductor Mariss Jansons made his 1990 Salzburg Festival with the same orchestra – the musicians dedicate this concert to his memory.

Kirill Petrenko, photo EuroArts/Stephan Rabold

The Berlin Philharmonic and its chief conductor Kirill Petrenko perform works by two composers whose birthdays took place 200 years ago in 2024:  Smetana and Anton Bruckner. The Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Ingo Metzmacher also dedicates itself to two composers with anniversaries, namely Arnold Schoenberg and Luigi Nono (1924-1990). Luigi Nono’s Il canto sospeso, one of the most impressive works against fascism and violence, will be interpreted by the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna under the baton of Maxime Pascal as part of the Ouverture spirituelle. The orchestra will also be heard during the Prize Winner’s Concert with the winner of the 2023 Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award (YCA), Hankyeol Yoon. The YCA jury is chaired by Manfred Honeck, who conducts his Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Yefim Bronfman as the soloist.

Sir Simon Rattle, photo Ackerman

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which also has an anniversary next year, namely its 75th, will appear with its new chief conductor Simon Rattle, offering Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, thereby concluding the 2024 Salzburg Festival.

Solo Recitals 

Solo recitals feature Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Evgeny Kissin, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Igor Levit, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Anna Prohaska, András Schiff, Grigory Sokolov, Daniil Trifonov and Arcadi Volodos. The French pianist Alexandre Kantorow, whose performance with Renaud Capuçon won the audience’s hearts last summer, returns for his first solo recital at the Festival.

Song Recitals 

Song recitals feature Elīna Garanča with Malcolm Martineau, Christian Gerhaher with Gerold Huber, Matthias Goerne with Markus Hinterhäuser and Julian Prégardien with András Schiff.

Matthias Goerne, photo Wikipedia

During the past summer, the Salzburg Festival initiated an extraordinary series: Kleine Nachtmusiken (Little Night Music). The series continues this coming summer at the Stefan Zweig Centre. Georg Nigl, August Diehl and Alexander Gergelyfi offer three programmes (on six evenings): “Come, Sweet Death – J.S. Bach”, “Evening Sentiment – Mozart’s Clavichord” and “Far from this Beautiful Earth – A Schubert Evening”. Mozart’s Night Music will be performed on Mozart’s original clavichord, at which – as a hand-written certificate by Constanze Mozart pasted into the instrument attests – he composed his last works, such as Die Zauberflöte, La clemenza di Tito and the Requiem. In addition to texts from the era in question, songs will be accompanied by the delicate and special sounds of the clavichord, one of the oldest keyboard instruments with strings, and a square piano.

Canto lirico 

The series Canto lirico features Lea Desandre and the Ensemble Jupiter under the baton of Thomas Dunford, Kate Lindsay with the Ensemble Arcangelo under the baton of Jonathan Cohen as well as Juan Diego Flórez.

Chamber Concerts 

An extraordinary programme ranging from Johannes Brahms to Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern will be offered by Isabelle Faust and her musical partners at the 2024 Salzburg Festival. Three other brilliant Festival artists, Renaud Capuçon, Julia Hagen and Igor Levit, now interpret Brahms’ Piano Trios. Georg Nigl, Markus Hinterhäuser, Anna Prohaska and the Minguet Quartet dedicate themselves to Schoenberg works setting texts by the poet Stefan Goerge. And in addition to the two regular string quartets, the Belcea Quartet and the Quatuor Ébène, the 2024 Festival summer also includes the Leonkoro Quartet, making a significant contribution to the concert series “Time with Schoenberg” by performing Alban Berg’s Lyrische Suite during its Festival debut. Tamara Stefanovich and Nenad Lečić contribute the Second Chamber Symphony by Arnold Schoenberg in the rarely-performed version for two pianos to the same concert. Yulianna Avdeeva joins members of the Vienna Philharmonic in Alfred Schnittke’s Piano Quintet; the Bruckner anniversary is an occasion to dedicate the second half of the concert to Anton Bruckner’s String Quintet.

Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg & Camerata Salzburg 

As early as 1921, members of the Mozarteum Orchestra joined members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra to give the Salzburg Festival’s first orchestral concerts. Since 1949, it has played the Mozart Matinees initiated by Bernhard Paumgartner. In 2024, Adam Fischer, Ivor Bolton, Roberto González-Monjas and Andrew Manze will conduct the Mozarteum Orchestra in the traditional Mozart Matinees. For the first time, Maxim Emelyanychev leads the Mozarteum Orchestra, while also performing as a pianist: together with musicians of the orchestra, he will play Mozart’s Quintet for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon. Other debuts at the Mozart Matinees are the Vienna-born pianist Lukas Sternath, who plays Mozart’s Concerto in D-minor K. 466, as well as the German violinist with South Korean roots Clara-Jumi Kang and the British violist Timothy Ridout, who play the Sinfonia concertante together.
Bernhard Paumgartner was not only a Festival President and the initiator of the Mozart Matinees, but also founded the Camerata Salzburg, which recently celebrated its 70-year anniversary. As part of the Ouverture spirituelle, the orchestra performs Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto funebre with Patricia Kopatchinskaja at the Kollegienkirche – a musical partnership that already led to an extraordinary Ligeti programme in the summer of 2023. Under the leadership of the first-among-equals Giovanni Guzzo (one of two Camerata concertmasters), the musicians will present a programme with works by Wagner, Schreker and Schoenberg as part of the series “Time with Schoenberg”. Jörg Widmann presents one of his own latest works, among others, with the Camerata: Schumannliebe for baritone and ensemble – an instrumentation of the Dichterliebe setting poems by Heinrich Heine, with Matthias Goerne as the soloist.

Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award  

With the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award, the Festival honours one of its most influential personalities and an active mentor for the next generation of conductors. Even in the founding manifesto of the Salzburg Festival, the striving for the highest musical quality is firmly anchored; thus, the greatest conductors, the defining artists of their times, have always worked in Salzburg. Herbert von Karajan, for whom the award is named, was one of them; Manfred Honeck, the jury’s chairman, is another. The conductors presenting themselves during the Young Conductors Award at the Salzburg Festival are among the most exciting talents of the coming generation. In 2023, the prestigious award, for which more than 320 candidates applied, went to the Korean-born Hankyeol Yoon. Therefore, in the summer of 2024, Hankyeol Yoon will lead the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna in a Prize Winner’s Concert at the Felsenreitschule. In addition to the world premiere of one of his own compositions and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, Yoon has programmed Bruch’s Violin Concert, performed by María Dueñas in her Festival debut.

The past has shown that the Young Conductors Award is often the first opportunity to encounter conductors who will become influential. For example, the list of former winners includes Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who conducts the opera The Idiot by Mieczysław Weinberg in 2024, and Maxime Pascal, who conducts two concerts during the coming Festival summer.

The Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is an initiative of the Salzburg Festival in cooperation with the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute.

Young Singers Project   

With the Young Singers Project, the Salzburg Festival created a high-carat platform to support young vocalists in 2008. From more than 600 applications, young vocalists are chosen via numerous auditions for this fellowship programme offering comprehensive further education as part of the Salzburg Festival. Participants of the Young Singers Project appear in the children’s opera Die Kluge by Carl Orff and also in other productions of the Festival season. Furthermore, they publicly present their abilities in a final concert – for the first time, this will take place at the Haus für Mozart. Public master classes in 2024 will be given by Stéphane Degout, Malcolm Martineau and Violeta Urmana.

(After Press materials)

Marijan Zlobec


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