Sadly, I was unable to fly to Salzburg for the press conference announcing the 2010 festival, but the press office kindly sent me press releases on the dot. Surely a better contender than any other for the title of greatest music festival in the world, this year's Salzburg Festival will run from the opening concert (Daniel Barenboim as conductor and soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in works by Beethoven, Boulez, and Bruckner) on 26 July to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's concert with Sir Simon Rattle on 29 August (works by Wagner, Strauss, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, Karita Mattila as soloist in the Four Last Songs). Strictly speaking, the festival finishes and closes a day earlier and later, with performances of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s mystery play Jedermann (‘Everyman’) in the cathedral square. Other spoken drama ranges from Sophocles, via Racine and Stefan Zweig, to the Young Directors’ Project, but I shall concentrate on the musical side of things.
The theme running through a number of the dramatic works, spoken and sung, is ‘Where God and Man Collide, Tragedy Ensues,’ from an essay by Michael Köhlmeier. Elektra, Strauss’s greatest opera, will benefit from the glowing Viennese strings, conducted by Daniele Gatti. A stellar cast – often a cliché, but surely a true one here – includes Waltraud Meier, Iréne Theorin, Eva-Marie Westbroek, and René Pape. Nikolaus Lehnhoff conducts. A new opera by Wolfgang Rihm, Dionysus, inspired, like the broader theme, by Nietzsche, will be conducted by Ingo Metzmacher (Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin) and directed by Pierre Audi. Metzmacher’s account of its intellectual genesis certainly tantalises. Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice – was there ever a more important opera? – will be led by, to my mind, the greatest Gluck conductor alive, Riccardo Muti. Joining the VPO will be Elisabeth Kulman and Genia Kühmeier, directed by Dieter Dorn. Patricia Petibon, Despina in 2009’s Così fan tutte, will essay the title role of Lulu, with a cast including Michael Schade, Michael Volle (Covent Garden’s recent Dr Schön too), and Franz Grundheber. Marc Albrecht conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and Vera Nemirova conducts. Mozart has but one opera this year, Don Giovanni, in a revival of Claus Guth’s production, this time with Yannick Nézet-Seguin conducting the VPO; Christopher Maltman and Erwin Schrott head another starry cast. Nézet-Seguin will also conduct the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, with Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala as the star-cross’d lovers. Finally, Edita Gruberová’s many admirers will have the opportunity to hear her in concert in the title role of Norma, with the Camerata Salzburg conducted by Friedrich Haider.
Rihm will also be honoured in a series of concerts, ‘Continent Rihm’. Performers include the Arditti Quartet, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Ensemble Modern, Metzmacher and his Deutsches SO Berlin, and the VPO under Christoph Eschenbach (Ernster Gesang, with Tzimon Barto as piano soloist) and Riccardo Chailly (Gesungene Zeit with Anne-Sophie Mutter).
Last year’s Liszt-Szenen give way to Brahms in 2010. Works by Brahms will appear with related works by an extraordinary range of composers: Isaac, Biber, Bach, Reger, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Janáček, Shostakovich, Ligeti, Kurtág, and Jörg Widmann, his Intermezzi being premièred by András Schiff. Other contributors to the series include Valery Afanassiev, the Zehetmair Quartet, the Balthasar Neumann Choir, and Angelika Kirchschlager.
Anniversary composers Schumann and Chopin will also loom large. Philippe Herreweghe will conduct Camerata Salzburg in a cycle of the Schumann symphonies, whilst Ivo Pogorelich will perform both of Chopin’s piano concertos. Evgeny Kissin includes both composers in his pair of recitals. Other pianists, such as Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimerman (Chopin) and Grigory Sokolov (Schumann) will opt for one or the other. Piano-lovers are clearly in for as much of a treat as opera-lovers.
Other chamber music includes a brace of concerts from Martha Argerich and friends from Lugano, artists such as Frank-Peter Zimmermann, Gidon Kremer, Afanassiev, and a mouth-watering combination of Zimerman and the Hagen Quartet (Schumann and Grażyna Bacewicz). Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach once again perform all three Schubert song cycles (their Wigmore Hall Winterreise is reviewed here). Other song recitals will be given by Anja Harteros/Wolfram Rieger, Rolando Villázon/Hélène Grimaud, Kirchschlager/Ian Bostridge/Julius Drake, Philippe Jaroussky/Jérôme Ducros, and – my own pick – Jonas Kaufmann with Helmut Deutsch, in Schubert, Schumann, and Mahler.
The Vienna Philharmonic, hard at work in the pit in so many of the operas, will give its customary series of symphonic concerts, some of which have already been referred to above. Other conductors at the helm will be Muti (Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible, with Gérard Dépardieu) and Bernard Haitink (Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony). In addition to the Berliners, visiting orchestras will include the World Orchestra for Peace under Valery Gergiev (Mahler’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons (Bartók, Mussorgsky, and Stravinksy), and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under Bertrand de Billy (Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, with Fanny Ardant). The Mozarteum Orchestra’s traditional series of Mozart Matinées continues, soloists including Fazil Say and Diana Damrau.
This is but a brief overview. I can only urge you to save your pennies for what promises to be the most memorable festival since the 2006 Mozart anniversary, in which all of the composer’s operas were performed. For further details, click here.