Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Claudio Abbado at the Southbank Centre in London_October

London recently had the pleasure to welcome the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, one of the world’s finest orchestras, under the baton of legendary conductor Claudio Abbado. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra rarely performs outside of the Lucerne Festival programme, partly because it consists of the most accomplished musicians from all major orchestras from all over Europe. This elite orchestra was founded in 2003 by conductor Abbado himself, in collaboration with Michael Haefliger, the artistic director of the Lucerne Festival.

 

The rarity of hosting these musicians outside of Switzerland at the Royal Festival Hall was duly acknowledged by three sold out performances, with flawless interpretations of the music of Schoenberg, Mozart, Schumann and Brahms. Yet the ultimate highlight of the programme was Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No.5, which was performed twice in the series and rewarded each time with a standing ovation by an ardent audience. Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 offered a unique opportunity to be taken on a spiritual journey, from the emotional battle of the opening movement through to the finale which concludes with ringing trumpets, timpani rolls and heroic chords.

 

Tim Ashley of The Guardian mentioned the stellar performance by the orchestra and the conductor in his review the following day: “Abbado's interpretation was remarkable for its subtle gradations of tension, and avoidance of anything that smacked remotely of religiosity. There was an almost blinding clarity to it all, both in terms of complexity of counterpoint, and that slight garishness of texture that we think of as quintessentially Brucknerian.” Further to all that, the pure joy of the musicians in performing together and the chemistry between Abbado and his 'orchestral family' was omnipresent in the concert hall. It was a truly unforgettable event.