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Top festival brings together music and language

Cecilia Bartoli also sang at the Lucerne Easter Festival

(Keystone)

Italian opera singer Cecilia Bartoli will on Thursday open this year's summer Lucerne Festival, which explores the ways classical music and language interact.

Symphony concerts form the backbone of the event which runs until mid-September in the central Swiss city.

Some 70 concerts, including musical performances by 16 renowned symphony orchestras as well as outstanding solo artists, are scheduled at the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre.

Sixteen premières are due to be given, according to the festival programme.

The festival is expected to attract about 100,000 visitors and is increasingly competing with the Austrian city of Salzburg as the fashionable venue on the European music calendar.

"Language" is the theme of this year's summer festival highlighting "the rich facets of the interaction between words and sound", said artistic director Michael Haefliger.

The Lucerne Festival Academy with Pierre Boulez will focus on the vocal works of the 20th and 21st centuries. Composers-in-residence HK Gruber from Austria and German-born Matthias Pintscher have both written pieces on the theme of language.

Swiss contemporary music composer Hanspeter Kyburz is also contributing a work.

This year's prominent performers also include pianist and conductor András Schiff and Geneva-born flautist Emmanuel Pahud.

Language

The festival also features Arnold Schönberg's Gurre Lieder, Kurt Weill's Berlin Requiem, Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish as well as Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff. Music by composer Anton Webern and popular tunes from the 1920s pay tribute to the festival theme.

Chief conductor Claudio Abbado and his Lucerne Festival Orchestra provide the opening concerts with a touch of their own this Thursday, while the Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, is due to deliver an opening speech.

The sounds of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 8 by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas, will close the event on September 17.

Mozart cycle

A special cycle of the festival is devoted to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in what some critics have described as an uninspired choice.

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis will play the entire sonatas for violin and piano, while mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli will give a rendition of Mozart's arias.

Other Mozart works to be performed are the Great Mass in C minor, his final three major symphonies as well as his Requiem Mass in D minor which turned out to be his last piece of music.

As part of the Lucerne Summer Festival the local theatre will stage The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht in a co-production with festival organizers under Vera Nemirova and John Axelrod.

swissinfo

Key facts

This year's summer Lucerne Festival takes place from August 10 - September 17 and highlights the interaction between word and sound.
Thirty-one symphony concerts will be played during the festival.
Sixteen symphony orchestras, seven of them orchestras-in-residence, have been invited.

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In brief

The Lucerne Festival dates back to 1938 when Arturo Toscanini conducted "Concert de Gala" in front of Richard Wagner's former lakeside residence in Lucerne.

Over the decades the festival has evolved into one of the world's leading events featuring classical music.

The festival is divided into three parts – Easter (since 1988), Summer (1938) and Piano (since autumn 1998).

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