Sunday, 28.5.2023
7.30 pm

swiss dreams


Swiss Orchestra
Lena-Lisa Wüstendörfer, conductor
Michael Barenboim, violin

Michael Barenboim and the Swiss Orchestra under the baton of Lena-Lisa Wüstendörfer bring together unknown gems of Swiss music and works by Vivaldi and Mendelssohn.

Prices: CHF 135 / 105 / 85 / 60


Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741):
Concerto Grosso in a minor, op. 3 No. 6

Hermann Suter (1870-1926):
Violin Concerto A major, op. 23

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847):
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (excerpts)

George Templeton Strong (1856–1948):
Le Livre d’Images, Suite No. 3

About the programme

Hermann Suter was one of the most important Swiss composers and had a lasting influence on its music life. As a conductor, he directed the Basel Choral Society (the “Gesangverein”) and was in charge of the concerts of the city’s Music Society for more than 20 years until shortly before his unexpected death in 1926. Besides conducting, he was thus also responsible for choosing the works to be performed. Suter was well-known for his unusual, inventive concert programmes, and he even published an essay entitled “About designing programmes for the symphony concerts”. In it, he told an anecdote in broad Basel dialect about a conversation that had supposedly taken place between his friend Matthias Oswald and an unknown Beethoven fan: “A Beethoven admirer says to Mr Oswald: ‘Why do you play so little Beethoven? It’s the most beautiful music there is; I know all of it, and I go to the concert every time that Beethoven is played’. To which Mr Oswald replied: ‘Well, soon Eroica is coming’. The Beethoven admirer then said: ‘Really? What’s she singing?’” This anecdote reveals the fan to be someone who clearly only went to concerts when well-known works by Beethoven were being played, or when a star was performing.

In this concert, we can present a star on the violin – Michael Barenboim – though we can’t offer any showpiece by Beethoven this time. We prefer to awaken your curiosity: this programme includes the Violin Concerto by Hermann Suter – a great work by a largely forgotten Swiss composer. Just as in the concert that saw its second performance under the composer’s baton, Suter’s Concerto will here be paired with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in a minor.

This idiosyncratic juxtaposition of a late Romantic work and one from the High Baroque is here provided with a further contrast. After Beethoven’s death, a bitter dispute flared up in the musical community about whether the future of music lay in “pure”, absolute, instrumental music or in programme music that was intended to tell a story. And so these two works by Suter and Vivaldi are here played alongside “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and “Le Livre d’Images” by the American-born Genevan composer George Templeton Strong: two compositions characterised by their pictorial musical language and by their programmatic content.


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