For the second year in a row our billed conductor had to withdraw from the MCO project in Merano due to illness. Last time around we directed the project ourselves but due to the complexity of this programme it was decided that we needed a conductor and luckily Lorenzo Viotti could stand in at very short notice.
Merano is a beautiful spot, with a fascinating blend of Italian and Germanic cultures - when it comes to food this equates to delicious Italian cuisine served in German sized portions which I imagine is very welcome after a day up the Dolomites.
MCO thrives on this kind of cultural blend, amalgamating players from all over Europe and fluently performing in a wide array of musical styles and languages. In this project we focused on composers from further East with a programme including Bartók's Violin Concerto and Dvořák's Symphony 7.
It is always a huge treat to work with Patricia Kopatchinskaja - the energy in the room picks up as soon as she enters. She is a quirky, quicksilver communicator and nothing should be taken for granted when she is on stage. The Bartók was a blank canvas for her and each time we played the work it felt like a different journey.
Patricia is increasingly famous for breaking the mould with her unusual encores which are eagerly anticipated by audiences. The concert-goers in Merano and Köln were not disappointed as Patricia played a variety of encores in collaboration with members of the orchestra.
Even I was roped in to do an impersonation of a “Dudelsack” on my bassoon during one of the encores! I don't know how a Hungarian Dudelsack is supposed to sound but in my interpretation it was very much akin to the Scottish bagpipes - my own small contribution towards cultural blends!
Photos: MGM - Frieder Blicke / Mark Hampson / Stephan Brühl