French Connections in Italy

22 March 2018
Frank-Michael Guthmann

Frank-Michael Guthmann



If you are getting on a plane on an early Monday morning with a heavy flu and a body temperature over 39 degrees you need to have some very good reasons for that. Here are three: FXR, JGQ and MCO!    

FXR: It was the third time that François-Xavier Roth worked with the MCO. Since he was my principal conductor at the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg for five years until the end of its existence, I know him very well, and I am always very pleased to work with him again. Since the MCO concert last August in Lucerne our focus together with him has been on two great composers from central Europe who are not played too often: Haydn and Bartók. We played Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 and his Cello Concerto No. 2 as well as Bartók’s Divertimento and Romanian Folk Dances – both for string orchestra. The rehearsals with FXR are always so inspiring and productive as his way of working with the orchestra is very concentrated and focused but at the same time totally charming, warmhearted and humorous. “In six bars of Bartók you have the complete Shostakovich.” Sorry, Dmitri, but unfortunately that’s not wrong.
JGQ: Jean-Guihen Queyras played as a soloist with the MCO for the first time. We also know each other quite well because we live in the same city – relaxed and beautiful Freiburg im Breisgau. We meet regularly there at the Musikhochschule or at the atelier of our cello maker. This time we met in the country where his cello was built – in Italy. The second cello concerto by Haydn is a piece that every cellist knows very well because it has to be played in every audition when you apply for a job in an orchestra. And many cellists hate it because of this reason and because it is not too comfortable to play. But how can you not love it after the fresh and elegant version of these two charming Frenchmen and my fantastic –

MCO: After a too long pause of more than three months I could not wait to see my colleagues again and play with them this great programme. And as always it was such a joy and fun to work, to travel, to eat and drink together! I cannot imagine a better medicine. And there were two more reasons why I really did not want to miss this tour:

Ferrara: Being a part of MCO family for three years now it finally was my first visit to this miraculous place with which the orchestra has such a very special relationship. Everybody needs a place where you can feel home, and for the MCO the feeling that comes closest to that is shown here in Northern Italy. This medieval city is full of warmth in different ways, and the spring sun finally brought me back the feeling of being alive again.