The Beethoven Journey: Lucerne, Brussels,Vienna

8 December 2014
Florent Bremond

Florent Bremond



Starting the last Leif Ove Andsnes tour of the season in Lucerne is probably special for MCO members regarding the strong relationship between the orchestra and this city.

Instead of the hot spot of summer tourism and the exclusive atmosphere around the KKL in August, we find a peaceful, foggy city. Fewer TV trucks, fewer long robes, fewer tourists, more space for ducks and swans at the lake and for musicians in the Seebar. A very calm atmosphere, fitting nicely with the rather relaxed work schedule for the coming two weeks. Playing two concerts in Lucerne, followed by three in Vienna, limits the hours spent in planes, trains and busses, compared to the last Beethoven Journeys.

We have time to work again with Leif Ove, whose thirst for perfection and honesty in interpretation always impresses us, and to rehearse the three Stravinsky pieces, which - played without conductor - remain an exciting challenge for everyone.

During the first concert I have the feeling that our partner is exploring new ways. Same impression of the power of Beethoven, of constant dialogue with the orchestra, but combined with a new freedom, with its moments of improvisation. We seem to agree on that among the MCO musicians, and the following concerts, with their level of success, confirm that we are not only repeating a successful project, but truly taking part in a journey.

Vienna and its temple of music, the Musikverein, will always be a dream venue for us. The constantly perceptible tradition, the special atmosphere which the Viennese audience provides, the sound quality of the hall and even the set up of the orchestra on stage with its unique distribution of levels creates real magic. I have to think that it is just good to be able to experience it with this orchestra and this soloist. It can only be surprising to hear spontaneous comments by people from the audience, reaching from "What edition do you use?? I noticed one sforzando not at its right place" (with a very local accent) to "Did the pianist compose this music really all by himself?? Anyway, your band guys, really great!!!" (accent from across the Atlantic this time).

The success is huge for Leif Ove, the three concerts in Vienna will remain forever in our memories. We can now finish the tour in the most friendly hall of Bozar in Brussels, where we always appreciate the warmth of the young and various audience as much as the quality of the beers!

This was intense - I can hardly imagine how the next three tours will keep pushing our artistic quest even higher. But I am sure Leif Ove already has his ideas about it...