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18th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 26 January to 3 February 2018. The cello takes centre stage

BY Salomé Summer | 02-Dec-2017
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their eighteenth edition. From 26 January to 3 February 2018, music-lovers will gather in the churches of Gstaad, Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s objectives, unchanged since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.
This year, the cello will be in the spotlight throughout the Festival, in particular every day in the chapel of Gstaad from 4pm and at the opening concert in the church of Saanen on 26 January, which will feature Daniel Müller-Schott, one of the world’s finest cellists, and the Kammerorchestrer Wien-Berlin. Later, on 31 January, Edgar Moreau – dubbed ‘the wunderkind of the cello’ – will appear at the church of Rougemont, with David Kadouch on the piano.

Renaud Capuçon devised his programme with the aim of building bridges between new generations and established musicians of renown. The young and talented Benjamin Attahir, 28 years old, has been chosen to be composer in residence. The rising stars who will be performing in the chapel of Gstaad will include two prizewinners at the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Brussels) in 2017: Victor Julien Laferrière (1st prize) and Aurélien Pascal (4th prize). Two titans of the piano will appear at the church of Saanen: Radu Lupu – ‘simply in a class of his own’ according to Capuçon – will perform with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra on 1 February – and Nelson Freire (‘an unassuming giant and Martha Argerich’s musical partner of choice’) will appear on 2 February.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad’s artistic director is a firm believer that a festival should be personified by its musicians, its organizers and its partners. We can be sure that this year’s festival will be an exceptional one yet again.

Chapel of Gstaad

Daniel Müller-Schott, mentor to the rising stars

Daniel Müller-Schott will be mentor to the rising stars. He says, ‘I’m very happy to have this opportunity to put my experience at the service of the rising stars of tomorrow, and I’m delighted to be coming back to Gstaad.’ Renaud Capuçon adds: ‘Daniel Müller-Schott is one of the finest cellists I know, and I’m very happy to be able to welcome him to the festival as a mentor. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will pass on his passion and his talent to the young musicians.’

Benjamin Attahir, composer in residence

The festival has specially commissioned a work from Benjamin Attahir to be performed by young talented musicians every afternoon between 4pm and 5pm in the Gstaad Chapel. With his choice of Benjamin Attahir as composer in residence, Renaud Capuçon has identified a highly gifted young artist – composer, violinist and conductor – whose inspiration is a perfect blend of East and West. His fascination with the connections between the contemporary world and historical subject matter is evident in many of his works. Renaud Capuçon says ‘It’s a privilege to be able to welcome such a young yet supremely talented artist as composer in residence.’

The concerts

The young cellists, accompanied by young pianists, will be performing a range of works by Beethoven, Lutosławski, Brahms, Schumann, Poulenc, Popper, Stravinsky, Franck, Martinů and Rachmaninov.

Austrian cellist Julia Hagen and German pianist Annika Treutler will open the festival in the chapel of Gstaad on 27 February. French cellist Aurélien Pascal and American pianist Ben Kim will be playing on the 28th, while the French musicians Bruno Philippe (cello) and Tanguy de Williencourt (piano) will be on stage on the 29th; Russian cellist Anastasia Kobekina and French pianist Paloma Kouider will perform on 30 January and brothers Adrien (cello) and Guillaume (piano) Bellom will appear on 31 January. French cellists Victor Julien-Laferrière and Charles Hervet will be playing alongside their respective countrymen Adam Laloum and Samuel Parent on 1 and 2 February. Last of all, the two Georgian musicians Lizi Ramishvili (cello) and Gvantsa Buniatishvili (piano) will bring the concerts in the Gstaad chapel to a close on Saturday 3 February 2018. All these talented young musicians will be in contention for the festival’s two prestigious awards, the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann.

Two prestigious awards: the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann

The Prix Thierry Scherz is sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and the association of Friends of the Festival (‘les Amis du Festival’). It represents an opportunity to recognize one young virtuoso and offer them encouragement by giving them the chance to record a debut CD with orchestra for the Claves Records SA label.

The Prix André Hoffmann, endowed with 5000 Swiss francs, will be awarded for the best interpretation of a work by Benjamin Attahir. It also provides the support enabling the Festival to host the composer in residence for the entire week of the event.

Concerts at the church of Saanen

The stars of the festival

The church of Saanen will be filled with the sounds of works by Beethoven, Mozart, Ravel, Chausson, Haydn, Satie, Stravinsky, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy and Bach-Siloti.

The Kammerorchester Wien-Berlin and the cellist Daniel Müller-Schott will open the Festival on Friday 26 January in the church of Saanen with two works by Mozart and Haydn. The week’s concerts are sure to provide its loyal audience of music-lovers with a series of exciting highlights featuring many distinguished artists, including the young Swiss prodigy Daniel Lozakovich on the violin, who will be playing with the Camerata Salzburg on 27 January. They will be playing works by Haydn, Mozart and Satie. On Thursday 1 February, titan of the piano Radu Lupu and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra will play works by Stravinsky, Mozart and Beethoven. On 2 February the brilliant Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire will give a recital of works by Bach-Siloti, Schumann, Debussy and Chopin. Lastly, on Saturday 3 February, Renaud Capuçon on the violin will have the honour of bringing the Festival to a close alongside Nicholas Angelich on the piano and the Hermès Quartet. Their programme will include several romantic works by Ravel, Chausson and Debussy, to mark the 100th anniversary of the latter’s death.

Concerts in the church of Rougemont
The artistic director’s ‘coups de cœur’
The Romanesque church in Rougemont will play host to the ‘coups de cœur’, the personal favourites, of the festival’s artistic director. There will be four spectacular recitals between 28 and 31 January: clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer will perform works by Mozart and Brahms together with the Quatuor Cavatine, while the marvellous soprano Christiane Karg will appear with Joseph Middleton on the piano on Monday 29 January. On 30 January, Renaud Capuçon has chosen to appear alongside the pianist Guillaume Bellom, winner of the Prix Thierry Scherz in 2016. They will play works by Beethoven and Strauss as well as the festival’s composer in residence, Benjamin Attahir.

A concert featuring the young cellist Edgar Moreau and David Kadouch on the piano will bring the series of concerts in Rougemont to a close on Tuesday 31 January 2018.

A true winter rendezvous

The festival will feature a total of 17 top-quality concerts from 26 January to 3 February 2018. The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, it should be added, are one of the few festivals in Switzerland whose concerts take place exclusively in churches – to the delight of music-lovers who particularly value the unique magic and intimate atmosphere of this event.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, a bona fide winter rendezvous in the region, are the first classical music festival of the year. The festival will once again be organizing dinners in the Gstaad Palace after the concerts in Saanen, thus providing a rare opportunity for a music-loving audience to meet the artists, thanks to the patronage of a variety of active partners – whether individual sponsors, business ventures, foundations and associations – including Sotheby’s, Madame Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, president of the Festival, Madame Aline Foriel-Destezet and Les Amis des Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, to name only a few.