At La Grange au Lac, a festival against all odds

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Ideal, the lukewarm breeze that barely rides Lake Geneva, swifts in dives, scarves of levitating clouds on a blue background: the festival of the Musical Meetings of Evian (Haute-Savoie) would almost forget that it comes from afar .

There was first, in April, a siege version – in camera, confinement and video. No way to give up: six chamber music concerts broadcast live and with free access on Medici.tv and Radio Classique, available free for three months. Then, as and when deconfinement, the entry into the running of a public, whose gauge has gradually widened within the limits of health constraints.

“After having canceled our piano festival, which was to be held from May 8 to 10, we first imagined a festival for the summer without audience, rethinking the initial project by eliminating as much as possible the uncertainties”, agrees Alexandre Hémardinquer, executive director of the Rencontres musicales d’Evian. Exit therefore the orchestral formations, too risky, foreign artists possibly retained in their countries (pianists Christian Zacharias and Fazil Say, conductor Daniel Harding). But also the 250 candles supposed to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, which was to close a jubilant “Beethovenfest”.

Rebirth evening

In the end, an abbreviated chamber version, whose artistic director, Philippe Bernhard, points out that it is reviving the very first editions of the phoenix festival in 2014. A decade of stopping then some trial and error had indeed followed the end of the Rostropovitch era in 2000, who saw the late Antoine Riboud, CEO of Danone, offer his cellist friend in 1993 the famous birch room imagined by Patrick Bouchain. Until the CEO of the Evian Resort and president of La Grange au Lac, Laurent Sacchi, entrusted the controllers to the Modigliani Quartet. Instruct the musicians to continue the history of the prestigious festival, created in 1976.

“Putting the pieces together was almost impossible, recognizes Philippe Bernhard, who was the primarius of the Modigliani first version, from 2003 to 2016. Especially since after months without concerts, most musicians wanted to interpret the works that are part of their DNA as a priority. ” This is how Schubert ousted Beethoven: what revenge for the Viennese composer so long paralyzed by the tutelary shadow of the master of Bonn.

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