AFTER THREE years away, the Bratislavské hudobné slávnosti / Bratislava Music Festival (BMF) of classical music has come home. Following its temporary move to the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre, this year’s festival, which takes place between September 28 and October 14, returns to the completely refurbished Reduta building.
The 48th year of the BMF will comprise a total of 26 concerts, with artists from more than 20 countries, including Iran, South Korea, Argentina and Australia. In addition, 12 foreign conductors and nine foreign orchestras will perform, including the Vienna Philharmonic, which is playing in Bratislava for the first time in more than 20 years, the Czech Philharmonic with new principal conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, the Budapest Festival Orchestra with founder Iván Fischer, the Hamburg Philharmonic led by Australian conductor Simone Young, and the Spanish National Orchestra from Madrid. Two ensembles are travelling from Great Britain: the English Chamber Orchestra, with Bulgarian pianist Plamena Mangova; and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with violinist Joshua Bell.
Slovak orchestras will also perform, alongside a range of foreign guests: the opening concert, performed by the Slovak Philharmonic, includes US violinist Sarah Chang; and the final concert brings together Paris-based Lebanese conductor George Pehlivanian and South Korean pianist Kun-Woo Paika. Iranian conductor Alexander Rahbari will lead the Slovak Philharmonic in the Slovak premiere of Carl Orff’s Trionfo di Afrodite.
The Quasars Ensemble, which focuses on contemporary classical music, will perform the Slovak premiere of the theatrical form of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (a cycle of melodramas).
The evening of October 13, with actress and singer Herborg Krakevik and composer and pianist Kjestil Bjerkestrand, is also a form of tribute to the Norway Grants which co-financed the reconstruction of the Reduta building. The New Talent 2012 – SPP Foundation Prize presents the creme-de-la-creme of young musicians on Friday, October 5.
All in all, the two-week festival offers events for any lover of classical music – from intimate to symphonic, and from well-established to contemporary – performed by renowned foreign guests or by outstanding domestic musicians. The full programme is available at www.bhs.sk (also in English).