Life and Fate: The Last Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony (1888) dates from a phase in his life when he was already a successful and internationally respected composer. Only in Russia were his new works still frequently the object of fierce criticism, which led the renowned critic Herman Laroche to conclude that in his homeland, he had only been taught how to compose according to expectations. In reality, it was Tchaikovsky himself who, despite his many triumphs, was relentlessly self-critical, often uncertain about the value of his own scores, which he submitted to others for judgement (such as his pupil Sergei Taneyev, whom he trusted). Even as a composer of symphonic music, he did not yet feel genuinely accomplished, although he had already written four great symphonies besides Manfred.
Following the Beethovenian model of “per aspera ad astra”, the Fifth Symphony was thus an attempt to purposefully show off his talent to Europe and the world. However, this was somewhat at odds with the composer’s desire to express his inner world and philosophy, which was imbued with pessimism. The theme of fate and adverse circumstances was already central in the Fourth Symphony, and the Fifth also attempts to thematise major existential topics such as life, death, fate and love. Tchaikovsky’s view of fate was wholly undermined by pessimism, but the “per aspera ad astra” model presupposed a triumphant conclusion. This ambivalence led to Tchaikovsky’s dissatisfaction, as he felt that the finale was not sincere or authentic. The entire symphony is, therefore, characterised by a high degree of ambiguity, both on an emotional and psychological level. It is a symphony that is both pessimistic and triumphant. [..]
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Markus Poschner, Chefdirigent Orchestra della Svizzera italiana
Following the start of his tenure as Principal Conductor in 2015, the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana has continued to evolve into unquestionably one of the most accomplished ensembles in Europe. Their shared vision to explore less familiar pathways in interpretation and programming has won the orchestra and Markus Poschner many international awards, such as the coveted International Classical Music Award (ICMA) in 2018 for their Brahms Symphony Cycle for Sony Classical.
After receiving the German Conductors’ Award in 2004, Markus Poschner has made regular guest appearances with all the leading orchestras and opera houses on the classical circuit, including: the Staatskapelle Dresden, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Netherlands Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo as well as the Berlin State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Stuttgart State Opera and Zurich Opera.
Markus Poschner and the Orchestre National de France were recently honoured with the 2020 German Record Critics’ Annual Award for their recording of Offenbach’s Maître Péronilla. Since 2017 he has concurrently served as Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz in Austria where he and the ensemble were named Conductor and Orchestra of the Year in 2020 for their successful work in the interpretation of Bruckner’s music.
After studies in Munich as well as assisting Sir Roger Norrington and Sir Colin Davis, Markus Poschner began his career as First Kapellmeister at the Komische Oper in Berlin. From 2007 until 2017 he was General Music Director of the Bremen Philharmonic. In July 2010 the University of Bremen made him an Honorary Professor, and in 2020 the Anton Bruckner University in Linz bestowed the same title upon him.
He conducted the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra for the first time at their sensational guest appearance in Abu Dhabi in Wagner’s Die Walküre. Then he opened the Bayreuth Festival with Tristan und Isolde in July 2022 and also conducted the same production there at the 2023 festival.
Orchestra della Svizzera italiana
As the resident orchestra at the LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura, Ticino, Switzerland), the OSI continues to enjoy success under the baton of Markus Poschner, its Principal Conductor since 2015. In recent years, it has been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike in major concert halls throughout Europe, from the gilded hall of the Musikverein in Vienna to the Philharmonie in Berlin, from the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg to the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne, and from the Opernhaus in Frankfurt to the Brucknerhaus in Linz. From November 2022, the Principal Guest Conductor of the OSI is Krzysztof Urbański, succeeding Vladimir Ashkenazy in this role.
The orchestra regularly plays a leading role in two main concert series in Lugano: one, “OSI al LAC”, runs from autumn to spring in the Sala Teatro; the other, “OSI in Auditorio”, takes place in January and February in the orchestra’s longtime home, the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano Besso. These were augmented as of 2022 by the innovative “be connected” series offering events and special concerts across Italian Switzerland to arouse the interest of new audiences and to promote the identity of the OSI in places where certain barriers and prejudices with regard to classical music still seem to exist.
Its wide-ranging concert programming has seen the orchestra collaborate not only with Poschner and Urbański, but with various other conductors and with many internationally renowned soloists, both in Italian Switzerland and outside the region: among the foremost of these are Martha Argerich, with whom the OSI has enjoyed a special relationship for more than twenty years, and the cellist Sol Gabetta, with whom the orchestra has been developing a long-term partnership, culminating in the Presenza festival at the LAC in Lugano during Whitsun, which began in 2022. Also under continuous development are concert activities in Bellinzona, where the orchestra appears regularly for a variety of events each year. [..]
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