focal points

Besides Beethoven’s music, they will perform other historical masterworks or seldomheard rarities. We can look forward to the Collegium Vocale Gent and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, to the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the spellbinding artistry of violinists Daniel Hope and Carolin Widmann, charismatic conductors such as Philippe Herreweghe and Herbert Blomstedt, and many other great performers.

His ‘partitions de piano’ of the nine symphonies might be called orchestral music for parlour performance – albeit with no concessions to playability. Only extraordinary virtuosos with a firm grasp of style are capable of negotiating these transcriptions. In August and September 2021 the Beethovenfest has invited just such rare masters of the keyboard to a summit meeting. They will divide all nine symphonies among themselves, much as in the symphony cycle. Each of them is a supreme artist and Liszt connoisseur.

Marino Formenti, a Milanese pianist living in Vienna, has a penchant for unusual recitals. His programmes invariably open up new vistas or trace connections one would hardly have suspected. This is also the case with his project in the Beethovenhalle, in which the unfinished state of the construction site is juxtaposed with sketches and drafts from the pen of well-known composers. For his other three Bonn recitals he received a carte blanche that inspired him to design programmes associated with Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas, revealing just how brightly these extraordinary works illuminated music until well into the 20th century. Formenti unquestionably commands the sophisticated technique necessary to give his ‘headstrong’ programmes their proper impact – a residency that invites us to a tour of past glories, the modernist age and the present day.

‘Do What You Wish’: thus the motto inscribed on the back of a magical amulet in Michael Ende’s novel ‘The Neverending Story’. It promises that the bearer’s every wish will be fulfilled. The auryn – for that is what the amulet is called – lent its name to the Auryn Quartet, which has maintained a successful career for many years. Here four string players ‘do what they wish’ – and have won many awards and distinctions in the process. Taking up this motto, the Beethovenfest has asked the quartet to devise three recitals with wind­playing friends and tour the Rhine­-Sieg region with largescale chamber music for winds and strings. The result is a pooling of gems from the chamber repertoire, beginning with rarely heard pieces by Beethoven.

Inspired by this long-deserted location, the successful sound designer Susan Philipsz and the internationally acclaimed stage director Romeo Castellucci will develop two independent works. But how will they deal with the emptiness, the ‘void’, the solitude of this site? Susan Philipsz contrasts the silence of the formerly bustling establishment with the sounds of her own voice, which will haunt visitors like echoes from the past. Where her installation relies on memories, Romeo Castellucci uses the building as the symbol of a vacuum, of oblivion and speechlessness. His performance casts a critical contemporary light on the Prometheus legend. Again and again snippets from Beethoven’s ’The Creatures of Prometheus’ flicker through the interior like vanished footsteps…