Salonen replaces ailing Levine at opening of Verbier Festival

Posted on: July 22, 2015

In Tuesday’s (7/21) New York Times, James R. Oestreich reports that on July 10 James Levine announced that an ear infection obliged him to cancel his engagement to open the Verbier Festival last Friday. “This was to have been Mr. Levine’s return to the festival orchestra, which he helped form in 2000 and directed until 2009, and his first performance outside New York since he resigned as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011 after a long run of cancellations because of physical ailments. Mr. Levine has made an encouraging comeback at the Metropolitan Opera over the past two seasons … The Verbier Festival salvaged the situation in fine style, quickly replacing Mr. Levine with the Finnish maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen. … He altered Mr. Levine’s program slightly, substituting Schumann’s Third Symphony for Schubert’s Ninth, but kept the rest: Strauss’s ‘Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche’ and Berlioz’s ‘Nuits d’Été,’ with the superb mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.… The Verbier Festival Orchestra—66 crack young professionals from five continents—responded eagerly to Mr. Salonen … in excellent performances of the Strauss and the Schumann. The players seemed to revel in his excitability and his penchant for crisp attacks, clean textures and clipped cutoffs.”

Posted July 22, 2015