Pablo Heras-Casado on the Spring Festival – Lucerne Festival

Lucerne Festival: And then a volcano erupts
NZZ 
(Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

On Palm Sunday, Pablo Heras-Casado appeared in front of the same musicians and brought the 7th Symphony to eruption; the Spaniard has been the talk of the town since his Bayreuth debut in 2023 with Wagner’s “Parsifal”. In his repertoire, he pursues a rather unusual two-pronged approach: as an expert in both historical performance practice and contemporary music. You can even hear this dual perspective: the crystal-clear articulation, the precise use of vibrato, the flowing but never hasty tempi – all of this stems from the original sound movement. (…) For the LFO, this is a new sound in such an exaggerated form – all the more so as Heras-Casado not only looks back in a historicizing way, but also works out the modernity of this most radical of all Beethoven symphonies.

The reduction of the string section to ten first violins allows the fantastic winds to stand out even more, making the sound more concise, harder and more combative. Beethoven’s proximity to the music of the French Revolution is palpable everywhere, and Rick Stotijn and Axel Ruge demonstrate with relish in the captivating final movement that just two double bass players are enough to make the ground beneath the listeners sway. (…) One thing is clear: no one will forget this Beethoven interpretation in a hurry.

Luzerner Zeitung

The appeal of the spring festival lay in the fact that on Sunday, one could experience a different conductor with the same orchestra and the same composer. Pablo Heras-Casado, an undogmatic representative of historical performance practice, continued Chailly’s approach both internally and externally. In the Violin Concerto, he and soloist Daniel Lozakovich approached the pianissimo magic for which this orchestra is also famous. But even here he expanded orchestral interludes into magnificent and wide-ranging soundscapes. Such contrasts came to a head in the Seventh Symphony: the Spanish star conductor escalated relaxed wind hypnosis into bursting waves of climaxes and an ecstatically rhythmic final ride. This also roused the large audience to storms of enthusiasm. Standing ovations, 3700 visitors and 89 percent capacity voted for this expansion of the festival orchestra into historical performance practice. This had long been neglected in Lucerne. With this mini-festival, it has arrived at the heart of the festival.