COE: Residenzorchester Schloss Esterházy
With a concert featuring Robin Ticciati and Fazıl Say on 11 March the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) started its role as the new orchestra-in-residence at the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt. The COE was selected by a group of six world-renowned musicians and cultural managers in a multistage process. The residency is for a period of three years during which the Orchestra will undertake at least four concert projects per year in the Haydnsaal of the Esterházy Palace. The concerts will be performed both for the HERBSTGOLD-Festival and for the concert series classic.Esterhazy. In this context, an extensive audiovisual partnership has been formed between the COE, the Esterházy Palace and medici.tv, the world’s leading classical music channel. All of the COE’s concerts in Eisenstadt will be streamed live on medici.tv, with on-demand replays available to audiences worldwide.
Few locations for a concert could be more inspiring than the Haydnsaal at Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt. Here, half-way between Vienna and the Hungarian border, Joseph Haydn spent almost four decades serving as Kapellmeister to the Esterházy princes. During this time Haydn revolutionised the history of music composing many of his symphonies, choral works and string quartets. This heritage, nowadays carefully cultivated by the self-financed cultural foundations, established by the late Melinda Ottrubay, has attracted the elite of the international music scene ever since. Among others the Schloss hosts a succession of superb concerts featuring the world’s leading musicians every season.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s residency adds a different dimension to the programme, though, not only of musical intent but philosophy. The Orchestra brings the consistency of high-quality ensemble playing to music of the classical period that already Haydn had aspired to. Just as importantly, with the fracturing of Europe in the last century reflected in the fact that the old Esterházy lands are now spread over three countries (Austria, Hungary and Slovakia), the mission of unity through music represented by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe makes a gentle aspirational point. As Simon Fletcher, the Orchestra’s General Manager, puts it, the COE is “a Cultural Ambassador representing Europe at its best. Following in the tradition of court orchestras, and the Palace’s rich cultural legacy, we will take forward the qualities and values of this important heritage to shape and underpin our shared artistic vision”.
One of the COE violinists, Christian Eisenberger from Graz, Austria, said: “Purely from a size point of view, Eisenstadt is obviously not a large city – however, in the music world, Eisenstadt’s reputation is legendary. In this city, musical history was written. Moreover, the Haydnsaal in Schloss Esterházy is acoustically one of the best concert halls in the world. Particularly for an ensemble with the size and artistic profile of the COE. Performing here is therefore something very special to us – and the hall will totally bring out our strengths. It also means a lot to me personally: as a youngster and a student, I spent a lot of time at the Musik-Institut in Oberschützen in Burgenland. And the finale of the yearly burgenlandish youth competition often took place in the Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt. The Haydnsaal is therefore a really important part of my musical socialisation and artistic career. In my opinion, I have come full circle.”
Robin Ticciati, who conducts the COE for the first iteration of the residency on March 11th, is used to the notion of public concerts in grand country settings, since he is the Music Director at Glyndebourne Festival – Southern England’s opera house attached to the 16th century mansion of the Christie family; neither as grand nor as long established a venue as the Schloss but with similar artistic values. Ticciati’s programme for March 2022 includes Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven but also shows that the Orchestra is not just an ensemble for the classical and early romantic period by including the Turkish pianist-composer Fazıl Say playing his own Yürüyen Köşk (The Moving Mansion), accompanied by the COE strings.
Andreas Richter, the Artistic Director of classic.Esterhazy, elaborating on the decision to select the COE: “The quality and international reputation of the orchestra as well as their upcoming concert programs featuring works by Haydn with artists such as Sir András Schiff were all deciding factors in the jury’s decision. I’m delighted that an ensemble of such high calibre has been appointed for the Esterházy Palace and very much look forward to the wonderful musical moments we will be able to bestow upon our audiences over the coming three years. We are extremely happy that due to the exciting new partnership with medici.tv we will be able to present these experiences to audiences all around the globe over the coming three years.”
In the autumn of 2022 Julian Rachlin, who directs the HERBSTGOLD – Festival at Eisenstadt, and the pianists Sir András Schiff and Denés Varjon will work with the orchestra, with Schiff performing Bartók’s Divertimento and Varjon Janáček’s Concertino. Rachlin, who appears with the ensemble in a double role as conductor and soloist in programme featuring works by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms’ Violin Concerto, sees the collaboration as “testimony to the brilliant spirit and creative soul that characterise this site of immense musical and historical significance”. He says that the COE’s concerts serve “as points of musical reference for musicians across the globe… The fact that the century-old tradition of renowned orchestras residing at the Esterházy Palace is being continued with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s upcoming residence fills us all with immense joy and happiness! It fills me with great pride that we will be able to build on this tradition due to our new partnership with medici.tv to share our music-making at Schloss Esterházy with music lovers all around the world.”
COE Concerts in Eisenstadt in 2022:
An exciting aspect of the residency is the new partnership with medici.tv, which will broadcast four live concerts each year. These concerts will be free to watch live and on replay for one month; they will then enter medici.tv’s catalogue with on-demand access available to subscribers for five years. This is something that Haydn would surely have loved – a life for his hundred and four symphonies played in situ that would have made the effort seem less of a chore – but might have left the Prince and his courtiers slightly stunned.
Over its 41 years, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has enjoyed a succession of residencies, among them one not far away at the Styriarte Festival in Graz thanks to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, with whom they made an extraordinary series of live recordings over decades with labels including Warner Classics and Teldec, and recently released rediscovered gems on ICA Classics. Claudio Abbado was the inspiration for them becoming the first resident orchestra at the Teatro Comunale in Ferrara. In Lucerne, Bernard Haitink was a key artistic partner and together, they performed several times a year at the Easter Festival, Summer Festival and Piano Festival in November.
In the early years they were the first resident orchestra at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie, again instigated by Abbado, and in Baden-Baden a similar partnership has led them recently to making the soon-to-be-issued recordings made last summer of a Beethoven symphony cycle with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Residencies are especially important for this Orchestra, precisely because it does not play together all year round. Being in one place for a settled period allows the community of the Orchestra itself to strengthen its ties, as well as helping local audiences feel that this aspect of European life truly belongs to them.