1–2 January & 29–30 June 2024
Paul Juon (1872 – 1940 Vevey)
5 Pieces for String Orchestra op. 16
4 Pieces for Violin and Piano (version for violin and orchestra) op. 28 No. 3, Berceuse
Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770)
Sonata in g minor “The Devil’s Trill” (arr. Fritz Kreisler)
Fritz Kreisler (1875–1962)
Prelude and Allegro
Variations on a Theme of Corelli
Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
“Holberg Suite” op. 40
George Templeton Strong (1856 – 1948 Geneva)
Chorale on a Theme of Leo Hassler
Johann Strauss (Son, 1825–1899) and Josef Strauss (1827–1870)
Johann Strauss (Father, 1804–1849)
*at the concerts in Langenthal and Zurich
On 8 February 1935, the Viennese-born, Austrian-American violinist-composer Fritz Kreisler saw himself compelled to make a statement to the New York Times to clarify a growing scandal: “Some 30 years ago, circumstances forced me to take this course of action when I wanted to expand my concert repertoire. It seemed improper and tactless to me to put my name repeatedly on my programmes”. So what had happened? According to his own account, Kreisler – a child prodigy who had advanced to become the star violinist of the first half of the 20th century – had acquired manuscripts of music by older composers such as Gaetano Pugnani, François Couperin and Antonio Vivaldi, who at the time were essentially unknown. He had then “arranged” them for violin, published the resultant music and played these works in his concerts. It was the music critic Olin Downes who finally revealed that many of these supposedly Baroque works had in fact been composed by Kreisler himself. They were “forgeries” – and this triggered a perfect scandal on the classical music scene, one that was reported all over the world.
Many thought it all an amusing joke, though it left a nasty taste in the mouth of some critics, Ernest Newman in particular: “How easy it is, and always has been, to write this kind of music […] Anyone with the slightest inkling of music in him, and the slightest knowledge of the period in question, could produce something like this every morning, using only the hand that he doesn’t need for shaving”. But this detracts not a whit from the popularity of Kreisler’s compositions, as we can confirm in this concert with the Swiss Orchestra and the high-flying violin virtuoso Sebastian Bohren. He here presents a selection of works including Kreisler’s Prelude and Allegro – initially attributed to Pugnani – plus pieces in the Viennese style, such as the popular “Liebesfreud”, alongside Giuseppe Tartini’s virtuoso “Devil’s Trill” Sonata and Paul Juon’s Berceuse.
Two little-known, late-Romantic Swiss works are also on our programme: the 5 Pieces by Paul Juon, whose family roots were in Canton Graubünden, and a chorale by George Templeton Strong, who grew up in Geneva. The Swiss Orchestra’s signature feature is rediscovering unjustly forgotten works of Swiss music from the Classical and Romantic periods, and combining them with more famous works. And so Edvard Grieg’s popular “Holberg Suite” rounds off our diverse concert programme today.
Sebastian Bohren is a violinist who, as both concerto soloist and chamber musician, strikes a distinctive balance in his interpretations and his choice of repertoire, which favours the Classical and early Romantic eras, the 20th century, and the present day. The Süddeutsche Zeitung has described Bohren as “one of the most serious-minded, forthright musicians of his generation” while BBC Music Magazine’s 5* review of his Avie recording of Mozart violin concertos praised his “gorgeous solo playing […] vividly alert to the music’s every shift and turn.”
Sebastian Bohren regularly works with ensembles such as the Basel Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, the Lucerne Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, playing under the baton of Michael Sanderling, Cristian Macelaru, Marc Minkowski, Heinz Holliger, Andrew Manze, Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, James Gaffigan and Ivor Bolton.
Bohren studied in Zurich with Jens Lohmann and later with Robert Zimansky and Zakhar Bron before continuing his studies with Igor Karsko in Lucerne and with Ingold Turban at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich. Other formative influences during his artistic development were Ana Chumachenco, Hansheinz Schneeberger, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Christian Tetzlaff and Heinrich Schiff. Bohren today lives in Zurich but maintains his close links to his home canton of Aargau through the successful Stretta Concerts series that he directs, and through the Brugg Festival.
He plays a 1761 violin made in Parma by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, the “Ex-Wanamaker-Hart”.