“Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne”
5th International Organ Competition
Lausanne Bach Festival, 17-21 November 2015
The “Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne” organ competition has taken place every four or five years since 1997, although the actual ‘Grand Prix’ has only been awarded on two of the four previous occasions. The stated intention of the competition is to attract talented organists from all over the world who are passionate about the music of Bach, his predecessors, precursors and his contemporaries. Competitors are told that they need to be able to express the specific language of each style of organ music, and will be judged as to their musicality, choice of registration, technique, quality and order of the programme, style, and originality. Unusually for such competitions, there are no age limits. This is a big investment for the competitors. They are expected to be in Lausanne for up to eight days (arriving three days before the first round), and have to pay their own travel and accommodation costs, as well as a registration fee of 200 Swiss Francs. Unless they live locally, only those winning one of the three main prizes can hope to recover their costs.
A pre-selection round was judged from submitted recordings. According to the rules, ten candidates should have been chosen, “notwithstanding exceptional circumstances”. I don’t know what the exceptional circumstances were on this occasion, but Continue reading
Lausanne Bach Festival – Bach solo violin
Église de Villamont, 20 November 2015
The second of the two festival concerts that I attended was in direct contrast to Messiah: a concert of Bach solo violin music in the intimate surroundings, and attractive acoustic, of the Église de Villamont. Playing the first and third Sonatas and the second Partita, Christine Busch demonstrated a sure grasp of the Bach violin idiom, despite playing what seemed to be a modern violin – or, at least, a violin with what appeared to be a modern set up, complete with tuning aids, chin and shoulder rests, a long finger board, and high bridge.
The opening Adagio of the first Sonata was improvisatory in mood and feel, giving a sensation of Bach trying out ideas – something at the heart of these compositions. Continue reading
Lausanne Bach Festival – Messiah
Irish Baroque Orchestra, Chœur Resurgam
Opéra de Lausanne, 15 November 2015
When I last visited the Lausanne Bach Festival many years ago, it consisted of nine concerts over a long weekend. In its current incarnation (the eighteenth), it is spread over the period from 25 October to 28 November, with six concerts, three informal ‘Bach Days’, a short conference, and, on this occasion, the 5th International Organ Competition. Although having the events spread out in this way probably attracts more local residents, it makes it a less practical attraction for people from outside Switzerland. I was principally there to review the Organ Competition (reviewed here), but was also able to get to two of the festival concerts, starting with a performance of Messiah Continue reading