Once again, LacMus Festival is waiting for you from July 6 to 17, 2023 on the Lake Como shores and in Brianza.
Our 7th edition has exile — both the person and the condition — as its main theme, as a bow to the resilience of the many great artists who experienced it. The year 2023 is the 150th anniversary of Sergej Rachmaninov’s birth (1873-1943). A man deeply rooted in Russian culture, history, fairy tales, and religious faith, including the cult of the Tsar, he fled his homeland after the 1917 February revolution, never to see it again. Yet, wherever he went, he carried Russia in his heart and a samovar in his home. His musical conception itself can be described as a sort of Romantic inspiration exiled in a hostile century. Thus, while carefully preserving his Russian roots, he had to confront, albeit reluctantly, the reality surrounding him—the Western world, modernism, America; in his final years, even his friend Stravinsky and jazz. He welcomed all these elements with diffidence and not without much caution, in his long effort to absorb them, drop by drop, into the dominant cultural matrix of the Russian Great Mother.
Our program places Rachmaninov alongside other composers who shared his condition of exile. For instance, the opening concert has him joined by a Polish exile, Fryderyk Chopin, and a Hungarian one, György Ligeti. Later on, others peep out—Igor Stravinskij, the 20th-century perennial wanderer, and Kurt Weill, the communist Jew fleeing Hitler; both landed in the United States, like the Bohemian Bohuslav Martinů and the other Austrian Jew, Erich Korngold. Also, Franz Liszt’s Après une lecture de Dante is inspired by the Italian exile par excellence, Dante Alighieri, whom Italians love to remember as a father of their national language and culture, and tend to forget that he ran away from a death sentence. And then we have the music of Gioachino Rossini — who spent decades in a self-inflicted exile, first from Italy and then from the opera world — in a piano-duet arrangement by Arnold Schönberg, another exile from Nazi Germany, but also an eternal inner exile in the self-imposed solitude of his utopian twelve-tone anti-world, from which he takes a short break here.
Once again, this year’s edition welcomes major soloists from all over the world, such as pianist Hélène Mercier, whom we had hosted in 2018, cellist Jan Vogler, sopranos Anna Pirozzi and Christiane Karg, as well as a good number of young talents—a LacMus Festival tradition. These include cellist Jaemin Han from South Korea, the Ukrainian Illia Ovcharenko, recent winner of the Honens International Piano Competition in Canada, and Luca Giovannini, an award-winning cellist—the last two being musical sons of the new millennium. Alongside the new generations, there is also the extraordinary presence of the Milan Cathedral Chapel, the oldest musical institution in town and one of the world’s most ancient of its kind.
Like every year, LacMus Festival has something new in store. This time it is the first edition of the “Countess Guglielmina Durini Litta” Piano Competition, dedicated to the 19th-century noblewoman from Milan, who was both a relentless cultural promoter and an excellent pianist. The prize will be awarded on July 9, during the evening concert at Castello Durini.
As always, all concerts take place in locations of great beauty, due to either landscape or art—Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi d’Eril in Bellagio, the Castello Durini in Alzate Brianza, the now traditional Musical walk along a stretch of the Lake Como Greenway, the Beata Vergine del Soccorso Sanctuary (UNESCO Memory of the World), the lakeside gardens in the Mezzegra Park, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, plus two new entries, the Teresio Olivelli Park and the San Benedetto Abbey in Val Perlana, which join the many other places LacMus Festival promoted in its territory.