Nestled beside Lake Lugano, the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura is a relatively new centre dedicated to the arts in the largest city in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland. The Sala Teatro, although conceived in traditional “shoe box” form, is a very modern looking concert hall, panelled with pear wood and designed to combine architectural aesthetics with outstanding acoustics. The centre’s underground venue, the Teatro Studio with rough concrete and wooden walls, provides a space for chamber music. LuganoMusica utilises both venues and its 2022-23 season, devised by Artistic Director Etienne Reymond, offers music across a wide variety of genres, both small scale and large. 

The Sala Teatro in the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
© Adriano Heitmann

The season also offers a pleasing balance between “home-grown” Swiss musicians and international ensembles and soloists. On Lake Lugano’s very own shores, the period instrument ensemble I Barocchisti was formed by Diego Fasolis. It has collaborated with leading singers such as Cecilia Bartoli, Philippe Jaroussky and Max Emanuel Cenčić, but next season it’s purely instrumental in Lugano as the ensemble tackles the complex contrapuntal polyphony of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of Fugue

Lutenist Luca Pianca was born in Lugano. He leads the Ensemble Claudiana, a group founded to perform all of Bach’s cantatas at the Konzerthaus Wien. Next season, they perform a programme of music focused on Claudio Monteverdi. In 1985, Pianca co-founded the Italian group Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini, who bring a programme of Mozart and Haydn. Antonini is midway through an enormous project to mark the 300th anniversary of Haydn in 2032, so this will provide a chance to hear his interpretation of the Symphony no. 43 in E flat major, mysteriously nicknamed “Mercury”. 

From the very west of Switzerland, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra crosses the Alps to Lugano with its new artistic director, Renaud Capuçon. Alongside an attractive programme of Prokofiev, Fauré and Ravel favourites, there are a couple of concertante works to allow Capuçon to shine: Ravel’s earthy Tzigane and a rarity by Berlioz, the beautiful Rêverie et Caprice

The season features a couple of Swiss stars as soloists. Young pianist Francesco Piemontesi has been carving out an impressive career. In Lugano he performs a solo recital in January that pairs Claude Debussy’s Second Book of Préludes with Franz Schubert’s desolate final Piano Sonata. In December, superstar Franco-Swiss flautist Emmanuel Pahud joins pianist Yefim Bronfman for a recital that spans sonatas by Mozart, Brahms (a transcription of the E flat clarinet sonata), Reinecke (the Undine Sonata) and Prokofiev. 

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
© Adriano Heitmann

Among the international visitors, there are a number of young conductors to watch, including two Finns. Santtu-Matias Rouvali (36) is the new Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia, who perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (soloist Julian Rachlin) and Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony. Klaus Mäkelä is even younger (26) and making even bigger waves, helming two major orchestras, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris. He brings the latter to Lugano for the season-closing concert which features Italian pianist Beatrice Rana in Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody before Shostakovich’s gargantuan Leningrad Symphony. 

Two major Dutch orchestras fly south for the winter. Daniel Harding now splits his calendar between conducting and piloting aeroplanes for Air France. One imagines he won’t be flying the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to Lugano himself, but he will be in the cockpit – well, on the podium – to conduct Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony at the Sala Teatro in November. In December, Lahav Shani is at the helm for another monumental Ninth – Bruckner’s – with the Rotterdam Philharmonic

From Central Europe, Emmanuel Tjeknavorian conducts the Vienna Symphony in a very Viennese concert, including Brahms, Haydn and the Strauss family, while Iván Fischer brings a different Strauss – Richard – with the remarkable Budapest Festival Orchestra for a programme including the thrusting hero Don Juan, Salome’s seductive Dance of the Seven Veils and the riotous pranks of Till Eulenspiegel. Before that Straussian bacchanale, Rudolf Buchbinder plays Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. 

Maurizio Pollini
© Daniel Vass

On a smaller scale, but just as beautiful, Lugano welcomes the Belcea Quartet for Schubert and Shostakovich and the Quatuor Diotima for Janáček and Ligeti (2023 is the latter’s centenary). There are also some star pianists in recital, from young Korean Seong-Jin Cho to former firebrand and now ultra-sensitive keyboard poet Arcadi Volodos. No programme has been announced yet for the appearance of Maurizio Pollini in March… but then, this is Pollini, so what more inducement do you need? The Italian lion of the piano doesn’t give many recitals these days. This should be the hottest ticket of a Lugano season that caters for all tastes.

Click here to view the full 2022–23 LuganoMusica season.

This preview was sponsored by Fondazione LuganoMusica.