Catalunya still boasts a wide offer of summer festivals. It’s true that there is not always a clear programming policy, and all too often the proposals consist of presenting several concerts without a common theme or clear artistic focus, but the offer still stands, despite the crisis.
In the case of Barcelona, the situation is rather depressing. In fact, it is a city where classical music almost disappears in the summer. Only the Gran Teatre del Liceu offers a quality programme during July
: the end of the season includes concerts of Tamerlane by Handel
, with Plácido Domingo and Bejun Mehta in the cast, and Daphne, by Richard Strauss
, with Pablo González making his debut at the Liceu at the helm of the OBC.
The Festival Grec
has increased its classical offer, traditionally rather scarce, under the artistic direction of Ricardo Szwarcer, and forthcoming events include an opera concert with Ainhoa Arteta
and the Cadaqués Orchestra under the baton of Jaime Martin, with Puccini featuring prominently in the programme.
Incidentally, the great Basque soprano has just released an extraordinary recital with the pianist Malcolm Martineau
, which is her debut with the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label. The repertoire includes pieces by Charles Gounod, Georges Bizet, Reynaldo Hahn and an exciting section devoted to the great Spanish song repertoire including the Cinco canciones negras by Xavier Montsalvatge, four Tonadillas al estilo antiguo, by Enric Granados and the Poema en forma de canciones, op. 19, by Joaquín Turina.
Fortunately, despite the crisis, many summer festivals remain active, but the compulsive search for new audiences and the blind obsession with eclecticism as a programming formula has swept away many of the hallmarks of some of the most traditional venues.
The same cannot be said of the classical offer at the Auditori – reduced to its minimum expression, although this year the Sónar has included a magnificent homage to Steve Reich – or the Palau de la Música Catalana, with an offer exclusively intended to attract tourists.
Fortunately, despite the crisis, many summer festivals remain active, but the compulsive search for new audiences and the blind obsession with eclecticism as a programming formula has swept away many of the hallmarks of some of the most traditional venues. Where once classical music reigned supreme
– because most festivals around Catalonia began as festivals specializing in classical music – world music, jazz, pop and other genres now share the limelight
The trend is not necessarily bad, but caution is needed and the occasional mega concert in search of mass audiences is not to be entirely trusted. One thing is to harness the pull of the media stars so as to be able to display the sold-out sign, something legitimate and commendable, and another thing is to overlook the rest, the promotion of new values and local productions as a sign of identity. In this sense, we can applaud the consistency, rigour and unquestionable quality of the Torroella de Montgrí International Festival of Music
and also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Festival Castell de Peralada
, which this year returns to its origins with a sensational programme focused on opera.
This summer also counts on two new events
, conceived with the idea of supporting very distinct artistic proposals. On the one hand, the Festival de Música Antiga dels Pirineus
has been launched with plenty of momentum, fruit of the joint efforts of different institutions in the Pyrenees. Its programming policy is clear and attractive: drawing on the beauty of the rich architectural heritage in the area and its suitability as a backdrop for early music, in order to offer evenings with musical personality, presented by the best bands and singers specialised in the historical performance of the early and baroque repertoire . And, importantly, the idea is to make it a key event for both the international promotion of the best Catalan ensembles and soloists and the dissemination of our musical heritage.
The second proposal also combines architectural beauty with music and includes gastronomy as a novel incentive. This is the Modernist soirees
in the unique setting of the Monestir de San Benet, a proposal that offers visitors the chance to enjoy a concert of “Modernist” music in the monastery cellars and, optionally, during the same evening visit the “Modernist” space dedicated to Ramon Casas at Món Sant Benet and enjoy supper in the gardens.