The fascination of Strauss

With Alexander Liebreich, Gergana Gergova and Alban Gerhardt
Alexander Liebreich
Gergana Gergova
Alban Gerhardt

Festival director Alexander Liebreich follows the tradition and invites outstanding personalities for a talk. His guests are violinist Gergana Gergova and cellist Alban Gerhardt. The Bulgarian violinist and the German cellist are married and often perform together as soloists as well as in chamber music formations. Alban Gerhardt is an internationally sought-after virtuoso who has also succeeded outside the classical concert business. He is particularly committed to the #Musicians4UnitedEurope initiative, where musicians try to fill the European vision not only with arguments but also with emotions. Look forward to an exciting and interesting encounter!

Alexander Liebreich

Alexander LiebreichIn December 2017, Alexander Liebreich was appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Prague; he will take up office in September 2018. Since September 2012, Alexander Liebreich has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR). In 2014, he inaugurated the new concert hall in Katowice with the ensemble. On the opening night, Johannes Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with Krystian Zimerman was on the program among others. As part of his collaboration with the orchestra and the label Accentus Music, three recordings with a repertoire of great Polish composers have appeared. The third CD with works by Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutosławski won the International Classical Music Award 2017 in the category “Best Collection”.

Since May 2015, Alexander Liebreich is Artistic Director of the Katowice Kultura Natura Music Festival, which has already had guests like the Rias Chamber Choir, the Academy of Early Music Berlin, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. In May 2018, Leif Ove Andsnes, the Quatuor Ebène and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich are expected to perform for the 4th edition of the festival. In 2018, Liebreich will take over the position of Artistic Director of the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

From 2006 to 2016 Liebreich was Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Munich Chamber Orchestra (MKO). The first CD of the ensemble with works by Joseph Haydn and Isang Yun under his direction was received enthusiastically by the critics during its release in January 2008; 2009 followed a Bach CD with Hilary Hahn, Christine Schäfer and Matthias Goerne for the Deutsche Grammophon. The recording with the MKO of Tigran Mansurian’s “Requiem” (2017, ECM Records) with the RIAS Chamber Choir was honored with the Recording Academy nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards as well as by the jury of the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA).

As one of Germany’s leading conductors, Alexander Liebreich is at home on the big concert stages in the world. As a guest conductor, he has collaborated with many top-class orchestras, including the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchester National de Belgique, the Rundfunk-Symphonieorchester Berlin, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo the Dresdner Philharmonie, the Orchester Philharmonique de Luxembourg, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Current and future commitments include debuts with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Orquesta de Valencia, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Essen Philharmonic, the Staatsorchester Stuttgart, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

Liebreich has performed with outstanding soloists such as Lisa Batiashvili, Krystian Zimerman, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Gautier Capuçon, Leila Josefowicz and Isabelle Faust.

In addition to his concerts and opera productions, Liebreich has also built up a reputation with innovative projects. In 2011, he was the first European Artistic Director of the Tongyeong International Music Festival (TIMF) in South Korea, one of the largest and most important music festivals in Asia. To promote intercultural encounters, he launched the East-West Residence Program and invited artists like Heiner Goebbels, Unsuk Chin, Martin Grubinger, Toshio Hosokawa, and Beat Furrer to South Korea.

In October 2016 Alexander Liebreich was awarded the special prize of the Kulturpreis Bayern 2016.

As a native of Regensburg Alexander Liebreich studied at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Munich and the Salzburg Mozarteum. He gained his first artistic experience with Claudio Abbado and Michael Gielen.

Gergana Gergova © Larry Horricks
Gergana Gergova © Larry Horricks

Gergana GergovaBorn into a musical family, Gergana Gergova’s life has been marked by music since early childhood. Winning First Prize of the “International Vladigeroff Competition” and top prizes at various other solo and chamber music competitions helped starting her international career. As soloist she has performed with Festival Strings Lucerne, RSB Berlin, Duisburg Philharmonic and various orchestras in Bulgaria. Together with pianist Pavlin Nechev and cellist Thomas Kaufmann she forms the piano trio „Trio Imàge“.
Gergana Gergova has been invited to perform at chamber music festivals such as „Spannungen“ Heimbach, Moritzburg, West Cork (Ireland), Lockenhaus, Bahnhof Rolandseck, Schubertiade, Verbier, Chelsea (New York), Herrenchiemsee Festspiele, Festival de Mexico, Hambacher Musikfest as well as Varna Summer Festival. With „Trio Imàge“ (winner of the prestigious ECHO classic Award 2014 for their debut CD) she tours all over Europe, North and South America , Asia and Australia. Other chamber music partners have been Christian Tetzlaff, Daniel Hope, Akiko Suwanai, Guy Braunstein, Carolin Widmann, Jan Vogler, Andreas Brantelid, Cedric Tiberghien and Lars Vogt. Besides the classical scene, she played with jazz legends such as John Pattitucci and Tom Harrell.

In June 2015 she went on tour with Baiba Skride, Brett Dean, Nils Mönkemeyer and Alban Gerhardt which brought her to Wigmore Hall London, Palais de Beaux Arts Brussels and Philharmonic Hall Essen to name a few. Besides concerts with Trio Imàge and engagements as concert master she will give her debut at the Lucerne Festival next season. As concert master she has been working at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein/ Duisburger Philarmoniker, Teatro Real in Madrid, the Munich Radio Orchestra, NDR Hannover, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Festival Strings Lucerne and Belgische Kammerphilharmonie.
Gergana has recorded for ABC Australia, DeutschlandRadio, SWR, WDR, ORF, RTÈ and Radio Bartok. In 2014 both the debut CD of Trio Imàge (The Complete Kagel Piano Trios, CAvi Music) as well as the Duo for Violin, Cello and Orchestra by Hans Pfitzner with the RSB Berlin under Sebastian Weigle for the English label Hyperion have been released to highest critical acclaim, both nominated for the “Deutsche Schallplattenpreis”.Also the latest Cd recording of Trio Imàge with chamber music from Hans Sommer, released in October 2015, is nominated for „Deutsche Schallplattenpreis“.
Gergana started her violin lessons with Blagorodna Taneva in Pleven (Bulgaria) and studied with Mintcho Mintchev and Andreas Reiner at “Folkwang Universität der Künste” in Essen, with Yair Kless at “Universität der Künste Graz” and finished her Master of Chamber Music with Eberhard Feltz at „Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler“ Berlin. Further artistic inspirations she received from Menahem Pressler, Yfrah Neamann, Anner Bylsma, Heinrich Schiff and Shmuel Ashkenasi.

Alban Gerhardt © Kaupo Kikkas
Alban Gerhardt © Kaupo Kikkas

Alban GerhardtPraised for the “warm songfulness of his playing” (The Telegraph) at the 2016 BBC Proms, Alban Gerhardt has, for more than twenty-five years, made a unique impact on audiences worldwide with his intense musicality, compelling stage presence and insatiable artistic curiosity. His gift for shedding fresh light on familiar scores, along with his appetite for investigating new repertoire from centuries past and present, truly set him apart from his peers.
Highlights of the 2017/18 season include concerts with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, BBC Philharmonic for his 7th appearance at the Proms, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Washington, RTÉ Dublin as well as his debuts with New Jersey Symphony, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. Gerhardt will also give recitals at Berlin’s Konzerthaus, London’s Wigmore Hall and in Montreal and Vancouver. A European quintet tour takes him to Luxembourg, Tonhalle Zurich and Amsterdam Muziekgebouw, and he is looking forward to his first collaboration with Sabine Meyer on a trio tour through Germany.
Gerhardt is passionate about sharing his discoveries with audiences far beyond the traditional concert hall: outreach projects undertaken in Europe and the US have involved performances and workshops, not only in schools and hospitals, but also pioneering sessions in public spaces and young offender institutions. His collaboration with Deutsche Bahn, involving live performances on the main commuter routes in Germany, vividly demonstrates his commitment to challenging traditional expectations of classical music.
Following early competition success, Gerhardt’s international career was launched by his debut with Berliner Philharmoniker and Semyon Bychkov in 1991. Notable orchestra collaborations since include Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London Philharmonic und Philharmonia London, all of the British and German radio orchestras, Tonhalle Zürich, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Stockholm und Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France as well as Cleveland, Philadelphia und Chicago Symphony Orchestras.; under conductors such as Kurt Masur, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christian Thielemann, Christoph Eschenbach, Myung-Whun Chung, Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, Kirill Petrenko and Andris Nelsons.

He is also a keen chamber musician; his regular performance partners include Steven Osborne, Cecile Licad, Baiba Skride and Brett Dean. Gerhardt has collaborated with composers including Jörg Widmann, Unsuk Chin, and Matthias Pintscher; and in almost every case he commits to memorising their scores before world premiere performances. In summer 2018 he will give the premiere of a new concerto by Brett Dean with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and then later in the year with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He also completed a ground-breaking, three-year residency with Oregon Symphony and was the subject of a focused project at London’s Wigmore Hall.
A highly acclaimed recording artist, Gerhardt has won three ECHO Klassik Awards as well as ICMA and MIDEM Classic awards, and his recording of Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto, released by Deutsche Grammophon, won the BBC Music Magazine Award and was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award in 2015. Gerhardt has recorded extensively for Hyperion, his latest recording of Rostropovich’s ‘Encores’ released in January 2017. His next recording project will be all six suites by J.S.Bach.
Alban Gerhardt plays a Matteo Gofriller cello dating from 1710.
After the US election 2016 and the Brexit Alban felt the need to become more engaged with what’s going on in the world, so besides taking care and housing an Afghan refugee he also became involved in the musician’s initiative #Musicians4UnitedEurope in which musicians try to fill the European vision with feelings instead of just good arguments.