The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, on 9 November 1989. The Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle commemorate this historical date with this concert. What work could be more suitable for this purpose than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with its message of freedom and fraternity? A commemoration of the victims of the division of Berlin and the world is accommodated in Karol Szymanowski’s stirring Stabat mater.
Concert on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Symphony No. 9 in D minor
When composing his Stabat Mater, Karol Szymanowski relied on the “comprehensibility of the text”, which is why he made use of a version of the Latin verses translated into Polish. What mattered to him was “to give modern, self-contained forms to what in the mysterious life of the soul is at the same time most real and most intangible”. He definitely succeeded with the work premiered on 11 January 1929, which ends with a moving and ethereal soprano solo. In the process the music, which loses none of its emotional force for listeners who are not familiar with Polish, is of a fascinating simplicity, as the melodic lines continue in seconds and thirds; only the second movement seems from time to time to anticipate Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
Sir Simon Rattle, who already recorded Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater on CD in the early 1990s with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, will present the work here together with the Berliner Philharmoniker and British soprano Sally Matthews, who was awarded the renowned Kathleen Ferrier Award during her studies. After this “religious music” (Szymanowski), the orchestra will play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which with its utopian content of unity, joy and fraternity optimally corresponded to subsequent generations’ artistic religious ideas. Besides Sally Matthews, Bernarda Fink and Hanno Müller-Brachmann will sing, as well as Christian Elsner, acclaimed by audience and press for the concert performances of Richard Wagner’s Walküre conducted by Sir Simon Rattle in the Philharmonie in May 2012.