This is a programme full of contrasts: After opening with Haydn's Symphony No. 80, the pianist Krystian Zimerman plays Brahms' First Piano Concerto, one of the most important late-Romantic contributions to the genre. Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, on the other hand, is the soloist in the German premiere of Unsuk Chin's “Le Silence des Sirènes”, a work full of lyrical moments and psychedelic sound effects.
Symphony No. 80 in D minor
Le Silence des Sirènes for soprano and orchestra German Première
Barbara Hannigan Soprano
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
Krystian Zimerman Piano
When Krystian Zimerman, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker performed Brahms’s First Piano Concerto at the Easter Festival 2013 in Baden-Baden, the critics unanimously loved it: rarely did one experience such a cooperation between an interpreter and an orchestra, they wrote. The breathing together, the mutually inspiring dialogue is impressive, they added. “The exceptional Polish pianist is completely at one with himself in his atmospherically dense playing, structurally as clear as glass – and yet the orchestra gives him the royal treatment,” the Badische Zeitung wrote. So Krystian Zimerman and the Philharmonic are quite literally an experienced team – not just as concerns this work. After all, the pianist has been one of the Berlin Philharmonic’s guest soloists for close to 40 years.
Likewise, a fortunate collaboration has developed between the orchestra and the Canadian singer Barbara Hannigan. Whenever a soprano is needed to perform a contemporary work, she’s on the scene. In the last season she beguiled the Philharmonic audience with her crystalline singing at the premiere of Hans Abrahamsen’s Let me tell you. In this concert Barbara Hannigan will take part in the performance of Le Silence des Sirènes for soprano and orchestra that South Korean composer Unsuk Chin, who now lives in Berlin, wrote as composer in residence for the Lucerne Festival. The music of Ligeti’s student, who has been inspired by French “musique spectrale” and Asian gamelan music, is characterised by a lucid, dazzling splendour of sound.
The concerts open with music that is neither contemporary nor Romantic, but Classical. The Symphony No. 80, which Haydn completed in 1784, has a cheerful, lively character despite its key of D minor, and thus forms a prelude to the subsequent works in the programme that is as contrasting as it is spirited.