For the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden, the Berliner Philharmoniker are going to pull out all the stops when it comes to showing the range of their musical abilities. Although the production of Mozart’s Magic Flute forms the heart of the festival, visitors can also look forward to a series of exciting concerts: Great symphonies and intimate chamber music, celebrity guests, and soloists from within the ranks of the orchestra – all make up the special blend of these philharmonic concerts. “In Baden-Baden it’s great for us to be able to do so much chamber music and other things,” said Sir Simon Rattle in an interview in the Festspielhaus magazine.
Romantic symphonies and great artists
As a counterpoint to the musical theatre of the First Viennese School, the orchestral concerts focus on symphonic works from the Romantic period: the First Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto by Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony which – as Simon Rattle reveals – was not chosen by chance: “It should actually be a little symbolic.” In addition to Simon Rattle, Andris Nelsons will also be taking to the conductor’s stand. His debut with the orchestra in October 2010 was so successful that he has been invited back several times by the Berliners in the past two years. “Andris Nelsons is one of the conductors the Berliner Philharmoniker love,” says Rattle. And he does not devote himself exclusively to German music. With La Mer by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, he has included two gems of the French repertoire in his programme. Great artists have also been secured for the performances of the two Brahms concertos: the pianist Krystian Zimerman and the violinist Maxim Vengerov. This season, both have renewed their association with the Berliner Philharmoniker after a long break. While Zimerman has already given a guest performance in Berlin this season, Maxim Vengerov most recently performed with the orchestra in Salzburg in 2001. Also invited is the National Youth Orchestra, considered a training ground for the orchestral musicians of the future. With this concert, which in addition to works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Manuel de Falla and Maurice Ravel, also includes pieces by Turkish and Arab composers, they create a bridge between eastern and western musical cultures.
Magdalena Kožená, Sir Simon Rattle
A wealth of chamber music
In terms of programming, the 14 Master Concerts are less uniform. And with good reason, as they reflect the great artistic range of the orchestra’s music making. In addition to established ensembles from the orchestra such as the Philharmonia and Athenäum Quartets, the Brahms Ensemble and the Philharmonic String Octet, the musicians will also perform in new groups and formations. The focus of these concerts will be works of the First Viennese School: Chamber music by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert – but not exclusively, as is shown by a concert by the orchestra’s trombonists with music covering several centuries, and “The Philharmonic Salon” whose theme on this occasion is the singer Pauline Viardot. Then there is Edicson Ruiz who will give an introduction to the tonal characteristics of the Viennese double bass. There are also musicians in the orchestra who not only play but also compose, as is demonstrated by violinist Holm Birkholz, who will present his own works in Im Echo der Stille. A special chamber music highlight will be the music festival in the Festspielhaus, where five ensembles, the Philharmonic Camerata Berlin, the Philharmonic Wind Quintet, the Brass Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the 12 Cellists and Bolero Berlin, will perform a varied programme ranging from classical to jazz.