Symphony: Mathis der Maler
Herbert Blomstedt is one of those conductors who modestly withdraws behind the musical work. “It is the music that should speak. My task is to make the music say a lot, I as little as possible.” Blomstedt has fulfilled this task impressively as, among others, chief conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle, music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the NDR Sinfonieorchester, and as Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. He has regularly given guest performances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, often as a major advocate of Bruckner symphonies. For his February concerts at the Philharmonie, the maestro has included Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique in the programme – a “drame instrumental” in whose third movement an offstage oboe and bells widen the musical space before the music reaches a conclusion in its brilliant dramatic finale: “Compared to the Witches’ Sabbath,” wrote the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in 1843, “[...] Weber’s Wolf’s Glen is a lullaby.” This will be preceded by the symphony Mathis der Maler by Paul Hindemith, which was premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Wilhelm Furtwängler on 12 March 1934. This multicoloured iridescent work was inspired by three pictures of the famous Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald: “It is an attempt through musical means to approach the same emotional state triggered in the viewer by the images,” according to the composer in the programme book for the premiere.