Piano Concerto in B flat major K. 456
Oiseaux exotiques for piano and small orchestra
An imaginary orchestral journey featuring excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 45, 64 and 90 as well as from the Creation and The Seven Last Words
In the singing of birds, the devout Catholic Olivier Messiaen saw musical testimony of God’s love for creation and its creatures. For this reason, the French composer made bird song the basis of his works from the beginning of the 1950s. He transferred its intricate rhythms and intervals to our own tonal system, and imitated its specific timbre using a sophisticated orchestration technique. As Messiaen, a synaesthete, could also hear colours and see sounds, the iridescent plumage of these animals offered him a further source of inspiration. In this way, however, Messiaen created no esoteric nature music, but a compositional work which occupies one of the top places in the development of classical Modernism – and far from all the avant-garde movements of his day. As Messiaen himself once said: “In the face of so many opposing schools and contradictory languages, there is no human voice to restore confidence to the desperate. This is where the voice of nature intervenes.” The soloist in Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques for piano and small orchestra from 1955/1956 is the Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida, who will also perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B flat major K. 456 in these three concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of its chief conductor. The concert will close with music by a composer who has always been close to Sir Simon Rattle’s heart: Joseph Haydn. Rattle himself calls this part of the programme “an eccentric journey through Haydn”.