What could be more exciting than first encounters? This is just as true in everyday life as it is on the concert stage when a conductor or soloist makes their debut. In the 2023/24 season, the Berliner Philharmoniker will be very open to new encounters and will welcome many new guests, including three young composers.
The soloists making their debuts come from France, Italy and the USA. What they have in common is that they all come from musical families, which gave them valuable inspiration along the way, and allowed them to grow artistically from an early age. The pianist Alexandre Kantorow, for example, won the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition at the age of 22 – the first Frenchman ever to do so. He makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker with Franz Liszt’s virtuosic, intensely emotional Second Piano Concerto. His Italian colleague Beatrice Rana is considered an outstanding pianist of the young generation, whose playing impresses with sensitivity and creative power. For her debut, she presents the rarely heard Piano Concerto by the 16-year-old Clara Schumann, a work full of poetry and originality.
Antoine Tamestit delights audiences on the viola with his warm, richly coloured tone. In Jörg Widmann’s viola concerto, which is dedicated to Tamestit, the student of Tabea Zimmermann can show his instrument from a completely different tonal side – percussive, ferocious, and startling. A vocal soloist will also make her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker: the Arizona-born soprano Tamara Wilson, who boasts a voluminous, expressive soprano. This makes her ideally equipped for her guest appearance in Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung, a dramatic scene of almost boundless expressiveness.
Guests from the Far East and close to home
The South Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim makes her debut at the same time as Tamara Wilson. The former assistant to Kirill Petrenko especially enjoys acclaim at major opera houses from the New York Met to La Scala in Milan, and has been music director of San Francisco Opera since 2021. Fabio Luisi is also a distinguished opera conductor and a leading interpreter of the late Romantic repertoire. From this era he presents Franz Schmidt’s subtly orchestrated Second Symphony. Evgeny Kissin as the soloist of this evening interprets Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.
A student of the legendary Jorma Panula and chief conductor of Finnish National Opera, the Finnish Hannu Lintu comes as a musical ambassador for his country when he presents Jean Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony and Kaija Saariaho’s orchestral piece Ciel d’hiver, among others. With conductor Riccardo Minasi, who comes from the field of historical performance practice, you can look forward to an all-Mozart programme, including the famous, dark-toned Symphony No. 40.
There will also be a visitor from nearby: Robin Ticciati, chief conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, will appear with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time conducting Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and works by Antonín Dvořák and Ondřej Adámek. The start to all these conducting debuts is reserved for Jörg Widmann, who is also making his debut with the orchestra as Composer in Residence and clarinettist, immediately after the start of the season.
New works by the young generation
It is not only practising musicians who are making their debuts this season. Three young composers have also been commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time and are opening up new worlds of sound: Márton Illés, a student of Detlev Müller-Siemens and Wolfgang Rihm, already caused a sensation with his music at the age of 16. His trademark is a dense, perspective-spatial tonal language, but the gestures and rhythms of the language and folk music of his Hungarian homeland are also fundamental to him. “But not everything has Hungarian connotations,” he says, “I feel my musical syntax, for example, is very German. So I would see my compositions, not umlike Béla Bartók’s, as syntheses of multiple cultural resources.”
The Slovenian Vito Žuraj, also a student of Rihm and winner of the 2017 Claudio Abbado Composition Prize, creates compositions that often captivate with scenic elements and spatial sound concepts. Time and again, they create puzzles that take up familiar works in a ingenious and alienating way. This has a thoroughly playful side, as Vito Žuraj explains: “Creativity means being the architect of your own playfulness. Because the core of playing is the exploration of limitless possibilities.”
The Serbian Milica Djordjević is also a winner of the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize. Her music sometimes seems raw and wild, deliberately refusing to sound beautiful and instead offering a directness and vitality that strikes at the heart. Milica Djordjević unleashes dramas full of verve in her pieces and hopes that this intensity is transmitted to the musicians and the audience. “When you write something with passion,” she says, “you expect it to be played with passion and heard with passion.”
07 Dec 2023, 20:00
Series: A – Concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker
Thu 07 Dec 2023, 20:00
Robin Ticciati conductor
Elsa Benoit soprano
Works by Antonín Dvořák, Ondřej Adámek and Gustav Mahler