Winfried Bönig would never have imagined it, but when the telephone rang and he was asked to interview on the banks of the Rhine, the Bamberger did suspect what was to come: an offer to become cathedral organist in Cologne. A dream job for him, but not the only one: Winfried Bönig also has a doctorate in musicology, is a professor at Cologne’s conservatory and one of Germany’s best-known concert organists. At his second concert in the Philharmonie Berlin, Winfried Bönig will present a festive pre-Christmas programme together with the brass players of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Richard Strauss was one of the central personalities in European music history, making it all the more unfortunate that the composer stayed well clear of the organ. And yet his music sounds ravishingly good on the “queen of the instruments”, as can be heard in his Festival Procession, here in an arrangement for organ and large brass ensemble. In the further course of the concert an extremely charming arrangement from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio will be performed, as well as the overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La forza del destino. In the highly virtuoso and very colourful Variations sur un Noël angevin (Variations on a Christmas Carol) by the Frenchman Gaston Litaize, Winfried Bönig will pull out all the stops to show what the organ in the Philharmonie Berlin can do. The concert will end with Symphonic Festive Music by Austrian composer Joseph Messner, who seems to reconcile opera and the church with sweeping gestures in a heroically triumphant style.