Musikfest Berlin

Kirill Petrenko and Christian Gerhaher

Christian Gerhaher (photo: Sony Classical / Gregor Hohenberg)

A concert full of orchestral power and sonority: Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Gesangsszene from Sodom and Gomorrah – written in 1962/63 against the backdrop of the arms race between the superpowers – creates an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world. Kirill Petrenko performs the colossal work with baritone Christian Gerhaher, a regular and acclaimed guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Iannis Xenakisʼ Jonchaies and György Kurtág’s Stele are also expressive and dramatic, making full use of all the possibilities of an orchestra. Plus, there is the world premiere of a new work by Martón Illés.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Kirill Petrenko conductor

Christian Gerhaher baritone

Iannis Xenakis

Jonchaies for orchestra

Márton Illés

Lég-szín-tér (Premiere), commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, funded by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung

Karl Amadeus Hartmann

Gesangsszene based on words from Sodom und Gomorrah by Jean Giraudoux

Christian Gerhaher baritone

György Kurtág

Stele for large orchestra, op. 33

In cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin

Dates and Tickets


Kirill Petrenko

Kirill Petrenko has been chief conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philharmoniker since the 2019/20 season. Born in Omsk in Siberia, he received his training first in his home town and later in Austria. He established his conducting career in opera with positions at the Meininger Theater and the Komische Oper Berlin. From 2013 to 2020, Kirill Petrenko was general music director of Bayerische Staatsoper. He has also made guest appearances at the world’s leading opera houses, including Wiener Staatsoper, Covent Garden in London, the Opéra national in Paris, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the Bayreuth Festival. Moreover, he has conducted the major international symphony orchestras – in Vienna, Munich, Dresden, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Rome, Chicago, Cleveland and Israel. Since his debut in 2006, a variety of programmatic themes have emerged in his work together with the Berliner Philharmoniker. These include work on the orchestra’s core Classical-Romantic repertoire, most notably with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony when he took up his post. Unjustly forgotten composers such as Josef Suk and Erich Wolfgang Korngold are another of Kirill Petrenko’s interests. Russian works are also highlighted, with performances of Tchaikovsky’s operas MazeppaIolanta and The Queen of Spades attracting particular attention recently.

Christian Gerhaher

“I can’t listen to Schubert, write emails on the side and think I can understand the beauty of this music. I need time, peace and concentration.” For Christian Gerhaher, music has something existential: “Music by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert,” he says, “is no less a pleasure than music by the Velvet Underground or The Cure. It deals with death, loss and loneliness, with the absence of ideal perfection, with problematic states of mind and deficits.  Music often creates the shock that makes you long for consolation in the first place – and then, wonderfully, it provides it itself.” International critics agree that no other baritone combines existential profundity and vocal beauty better than the Bavarian-born singer, with his beguiling mixture of rich depth and captivating head notes. All this makes Christian Gerhaher one of the most sought-after singers in his field. He has enjoyed a close artistic partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker for 20 years, including the 2013/14 season as Artist in Residence. Joint projects over the years have included performances of Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, Bach'’ St Matthew and St John Passions, and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Most recently, Christian Gerhaher was a guest soloist in Felix Mendelssohn’s Oratorio Elijah conducted by Kirill Petrenko.


György Kurtág and the Berliner Philharmoniker


Who was Karl Amadeus Hartmann?