Illustrious names, captivating works

The concerts of the easter festival

(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)

At the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, the Berliner Philharmoniker demonstrate the whole range of their artistic abilities over just a few days: In addition to the four opera performances, there are numerous concerts which are characterised by their diverse mixture of great symphonic works and intimate chamber music, famous musical guests and soloists from the ranks of the orchestra itself.

Kirill Petrenko, Sir Simon Rattle and Lisa Batiashvili

What makes this fifth Easter Festival so special? Audiences will have the opportunity to experience both the present and the future head of the Berliner Philharmoniker on two consecutive evenings. Kirill Petrenko, artistic director of the orchestra from 2019, will conduct Mozart’s Haffner Symphony and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. Sir Simon Rattle, who makes his last appearance at the festival as the head of the Philharmoniker, conducts a performance of Gustav Mahler's Sixth and an evening of works by Béla Bartók and Dvořák which, in addition to a selection of his Slavonic Dances, also includes the Violin Concerto. The soloist is the Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who delighted audiences with her cultivated and melodic performance of the same piece at the Philharmoniker’s Waldbühne concert last year. She has had close ties with the orchestra since her debut with the Philharmoniker in 2004. “No matter what you play, you get the feeling that everyone, from first to the last desk, is of one mind,” as she said in an interview.

Pinchas Zukerman and Zubin Mehta

Another great violinist is also a guest at the Easter Festival: Pinchas Zukerman, who first appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1970 and performed all of the great violin concertos with them in the following years. After an absence of more than ten years, he returns to the orchestra with Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto, a work which Zukerman says has fascinated him since he was a student due to its innovative tonal colours. The conductor at his side is Zubin Mehta, an old friend of the Berliner Philharmoniker, who previously appeared at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden in 2014. In addition to Elgar's violin concerto, he also conducts Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony which he last performed with the Philharmoniker in 1974.

Ensembles of the Philharmoniker and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany

The 14 “master concerts” are given by members of the orchestra. In addition to established chamber music ensembles of the orchestra, such as the Philharmonia Quartet, the Philharmonic String Quintet, the Berlin Baroque Soloists, the Feininger Trio, the Brass Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Venus and the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, the musicians also perform in unusual chamber music formations. One of the many highlights is the music festival on Easter Sunday, in which the Philharmonic Octet Berlin, the Ensemble Berlin and the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Otter appear. Also returning is the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, who perform Sergei Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony together with members of the Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

Scharoun Ensemble Berlin
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)
Brass Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)