This concert series is not for sleepy-heads. Things get started here just as other concert goers start to make their way home: Three times per season, these late-night events offer music after the orchestral concerts finish – with Sir Simon Rattle, renowned artists and unusual programmes. Guests of the first late-night concerts this season are violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaya, pianist Markus Hinterhäuser and viol player Laurence Dreyfus. The programme could not be more exciting: On Baroque violin and treble viol Patricia Kopatchinskaya and Laurence Dreyfus play bicinia of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. The delicate, almost spiritual sound of this music is contrasted by compositions for violin and piano, performed on modern instruments, by Galina Ustvolskaya, a pupil of Dmitri Shostakovich, which are characterized by a passionate, expressive tonal language.

Winterreise with a difference

The second late-night concert is Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. However, the song cycle, which from the first note tells of renunciation, resignation, sadness and death, will be presented in the orchestrated version of Hans Zender rather than the usual version for voice and piano. The conductor and composer Zender calls his version a “composed interpretation”. Through the instrumentation of the piano part, the familiar songs get a new, unusual, and sometimes disturbing musical language, giving the music an almost Mahlerian flavour. The students of the Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker play Zender’s version, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. The singer is the tenor Christian Elsner.

Naughty, sophisticated, sexy

The third concert of the Late Night series takes us to a very different musical world: William Walton’s Façade from 1923 evokes the subversive, naughty atmosphere of a cabaret or Music Hall. In the work, which is described as an “entertainment”, the British composer set texts by his scandalous patron Edith Sitwell to music. With great sophistication, Walton combined elements of jazz and folk music, reminiscent of Stravinsky and Weill to form a breathtaking virtuoso musical showpiece, full of the British sense of humour. Façade is performed by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and a Late Night concert dream team: Sir Simon Rattle and Barbara Hannigan. The Canadian soprano, a specialist in contemporary repertoire, and the Philharmoniker’s chief conductor enchanted audiences in December 2012, with their witty performance of Hans Werner Henze’s cantata Being Beauteous and excerpts from Walton’s rousing work. The soprano impressed not only with her comedic talent and her acrobatic articulation, but also with her skills as a conductor. Sir Simon was also seen outside his usual role and took on the role of a singer. A fun-filled entertainment for everyone involved!