Following the season opening concert with their chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the Berliner Philharmoniker have invited three great guest conductors for their upcoming concerts: Andris Nelsons, Daniele Gatti and Manfred Honeck. Nelsons confessed in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall that it was always a great experience to work with the Berliner Philharmoniker, but at the same time a great responsibility, “so I am always a little nervous before every concert.” Since his debut with the Philharmoniker in October 2010, the conductor, the son of a Latvian family of musicians, has performed 13 concert programmes with the orchestra – and has always demonstrated his versatility, whether in the Classical, Romantic, Modern or contemporary repertoire.
A former pupil of Mariss Jansons, Nelsons belongs to a generation of young conductors who have achieved world renown within only a few years: Chief conductor positions at Latvian National Opera, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and – since the 2014/2015 season – the Boston Symphony Orchestra mark the stations of his remarkable career. And in 2018, Nelsons begins his tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister in Leipzig. For his guest appearances in September 2016 as part of Musikfest Berlin, he will conduct an all-French programme: Hector Berlioz’ expressive Symphonie fantastique, Claude Debussy’s languorous Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Edgard Varèse’s anarchic Arcana.
Return with Wagner and Brahms
Daniele Gatti conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time in 1997. This native of Milan, who feels bound to the tradition of the great Italian conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Carlo Maria Giulini, introduced himself with a Hungarian-French programme: Hector Berlioz’s Carnival Overture, Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Yefim Bronfman as the soloist, and Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. He impressed audiences – as the reviews reported – with his simultaneously controlled and spirited music-making: he was an “impulsive, thoroughbred musician”. Gatti, chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam as of this season, conducts all around the world: at La Scala in Milan and the New York Met, at London’s Covent Garden and the festivals in Bayreuth and Salzburg. For his return to the podium of the Berliner Philharmoniker in October 2014, Daniele Gatti presented an all-German programme with works by Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms and Alban Berg. This time Daniele Gatti conducts classics of French modernism: Claude Debussy’s impressionistic tone poem La Mer, Henri Dutilleux’ avant-garde Métaboles and Arthur Honegger’s apocalyptic Symphony liturgique.
Selfless Service to Art
Compared to Andris Nelsons and Daniele Gatti, Manfred Honeck is still somewhat of a “new boy” with the Philharmoniker. He was first invited to appear in February 2013, and conducted a programme which, alongside Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, included Antonín Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra and the Violin Concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter as the soloist. Press reports wrote of his impressive “selfless service to art”. Working with the Philharmoniker feels like sitting in a Rolls Royce, as Honeck said enthusiastically in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall. “They respond to every nuance.” The Austrian conductor comes from a family of musicians, and began his musical career as a violist with the Vienna Philharmonic before starting his conducting career which so far has included positions as first Kapellmeister with Zurich Opera, principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and as general music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Since the 2008/2009 season, he has been music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In March 2016, Manfred Honeck stood in for the indisposed Yannick Nézet-Séguin for an orchestral concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival. Now, he returns to the desk of the Philharmoniker at the end of September, beginning of October with an unusual programme: a fantasy from Antonín Dvořák’s opera Rusalka arranged by Honeck himself, plus the Czech composer’s Eighth Symphony. Together with the baritone Matthias Goerne, the Philharmoniker and Manfred Honeck also perform orchestral songs by Richard Strauss and Lieder by Franz Schubert, arranged for orchestra.