An era is about to come to an end for the Berliner Philharmoniker. After 16 years, Sir Simon Rattle’s term of office as the orchestra’s chief conductor finishes in the 2017/2018 season. The concerts programmed for the Philharmonie and the Digital Concert Hall allow us to relive some of the many highlights of these years. For example, a performance of the oratorio The Creation allows audiences once more to enjoy Rattle the celebrated Haydn conductor, while with Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri, Rattle presents one of his favourite works of the Romantic repertoire. We also have another opportunity to hear the completion of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony which caused a sensation in 2012, and Rattle interpreting Stravinsky is of course also an absolute must. There are also joint appearances with artistic friends such as Mitsuko Uchida, and Daniel Barenboim. In addition to all these reminiscences are Wagner’s Parsifal and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, two operas Sir Simon has never performed before with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Concerts with Mahler’s Sixth Symphony – with which he made his debut with the Philharmoniker in 1987 – and at the Berlin Waldbühne bring this great chapter in the history of the orchestra to a close.
Looking back and ahead
In addition to Simon Rattle, there are once again a host of outstanding guest conductors and soloists this season, including Kirill Petrenko who takes up office as the new chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2019. Longstanding companions of the orchestra, such as Herbert Blomstedt, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta and Christian Thielemann are to make guest appearances, plus conductors from the younger generation who made their debuts only a few years ago, including Daniele Gatti, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Tugan Sokhiev. On top of these tried and tested forces, we can expect two exciting conducting debuts: Frenchman Alain Altinoglu, directeur musical of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, and Russian Dima Slobodeniouk, currently heading the Orquestra Sinfónica de Galicia. The end of October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. The Berliner Philharmoniker commemorate this historic event with the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s B minor Mass under the direction of Ton Koopman. The season’s soloists include the pianists Yuja Wang, Maria João Pires, Daniil Trifonov, Krystian Zimerman, Yefim Bronfman and Lang Lang, the violinists Gil Shaham, Leonidas Kavakos and Janine Jansen, plus the singers Gerald Finley and Joyce DiDonato. The violinist Michael Barenboim makes his debut with the Philharmoniker performing Arnold Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto. Four of the orchestra’s musicians, 1st Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, principal clarinet Wenzel Fuchs and 1st principal viola players Máté Szűcs and Amihai Grosz, also appear as soloists. Within the tapas series, newly commissioned works of about six minutes duration, we serve up orchestral “appetisers” by Georg Friedrich Haas, Unsuk Chin, Brett Dean, Magnus Lindberg, Hans Abrahamsen, Andrew Norman and Jörg Widmann.
The entire spectrum of chamber music
Our chamber music series offer all facets of music-making in small groups. The ensembles appearing in the Quartet series partly break the narrow boundaries of the classical string quartet with unusual programmes. The first evening of the series, for example, sees the Armida Quartet and the Modigliani Quartet perform the string octet by Felix Mendelssohn in addition to works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johannes Brahms. The Berlin Piano Quartet dedicate themselves to the rarely performed genre of music for piano and three other instruments. Other guests are the Quatuor Ebène, the Philharmonia Quartet and the Auryn Quartet. The Piano series is opened by the Russian pianist Anna Vinnitskaya, who makes her debut in Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation concerts performing works by Sergei Prokofiev, Claude Debussy and Frédéric Chopin. Leif Ove Andsnes, Maurizio Pollini and Yuja Wang, the other artists in the series, are already familiar faces to Philharmoniker audiences. Yuja Wang also performs in a concert which she gives together with Daishon Kashimoto, 1st concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and principal clarinet Andreas Ottensamer. The concert is part of the Chamber Music Prism series which provides a forum for chamber music for both members of the orchestra and Philharmoniker formations such as the Ensemble Berlin Prag, the Brahms Ensemble Berlin plus the winds and the 12 violists of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The programmes of our song recital series Singers – the World of Vocal Music range from the Baroque to the modern, with Cecilia Bartoli, Christiane Karg, artist in residence Mark Padmore and Michael Nagy. The opening concerto of the series commemorates Reformation Day with sacred choral music by Josquin, Johann Walter, Hans Leo Hassler, Samuel Scheidt, Heinrich Schütz and Johann Hermann Schein.
From Early music to Jazz
The first concert of the Original Sounds series also continues the Reformation theme, with the Concerto Melante presenting the then avant-garde genre of the little sacred concerto. Fans of Early music can also look forward to Les Arts Florissants under the direction of William Christie, Les Talents Lyriques, and Il Suonar Parlante. Well-established series such as the concerts of the Karajan Academy (formerly the Orchestra Academy), the Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic series, the Philharmonic Salon, the organ matinees and the Late Night concerts offer audiences music from beyond the standard concert repertoire. The Philharmonic Discourse, which was introduced last season, is also being continued – with such prominent guests as Wolfgang Schäuble, Gero von Boehm, Ton Koopman and the former bishop Wolfgang Huber.