Carrying the fire

Guest appearance: the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Chamber Orchestra of Europe
(Photo: Julia Wesel)

“The music is bigger than any one person,” is the credo of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which first came to Berlin at the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation last season and which will also give two concerts in the Chamber Music Hall this season. The ensemble emerged from the European Union Youth Orchestra, an ensemble of young musicians initiated and led for many years by Claudio Abbado, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker from 1990 to 2002. Some of the former members wanted to carry the fire that Abbado ignited in the young players by founding the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The ensemble was significantly influenced by Abbado’s style of making music and together with him, they made some award-winning recordings, such as Rossini’s opera Il Viaggio a Reims plus a recording of Schubert’s symphonies. But other conductors have also had a decisive influence on the orchestra’s profile: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink and Yannick Nézet-Séguin – to name but a few. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, whose members also work successfully outside the formation as soloists, section leaders and conductors of outstanding chamber orchestras or as tutors and professors, is one of the best chamber orchestras of our time. Its performances are characterised by its individual programming in which the music of the First Viennese School forms a mainstay.

Haydn and Mendelssohn

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe is bringing two great soloists to its Berlin concerts, which are supported by the Aventis Foundation: pianist Sir András Schiff and violinist Renaud Capuçon. András Schiff and the COE have enjoyed an artistic friendship for almost 35 years. “It’s a unique ensemble that does nothing routine,” says the pianist. “The musicians come from different countries and have learned different playing traditions, and yet they have developed a specific sound. It’s also an incredibly intelligent orchestra. The collective intelligence and sensitivity of this group is admirable. Together, they represent the essence of Europe, and EU politicians could learn a lot from them.” The joint concert in Berlin is the hundredth concert that András Schiff and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe have given together. The programme features the pianist playing a piano concerto by both Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn, in addition to a symphony by Haydn and Mendelssohn’s famous Italian.

Beethoven and Schubert

The COE realises an unusual project with the violinist Renaud Capuçon, presenting two originally very intimate chamber music works in arrangements for larger forces: Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata in an arrangement for violin and strings, plus Franz Schubert’s String Quartet Death and the Maiden in an arrangement for string orchestra by Gustav Mahler – a programme totally to the taste of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe which, as a 60-member ensemble, cultivates the transparent playing style of chamber music.

Sir András Schiff
(Photo: Nicolas Brodard)
Renaud Capuçon
(Photo: Simon Fowler)