For twenty years the Berliner Philharmoniker has celebrated its 1882 founding with a concert at a major European venue, and the 2011 event takes place at the magnificent Teatro Real in Madrid. The renowned orchestra, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, performs Joaquín Rodrigo’s beloved Concierto de Aranjuez, Emmanuel Chabrier’s exuberant España, and Sergey Rachmaninov’s dramatic Second Symphony. It is joined for the Concierto by the famous flamenco guitarist Cañizares, whose virtuosity and sensitivity are given full opportunity to shine in this multi-faceted and subtle work.
Even if one always has doubts about Simon Rattle conducting Mahler - doubts about his sincerity and his seriousness - even if one has always questioned his radically wrong tempos in the Second and Fourth and his amazingly uncomprehending interpretations of the Sixth and Seventh - one has to admit that Rattle has over time gradually been getting better at recording Mahler.
Former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is not prolific. Rattle That Lock is only his fourth solo studio album (though it follows his late band's final album, The Endless River, by only ten months). Gilmour recorded some 35 songs for this set, some dating back 18 years. Trimming them to ten couldn't have been easy. Titled for John Milton's second book in Paradise Lost, Rattle That Lock is structured as an informal song cycle to reflect the sometimes random, sometimes weightier thought processes of a typical person in a single day…
Recordings of all the Beethoven symphonies with their chief conductor are always a milestone in the artistic work of the Berliner Philharmoniker. So it was with Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado, and expectations are correspondingly high for this cycle conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Where does the special status of these symphonies come from? Simon Rattle has an explanation: “One of the things Beethoven does is to give you a mirror into yourself – where you are now as a musician.” In fact, this music contains such a wealth of extreme emotions and brilliant compositional ideas that reveal the qualities of the orchestra and its conductor as if under a magnifying glass.
Three of Szymanowski’s most important works show Rattle’s ability to energise music in which he believes. Sensuality and cogency blend in refined sound.