Simon Rattle has recorded a lot of 19th century music and most of the results have been dismal. There is little to recommend by Rattle in pre-20th century repertoire. A few Haydn symphonies, some pretty good Brahms, bits of Mahler, Ein Heldenleben by Strauss which is just at the cusp of the 20th century. Alright, so Rattle is not the conductor to go to for the great classics. However, when he records modern music, he seems fully in tune with it's sound and style, plus he has less competition on the market to boot.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Sir Simon Rattle has distinguished himself through his long-term relationships with a number of orchestras, wide-ranging repertoire and innovative educational and audiencebuilding activities. He is currently Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Principal Artist with the OAE. Sir Simon first conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in 1987 and appeared regularly with the orchestra in subsequent years.The summer of 2006 saw the first instalment of their Wagner Ring Cycle at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Sir Simon's most recent appearance at the Proms in Wagner brought forth ecstatic reviews, which bodes well for possible future installments of the Aix /Salzburg Ring on Bel Air Classiques.
As before with the St. Matthew Passion, star director Peter Sellars succeeded in creating a staging which made the spiritual and dramatic content of the Passion story even more intensive. The New York Times also praised the “brilliant and energetic” playing of the orchestra, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the “haunting, almost unsurpassable singing of all those involved.”
Sir Simon Rattle was in no doubt: the performance of the St. Matthew Passion which he realized together with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Rundfunkchor Berlin in 2010 was for him “the single most important thing we ever did here.” Critics around the world agreed. They praised the semi-staged “ritualization” by American star-director Peter Sellars, as well as the outstanding musical performances by the soloists, including Magdalena Kozená, Christian Gerhaher, Thomas Quasthoff, and Mark Padmore as the Evangelist.
Remembering, written in memory of Evan Scofield, is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s response to the young man’s premature death from cancer in 2013, at the age of 26. Turnage knew Evan as the son of family friends, the jazz guitarist John Scofield and his wife Susan, and the sister of Jeannie, the partner of Ursula. A boy whose quirky but deep rooted enthusiasms – for cinema, axes, hyacinths, friends – reflected a readiness to take on life in all its fullness, a young man whose ways of seeing seemed so good, so full of promise and possibility. Such early deaths strike us less like personal tragedies and more like cosmic catastrophes. What kind of a world is it that allows such things to happen?