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.
The Waldbühne in Berlin, one of the most appealing outdoor amphitheatres on the European continent, is the home of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s summer concerts. With over 20.000 in attendance, they are some of the most popular classical music concerts in the world. In 2015 the Berliner Philharmoniker surrounded themselves with plenty of celebrities, including not only conductor Sir Simon Rattle, but also many figures from film history: Indiana Jones, Robin Hood, Ben Hur and many more. They were all brought to life musically when the orchestra performed some of Hollywood’s most famous film music. With film music from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T. composed by John Williams. Live from the Waldbühne Berlin, 2015.
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.
The Berliner Philharmoniker celebrate their founding day (May 1st, 1892) in a European city of cultural significance every year. In 2016, they travelled to Røros in Norway, to play in the town’s beautiful baroque church. Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang made her debut with the Berliner Philharmonker at this year’s concert, joining them for Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor.
It is one of the highlights in the calendar of every classical music fan in Berlin - and beyond: On New Year‘s Eve, the Berliner Philharmoniker invite an exceptional soloist for a festive gala. Together the musicians bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new. In 2015, the orchestra has invited German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Together, they performed works by Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Ravel, Poulenc and Chabrier.
A true celebration, ushering in the New Year with one of the finest orchestras and greatest conductors in the world. The 2007 Gala from Berlin features the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Alexander Borodin's Second Symphony, a richly lyrical work of immense poetic grandeur and fairy-tale magic, in a programme that also includes one of the greatest classical hits ever: Modest Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition'.
In 2011 the Berliner Philharmoniker and their musical director Sir Simon Rattle welcomed in the New Year with a gala concert programmed with ‘Dances & Dreams’. Spinetingling and inspiring performances of music by Dvořák, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Brahms are complemented by the extraordinary talent of the multi-awarded Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. Kissin’s musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have placed him at the forefront of today’s pianists, and his passionate performance of the renowned Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg is mesmerizing.
Five years after first conducting the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in their Venezuelan home, Claudio Abbado continues his commitment to this stunning ensemble in this first joint audiovisual concert recording. Prokofiev's extrovert Scythian Suite is a gift for the boundless energy of these young players, while the intricacy and anguish of Berg's Lulu-Suite are an Abbado speciality, with soprano Anna Prohaska, in her Lucerne Festival debut, singing the heroine's dazzling statement of self-justification. The concert ends with an impassioned account of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, his final symphony, one of the most moving works in music history.