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.
Covent Garden’s 2003 production of The Magic Flute , designed by John F. Macfarlane, directed by David McVicar, and conducted by Sir Colin Davis, is magnificent from a strictly musical standpoint. More than that, it’s vastly entertaining. The comedic elements of the story integrate far more comfortably than is often the case with Schikaneder’s high-minded (if vague) theme of a quest for enlightenment, particularly in the second act. Visually, the production is a feast, yet it doesn’t distract from the music. The intention was to maintain an 18th-century feel but to play freely with that aesthetic…
The opera that few tenors dare sing and which Flórez has made his own throughout his career. Recorded at the 2012 Pesaro Festival, Flórez reprises the role that shot him to stardom in 1996 aged twenty-three. Conducting is the up-and-coming young Italian maestro Michele Mariotti who was praised for his pacing in this long opera. The performance also features the much-admired Olga Peretyatko - a fine stage artist and a consummate performer of Rossini’s fiorature - in the title role.
Based on a Romantic tragedy by Zacharias Werner, Attila is set in the 5th century AD. The opera takes as its starting point Attila’s plans to storm Rome with his army of Huns and the Roman’s attempts to prevent him. As with Nabucco and I Lombardi, Verdi spiced up the action with a number of patriotic choruses, guaranteeing that – against the background of the Italian movement for unification – the opera was a great success.
This tale of love, disguised nobility, murder, and love lost may sound like any other opera to some. But Verdi's Luisa Miller is a gem of the verismo genre. The gorgeous staging is surmounted only by a cast which includes Marcelo Alavarez, Leo Nucci, Fiorenca Cedolins, and Giorgio Surian.