“The symphony can hold its head high in the presence of its eight sisters; it is certainly overshadowed by none,” wrote the reviewer of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung on 12 May 1824 after the premiere of the work with which Sir Simon Rattle wraps up his Beethoven cycle. This symphony, composed in the context of such revolutionary compositions as the HammerklavierSonata op. 106, the Missa solemnis op. 123 and the Diabelli Variations op. 120, was Beethoven’s last great challenge in the field of orchestral music. In it the composer found his way to a monumental musical language that, in the words of Carl Dahlhaus, “stands up to being stated emphatically without collapsing into empty rhetoric”.
Starting from an indeterminate empty fifth, the music steers purposefully towards an apotheistic finale which gives a clear answer to the conflicts previously exposed. For what was at first just hinted on a purely instrumental level pushes through to linguistic clarity in the chorus part: the catchy theme is first introduced in the celli and basses, “as obscurely secretive and trusting … as long buried and drowned out memories of youth” (Adolph Bernhard Marx). It then passes through an unprecedented increase in a dynamic display of splendour in sound which, after an alla marcia section, gradually slows down, leading the work to its triumphal conclusion. The Rundfunkchor Berlin will sing, together with an ensemble of soloists of international reputation: besides the Berliner Annette Dasch, who, as one of the leading contemporary sopranos, can be experienced around the world at the most important concert and opera houses, mezzosoprano Eva Vogel is expected; she successfully debuted in the Philharmonic’s Berlin concerts in 2009. Other soloists are the tenor Christian Elsner as well as Dimitry Ivashchenko, who already sang the bass role in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Philharmonic concert in the Waldbühne in 2013.