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Berliner Philharmoniker – Peter Eotvos conducts the premiere of his Cello Concerto Grosso 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

For Peter Eötvös, composing is “the enchantment of the listener through sound. I am interested in the technique of turning the unbelievable into music.” In developing this concept, he was assisted by many outstanding composers. As a 14-year-old, he was accepted for Zoltán Kodály’s composition class at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest; he later worked closely together with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. With the premiere of his Cello Concerto Grosso, another of Peter Eötvös’ “enchantments” was performed in the Philharmonie in 2011.

The work is a play on old forms. From the Baroque concerto grosso, Eötvös adopts the combination of orchestra and a group of soloists, in this case of eight cellists. In a way that is reminiscent of the classic solo concerto, one single cellist is placed in front of the group of soloists, presenting the complete virtuoso potential of his instrument. This solo part is played by Miklós Perényi, a close associate of Peter Eövös for many years who once said of him that Perényi is “like nature, like the trees and the flowers: he just exists and radiates”.

The premiere is framed by music of Modest Mussorgsky. The concert opens with St. John’s Night on the Bare Mountain, a wild representation of a witches’ sabbath, which the composer himself described as “hot and chaotic”. The end of the evening is equally energetic with two scenes from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, with a choir portraying the stirred up Russian people. With tempestuous music, it appears as an uncontrollable force, forming the greatest imaginable contrast to the psychological drama of the Tsar Boris, here performed by Ferruccio Furlanetto.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/1646

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Performances and conversation꞉ Karajan conducts Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 1966 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In the winter of 1965–66 Herbert von Karajan made a series of documentary films with the distinguished French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (1907–1977). Using a combination of rehearsal sequences, interviews and specially filmed complete performances, Karajan hoped to reveal for the first time the inner workings of the very different worlds of rehearsal and performance. Shot in black and white, Clouzot’s preferred medium, the series was entitled Die Kunst des Dirigierens (The Art of Conducting).

For the film of Dvořák’s last symphony From the New World, Karajan chose to explore with the musicologist Denis Stevens how the work came into being, its folkloric aspects in particular. Happy to play the role of the enquiring pupil, Karajan also reveals himself to be formidably well informed both about the symphony and the wider cultural issues which surround it.

Karajan made his earliest forays into the Czech repertory in the late 1930s. He knew and revered the work of the great Czech conductor Václav Talich and was strongly influenced by Arturo Toscanini who was a justly celebrated interpreter of the New World Symphony. Karajan first recorded the symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker in March 1940. By the time of this 1966 film his reading was less episodic, more of a piece. It is also more exciting aurally. Under Karajan’s inspired tutelage, the Berlin Philharmoniker were by this time as much revered for their playing of Debussy, Ravel and Sibelius as they were for their playing of Brahms and Beethoven. Dvořák is often thought of as a Czech Brahms. In this electrifying 1966 account of the New World Symphony, Dvořák’s last symphony appears to look forward as much as it looks back.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/200

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” works 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

If you want to meet a versatile musician, you should not miss this concert, with Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado who made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2011. The website of the artist contains an impressively long repertoire list of music from all eras and countries – from Tielman Susato (c. 1510–70) to the latest generation of composers. The global response of critics to this “superb new podium talent” (San Francisco Chronicle) shows Heras-Casado’s skills are characterised not only by breadth but also depth.

Heras-Casado opens and closes the concert with works by Felix Mendelssohn which were inspired by a trip to Scotland in 1829: the overture The Hebrides and the “Scottish” Symphony. Mendelssohn himself stated that the intense colours and moods of this music were a reflection of his impressions of the trip. However, anyone who imagines they are hearing quotes from real folk music here – such as in the bagpipe pentatonic in the second movement of the symphony – is mistaken: the composer did not think much of the genuine folk music, writing from Scotland, “Unfortunately it gives me toothache”.

Embedded between these works are two compositions from the 20th century: Luciano Berio’s virtuoso orchestra miniatures Quatre dédicaces, which are played here for the first time by the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Karol Szymanowski’s Fourth Symphony. Szymanowski, a father figure of modern Polish music, here creates a refined Impressionistic work that invokes the great tradition of the Romantic solo concerto with its virtuosic piano part, played by the celebrated Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/2461

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Paavo Jarvi conducts Beethoven and Hindemith 2013 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Paavo Järvi recently caused a furore in the music world with his spectacular Beethoven cycle. So it is only fitting that also in the Berlin Philharmonie, one of the composer’s symphonic works is included in the programme. Beethoven’s First Symphony begins with a dissonant seventh which does not inform the listener of the basic key of the work as was traditional, but forms the starting point of a harmonic puzzle. There had never been a beginning with such tension before in a symphonic work, and it seemed as if the composer wanted to make clear with this opening bar that with the beginning of a new century (the premiere took place on 2 April 1800), the rules of the genre had changed.

Paul Hindemith’s Violin Concerto, on the other hand, is famous for its expansive lyrical melodic lines, something Frank Peter Zimmermann with his Stradivarius is certain to bring out. Composed in 1939 – shortly before Hindemith emigrated to the USA, the work assumes occasionally melancholic features, with the clear singing of the solo violin emerging beguilingly again and again from the dark timbre of its surroundings.

Jean Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony appeared almost 24 years earlier, a work whose popularity has remained unbroken ever since its premiere on 8 December 1915. “Today at ten to eleven I saw 16 swans. One of the greatest experiences!” wrote Sibelius during the genesis of the work. “Their call the same woodwind type as that of cranes, but without tremolo. A gentle refrain that sounds like the crying of a small child. Nature mysticism and world-weariness! The final theme of the Fifth Symphony: Legato in the trumpets!!”

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/3455

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Octets by Franz Schubert and Jorg Widmann 2015 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

From today’s perspective, it seems an understatement that Schubert’s F-major Octet was called in the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung a piece “in keeping with the composer’s well-known talent.” After all, Schubert went down in music history with this work, full of elan and tone colours that shimmer like a kaleidoscope, taking up the spirit of the divertimento from the late 18th century and raising it to a new level: he created the genre of the octet. In doing so, his instrumental richness of ideas knew no bounds, as he sometimes treated the ensemble as a small orchestra – for instance, with parallel octaves in the two violins, and by keenly contrasting between solo and tutti sounds, but also knew how to combine string and wind sounds with real chamber music finesse.

With such an alternation between intimate, chamber music-style and large-scale orchestral outlines, Jörg Widmann’s octet – which was also heard in this Philharmoniker chamber concert together with Philharmoniker Artist in Residence Christian Tetzlaff and members of the orchestra – consciously establishes a direct reference to Schubert’s composition, which he has called “the central reference work”. The Intrada is surprisingly tonal; it begins in unison, as does Schubert’s first movement, and Widmann achieves an almost symphonic twelve-voice effect using double stops. The central middle movement of “inescapable sadness” (Widmann) is strongly influenced by Schubertian music, whereas the finale, bubbling over with vitality, provides a positive ending.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/20466

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Nicola Luisotti conducts Poulenc’s Gloria and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Composing works which were both modern and understandable – that was the supreme discipline for not just a few composers of the 20th century. Nicola Luisotti, music director of San Francisco Opera, presents works which realise this concept most beautifully with the Berliner Philharmoniker: the Gloria by Francis Poulenc and Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. The concert also includes works for solo flute by Claude Debussy and Luciano Berio.

Francis Poulenc was one of the most important figures of the Les six, a group who committed themselves to rectilinear, light and intellectually stimulating music, in which sounds from everyday life were also to find a place. This ideal is also evident in Poulenc’s Gloria. Meditative prayer here goes hand in hand with an exuberant joy in the glory of God. As a result, this music makes the judgment of a contemporary critic quite plausible, describing Poulenc as “half monk, half thug”.

Sergei Prokofiev considered it a prerequisite of great music that it be “simple and comprehensible, without being repetitive or trivial”. The Fifth Symphony can be seen as a culmination of this idea, and is one of Prokofiev’s most frequently performed works. It is catchy, raw and distinctive – while below the surface, extremely sophisticated.

The two flute pieces in the programme have a complex structure on the one hand and, on the other hand, convey the impression of spontaneous improvisation. The soloist is the Philharmoniker’s principal flute Emmanuel Pahud, described by the BBC as “one of the world’s leading flautists, and an exceptionally charismatic ambassador for his instrument.”

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/2495

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Berliner Philharmoniker – New Year’s Eve Concert with Simon Rattle and Menahem Pressler 2014 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Pianist Menahem Pressler has made recording and performing history for more than half a century with the Beaux Arts Trio, which he founded in 1955. Pressler was born in Magdeburg in 1923 and fled the National Socialist regime with his family. The grand seigneur of the piano gave his long-overdue debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 2014 with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G major, K. 453. The audience hailed Pressler with a standing ovation; the press raved about the “masterful exhilaration” of his musicality and his “unique tone, as full as it was intimate”.

For his appearance at the 2014 New Year’s Eve Concert in the Philharmonie, Pressler selected Mozart again: the Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488, composed during Mozart’s prime in Vienna and one of his most beautiful contributions to the genre.

The New Year’s Eve Concert opens with Sir Simon Rattle conducting music by Jean-Philippe Rameau: a suite of instrumental pieces from the opéra-ballet Les Indes galantes show French Baroque music at its finest. Following the intermission, the musicians ring in the new year in a lively way with Slavic strains: an orchestral suite from Zoltán Kodály’s charming folk opera Háry János as well as a selection from the popular Slavonic Dances by Antonín Dvořák.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/20332

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Berliner Philharmoniker – New Year’s Eve concert with Simon Rattle and Daniil Trifonov 2016 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Before the champagne corks popped to celebrate the turn of the year 2016/2017, the audience could experience first-class virtuosic piano playing when Daniil Trifonov stepped up to the podium at the New Year’s Eve concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The concert opens with a sparkling comedy overture by the Soviet composer Dmitri Kabalevsky. Since winning the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011, the 25-year old musician Trifonov, born like his pianist colleague Igor Levit, four years older, in Nizhny Novgorod (formerly Gorky), has been rated not only one of the technically most formidable but also one of the musically most interesting pianists of the younger generation. After a CD release of his debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall, acclaimed by both critics and the audience, in 2015 Trifonov recorded his interpretations of some of the most challenging works of variations by Sergei Rachmaninov, together with an homage he himself composed to the composer and virtuoso he so admires – and the critics were singing from the treetops (“Hats off to this Rachmaninov!”), sighing (“Do stay a while, moment in sound, you are so beautiful!”) and gushing (“A highly cultivated virtuoso with limitless technical possibilities”).

At his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, Trifonov also plays a composition by Rachmaninov: the Third Piano Concerto, which many interpreters of the work consider the most difficult piano concerto of all times. The composition is anything but stingy with lyrical passages that give at least the audience time to come up for air before marvelling at the next round of pianistic brilliance. The second part of the New Year’s Eve programme ends with some of the most dashing Slavonic Dances by Antonín Dvořák. Prior to that you can hear excerpts from William Walton’s Façade, which premiered in 1923 – a literary and musical hybrid whose impertinently defiant subtle wit, despite all nonsense, can hardly be better described than with the words “very British”. That the work, which was designated by its authors (the texts are by Edith Sitwell) as “entertainment”, could not be performed by anyone more ingeniously than by Simon Rattle, is obvious. Since “to entertain” means both to invite and to amuse, in just these ways Sir Simon and the Berlin Philharmonic welcome you to their New Year’s Eve concert 2016.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/23469

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Berliner Philharmoniker – New Year’s Eve concert with Simon Rattle and Anne-Sophie Mutter 2015 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Anne-Sophie Mutter’s phenomenal career is closely tied to the Berliner Philharmoniker: she first performed with the orchestra as a discovery of Herbert von Karajan at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 1977 – aged just 13. Only a year later she debuted under Karajan in the Berlin Philharmonie with Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G major K. 216. Since then she has performed the great violin concertos by Beethoven, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvořák with the Philharmoniker, plus Witold Lutosławski’s Chain II and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Intempus praesens.

At this New Year’s Eve concert, the violinist shines in Camille Saint-Saëns’s thrilling piece Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, a highly virtuoso rhapsody for violin and orchestra in which the French composer follows Niccolò Paganini’s virtuoso pieces for violin, striking a folkloristic tone by using the so-called “gypsy scale”.

Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker fill the rest of the programme with orchestral pieces and dances from French operas and ballets: the first is the witty and humorous overture to Emmanuel Chabrier’s comic opera L’Étoile, still entirely in the tradition of Offenbach’s operettas. The ballet suite from Jules Massenet’s opera Le Cid conjures up Spanish joie de vivre and their way of life. Francis Poulenc’s dance suite Les Biches, in contrast, whisks you away to the sophisticated, cheerful world of the Jeunesse dorée in the 1920s. Poulenc wrote the work in 1923 for Sergey Diaghilev’s famous Ballets russes and with it achieved his breakthrough as a composer.

The programme culminates in Maurice Ravel’s Poème chorégraphique La Valse, that famous apotheosis of the Viennese waltz that rapidly increases to a grandiose finale. Music just as effervescent and refreshing as champagne – what a way to kick off a festive turn of the year!

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/22396

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Neeme Jarvi conduct Strauss’s “Don Juan” and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14 2010 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The concert consists of a set of intense, richly coloured works which explore the relationship between music and literature from different perspectives. In his Symphony No. 14 for example, the already seriously ill Shostakovich set eleven poems, all of which revolve around the subject of death in various ways. No less unusual are the musical forces he employs, with Shostakovich foregoing wind instruments completely and, through the combination of strings, vocal soloists and percussion alone, developing a unique sound which surprises again and again.

In contrast, the programme of this concert with Neeme Järvi also includes Richard Strauss’s Don Juan – a contrast not only because of its irrepressible hero, but also because of the way the young composer so confidently displays his mastery of the full orchestra. Like Don Juan, Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini is also based on literature without the narrative being set directly. In Francesca da Rimini, the starting point is Dante’s Divine Comedy – although there is also another clear influence to be heard, namely Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen, which Tchaikovsky had heard in Bayreuth shortly before composing his own work.

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/1629

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