Both the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Staatskapelle Berlin have been regular guests in Japan for many years and have many friends among the country’s music enthusiasts. Following the devastating earthquake and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in March 2011, the two orchestras gave a joint benefit concert for the victims a few weeks later, with Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim conducting.
All proceeds from the concert and from the live webcast in the Digital Concert Hall went to the UNICEF emergency fund in Japan. As Ken Hayami from the Japan Committee for UNICEF said, following the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear power plant disaster, UNICEF’s top priority was to help traumatised children in the affected areas as quickly and effectively as possible. With this concert, the musicians wanted to help them in their efforts.
To open the concert, the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim perform Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony Pathétique. In addition to its concert activities, the Staatskapelle, whose history goes back to 1570, is the orchestra of the Staatsoper in Berlin. Daniel Barenboim has been general music director of the Staatskapelle since 1992. The Berliner Philharmoniker and chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle end the concert with a performance of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. The orchestra has been an international UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2007.
Jacqueline du Pré, Chicago SO, Daniel Barenboim – Dvořák: Cello Concerto & Silent Woods (1971) [Japan 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 49:12 minutes | Basic Scans included | 1,97 GB
or FLAC 2.0 (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Basic Scans included | 1,05 GB
At a young age, cellist Jacqueline du Pre achieved mainstream popularity. She is regarded as one of the most distinctive cellists of the last half of the 20th century. Her career was cut short by a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis which stopped her performances at the age of 27. This release was recorded in November 1970 at the Medinah Temple in Chicago & contains Dvorak’s 3 movements: Allegro, Adagio ma non troppo & Finale: Allegro Moderato as well as the additional piece of music Silent Woods, Op. 68. This is a pure analogue tape recording re-mastered for SACD.
As the BBC once said in the introduction to a concert, Edward Elgar’s oratorio The Dream of Gerontius is seen in Great Britain as a “national monument”. While the work enjoys nearly the same esteem as Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in its native land, almost every performance abroad is seen as a rediscovery. And it is to such that the Berliner Philharmoniker and conductor Daniel Barenboim invite you with this concert.
To make The Dream of Gerontius comprehensible to audiences, comparisons are often drawn – but these only partially go to the core of the work. Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration is comparable, according to some: As with Elgar, it is about someone dying who ultimately achieves heavenly bliss, but in contrast to Strauss, it is not about fighting and heroism, but a spiritual vision of the transition to the afterlife.
Parallels are also often drawn to Wagner’s music, which Elgar revered. The through-composed structure is doubtlessly inspired by Wagner in that there is no division into arias and choruses. And there are also some elements reminiscent of Parsifal. Overall, however, The Dream of Gerontius is a completely independent composition with an individual musical language and a penetrating power of faith. One of the first continental Europeans who recognised the value of the oratorio was, incidentally, Richard Strauss, who after a performance, praised Elgar as “the first English progressive musician”.
Three years after German reunification, Daniel Barenboim took up one of the most prestigious musical positions in a capital that was no longer divided: as general music director and artistic director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden he was particularly keen to improve the standing of East Berlin’s operatic showpiece and to ensure that it once again became one of the world’s leading opera houses. One means to that end was the annual festival that he launched in 1996, an occasion that brought together international orchestras each spring and featured outstanding opera productions. For the third festival in 1998 the musicians had to make only the shortest of journeys: after crossing Potsdamer Platz, they turned left up Friedrichstraße and then took the seventh turning on the right into Unter den Linden. On 16 April 1998 the Berliner Philharmoniker appeared for the first time since the country’s reunification in Friedrich Schinkel’s opera house, performing under the baton of the house’s artistic director.
The links between Barenboim and the Berliner Philharmoniker are long and distinguished, for it was in 1964 that the then twenty-one-year-old pianist made his debut with the orchestra. Five years later he returned to conduct them for the first time. Since then they have appeared together more than 260 times. One particular highlight was a tour of Israel in 1990, the year after Karajan’s death. The players were only too happy to respond to Barenboim’s invitation and to travel directly from the Salzburg Easter Festival to perform under his direction at the Staatsoper.
The concert opened with Beethoven’s spirited Eighth Symphony, after which Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns provided a Romantic highlight of a particularly delightful kind. The performance brought together four soloists from three different orchestras: Dale Clevenger from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ignacio García from the Berlin Staatskapelle and Stefan Dohr and Georg Schreckenberger from the Berliner Philharmoniker. According to the critic of the Berliner Zeitung, all four soloists “threw themselves into the task in hand and showed how tremendous a horn can sound”. The concert ended with two works that reveal late German Romanticism at its most ebullient – Liszt’s Les Préludes and, by way of an encore, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.
Since 1991 the Berliner Philharmoniker have given an annual May Day concert in a European venue of particular historical – and often cultural – significance in order to commemorate its foundation on 1 May 1882 and at the same time highlight the common legacy of the Old World. After visits to cities such as Madrid, St Petersburg, Stockholm, Kraków, Florence, Versailles and Lisbon, the choice fell on Athens in 2004, a year when the Olympic Games were also held in the city. Athens, moreover, is the cradle of western culture and democracy. As a result, Sir Simon Rattle found himself conducting his first European Concert in the Herodes Atticus Odeon at the foot of the Acropolis.
This theatre was built in AD 161 and in its day was regarded as the most beautiful theatre in Greece. It continues to provide seating for five thousand spectators, affording an exceptional setting whose impact on orchestra and conductor was not lost: “These great places give you a very, very special atmosphere,” says Rattle, “but you’re never sure, what they give. And often, the place brings its own magic.”
Not for the first time, this Europa Concert in Athens also involved Daniel Barenboim, who has been closely associated with the orchestra since 1964. This, however, was the first time he had appeared in the same concert as Sir Simon Rattle. On the programme were Brahms’ First Piano Concerto and First Piano Quartet, the latter in an orchestral arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg. By his own admission, Schoenberg’s aim in preparing this transcription was to ensure that everything in the score could be heard “at least once”, an aim that was never a problem for the orchestra and its chief conductor in the Odeon’s excellent acoustics.