When the Berliner Philharmoniker and their chief conductor designate Kirill Petrenko set off on their first joint tour in September 2018, they gave acclaimed performances in Salzburg, Lucerne and London. Audiences and the press were delighted, with the Guardian writing of “superlative music making”.
Previously, the orchestra and conductor had presented their tour programme in two memorable concerts in Berlin, which are documented in the present edition.
In addition to works from the core repertoire of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the programme also offered exciting discoveries. Franz Schmidt’s Fourth Symphony, a sonorous but rarely performed work, was presented in April 2018: a gently flowing piece in the tradition of Anton Bruckner, with a grand funeral march as its highlight. In the greatest possible contrast to this in the same concert was Sergei Prokofiev’s cheerful and breathtakingly virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 3, whose solo part was presented with fire and authority by Yuja Wang.
The following August, Kirill Petrenko conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker’s season opening concert for the first time. The programme included composers the orchestra is particularly closely associated with. Richard Strauss, represented by his tone poems Don Juan and Tod und Verklärung, conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker himself in numerous concerts. Moreover, the energy and wealth of colour of his scores give the orchestra the best opportunity to show off its qualities. The finale of the evening was Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. These symphonies, too, have always been touchstones that demonstrate the musicianship and skill of an orchestra. The high expectations did not go unfulfilled, as the critic of the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “The Philharmoniker play for their lives as if possessed, bringing the Berlin audience to its feet in delight.”
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