Simon Rattle's last Berlin Philharmonic programme featuring new commissioned works includes premieres of Brett Dean's Notturno Inquieto and Magnus Lindberg's Agile.
The final events with Simon Rattle at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic in June include a programme with three world premieres, including new works by Brett Dean and Magnus Lindberg. The concert, performed three times on 14-16 June at the Philharmonie in Berlin, demonstrates Rattle's flair for imaginative programming and versatility of conducting, ranging from Bernstein's The Age of Anxiety with pianist Krystian Zimmerman, through new contemporary works by Dean, Lindberg and Andrew Norman, to Scott Bradley's music for the Tom and Jerry cartoons, and Korngold's Hollywood film score for The Adventures of Robin Hood.
The new works, commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, are six minutes apiece, and collectively dubbed as a 'tapas' menu of contemporary music. All three composers have been championed by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. The conductor gave first performances of Magnus Lindberg's Gran Duo with the wind section of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2000 and Seht die Sonne with the Berlin orchestra in 2007. When Rattle started as Chief Conductor in Berlin in 2002, Brett Dean was a violist with the orchestra, and the conductor supported his burgeoning composing career including giving performances of Carlo, Testament and Komarov's Fall and the world premieres of The Last Days of Socrates and Songs of Joy.
The title of Brett Dean's new Notturno Inquieto partly describes a wistful sadness at Rattle's departure from Berlin. The composer's choice of an Italian title recalls an anecdote from rehearsals for Rattle's first concert with the orchestra back in 1987. The conductor searched for the perfect way to describe a particular mood in Mahler's Sixth Symphony, concluding that it is always best to "Say it in Italian, unless it relates to Politics". Dean describes his new work as demonstrating his "love both for Rattle and the orchestra" of which he used to be a part, and specifically the viola section. This is where the score starts, growing progressively from the violas to explore the virtuosity of the whole orchestra.
Magnus Lindberg describes how his new work Agile is formed of two parts, recalling the "classical binary form of Antecedent and Consequent. The first half of the piece presents different characters, all with an agility and almost scherzo-like behaviour. The second half is based on a chorale-like sequence with a darker tone and a calm appeal. The motivic link between the two parts is clear, yet the pace of the music is different. I have had the great opportunity to write several pieces for Simon, so it's an honour and pleasure to be part of the 'tapas' series with Agile this year in Berlin."
> Further info on the Berlin Philharmonic concerts
Brett Dean's recent projects include a new Cello Concerto for Alban Gerhardt, co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and receiving its European premiere at the Phiharmonie next season. Magnus Lindberg is currently composing a new work for choir and orchestra, Triumph to Exist..., to be premiered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under Vladimir Jurowski at the Southbank Centre in November.
Photo: © Sheila Rock licensed to Warner Classics
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