Alban's Blog

Genius at work – Simon Rattle

Just got back from a concert of the Berlin Philharmonic under their chief conductor Simon Rattle, and I am still in awe about one of the greatest performances I have ever heard in my life. The orchestra sounded absolutely amazing, and what Rattle did with the two pieces (“Seht die Sonne” by Magnus Lindberg and 9th symphony of Mahler) was so deep, honest and absolutely breathtaking that I am still beaming, even though I should be dead tired myself after a very long day. Backstage I had the chance to talk to him right after he came off stage; what a modest man – he must have felt that he had done something very special, but all he did was praising his orchestra and the composers. Young and very talented conductor Vladimir Jurowski told me a little later, that he thought that this was the greatest performance of any Mahler he had ever heard. In German we call this a “Sternstunde”.Funny enough, some of the orchestra members had to compare it to interpretations of their former chief conductor Claudio Abbado and didn’t manage to appreciate the different and maybe a bit more direct approach of Rattle – I personally prefer it, for me this goes almost deeper, even though I have heard some rather amazing Mahler performances with Abbado as well. Hey, why do we always have to compare everything, why can’t one one just enjoy the moment and be grateful for hearing such heavenly music?! And there are so many ways to “do” great music.

In case anybody is interested in my concert yesterday (or by now day before yesterday) – it went surprisingly well, somehow the last second work I put in late at night paid off. I felt very secure and in charge, and John Adams and me did some spontaneous musical things during the performance which made the Cellosymphony by Britten even more special to me. Yes, tiny little memory lapsus in the first movement, but I am not sure that I could even tell when listening to it again – and at the end of the day, who cares anyway? It all came together, people listened very quietly and seemed to enjoy it (if one wants to trust the amount of noise they made afterwards :)), the BBC Symphony played  with great passion, John Adams was happy that we didn’t loose each other, and we finished the evening with a wonderful dinner at the Barbican.

This morning I got up incredibly early to fly back to Berlin since I had to jump right into the next concerto, having to give the final touches (and maybe memorize it at last) to the Pintscher Concerto, but I am doubtful that I’ll manage to learn it by heart, too many notes, too many tiny breaks which are almost impossible to memorize for me. I squeezed some good hours in today, although it was rather tough because I was dead-tired, but the concert tonight inspired me so much that I feel completely rejuvenated. Even the new piece by Magnus Lindberg was superb, with an incredibly difficult and amazingly played cello solo (Ludwig Quandt did an outstanding job!), half hour of very interesting orchestra colours, reminiscences of Debussy, Mahler, Wagner, but also his own language.

Well, there is nothing better than going to a concert and being carried away, isn’t it? I find it so much more meaningful than listening to recordings, it gives me so much more inspiration than sitting on my couch and hearing something coming out of these loudspeaker boxes. I just hope that we’ll have that chance for ever to hear great music. Oh, can you believe? Some critics didn’t like that Berlin Phil concert (or at least two of them) – I feel pity for them, because they obviously either don’t have souls nor ears…

Comments

  • Betty Sekhri

    Dear Alban….Here is a quote from your blog…..

    “Well, there is nothing better than going to a concert and being carried away, isn’t it? I find it so much more meaningful than listening to recordings, it gives me so much more inspiration than sitting on my couch and hearing something coming out of these loudspeaker boxes. I just hope that we’ll have that chance for ever to hear great music. ”

    You put into words my deepest held thoughts…..the feeling of euphoria I get when I come out of the concert hall having heard something which connects with my very soul. I cannot visualize anything better…in that respect we are kindred spirits. Looking forward to hearing you with Paul at Carnegie Hall, as well as here in Washington and even perhaps in Baltimore with Cecile.

    Reply
  • Alban

    Thanks for agreeing with me, Betty! And I am also looking forward to seeing you at all these concerts – we’ll give our best just for you 🙂

    Best wishes from Berlin,
    Yours Alban

    Reply
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  • Alban

    oh, obviously the recording is out, and this seems to be a review about the Mahler IX recording, quoting this blog here, how very funny 🙂

    Reply

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