November 3, 2010

Sir Simon Rattle - heading into uncharted territory.

This week's concert comes via Radio Berlin and their weekly series of live and archived concerts from the Berlin Philharmonic. This one was recorded live on October 28th (last week) and features a rather adventuresome program of two works combined into one with The Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle with soloists and the Berlin Radio Choir.

Featured is Arnold Schoenberg's Survivor Of Warsaw blending into a performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony (Resurrection). Pretty intense stuff - and if you're familiar with either of them, both works together make for a pretty overwhelming experience. So I don't think our "Anti-Road Rage Wednesday" motto applies today. Still, it's an amazing performance with The Berlin Philharmonic in their typical top form and the audience is suitably blown-away.

Because the concert doesn't have breaks between the pieces, I had to do a break at the end of the first movement, where the audience gets to cough and the orchestra gets to tune. But the concert is complete. The announcements are in German but I've edited them down to cram everything on to two players.

Just below the fold are the notes (Google Translated and a bit dodgy, but you'll get the gist).

The Philharmonic took a great risk, they merged Schoenberg's Survivor from Warsaw with Mahler Auferstehungssymphone. In both survived it is about death and loss, in Schoenberg a victim just as in Mahler, it is the elevation of art and love, which leaves a romanticized poeticized dead and living.

Schoenberg's melodramatic narrative recitation with (a big presence: Hanns Zischler) acts strangely out of place today. Music can represent the horrors of the ghetto, nor send messages to the victim and perpetrator. It speaks volumes that only the first performance at the Philharmonic

In 1986.

Even more problematic is the direct transition from one into the work, the speaker is still available, Mahler's rugged lightning hit the "Shema Isroel" of the Radio Choir. This strikes me as simply bad taste. forced to wanted to. Everything falls at least in this maelstrom. The exquisitely-playing musicians beguile with the beauty of the Ländler, in the third movement evokes the Yiddish music of the shtetl. But so beautiful that one is uncomfortable. If the music overcome the death of her beauty in the ghetto? If the primordial (Magdalena Kozena very strongly, but as always a little too softly for the great hall) with its summoning love to tell us something about the concentration camp? And finally, how are we to understand the resurrection? Rattle can almost break the record, the Radio Choir incredibly present in pianissimo, then swelling to the alleged overwhelming that one can be so cold, so uncomfortable in this context. For even the SS man will knock in paradise, or is stored as securely in the hell? After all, a very long silence. But: really brave, would have been really challenging, Schoenberg to play after this resurrection, but the trust in a German concert hall, no one would be even Schoenberg's music again very little outdated now.

Clemens Goldberg, KulturRadio

And as always - the program notes:

Philharmonie Berlin
Die Berliner Philharmoniker unter Simon Rattle
Kate Royal Sopran
Magdalena Kožená Mezzosopran
Hanns Zischler Sprecher
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Simon Halsey Einstudierung

Arnold Schönberg: Ein Überlebender aus Warschau op. 46
Gustav Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 2 c-Moll
Konzert vom 28. Oktober 2010
Wiederholung am 29., 30. Oktober 2010


Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.