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Berlin Philharmonic Pays a Visit

Famous visitors from Germany's capital: the Berlin Philharmonic delighted the audience at the Elbphilharmonie.

Crystal-clear orchestral sound, a bundle of energy on the rostrum and beaming faces in the audience: together with their guest conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin, Germany's No. 1 classical music ambassador, the Berlin Philharmonic, made a brilliant guest appearance in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall on 17 February.

Hamburger Abendblatt: 
Berlin Philharmonic surfs the soundwaves to perfection (German only)

There is an incredible honesty and clarity about the sound.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Double Dose of Pleasure

Special circumstances brought the Berlin all-star ensemble and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a high-flyer among today's young conductors, together. After the end of Sir Simon Rattle's time as chief conductor, the Berlin Philharmonic is currently in an interim phase before Rattle's successor Kirill Petrenko takes up the position in the summer.

A good opportunity, then, to work with a variety of top-class guest conductors from all over the world. French-Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin did not hesitate to invite the orchestra to join him on a full-blown tour of Europe, and the Elbphilharmonie was one of their tour stops.

Backstage: The Berlin Philharmonic at the Elbphilharmonie

Programme: Ocean Waves...

Tremendous, how the woodwind sang out, how richly yet gently the brass blared out from the depths of the hall. What refined consideration the tutti showed.

Joachim Mischke (Hamburger Abendblatt)

You can hear a pin drop here.

Martin Heinze, double bass

The top orchestra from Berlin explored the acoustic potential of the Grand Hall with two very different works: Debussy's »La Mer«, inspired by the nature of the sea, was followed by Prokofiev's mighty Fifth Symphony.

»My music does not imitate nature directly,« Debussy once wrote. »It conveys emotionally what is not visible in nature.« Thus in their performance of »La Mer«, the musicians bathed the Grand Hall in a rush of musical colour, where fleeting shades in the individual parts combined like reflections of light to form a seamless musical flow. Hamburger Abendblatt critic Joachim Mischke wrote, »Tremendous, how the woodwind sang out, how richly and gently at the same time the brass blared out from the depths of the hall. What refined consideration the tutti showed.«

Yannick Nézet-Seguin and the Berlin Philharmonic
Yannick Nézet-Seguin and the Berlin Philharmonic © Michael Trippel

...and Hard Punches

After the interval, the orchestra from Berlin under Nézet-Seguin's baton made the Grand Hall shake with music of a very different ilk. In Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, the Soviet Union celebrated its triumph over the German Wehrmacht with the roar of artillery, tender feelings and sudden, shocking outbursts – with the entire gamut of music from laments for the dead to dances of victory. The guest musicians did full justice to Prokofiev's mighty score: virtuoso and sharp-edged playing with brilliant moments from individual musicians and a bombastic final spurt. Hamburg is already looking forward to the Berlin Philharmonic's next visit.

I love the hall!

Albrecht Mayer, solo oboist

Rehearsing Above Hamburg's Rooftops

Anyone who can play like that has done his preparation. Mor Biron, bassoonist of the Berlin Philharmonic, chose a very special place to practise: the roof of the Elbphilharmonie.

Up on the Roof: Berlin Philharmonic's Bassoonist at the Elbphilharmonie

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