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Simon Rattle conducts Bernstein’s “Wonderful Town” at the 2002 New Year’s Eve Concert

31 Dec 2002
New Year’s Eve Concert

Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

  • Leonard Bernstein
    Candide: Overture (5 min.)

  • George Gershwin
    Porgy and Bess: “My man’s gone now” (5 min.)

    Wayne Marshall Piano, Audra McDonald Vocalist

  • George Gershwin
    “Ask me again” (4 min.)

    Wayne Marshall Piano, Audra McDonald Vocalist

  • George Gershwin
    Fascinating Rhythm (3 min.)

    Wayne Marshall Piano, Audra McDonald Vocalist

  • Leonard Bernstein
    Wonderful Town: Excerpts (75 min.)

    Audra McDonald Vocalist, Kim Criswell Vocalist, Brent Barrett Vocalist, Michael Dore Vocalist, Timothy Robinson Tenor, Thomas Hampson Baritone, Karl Daymond Baritone, Wayne Marshall Piano, Ian Wood Trumpet, Andreas van Zoelen Saxophone, Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, Candace Allen Choreography, European Voices, Simon Halsey Chorus Master

When he conducted his first New Year’s Eve Concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle delighted his audience in the capital by declaring his love for another “wonderful town”: on the programme were excerpts from Bernstein’s musical Wonderful Town featuring swinging music of the finest kind performed by soloists from the stages of Broadway and by a home-grown band that was in the very best of possible moods.

The tale of two sisters from Ohio who find happiness and love in the “Big Apple” is a brilliant homage to the swinging, highly charged New York of the 1930s. With wit and irony Bernstein combines popular musical styles of the age, including the conga, swing and ragtime, with mellifluous ballads, the score as a whole characterised by irresistible pulsating rhythms that are among the composer’s hallmarks and that may be regarded as the epitome of dynamic metropolitan life on the banks of the Hudson at least since the time of the international success of West Side Story.

On this particular evening the Berlin Philharmonie was transformed into the sort of theatre associated with big shows, with lighting effects and a hint of dry ice delighting audience and press alike: “The Philharmoniker, their numbers swelled by a cohort of saxophonists recalling the world of big bands, played altogether fabulously, bringing to bear on the score the literally boundless luxury of their musical resources” (Berliner Zeitung), while their new principal conductor “threw himself with fresh-faced enthusiasm into the musical battle” (Berliner Morgenpost).


© 2002 EuroArts Music International

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