The Waldbühne is to Berlin what the Arena is to Verona: each summer it is the scene of a thousand musical delights. A key date in the schedule of all music lovers is the open-air concert with which the Berliner Philharmoniker traditionally bid farewell to the city before setting off on their summer break. In June 2006, the concert centred around the Arabian Nights, bringing together famous fairytale figures from the Orient. These figures included Scheherazade, who tells stories to save her own life, the wily Aladdin and the seductive Thaïs.
The evening got off to a lively start with the overture to Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, and the relaxed conducting of Neeme Järvi, who was wearing a casual dinner jacket, made it clear from the outset that this was to be a carefree and enjoyable occasion. There followed excerpts from Aladdin, one of the many sets of incidental music that Carl Nielsen wrote for the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, and, in two parts, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade, in which the orchestra’s leader, Daniel Stabrawa, lent the voice of his violin to the most famous storyteller of all time. After that, the two Norwegian singers Marita Sølberg and Ingebjørg Kosmo dazzled the audience as Solveig and Anitra in the music that their compatriot Edvard Grieg composed as incidental music to Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt.
After the interval, a particular highlight was undoubtedly the appearance of the young Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, who made her debut with the orchestra in this summer setting. In the indestructible Méditation from Massenet’s Oriental cinemascope opera Thaïs, she impressed the critic of Der Tagesspiegel with “the care that she lavished on every note”, while her performance of Saint-Saëns’s Introduction et Rondo capriccioso demonstrated “how interesting such bravura pieces can sound if the performer eschews the clichés of virtuosity and avoids the expected strains of a gypsy violin”. With the Florentine March by Dvořák’s pupil Julius Fučík, the company set off on its journey back home to the West, before the evening ended, as it does every year, with Paul Lincke’s Berliner Luft, to which the delighted audience added its vociferous contribution.