For the Berliner Philharmoniker, working together with conductors from the world of Early music is a bonus in more ways than one. Firstly, these historically informed performance specialists often bring a new perspective to music of the Baroque and Classical periods. Secondly, time after time these concerts include glorious works which are otherwise hardly ever performed by traditional symphony orchestras, as is the case with Giovanni Antonini’s guest appearance with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Giovanni Antonini made a name for himself in particular as the founder and leader of the ensemble Il Giardino Armonico. For this appearance in Berlin, he undertakes a journey from the Baroque period through the early Classical to the music of Beethoven. The concert opens with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 1 – a work which has been included in a Berliner Philharmoniker programme only once before. The suite reveals the Baroque world of expression in its purest form: a solemn pace, graceful dances and sophisticated counterpoint all come together to form an at once both magnificent and charming whole.
However, the perfection of this music was regarded by the next generation of composers in many cases as cold and unemotional. All that had to change. Or, as Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach wrote, “I believe music must, first and foremost, stir the heart.” With works such as his F major Symphony – performed here for the first time by the Berliner Philharmoniker – he is regarded as one of the composers who laid the foundations for a music of hitherto unknown emotionalism. It was Beethoven who completed this development, placing his own feelings and experience at the centre of his works – and in doing so, smashed open the door to the world of the Romantic.