Visitors from New York! Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic, and Emanuel Ax, who has also lived in ‘the Big Apple’ for many years, appear together in a concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Emanuel Ax has given many memorable performances with the orchestra: in 1999 at the European Concert in Krakow, the New Year’s Eve Concert in 2005 and in further concerts during the 2005/6 season when he was the Philharmoniker’s Pianist in Residence.
For this concert, Ax is the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 – a work with a unique wealth of moods. Here you find not only that transcendental gracefulness with which Mozart took Viennese audiences by storm, but also the deep melancholy of his later years. In order to express these psychological states effectively, a pianist such as Emmanuel Ax is required, who – as the Independent once wrote – plays not only with unassailable technique and profound intelligence but also “with heart”.
Alan Gilbert on the other hand has shown himself to be a good friend to the Berliner Philharmoniker, one who can be relied upon in times of need. This was the case in 2006, when he made his debut, substituting for Bernard Haitink, and was again the case with this concert, which he took over from an indisposed Gustavo Dudamel. In the second half of the concert, Gilbert conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird, one of the most virtuoso scores of classical Modernism, whose colourfulness is already conveyed in the titles of the movements: “The enchanted garden”, “Appearance of the guardian monsters”, and “Infernal dance”.