The Berliner Philharmoniker in Taipei
08 Nov 2013
From the National Concert Hall, Taipei
Sir Simon Rattle
Notations for orchestra: I, VII, IV, III, II (24 min.)
Symphony No. 7 in E major (78 min.)
“We are probably the luckiest musicians on the planet,” Sir Simon Rattle shouted to the enthusiastic crowd who cheered the Berliner Philharmoniker and its chief conductor on the square in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The overwhelming reception followed a concert with performances of Boulez’ Notations and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major in which the conductor and his orchestra succeeded in an exemplary manner in maintaining the work’s powerful lines of tension and bringing many often suppressed details to light.
After previous guest appearances in 2005 and 2011, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle had just played for the third time in Taipei. The orchestra is used to a good audience reception and standing ovations, but the enthusiastic response of the audience in Asia is always something very special. On this occasion, the musicians were rewarded with orchids and butterflies flying into the sky, and in return, the Philharmoniker’s multi-talented violist Ulrich Knörzer enthralled the hosts with a speech in Chinese.
The extremely demanding programme showed just how seriously the fans in the Far East are taken. Boulez’ Notations in the version for large orchestra are based on the work for piano of the same name, strongly influenced by the minimalism of Anton Webern, which the composer wrote in 1945. Rattle, who has known and admired the composer since his student days, is one of the most eloquent advocates of the fascinating musical language of the orchestral version. Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 is perhaps the most popular work of the great late-Romantic composer. Bruckner began composing the Adagio, one of the most profound musical movements of the 19th century, in anticipation of the death of the much admired Richard Wagner.
To set the mood for the concert, we recommend the film Trip to Asia, which among other things, documents the guest appearance by the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2005.