What a memorable concert: on one evening, namely on 5 March 2008, two women conductors debuted with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Susanna Mälkki conducted works by Anton Webern and Igor Stravinsky; Emmanuelle Haïm conducted George Frideric Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day. The exuberant Frenchwoman, who impressed with her lively body language as well as her profound skill, was not, however, working with the orchestra for the first time. In 2002 she played basso continuo on the positive organ when Sir Simon Rattle conducted a performance of Bach’s St John Passion. Already then she was convincing as an expert in Baroque performance practice. At her next Philharmoniker performance in 2011 with instrumental works by Jean-Philippe Rameau and George Frideric Handel, listeners were able to experience her in her dual function as conductor and harpsichordist. “It’s so natural for me to conduct from the harpsichord. I feel more strongly connected with the other musicians,” she disclosed in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall.
At this concert, too, she conducts a work by Handel: the oratorio La resurrezione, which the 23-year old composer wrote in Rome in 1708. In this work, angels and devils dispute and philosophise about the significance of the resurrection of Christ. Despite its religious content, Handel incurred the displeasure of Pope Clement XI because he had a woman sing the soprano part. You can hear Camilla Tilling in this concert – without reproach from the Pope. Christopher Purves sings the role of the devil, her counterpart. Other soloists include soprano Christiane Karg, alto Sonia Prina and tenor Topi Lehtipuu.