Modern and contemporary music are an essential component in the repertoire of conductor Michael Boder, who, among other works, has conducted the premieres of new operas by Friedrich Cerha and Aribert Reimann. Thus, it is not surprising that his concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker in March 2009 began and ended with 20th-century works. The programme opened with a piece by the American composer Elliott Carter, who celebrated his 100th birthday in December 2008 in good health and as productive as ever. To mark the occasion the orchestra focussed on works by Carter during the season. In A Celebration of Some 100 x 150 Notes Carter plays a complex and clever game with the genre of the musical fanfare.
Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra picks up the thread of the composition of the same name by his revered Hungarian colleague Béla Bartók. In one of his most striking and accessible works the Polish composer combines folk motifs and rhythmic energy with exciting dramaturgy. German Romanticism was also represented between the works by Carter and Lutosławski. After Robert Schumann was welcomed with great enthusiasm at his new post in Düsseldorf in 1850, he composed his Third Symphony at his usual breathtaking tempo; it became famous under the nickname Rhenish, which did not originate with the composer. The traditional four-movement symphonic model was expanded with a second slow movement whose mysterious, eerie atmosphere forms a contrast to the largely cheerful character of the work.
A few years later Schumann’s contemporary Richard Wagner set five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck, the industrialist’s wife for whom he felt an intense passion, to music. Several motifs from the songs, Wagner’s only significant contribution to the genre of the art song, turn up again in the opera Tristan und Isolde, which was composed at the same time and inspired by his love for Mathilde Wesendonck. The soloist in this recording is Anja Kampe, who, as an interpreter of highly dramatic roles of the operatic repertoire, is one of the most successful singers of our day.