Anne-Sophie Mutter’s phenomenal career is closely tied to the Berliner Philharmoniker: she first performed with the orchestra as a discovery of Herbert von Karajan at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 1977 – aged just 13. Only a year later she debuted under Karajan in the Berlin Philharmonie with Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G major K. 216. Since then she has performed the great violin concertos by Beethoven, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvořák with the Philharmoniker, plus Witold Lutosławski’s Chain II and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Intempus praesens.
At this New Year’s Eve concert, the violinist shines in Camille Saint-Saëns’s thrilling piece Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, a highly virtuoso rhapsody for violin and orchestra in which the French composer follows Niccolò Paganini’s virtuoso pieces for violin, striking a folkloristic tone by using the so-called “gypsy scale”.
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker fill the rest of the programme with orchestral pieces and dances from French operas and ballets: the first is the witty and humorous overture to Emmanuel Chabrier’s comic opera L’Étoile, still entirely in the tradition of Offenbach’s operettas. The ballet suite from Jules Massenet’s opera Le Cid conjures up Spanish joie de vivre and their way of life. Francis Poulenc’s dance suite Les Biches, in contrast, whisks you away to the sophisticated, cheerful world of the Jeunesse dorée in the 1920s. Poulenc wrote the work in 1923 for Sergey Diaghilev’s famous Ballets russes and with it achieved his breakthrough as a composer.
The programme culminates in Maurice Ravel’s Poème chorégraphique La Valse, that famous apotheosis of the Viennese waltz that rapidly increases to a grandiose finale. Music just as effervescent and refreshing as champagne – what a way to kick off a festive turn of the year!