Programme Guide

Even if it is not apparent at first glance – this programme is “very British”. This is due to the trio of Sir Simon Rattle, Thomas Adès and Imogen Cooper, all natives of England. But that’s not all. The three have been artistic collaborators and friends for many years. Simon Rattle proved how much he values the music of the composer Thomas Adès at his inaugural concert as head of the Berliner Philharmoniker in September 2002, for which he programmed – besides Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony – Thomas Adès’s Asyla, a work the composer premiered with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1997. There followed in 2007 the premiere of the orchestral piece Tevót, commissioned from the composer by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. Now there’s another premiere: the suite from the successful opera Powder Her Face (1995) in a version expanded to include two dances; the opera’s central theme is the scandalous love life and social decline of the Duchess of Argyll, a lady in English society. In the dance movements of this opera Adès plays an ironic, satirising game with the popular music of the 1930s to 1960s, the Duchess’s society heyday.

Immediately after Powder Her Face, Adès composed a piano piece that had been commissioned by Imogen Cooper. The pianist is – Simon Rattle once said in an interview – “one of a handful of real friends who go back a long way and always turn up at the most important times of my life”. Cooper, who studied with Alfred Brendel, Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus, is esteemed as an excellent Mozart interpreter. In 1991 she was a guest with the Berliner Philharmoniker together with Rattle, playing the solo part in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B-flat minor K. 595; five years later she performed at a chamber music concert at which the piano quintet Voices of Angels by Brett Dean, at the time a Philharmonic violist and composer, was premiered. Now the British pianist is returning to play the Piano Concerto in C major K. 503 conducted by her friend Simon. Like Imogen Cooper and Thomas Adès’s music, Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps is also inseparable from Sir Simon Rattle’s musical career. He has enjoyed programming the breathtaking piece with the Berlin Philharmonic repeatedly, from the first dance project of the Education Programme, which attracted a great deal of attention and was documented in the film Rhythm Is It!, to the 2014 Baden-Baden Easter Festival. In addition, Sir Simon Rattle conducts the German premiere of Chant funebre, an early work by Stravinsky which was long considered lost and rediscovered only recently.

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