The Berliner Philharmoniker have friends all over the world. A particularly close relationship has evolved over the years with Taiwanese audiences. With this concert, the orchestra and its chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle made their fourth guest appearance in Taipei. This time, they performed a part of their most important project of the 2015/2016 season which was dedicated to the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. Following on from successful performances of the complete cycle in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and New York, this concert with the first and the last symphony presents to a certain extent a highly concentrated substratum. An additional emotional touch to the concert in the National Concert Hall of Taipei is added by the participation of the Taiwan National Chorus in Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
The concert offers an exciting journey from Beethoven’s first symphonic work to his testament to the genre. Significantly, the First Symphony was first performed in 1800, exactly at the beginning of the new century and is, also programmatically, in C major, a key without accidentals. However, Beethoven only finds his way to this after a series of harmonic surprises in a slow introduction which is unconventional in every way. You can already admire in the work of the 30-year-old composer the consummate command of orchestration and the art of building a complex motivic system from simple blocks. Almost a quarter of a century later, Beethoven completed his last symphony. The finale is a revolutionary act in the history of the genre, not only through the use of voices, but also in the recurrence of themes from all previous movements. And the number nine was subsequently to become the magical barrier for the successive symphonists Bruckner, Dvořák and Mahler.