The press wrote of a “memorable evening” with a “rising star in the conducting firmament” when Yannick Nézet-Séguin made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in October 2010. For his return to the podium of the Philharmonie, he put together a programme that traces the ups and downs of love in powerful orchestral colours.
The concert opens, however, with a solo piece. Walter Seyfarth, clarinettist with the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1985, plays Luciano Berio’s Sequenza IXa for clarinet – the conclusion of the Sequenza series which has been performed throughout the 2011/2012 season by members of the orchestra. The evening continues with the greatest love story in world literature: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, here in the setting by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The composer, who was in fact an adherent of the symphony, experiments with the new genre of tone poem in this work. In doing so, he does not follow the narrative but portrays central characters and situations: a highly emotional distillation of the drama.
Based on an ancient Greek romance, Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé is also about a couple who have to defend their love against existential adversity – including two kidnappings – but at least there is a happy ending. In his score, Ravel wanted to create “an elaborate musical fresco.” What is particularly impressive is the way he organically combines angular, archaic rhythms with his typically delicate tonal language. In the concert hall, the work is normally heard in the form of two orchestral suites. However, for this performance, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Yannick Nézet-Séguin play the complete ballet music, which contains many additional musical gems.