UNICEF usually gives the title “International Goodwill Ambassador” to outstanding individuals from the public arena. The Berliner Philharmoniker is the only institution in this exclusive club. As a result of the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti on 10 January, the orchestra and its chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle gave a benefit concert for UNICEF with all proceeds going to the children of Haiti. The evening’s soloist Mitsuko Uchida also donated her fee to this very good cause.
The Berliner Morgenpost wrote in its review: “At just under a quarter of an hour, [György Ligeti’s] San Francisco Polyphony, with which Sir Simon Rattle and the Philharmoniker opened the concert, virtually caused a tonal earthquake in the city in 1975. Even today, the listener feels as if Ligeti has pulled the familiar musical carpet from under his feet. All resistance is futile. There was applause, if not of course to the same overwhelming extent as Mitsuko Uchida received. With her performance of the Fourth Piano Concerto, she finished her three-week long Beethoven cycle of all five piano concertos by the master, again assisted by the attentive and affectionate accompaniment of Sir Simon and his splendid philharmonic team. The highlight of her performance was, as to be expected, the soulful Andante, effortlessly played as if dreamed into the keyboard.”