“The Berliner Philharmoniker are passionate, demanding, yet at the same time likeable people. They are rightly described as the best orchestra in Europe,” was how Jiří Bělohlávek once expressed his enthusiasm about the Philharmoniker. In this concert the Czech conductor made a guest appearance at the Philharmonie together with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
It comes as little surprise that Bělohlávek should open the evening with a work by one of his fellow countrymen: a suite from Janáček’s opera From the House of the Dead. After all, ever since his 1986 début with the Philharmoniker, Bělohlávek has always brought music from his native land for his guest appearances. He appreciated the drama and powerful colours of Czech music as much as he did the warm and gentle sound of late-Romantic German music – possibly because he had Sergiu Celibidache as a teacher, a peerless interpreter of this German sound. This facet of Bělohlávek’s repertoire is represented here by Brahms’ Fourth Symphony
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is also a regular guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker – particularly since his time as Pianist in Residence in the 2006–07 season. In this concert, he plays Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto – a work that proves just how colourful, lively and un-cerebral twelve-tone music can be. The review in the Berliner Morgenpost showed that Aimard successfully brought out the sensuous side of the concerto: “Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the miracle worker on the piano, threw himself into the Schoenberg and showed the way in and out of the formal barriers of the dodecaphony Schoenberg set up in his piano concerto.”