Daniele Gatti conducts Hindemith and Brahms
Symphony: Mathis der Maler
Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73
Daniele Gatti, current chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, has held the artistic fortunes of many internationally renowned orchestras and opera houses in his hands – including the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France and the Teatro Comunale di Bologna plus Zurich Opera. Gatti celebrates his 20th anniversary as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker with a programme that features two quite different works from the symphonic repertoire.
The Second Symphony by Johannes Brahms was started while the composer was on holiday at the Wörthersee in 1877 (“The melodies fly so thick here that you have to be careful not to step on one” Brahms), and was completed in October of the same year. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, he told his publisher that the work was “so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score will have to be printed on black-bordered pages!” However, the Vienna premiere of Brahms’s Second on 30 December 1877 surprised the audience with music that, in the words of the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, “shines like the warming sun,” and “radiates a healthy freshness and clarity”, but yet “here is nevertheless much to listen to and dwell on”.
We are taken to very different realms in Paul Hindemith’s symphony Mathis der Maler, commissioned in 1933 by Wilhelm Fürtwängler, and based on the composer’s at that time still unfinished opera. The titles of the work’s movements – “Concert of Angels”, “Entombment” and “The Temptation of St. Anthony” – relate to the painted panels of the Isenheim altarpiece created by Matthias Grünewald between 1510 and 1516. While the music reflects Hindemith’s personal living conditions after the Reichstag election of 1933, the modernist idiom of the composer was a thorn in the side of the Nazis, as was his marriage to a “half-Jew”. After Hindemith’s career as a violist came to an end as a result of the ban on him performing, and the publication of his Handbook of Music was prevented, the premiere of the Mathis symphony by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Furtwängler on 12 March 1934, acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, was a cultural and political ordeal. The rest is history: in 1938, despite resolute support from Furtwängler, Hindemith decided to turn his back on Germany and did not return until the end of the 1940s.
Daniele Gatti studied composition and conducting at the conservatory in his home town of Milan. In September 2016 he took up the post as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. From 2008 until 2016, he has been responsible for the musical direction of the Orchestre National de France. Prior to this, Daniele Gatti was musical director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1996 – 2009) and the Orchestra dellʼAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (1992 – 1997), principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1994 – 1997), musical director of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (1997 – 2007) as well as chief conductor of the Zurich Opera House (2009 – 2012). Gatti is also a regular guest at the worldʼs most prestigious opera houses, including the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and La Scala in Milan, where he has conducted works such as Simon Boccanegra, Aida, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Boris Godunov, Fidelio, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Wozzeck, Lulu and Moses und Aron. Daniele Gatti is one of the few Italian conductors to be invited regularly to the Bayreuth Festival. At the Salzburg Festival he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in productions of the operas Elektra (2010), La Bohème (2012), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (2013) and Verdiʼs Il trovatore. For his outstanding achievements, the artist has been honoured with the titles “Grande Ufficiale al Merito” and “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” by the Italian and French governments respectively; he was awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize in both 2005 and 2016. In July 2016, the French Republic named him “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur”. Daniele Gatti first conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker in April 1997 in three concerts which included works by Berlioz, Liszt and Bartók; in his last appearances with the orchestra in September 2016 he conducted works by Debussy, Honegger and Dutilleux
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