The Berliner Philharmoniker were preparing their traditional Easter Festival in Baden-Baden when all public events in Germany had to be cancelled due to the corona virus crisis. For the first time, Kirill Petrenko was to have led the festival as chief conductor, including performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be: like everywhere else in the world, the concert halls in Baden-Baden had to remain closed. In this situation, the Berliner Philharmoniker decided to offer their Digital Concert Hall audience an online festival consisting of archive recordings and film clips, as well as new interviews and small chamber music performances produced in the Philharmonie.
The first episode of the series focuses on the history and future of the Easter Festival founded by Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg in 1967 – and which moved to the city of Baden-Baden in 2013. In an interview, Kirill Petrenko talks about his plans for the coming years. In 2021, for example, Mazeppa will be the first opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to be staged in the history of the Easter Festival. The Philharmoniker’s horn player Sarah Willis guides the audience through the episode which among other things includes orchestra members performing French chamber music. In addition, Daniel Stabrawa, first concert master of the Philharmoniker, reports on his memories of the trips to the Salzach with Herbert von Karajan, and Albrecht Mayer, principal oboist of the orchestra, tells of unforgettable moments with Claudio Abbado, who is also to be seen in rehearsal excerpts from the Elektra production in Salzburg.
Crises sharpen awareness of those aspects of life that cannot be guided or controlled by the individual, that is, the entity known as fate. Not only Ludwig van Beethoven, the anniversary of whose birth is celebrated in 2020, but Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky too considered this again and again in his music. Kirill Petrenko already conducted a celebrated performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony at the 2019 Baden-Baden Easter Festival. The first episode of the Easter@Philharmonie Festival concludes with a recording of the same work from the Philharmonie. It is preceded by a conversation in which Kirill Petrenko presents his view of the work. Accordingly, at the heart of the symphony is the theme that for Tchaikovsky was “the dearest and the worst”: namely “how to face what is called fate”.