Concert

Programme guide

Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker dedicate this programme to three composers persecuted by National Socialism as part of the season’s “Lost Generation” focus: Erwin Schulhoff was arrested in Prague in 1941 and deported to an internment camp in Bavaria, where he died one year later. Leone Sinigaglia succumbed to a heart attack in 1944 when he was arrested by the German occupiers, and two years earlier Alexander Zemlinsky died in a lonely exile in New York.

Schulhoff’s Second Symphony was written in the early 1930s, when the composer turned away from the avant-garde style of his youth to write “relentless” and “uncompromising” music. However, unlike the setting of the Communist Manifesto composed a little later, little of this can be heard in this rather Neoclassical symphony. The jazz-inspired scherzo movement, in which muted trumpet, banjo and saxophone are used, recalls the sophisticated nonchalance of Kurt Weill.

The Turin-born Leone Sinigaglia was on the one hand strongly influenced by the German-Austrian tradition, but on the other hand remained loyal to his northern Italian homeland, as shown by the Rapsodia piemontese for violin and orchestra, performed here by the Philharmoniker’s first concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley.

Stylistically, Alexander Zemlinsky stands between Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, with whom he had close personal and artistic ties. The atmospherically dense and impressively orchestrated Lyric Symphony for two solo voices and orchestra is considered the composer’s masterpiece. The vocal settings are based on texts by the Indian Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore and are sung here by soprano Lise Davidsen and baritone Christian Gerhaher. 

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