After twelve years at the Opéra National de Paris, Philippe Jordan once again took over as music director of the Wiener Staatsoper for the 2020/21 season, one of the most renowned opera houses. The conductor returns to the Berliner Philharmoniker with a programme which takes us from Wagner to classical Modernism.
It opens with an orchestral suite from Wagner’s Rheingold, arranged by Jordan himself. The opening to the epic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen is mysterious and written in sparkling E-flat major – the gold treasure guarded by the Rhine maidens shimmers through the gentle waves of the river. But soon the mood darkens dramatically, and at the end of Rheingold, the cunning fire god Loge will prophesy to the opera’s protagonists who are hurrying to the god's castle Valhalla: “They are hasting on to their end.”
Also appearing as the soloist in Alban Berg’s Altenberg Lieder is soprano Anja Kampe. In the five orchestral songs based on texts by the poet Peter Altenberg, austere construction is combined with great expression. In general, Berg proves to be a master in uniting opposites, as the music theorist Adorno wrote: “The most delicate caution is the counterpart of audacity in the Altenberg Lieder”.
The Alpine Symphony, which Richard Strauss himself conducted with the Philharmoniker in 1919, has been regarded as one of the orchestra’s showpieces at least since the legendary Karajan recording from the 1980s. The natural panorama, as overwhelming as it is subtly orchestrated, which begins at night and also ends again at night following a sunrise, and the ascent and descent of the summit, was the composer’s last symphonic poem.