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Our concertmaster’s perspective: Noah Bendix-Balgley’s favourites

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    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 74 “Pathétique” (52 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Kirill Petrenko

  • Johannes Brahms
    Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in D minor, op. 15 (57 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Krystian Zimerman Piano

  • Gustav Mahler
    Symphony No. 9 (98 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Bernard Haitink

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A major, K. 219 (34 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Mikko Franck

    Noah Bendix-Balgley violin and direction

  • Richard Wagner
    Tristan und Isolde: Act 1 (concert performance) (80 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Eva-Maria Westbroek Soprano (Isolde), Stuart Skelton Tenor (Tristan), Sarah Connolly Mezzo-Soprano (Brangäne), Michael Nagy Bass-Baritone (Kurwenal), Stephen Milling Bass (König Marke), Roman Sadnik Tenor (Melot), Simon Stricker Baritone (Steersman), Thomas Ebenstein Tenor (Shepherd, Sailor), Rundfunkchor Berlin, Simon Halsey Chorus Master

  • Richard Strauss
    Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), op. 40 (54 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Semyon Bychkov

  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold
    The Adventures of Robin Hood (18 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sir Simon Rattle

  • Richard Strauss
    Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus spoke Zarathustra), op. 30 (40 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Mariss Jansons

  • John Adams
    The Gospel According to the Other Mary, A Passion Oratorio based on a Libretto compiled by Peter Sellars (154 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Kelley O’Connor Mezzo-Soprano (Mary), Tamara Mumford Mezzo-Soprano (Martha), Daniel Bubeck Countertenor, Brian Cummings Countertenor, Nathan Medley Countertenor, Peter Hoare Tenor (Lazarus), Rundfunkchor Berlin, Daniel Reuss Chorus Master

  • Johannes Brahms
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68 (57 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Herbert Blomstedt

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    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 (44 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Kirill Petrenko

For this playlist, 1st concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley has chosen some of his favourite musical experiences since joining the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2014. “These are concerts that featured really important works for me, repertoire that I love,” says the violinist, “or collaborations with wonderful conductors or soloists that stay in my memory very strongly”.

Bendix-Balgley describes his first experience playing under Kirill Petrenko, in 2017, as intensely energetic and emotional. In the conductor’s hands, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the Pathétique, “is devastatingly powerful, yet retains a clarity of structure and balance throughout”. Bendix-Balgley suggests audiences listen for the particularly beautiful transition from the third movement to the finale. 

Among the guest conductors included in the playlist is one of Bendix-Balgley’s favourites, Bernard Haitink, featured here with a 2017 performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. The 92-year-old “wonder” Herbert Blomstedt, conducting Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 in 2017, “seems younger and younger each time he returns to conduct the orchestra. His infectious enthusiasm inspires wonderful performances”. Poignantly, the late Mariss Jansons appears in a 2019 concert featuring Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, his last with the Berliner Philharmoniker. “His music-making”, says Bendix-Balgley, “had an urgency and honesty that I will miss greatly.” 

Among visiting soloists, Bendix-Balgley singles out a “masterful” 2015 performance of Brahms’s First Piano Concerto by Krystian Zimerman: “His command of timing, sound and structure takes my breath away”. In a 2017 concert, Bendix-Balgley performs the difficult concertmaster solo from the third movement of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, a depiction of the composer’s wife. The following season, Bendix-Balgley gave his solo debut with the orchestra in Mozart’s buoyant Violin Concerto No. 5, with its famous “Turkish” finale. He conducts from the violin, playing cadenzas he composed for the occasion. 

Former chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle appears in a 2016 concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which struck Bendix-Balgley as “one of those wonderful concert nights when everything felt right”. More lightheartedly, a 2015 performance at the Waldbühne, where the Berliner Philharmoniker normally end their season, features film scores by Korngold. The playlist also nods to Bendix-Balgley’s American heritage. “An ambitious, emotional and masterful work by my friend, the great American composer John Adams”, The Gospel According to the Other Mary was written in 2012. The violinist singles out the “gorgeous and haunting Scene 5: Passover” as his favourite movement. 

Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko reappears to close the playlist with a startlingly fresh and energetic Beethoven Symphony No. 7 that opened the 2018/19 season. “Kirill Petrenko”, states Bendix-Balgley, “finds so many new aspects in the score to bring out and pushes the orchestra to its very best”.