Berlin Philharmonic casts spell with its repertoire of classics

ABU DHABI — It’s been called wild, passionate and even the world’s best, so there was much to be expected from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which performed at the Emirates Palace on Tuesday night, conducted by the equally wild, passionate and one of the world’s best conductors, Sir Simon Rattle.


Silvia Radan

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 9:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:57 PM

Perhaps, none of the 128 orchestra members have played in the Middle East before, but the 128-year-old orchestra is no stranger to this region, having first performed at the Baalbeck Festival (Lebanon) in 1968 and in Teheran in 1975.

The historic return was celebrated with a historic concert programme. The packed Emirates Palace auditorium was taken on a centuries-old journey of classical music, from classical Haydn and romantic Brahms, to modern Alban Berg and contemporary Brett Dean.

“It is the first time the orchestra has performed such a wide range repertoire. It is 300 years of classical music,” Martin Hoffman, general manager of the Berlin Philharmonic, told Khaleej Times.

“For us, this is a new experience and a new audience and we wanted to give people here an experience of the orchestra’s great repertoire.”

After over a century of music, it is hard to keep count of what exactly that repertoire is, although the Berlin Philharmonic has now begun to create its database of all its performed music.

“What I can tell you is that all the important and even less important works of the past 128 years have been performed,” pointed out Hoffman.

And not all this music was Western. In one of it concerts, the Berlin Philharmonic presented “A La Turka”, a programme combining Western and Oriental music.

When first received the invitation to perform in Abu Dhabi, both the orchestra’s members and its general manager “loved it”. They heard about the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage’s reputation to create a tradition of having the world’s best here and they were more than happy to come.

“Music is a need for everyone; it creates harmony and understanding between people,” thought Hoffman.

“What people should expect for this concert is an extraordinary experience. What I would suggest to everyone is be curious!”

Part of Abu Dhabi Classics, the Berlin Philharmonic was the last concert this year. After winter holiday break, the season returns on January 28 with Symphonic Masterworks — Daniel Barenboim, conductor and pianist.

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