Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Chamber Music Concert Hall Berlin Philharmonic

Last night I attended a Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the Chamber Music Concert Hall. There were several choices for getting there from my apartment. U-Bahn wasn’t one of them. At night, I’m more confident taking U-Bahn and am a bit leery of walking between connections.

Berlin Symphony

Getting to the Concert Hall

After considering the options, I took the M41 bus to Potsdamer Platz and walked about 10 minutes to the concert hall. It worked out well, even though I initially went in the wrong direction :o( but figured it out and changed course. I learned from the mistake, and the interesting passengers on the bus were helpful. Berlin taxis are plentiful but expensive, not sure if they’re safe. Since I’ll be in Berlin fort awhile, it’s a good idea to get comfortable riding buses and trams.

Berliner Philharmonie Concert Hall

I’ve been looking forward to the concert after hearing much praise for the symphony. Many consider the Berliner Philharmoniker the “world’s greatest orchestra”. The performance was sold out. Paavo Järvi conducted works by composers Witold Lutosławski and Johannes Brahms. The gorgeous concert hall is a theatre-in-the round with stellar acoustics. I had a balcony side seat facing the conductor – a prefect vantage point for watching the orchestra in action.

Witold Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra

Polish composer Witold Lutosławsk’s Concerto for Orchestra is known as “one of the top Polish works of Social Realism”. It’s described as a “rousing concert for orchestra combining the harsh force of Polish folk music with ingenious, futuristic construction”.

Witold Lutosławski Polish Composer

The Concerto has three movements beginning with a solemn introduction featuring “transformed tunes of folk songs”. Critics characterize the second movement as a “syncopated folk tune”. The finale is the longest movement and has a special “dramatic effect through the rise of the sound volume from pianissimo to fortissimo”. It’s a dramatic abstract composition.

Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 for Chamber Ensemble

German composer Johannes Brahms’ Second Symphony was a sharp contrast to Lutoslawski’s composition. He created the symphony during a holiday on Lake Wörthersee, a glacial lake in the Starnberg district of Bavaria. Maybe Brahms got inspiration from the legend of the Origin of Lake Wörthersee, a fascinating folktale.

Johannes Brahms German Composer

Critics describe Symphony No. 2 as having a “pastoral, serenade-like quality with moments of somber severity”. It’s considered the Brahms Symphony “most suitable for a chamber version filled with expressive solos and transparent textures”. The soloists were magnificent.

Johannes Brahms 1866 Photo – Picture-Alliance dpa

The symphony has four movements, allegro non troppoadagio non troppoallegretto grazioso, and allegro con spirito. The rousing finale was spectacular and brought the audience to their feet.

Little Man of Lake Wörth Bavarian Folktale

Paavo Järvi Conductor

Paavo Järvi has been the Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen since 2004. Together with the Berlin Symphony he’s produced popular recordings of works by Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Robert Schumann. Järvi is a masterful conductor!

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“Järvi is a fascinating man to watch in concert. Not only is he a Grammy award-winning conductor but he is also a swift mover on the stage. He remains focused, and incredibly involved in the music.”

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Paavo Järvi Conductor

Paavo Järvi’s Conducting Career and Awards

Järvi’s career began in 1995 as conductor of Stockholm’s Kungliga Filharmoniska Orkestern. Career landmarks include positions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Frankfurt HR Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his position with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, he’s artistic advisor to the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Järvi Summer Festival in Pärnu, Estonia.

Berlin Chamber Music Concert Hall Theater in the Round

In 2010, Järvi was awarded the ECHO Klassik as Conductor of the Year for his Beethoven interpretation – considered his greatest success. “The CD versions of Beethoven’s nine symphonies and the performances of the complete Beethoven cycle in Tokyo, Yokohama, Lanaudière Quebec, Paris, Strasbourg, Montreal, Bonn, Salzburg, Warsaw, and Sao Paolo sparked a wave of enthusiasm.”

Paavo Järvi Conductor Berlin Philharmonic

Following the Beethoven project, “Järvi and his orchestra worked equally successfully on the symphonic works of Robert Schumann”. The third CD with Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 and the Concert Piece for 4 Horns was awarded the prestigious French Music Prize, the Diapason d’Or. Järvi then focused on the complete Brahms Symphony Cycle winning Germany’s Opus Klassik Award in the category “Symphonic Recording of the Year (music of the 19th century)”.

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“Berlin’s striking pentagonal yellow concert hall was the product of designs by Hans Scharoun. It, along with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the chamber music hall, and the State Library, make up Berlin’s Kulturforum.

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Berlin Symphony Pipe Organ

Beginning with the 2019/20 season Paavo Järvi will become the new Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. He’s absolutely mesmerizing, a phenomenal conductor!

The Brahms piece was my favorite – it was magnificent. The audience wasn’t shy about acknowledging the talented musicians and conductor with enthusiastic applause. The performance was thrilling and made for a memorable evening in Berlin!

Oregon Bach Festival 2015

Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Last night I attended an Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) concert at the Hult Center. The OBF is a University of Oregon event that celebrates the works of composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

This year the festival runs from June 25th through July 12th with a fantastic variety of summer concerts and guest artists, including non-Bach-related programs. The OBF focuses on a choral-orchestral repertoire and educational activities such as a conducting master class with participants from all over world and a Youth Choral Academy.

Bruckner

Anton Bruckner

The concert last night was spectacular!  It featured the music of three composers – Anton Bruckner, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johannes Brahms. The Bach and Bruckner pieces featured several guest soloists, Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, and the Berwick Chorus of the OBF. Matthew Halls was brilliant conducting the orchestra. Each piece of dynamic music was performed beautifully!

Johannes Brahms

e OBF began in 1970 led by German conductor Helmuth Rilling and Royce Saltzman, former president of the American Choral Directors Association. Initially, it was an informal series of classes and concerts at the University of Oregon. The concerts expanded to include full-scale choral-orchestral performances.

Matthew Halls

Matthew Halls OBF Artistic Director

In 2007, the festival included concerts throughout Oregon, including Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Bend’s Tower Theatre. OBF collaborates with other regional arts organizations, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Eugene Ballet. The festival is a joyous event and an amazing venue for a small city like Eugene.

Berwick Chorus

Berwick Chorus of the OBF

In 2014 British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls succeeded Helmuth Rilling as OBF’s Artistic Director. Halls has made “significant conducting debuts with the Houston Symphony, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Washington D.C. National Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony, as well as founding and leading the pioneering Retrospect Ensemble”. Halls has an impressive career and these are but a few of his engagements in North America, Canada, and worldwide.

Halls is known for “probing, vibrant interpretations of music of all periods”. In his mid 30s, Halls is one of the most brilliant and interesting conductors I have ever observed. His passion and talent is visible and it’s such a joy to watch him conduct.

Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy

Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy

The OBF is donor-supported with activities primarily at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts and at the University of Oregon’s School of Music & Dance, Beall Hall. This June the OBF launched a new historically informed performances (HIP) orchestral academy led by Matthew Halls and guest director Masaaki Suzuki (founder/director of the Bach Collegium Japan). The three-week orchestral program is open to students and young professionals between the ages of 21 to 35.

Masaaki Suzuki

Next week I’ll attend another dramatic OBF concert featuring a suite from Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Masaaki Suzuki conducts the symphony and it’s sure to be another thrilling performance!