Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmoniker are touring the US, and tonight are playing a program of Brahms, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg at Davies Symphony Hall. He says since he began his tenure at Berlin (he’ll be leaving in 2018) he’s liked to mix the old and new, and this is repertoire that their sound was made for.
There’s more information about the concert tonight at the San Francisco Symphony website.
Sir Simon began as principal conductor for the ensemble in 2002, with a concert program of music by Mahler and Thomas Ades, and for this tour, the other program (heard at Davies last night) was Mahler’s Seventh and Eclat by Pierre Boulez. “It’s part of what we do. It’s the kind of mixture we do, from Bach and Rameau till yesterday. In fact, we’re only… I mean, the most recent piece is 1965. But they’re almost all pretty radical pieces. Pieces like the Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, together… it’s absolutely at the kind of center of what the orchestra plays, and what their sound is made for. But also it’s wonderful to be able to explore these pieces really in depth, particularly as less and less people are playing that.” He says listening to works written by the generation that followed Brahms affects the way you hear his second symphony. “You just end up with your ears more open. You realize how fluid the piece is, but also how much Schoenberg, the reluctant revolutionary, owed to Brahms.”