Monday, January 30, 2006

Sir Simon Rattle Conducts the Berlin Philharmonic In Haydn, Mozart, Strauss, Adès, And Ravel

To my mind, Justin Davidson is displaying some mighty fine classical music writing over at, as this sample, linked from Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise, I feel, clearly demonstrates:

... "[Sir Simon] Rattle and [the Berlin Philharmonic] attacked Thomas Adès "Asyla" again on Saturday night, and it's amazing that such an important work of blistering bravado had never been performed in New York. Adès, now 34 and already an elder statesman of the British music scene, wrote "Asyla" nearly a decade ago, and it cemented his reputation as a deft and fearless composer. It belongs in the tradition of lucidly psychotic music that extends back through the opium fantasies of Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" to the addled 16th century madrigals of Gesualdo da Venosa, dripping with dissonance.

"Asyla" begins with a soft cloud of clanking, as if a band of cats were warming up on garbage cans. The noise spreads to the strings, and a broad, twilight horn theme tries to cut through the static. Then a rapid, repeating riff on the cymbals kicks the music from its confusion and out into the bright neon night.

The keystone of the work is the huge and thrilling third movement, held together by a pattern of sledgehammer beats that give off sprays of sparks. Heavy dance-club rhythms, of the kind that set off car alarms, pile up, fragment and whirl into a rushing twister of broken-off melodies, screeches and whipping chords. The Berliners' fierce precision only intensified the lunacy. It was exciting to hear such perfectly organized delirium in Carnegie's hallowed Hall.

After all that Dionysian excess, Mozart could be counted on to restore equilibrium; Emanuel Ax played the E-flat Piano Concerto, K. 271 with his infallible sense of taste, lyric tenderness, and natural phrasing."...

Source: Justin Davidson "In Berlin's neon world, a blinding clarity flickers" January 30, 2006 via Alex Ross's,0,2449167.story

Filmtheater Kosmos ("Kosmos" Cinema)

"Inserted in 1960-62 into a space reserved for it in the then unitary neo-historical construction of the Stalin Avenue [in Eastern Berlin], this film theater stands out in its functionalism and modernity. Renovated in the mid-nineties to become Berlin’s first multiplex cinema, the audience space with 1,000 seats was retained in accordance with laws for the protection of historic monuments. Today, the theater is part of the Ufa Group."

Source: stadttouren/en/kma_6.html

Photo credit: © studio kohlmeier. With thanks.


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