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Musikfest Berlin

The festival 2013

Bartók – Janáček – Lutosławski – Britten

20 top orchestras, choirs and instrumental ensembles drawn from the cream of the international music crop, 25 world-class soloists, conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Barenboim, Daniele Gatti, Manfred Honeck, Alan Gilbert any many others came together to form the exceptional musical programme that made up the Musikfest Berlin 2013.

From 31 August to 18 September, approximately 35,000 visitors attended a total of 24 events at the Berliner Philharmonie, its Kammermusiksaal and at the Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt. On the programme was a tour d’horizon of the musical landscape of composers whose countries of origin are, politically speaking, Eastern European but in the geographical sense, form the very centre of Europe. Three composers were at the heart of the programme: the Czech composer Leoš Janáček, Hungarian-born composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók, and the Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutosławski, whose 100th birthday was commemorated this year by the international music world. Benjamin Britten would have also celebrated his 100th birthday this year. The Musikfest Berlin honoured his music together with the late symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich. There was also music from a range of other composers: J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Dorati, G. F. Haas, Kagel, Ligeti, Mahler, Martinů, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, R. Strauss, Verdi and B. A. Zimmermann.

The curtain was raised on the Musikfest Berlin by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck with Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist. A further highlight was Mariss Jansons’ performance with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks which played the concertos for orchestra by Lutosławski and Bartók. The Berliner Philharmoniker with Sir Simon Rattle at the conductor’s stand presented Janáček’s “Glagolotic Mass” and Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 2. Martha Argerich was celebrated as the soloist in the Staatskapelle Berlin concert with Daniel Barenboim. The conductors Teodor Currentzis (Mahler Chamber Orchestra) and Ilan Volkov (Konzerthausorchester) premiered at the Musikfest Berlin with works by Shostakovich, Britten, Lutosławski and Janáček.

Besides the presentation of renowned international and Berlin orchestras, a range of chamber music was an integral component of the festival, continuing the focus of the festival programme. The result was: a string quartet cycle with the Emerson String Quartet, the Quatuor Diotima and the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin, who presented Béla Bartók’s epoch-making quartets in full length, and Leoš Janáček’s string quartets, including the premiere of “Intimate Letters” in a rare version featuring the viola d’amore. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as pianist and orchestra leader presented a programme that unfolded slowly from a trio to a full orchestral sound.

Another special event was the presentation of “Les Noces”, the famous “Peasant’s Wedding” set to music by Igor Stravinsky. It could be heard at the Musikfest Berlin for the first time in its reconstructed and completed version with a live pianola, soloists, choir, harmonium and drums, presented by the RIAS Kammerchor and the Ensemble musikFabrik. The Musikfest Berlin 2013 ended with a charity concert for the cause of the Human Rights Watch with András Schiff and Hanno Müller-Brachmann, and finally a violin solo recital by Carolin Widmann. She played Bartok’s and B.A. Zimmermann’s Sonatas for Violin, Bach’s D-minor “Partita” and G.F. Haas’ composition “de terrae fine” to an enthused audience.

The Musikfest Berlin 2013 was presented by the Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker.