Berlin-based Orchestras

Berliner Philharmoniker / Sir Simon Rattle

Past Dates

The musikfest berlin offers the rare opportunity to experience one of Debussy’s little-known major works: the full-length incidental stage music to Gabriele D’Annunzio’s “mystery”, The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. The shortened orchestra suite with which audiences are usually presented, representing only a third of the original, tends to leave a rather weak impression. The score of this symphonic poem, which blends both Christian and pagan elements, displays a fascinating diversity. Dark and threatening elements as well as the sphere of divine secrets take on an aura of plasticity. This combination of ecstasy and passion, a mixture of theatre, music and dance, is narrated by Sophie Marceau (Braveheart, The World is not Enough), winner of the Céssar Prize. Stravinsky’s cantata King of the Stars also reaches towards the heavens. The work is dedicated to Debussy – the two cooperated in an intense exchange which proved fruitful for both composers. Debussy discerned the music of distant planets in the cantata’s visionary soundscape. Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 offers an enriching contrast to this text-based composition. Inspired by the natural beauty of Finland, a no less impressive, genuinely symphonic cosmos unfolds before the listener. The audience is led through sounding horns and expanses of strings to a grandiose final crescendo.

Concert Programme

Claude Debussy [1862-1918]
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien
Mystery play in 5 acts by Gabriele d’Annunzio
for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra [1911]

Igor Stravinsky [1882-1971]
Swesdoliki (Le Roi des étoiles)
cantata for men’s choir and orchestra [1911]

Jean Sibelius [1865-1957]
Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major op. 82 [1915, rev. 1916/19]


Susan Gritton soprano
Monica Bacelli mezzo soprano
Nathalie Stutzmann alto
Sophie Marceau speaker

Rundfunkchor Berlin
Simon Halsey choir director

Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle conductor

A joint project of the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker and the Berliner Festspiele