04 January 2017

Musical encounters with the Berlin Phil

On New Year's Eve I took myself to the cinema for a "new to me" experience, the live transmission of a concert, the Berlin Philharmonic's new year concert - transmitted simultaneously to cinemas in many parts of the world. It turns out that the orchestra has a resident poet, who introduced the proceedings, recited his new year's poem in German and English, and during the piano-moving entertained us with a great chunk of Edith Sitwell's words to William Walton's Facade, quite amazing but not really translatable into German - though he provided an impression of its nonsensicality. As a sort of linguistic mirror-act, introducing the Dvorak pieces he launched into a Bohemian accent such as Dvorak might have spoken in (I was chuffed that my German was good enough to follow it) AND then did a comparable distortion in English translation, really quite unexpected and amazing,

On his retirement from the horn section, the orchestra made Klaus Wallendorf its "one and only resident poet for life". The ceremonial presentation can be seen here, and at the end of that clip is one of his concoctions, a song that contains the names of 19 Tokyo subway stations, written after an evening of Japanese hospitality. (See the youtube version here.)
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The horn players got quite a look in - another, Sarah Willis, interviewed the pianist (Daniil Trifonov) before the concert. It being new year, and Berlin, they ended the interview by having a glass of champagne and eating ... doughnuts!


Was it Sarah Willis, then, who organised and encouraged the Gartenschlauchorchester that we saw at the Berlin Phil's open day in June 2015? By gum, it was - she's on the left -
If you'd like to watch the live transmissions of the orchestra's concerts in the comfort of your own home, a year's subscription to the digital concert hall costs 149 Euros - a saving not only in ticket prices, but in the tedium of having to travel to the concert venue. That covers more than 40 live concerts (in HD) every season. Bargain! And if it's inconvenient to watch live, you can watch from the archive. (My father would have loved this - he had a huge collection of music DVDs and Blue Ray disks - and that, rather than tv, was the entertainment of an evening. My mother, less so ... she did a lot of knitting...)

The orchestra's website is worth a visit, eg for the (short) trailers of the movies,  for the many (longer) interviews with musicians, and for the history of the concert hall.

And if horns are right up your street, the "Ho, Ho, Horn" Christmas concert can be seen online, free - https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/23819

While at that open day in June 2015, we were lucky enough to hear the orchestra, for free - though getting a seat was a bit of a scrum, ganz unordentlich, rather un-German. We sat in the balcony on the right... happy memories ...
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