The Berliner Philharmoniker's 2003 Europakonzert — Lisbon

With Pierre Boulez and Maria João Pires

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Program notes

Maria João Pires, Pierre Boulez, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: A Winning Trio.

It has been a tradition for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra since 1991 for the musicians to commemorate the birth of their orchestra since May 1st, 1882 with a concert in a different European country each time. The greatest conductors have succeeded one another to direct this prestigious formation: Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Mariss Janssons, Daniel Barenboim and Simon Rattle, (in Athens and Moscow).

In 2003, it was Pierre Boulez's turn to conduct the famous concert in Lisbon at the incredible Jeronimos Monastery that was built on the bank of the River Tage in 1496 upon the initiative of King Manuel 1st. After a dazzling Le Tombeau de Couperin by Ravel revealing the qualities of the soloist and of the members of the orchestra, the pianist Maria João Pires, a native of the country, gives a moving rendition of the Concerto No. 20, KV466 by Mozart: the pianist seems possessed by this piece that is so simple yet so complex and which she plays with an inherent and confusing naturalness.

Pierre Boulez continues with the Concerto for Orchestra by Béla Bartók, the last piece finished by the Hungarian composer and premiered in 1944 by the orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky who commissioned it. The undisputed master of this repertoire, Boulez gives this piece all of his motoric strength.

As an encore comes the luxuriant "Fêtes" (taken from the Trois Nocturnes) by Debussy. What could be more fitting for an anniversary?

A closer look: featured composers

Further listening: featured works

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