Sir Simon Rattle conducts Ralph Vaughan Williams, Antonín Dvořák and Ludwig van Beethoven

Europakonzert 2013, Prague

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Program notes

Every year during the month of May, the Berliner Philharmoniker celebrates its 1882 founding with the Europakonzert, a gala concert in an iconic European city. This year, the orchestra and its music director Sir Simon Rattle are joined by one of today’s most sought-after mezzo sopranos, Magdalena Kožená.

The orchestra and the Czech singer already know each other very well, having recorded works by Mozart, Mahler, Ravel and Dvořák together. This year’s gala concert highlight is Dvořák’s Biblical songs, with Kožená singing in her native language and the entire event taking place in the composer's motherland: the 23rd Europakonzert settled this time in the majestic Spanish Hall of the Prague Castle.

The concert opens with Ralph Vaughan Williams's Fantasy on a theme by Thomas Tallis, an early 20th century work composed in the style of the English Renaissance music. Then come Dvořák's Biblical songs, followed by Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, also called "Pastoral." A musical ode to the countryside, this masterpiece emphasizes the ambivalence of nature – peaceful in the scene at the brook, destructive and violent when the storm bursts.

Picture © Monika Rittershaus

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