Over 10,000 people attended Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle’s four-concert series at the Royal Festival Hall, which ended on Tuesday.
The Southbank Centre responded to the overwhelming demand for tickets to the series of Beethoven and Schoenberg concerts by streaming live to screens in The Clore Ballroom.
Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle coupled Beethoven’s five crowd-pleasing piano concertos with Schoenberg’s atonal orchestral music. Last year Barenboim packed the Southbank with his Beethoven sonata marathon. This year was even more impressive since he conducted the orchestra from the piano and played two concertos in one evening.
All four concerts drew standing ovations and more than 900 people attended the entire series, tickets for which sold out six months ago. Among the cultural elite in attendance were Antony Gormley, John Hurt, Sir Ian McKellen, Jonathan Pryce, Rankin, Will Self, Meera Syal, Mark Wallinger, Minister for Culture and Tourism Margaret Hodge, Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Arts Council England Chairman Dame Liz Forgan and Chief Executive Alan Davey.
Barenboim’s energy and commitment to bringing a wider repertoire of classical music to audiences was evident throughout the series. His introductory talk at the final concert, which featured Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra Opus 31 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3, drew frequent laughter from the audience.