Berlin Phil's vibrant celebration

The Berlin Philharmonic's celebrated their 120th anniversary with a concert featuring some of the world's finest pieces.

Composer: Dvořák, Brahms, Beethoven, Verdi
Repertoire: Symphony No.9, ‘From the New World’ (Dvořák), Violin Concerto (Brahms) Egmont Overture (Beethoven) Sicilian Vespers Overture (Verdi)
Artists: Gil Shaham (vliolin), Berlin Philharmonic/Claudio Abbado
Rating:  3.5/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Medici Arts 205 1958

On May Day 2002, the honour of hosting the 120-year-old Berlin Phil’s annual birthday ‘European Concert’ went to Palermo, Sicily. A gaunt Abbado, conducting the party for the last time, moulds the sound in front of him into lean and lithe forms that sing to Europe with the clearest authority. With the baton as paintbrush, he colours Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony with vibrant textures. The cor anglais nostalgically billows the slow movement to a hushed hall. The brasses sing the optimistic Finale like golden idealists. In fact the concert is slow to gain atmosphere. Beethoven’s Egmont sounds a little cool and only when Shaham breaks sweat in Brahms’s Violin Concerto does one feel involvement. The Adagio attains an ethereal beauty. At the end, garlands rain down and the Berliners flatter the city with Verdi’s tune-rich Sicilian compliment.