International digital release: November 2007: 5099950122950
iTunes pre-release: 5099950123155
“The performance of Gustav Mahler’s 9th symphony was one of the most wonderful
accomplishments of Simon Rattle as conductor of this orchestra.”
Simon Rattle, who has built a reputation as a distinguished Mahler interpreter through his vast Mahler back-catalogue on EMI Classics, will complete a new recording of the composer’s Symphony No. 9 with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the end of October 2007. EMI Classics plan an exclusive worldwide digital only release in November 2007 which will coincide with both the BPO and Sir Simon’s central performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall “Berlin in Lights” festival and the Orchestra’s 125th anniversary celebrations in Berlin. The CD will follow with an international release in March 2008.
The Berliner Philharmoniker opened their 2007/08 season with performances of Symphony No. 9 which were reprised the following week at the Festivals of Salzburg and Lucerne, when the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten wrote, “Sir Simon Rattle has once again demonstrated his great affinity for this music and his ability to recreate it in the most thrilling fashion. […] It is hardly possible to imagine a realisation of this music at once more moving and more menacing. The finale was heavenly, with the Berliners pulling out all the stops. Outstanding solo playing, subtly savoured colours, saturated and warmly sonorous chords and a pianissimo that died away into utter oblivion – all these contributed to making this a sensational concert.”
Sir Simon and the Berliner Philharmoniker have previously recorded Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 10; both discs received outstanding critical acclaim and have been best-sellers. Sir Simon’s first Mahler recording was Symphony No. 2 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1987. He previously recorded Symphony No. 9 with the Wiener Philharmoniker in 1993.
Gustav Mahler composed his Ninth Symphony in 1909/1910, his first season of two as conductor of the New York Philharmonic; it was to be his last completed symphony. Describing the complex emotions of the composer at this stage in his life and his career, Simon Rattle has said, “Mahler was in his late forties, … at the height of his powers. He was not an old man, although he was ill [with an incurable heart ailment]. … This is somebody who believed in making the symphony the whole world. And the whole world around him was crumbling … But his own feeling of mortality, the tragedies of the deaths of his children, his feeling that he could not hold on to what was around him, I think is much more important. And his idea that there was a whole new world of music there [that] he wouldn’t witness but which he could sense. … a lot of this music is Schoenberg, Berg and Webern …it’s fragments so tiny that they’re hardly there. And you [can] feel how desperately he wanted to be part of this new world, and how he knew he could not be. This is why there’s this tremendous bitter-sweet sensation [in the Ninth Symphony].”
When Alban Berg saw the score to the first movement of the Ninth Symphony, he wrote to his future wife, “The first movement is the most heavenly thing Mahler ever wrote. It is the expression of an exceptional fondness for this earth, the longing to live in peace on it, to enjoy nature to its depths – before death comes.” Before the end of his second New York Philharmonic season, Mahler collapsed and was taken back to Vienna, where he died on May 18, 1911.
Simon Rattle has been Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2002. In the summer of 2007, they gave four performances of Wagner’s Die Walküre and four programmes of symphonic works by Berlioz, Pascal Dusapin, Debussy and Ravel at the Aix-en-Provence Festival followed by performances of works by Mahler, Brahms, Schumann, Ligeti, Stravinsky and Gubaidulina at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals.
The Berliner Philharmoniker celebrates its 125th anniversary in the 2007/2008 season, during which Simon Rattle will lead 72 of 93 symphony concerts in Berlin and on tour in Austria, Switzerland, the U.S.A., France, the Baltic States and Scandinavia
Sir Simon has an association with EMI dating back to the 1970s that has resulted in many award-winning and ground-breaking releases. Previous critically acclaimed recordings with the Berliner Philharmonker encompass works by Bruckner, Brahms, Holst, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, Schubert, Mahler and Debussy. Their release of Holst’s The Planets won ‘Classical Recording of the Year’ at the 2007 Classical Brit Awards.
“I do believe that [the Berlin Philharmonic has] a very fierce and wild feeling for this music which is unique” (Simon Rattle)