On 10 and 11 September Thomas Adès made his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in a programme of music by Berlioz, Gerald Barry, and his own Violin Concerto Concentric Paths (2005) and The Exterminating Angel Symphony (2020). Pekka Kuusisto, who recently performed Adès’ Märchentänze at the BBC Proms, was soloist in the concerto. The full concert is available to stream through the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall here; interviews with Adès and Kuusisto are also available to stream for free.
The Berlin Philharmonic has a longstanding relationship with Adès’ music. Sir Simon Rattle gave the German premiere of Asyla in 2002 for his inaugural concert as chief conductor with the orchestra, followed by the national premiere of These Premises Are Alarmed (2004). In 2007 Rattle and the orchestra gave the world premiere of Tevot; Rattle also conducted the world premiere of the
Luxury Suite from Powder Her Face in 2017, co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic; the concert is available to watch here.
Bachtrack (Elena Luporini) noted:
…relying on scrupulous orchestral writing, Adès’ Violin Concerto is a short but fascinating work which explores the concept of circularity in music…Interweaving repetition and evolution, sensuality and coarseness, the concerto is also a pièce de résistance for soloists…It is hard to describe the mesmerising effect Kuusisto achieved.
Seen and Heard International (Colin Clarke) commented of The Exterminating Angel Symphony:
It is part of Adès’s art that he can take music of such vast remit – from wondrously cheeky to brazenly Romantic – and create a convincing, substantive, standalone statement. The luscious met the crystalline and intrinsically beautiful in a four-panel processional. The symphony is a magnificent achievement – as is the opera itself.
On 1 October at Kronberg Academy Christian Tetzlaff and Kirill Gerstein premiered another piece based on Adès’ music for the stage: His Suite from ‘The Tempest’ for violin and piano; it receives its UK premiere from the duo at Wigmore Hall on 5 October. The 12-minute piece is in four movements, each based on a key moment of the opera: Caliban - "This island's mine" (Act 1 Scene 4); Ariel – “full fathom five thy father lies” (Act 1 Scene 5); Miranda: Aria and Quintet; and Caliban and Ariel, Free. It was commissioned by Kronberg Academy (for the opening of Casals Forum), Jennifer Wingate, and Wigmore Hall.
In November Adès will conduct the Italian premiere of The Tempest in Robert Lepage’s production, with choreography by Crystal Pite, giving five performances of the 2004 opera at the Teatro Alla Scala, Milan.