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Berliner Zeitung Hails Alan Gilbert’s ‘Direct, Forward’ Conducting of Berlin Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert Berlin Philharmonic

Alan's back from Germany! Read all about it:

After launching the season with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, at its Leipzig home and on a tour of European music capitals and festivals, Music Director Alan Gilbert returned to Germany in mid-November to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra.

On November 21–23, Alan led the Berlin Philharmonic in a program of Bach's Cantata Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid BWV 58, Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony, and Nielsen's Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia expansiva. Watch the concert (trailer free; subscribe for full access).

  • Berliner Zeitung said, "Gilbert's conducting is of great physical presence … very direct, muscular and dynamically forward. ... [O]ne can hear a distinctive musical instinct ... a natural force, that has become rare in our times of overbred musical culture…"
  • Inforadio Berlin praised Gilbert's "great virtuosity of musical colors."

On November 10–13, Alan conducted the Munich Philharmonic in a program of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, Debussy's Images, and Respighi's Fountains of Rome. 

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung noted Gilbert's "fabulous, touchable music-making."
  • Münchner Merkur praised the "steadily growing tension" in the Beethoven and the "athmospheric woodwinds" in the Respighi and Debussy.

In Hamburg on December 4 and 7 and Lübeck on December 5, Gilbert led the NDR Symphony in the world premiere of Thierry Escaich's Concerto for Violin, Oboe, and Orchestra, featuring New York Philharmonic Artist-in-Residence Lisa Batiashvili and oboist Francois Leleux, and Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. Escaich's concerto is a co-commission by the NDR and the New York Philharmonic and receives its US premiere in April at Avery Fisher Hall.

  • Hamburger Abendblatt said of Gilbert, “Only a few conductors are so unencumbered by ego and so efficient,” adding that “the orchestra thanked him for his inspiring presence with enormous vitality in sound.”
  • Lübecker Nachrichten reported that the Dec. 5 concert contained "waves of euphony," adding, "everything was just right."

Alan Gilbert Back in Berlin

Alan Gilbert  

Tonight Music Director Alan Gilbert conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in the first of three evenings of concerts featuring Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor and Magnus Lindberg's Kraft.

This is his third trip to Germany this season. He led the Berlin Philharmonic September 12–14, and October 31–November 3 and November 7–9 he conducted the Munich Philharmonic and Hamburg's NDR Symphony, respectively.

Die Welt, in a review of one of the Hamburg concerts, wrote of Gilbert's conducting of his arrangement of excerpts of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung:

"Each breakneck run in the violin parts and each delicate woodwind comment was audible, and even the collective brass that usually dominates the Wagnerian sound was instead well-balanced and articulated. Gilbert obviously knew what he wanted.... In the introductory "Ride of the Valkyries," he chiseled the inner structures instead of unleashing an overwhelming barrage of sound. This made it so much more effective when Gilbert gave the musicians free rein….The tonal and technical mastery was deeply impressive."

Alan Gilbert Accepts AmCham Transatlantic Partnership Award for Philharmonic

AmCham Transatlantic Partnership Award 

Last night in Berlin, Music Director Alan Gilbert accepted this year's AmCham Germany Transatlantic Partnership Award on behalf of the New York Philharmonic. The award is given annually by the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham) to a person or entity — one American, one German — that has made "significant contributions to the German-American relationship and seeking to support future endeavors," according to AmCham's website. This year's German awardee was the Berlin Philharmonic.

About their choice, AmCham said:

"The jury of AmCham Germany’s Transatlantic Partnership Award has chosen to recognize both orchestras for their outstanding international cultural achievements in and around the metropolitan areas of Berlin and New York. Through the universal language of music and their mutual efforts on both sides of the Atlantic, they build bridges and bring continents together."

The photo shows Gilbert and Sir Simon Rattle, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (holding awards) and, at far right, Executive Director Matthew VanBesien. Between Gilbert and Rattle is Joachim Gauck, President of Germany.

"I’m honored that the New York Philharmonic is being acknowledged in this way, as I fully embrace the belief that music does have a power to speak in a universal language which spans borders, languages, and cultures,” said Gilbert.

Alan Gilbert Back in Germany for Dates in Munich, Hamburg

Alan Gilbert 

Music Director Alan Gilbert is back in Germany. He arrived in Munich on Monday, and he's been rehearsing with the Munich Philharmonic for concerts October 31–November 3. After that, he heads to Hamburg to lead the NDR Symphony November 7–10.

Gilbert led the Berlin Philharmonic September 12–14 in a program of Lutosławski, Janáček, and Bartók. In its review, the Berliner Zeitung wrote:

“The precision of Gilbert’s interpretation as he negotiates moments within the piece as a whole, along with the extent to which he brings out the true essence of the work, is truly impressive. ... The audience, thrilled by the performance, continued to applaud the conductor even as the musicians had already begun to pack up their instruments backstage.”

The Berliner Morgenpost said:

“Guest conducting the Berlin Philharmonic can be such a pleasure, with the approval of the orchestra, that is — and they approve of Alan Gilbert. The musicians trust him completely, and give him total liberty over the work.... [T]he sound that emerges from the expert orchestra is most impressive.”

The Munich concerts feature a program of Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, with Yefim Bronfman, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. Gilbert and Bronfman will perform the concerto in June, during The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival.

"I love conducting in Munich!" Gilbert said:

"There’s something so focused about the way the audience treats the whole musical experience. It’s a special place to perform, and to be able to do Bruckner with the Munich Philharmonic, an orchestra that has done so many wonderful Bruckner performances with, among others, Mehta, Celibidache and Levine, is something I’m looking forward to enormously. This is the second time I’m conducting the orchestra. Our first time together had such a special chemistry that it’s a real shame it has taken so long to have the chance to perform together again."

The Hamburg program consists of Dvorák's Violin Concerto (with Frank Peter Zimmermann) and Gilbert's A Ring Journey, his arrangement, after Erich Leinsdorf, of music by Wagner.

(Photo: Alan Gilbert conducts the Berlin Philharmonic, September 2013, by dpa)

Dortmund and Berlin

The EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour has embarked on its German leg. Emanuel Ax joined the Orchestra for concerts in Dortmund and Berlin, and a quartet of Philharmonic principal players were musical emissaries at the U.S. Ambassador to Germany’s Berlin residence.