Orchestral Color

Berlin Color!

On Friday, October 26, 2012 the Berlin Philharmonic performed a concert with works by Benjamin Britten, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Jörg Widmann.

The concert opened with the Passacaglia from ‘Peter Grimes’ by Benjamin Britten. A Viola solo opens this work, and later other orchestra sections join in. There is a lot about colors in this music, and I particularly liked the fact that the viola solo returned at the conclusion of this piece.

The second selection on this concert program was the Violin Concerto by German composer and clarinetist Joerg Widmann. The concerto was written in 2006 and premiered in 2007; The violinist was Christian Tetzlaff, the same violinist who premiered the piece five years ago.

The violin concerto begins with a solo statement by the soloist. This theme reverberates around the orchestra and sets up a core theme from which the rest of the piece seems to emerge. There is almost continuous playing of the violin, which seems to serve as the leader for the orchestral sound and colors that follow.

The other pieces performed by the Berlin Philharmonic were Debussy’s La Mer, and the crowd-pleasing La Valse by Ravel.

For me, this entire concert was about colors in sound: First English color; then German color; and finally French color. All of these showed off the fine playing by the Berlin Philharmonic.

Here is the National Orchestra of France performing Ravel’s La Valse under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at Thaétre des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1975.



Here is conductor Andris Nelsons on…Debussy’s La mer:



Finally, here’s Debussy’s La Mer, with conductor Claudio Abbado



Tags: La Mer, La Valse, Debussy, Ravel, Jörg Widmann, violin concerto, Tetzlaff

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