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Opening Concert Musikfest Berlin 2023

The 19th edition of Musikfest Berlin will be opened by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Iván Fischer, presenting orchestral songs by Jörg Widmann with Michael Nagy as soloist and Gustav Mahler's Seventh Symphony in the Philharmonie's Great Hall on August 26.

Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam - Gruppenbild Musiker:innen
Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam - Gruppenbild Musiker:innen © Simon van Boxtel

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam feels particularly close to the music of Gustav Mahler, as the composer himself often conducted in Amsterdam. In the opening concert of Musikfest Berlin 2023, the Concertgebouw Orchestra will present Mahler's troubled Seventh Symphony

It will be preceded by orchestral songs by Jörg Widmann, music full of tender reminiscences of Mahler's music and early Romanticism.

Gustav Mahler's contemporary Richard Specht described the "Night Music" of the Seventh Symphony as an "island of dreams". According to Alma Mahler, her husband was thinking of "Eichendorffian visions," "rippling fountains" and "German Romanticism" while composing. The endangered idylls, however, are far from striking postcard romanticism - with their errant scraps of motifs, calling and ("wrongly") answering horns, and eerie nocturnal bird concertos. In Mahler's own words, one hears here at times a "reverberating earth noise sounding from the farthest distance," as if "standing on the highest peak in the face of eternity."

In Berlin, Mahler's Seventh is presented by the brilliant Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam, which had already given the work's Dutch premiere in 1909 under the composer's baton. Iván Fischer, who has been one of the most sought-after orchestra conductors in the world for years, is a proven expert on this music:

A conductor who professedly takes Mahler's "unorthodox instructions," his "bow strokes that seem unusual," and "his instruction to the winds to play with the bell held high" seriously, which is not a matter of course even today. Before the concert break, with baritone Michael Nagy as soloist, Jörg Widmann's "Das heiße Herz" (The Hot Heart) is on the program - a song cycle based, among other things, on the poems from the folk song collection "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" that were so central to Mahler: "radically simple and true texts that strike deep into the heart" (Widmann).

Iván Fischer, Widmann | Mahler

Jörg Widmann (*1973)

The Hot Heart (2013/2018)

Song cycle for baritone and orchestra


Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911)

Symphony No. 7 (1904 - 1906)

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