Simon Rattle

Introduction

Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. 


For some years Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, in 1980 he became Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, stepping up to  Music Director from September 1990 until August 1998.  He is also Founding Patron of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and since the early 1990s, has been a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  As guest conductor, he appeared regularly in the United States, London and Europe, with close links to a number of orchestras most notably with the Vienna Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras.

In September 2002 he became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Music Director of the Osterfestspiele Salzburg, where staged productions have included ‘Cosi’, ‘Peter Grimes’ and ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ and 'Der Ring des Nibelungen'.  He leads regular Berliner Philharmoniker tours in Europe, North America and the Far East and has recently conducted the complete Ring Cycle for the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Easter Festivals.  Forthcoming opera also includes Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
 
For an up-to-date biography please contact Imogen Lewis Holland.

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Media Player

Video

  • HOLST
    The Planets

Schedule

Festspielhaus , Baden Baden

BJO /BJB/ SIR SIMON RATTLE / MEMBERS OF BERLIN PHIL

ZIMMERMANN Alagoana (Alexander)
DUKAS L'Apprenti sorcier (Alexander)
HAYDN Symphony No 30 (Alexander)
WAGNER Tristan und Isoldes Liebestod (Sir Simon Rattle, BJO and members of the Berlin Philharmonic)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska

Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska

Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska

Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska

Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska

Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House: Dialogues des Carmélites

POULENC: Dialogues des Carmélites

Blanche,
Constance, Anna Prohaska
Madame Lidoine, Emma Bell
Mère Marie, Sophie Koch
Madame de Croissy, Deborah Polaski
Marquis de la Force, Thomas Allen
Chevalier de la Force, Yann Beuron
Mother Jeanne, Elizabeth Sikora
Sister Mathilde, Catherine Carby
Father Confessor, Alan Oke

Conductor, Simon Rattle
Director, Robert Carsen
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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NEWS

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra come to London to perform Sibelius

Sir Simon Rattle and the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra are coming to London once again to perform a full 'Sibelius Cycle' including the beautiful Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos, alongside works of Mahler and Lachenmann.

Read the article on the Guardian website for more details

Click here to read Spanish interview in El Pais, 30 July 2011


Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: Shake, rattle and roll
Arguably the world's greatest orchestra is coming to London, and with Simon Rattle, an English conductor. Ivan Hewett tries to get to the root of the Berlin mystique.
Ivan Hewett / Daily Telegraph / 15 February 2011
To read full article, click here

Berlin Philharmonic: Taming the wild orchestral beast
Lianne Turner and Susannah Palk for CNN / 28 February 2011
To read full article, click here 

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Press

Puccini

Manon Lescaut

Berlin Philharmonic/Festspielhaus Baden Baden

Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon perform Puccini's Manon Lescaut at Baden Baden


'The true protagonist of the evening is Simon Rattle...Where Puccini's score is the hardest , Rattle and his troupe are best: in the bustling Amien's picture , or even at the end of Act 2 , when Lescaut rushes to tell his sister that the police are approaching... It is virtuosic, symphonic like the tone poems of Richard Strauss.  The Berlin Philharmonic let these passages sparkle in a thousand colours, like a cut diamond. Technically brilliant' 


To read the article full, follow the link below:


Frederik Hanssen, Der Tagesspiegel
'Sir Simon Rattle motivated the singers with exceptional colours and musical intensity inspired by the Berliner Philharmoniker - both Final Acts are incredibly gripping... (Rattle) lights up the intermezzo 'The trip to le Havre' (here as a prelude after the second break), reflects the prisoners and the despair of Des Grieux in sharp dissonances, and finally the hopelessness and end of the two lovers without overblown sentimentality in pure, expressive sound.'

To read the article in full, follow the link below:

Dietholf Zerweck, Esslinger Zeitung
'Strong emotions, grand opera, spacious setting, and above all, great music. Whoever automatically categorises Italian opera into the "kitsch corner" will be disappointed with this most pleasant way to kick off the Easter Festival at Festspielhaus. Simon Rattle takes his Puccini seriously. He leaves "Manon Lescaut" fresh with a new sound - with major theatrical clout as well as a highly emotional soundscapes. Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic throws a passionate look at the music with echoes of Wagner and Verdi and above all, the music of Puccini is pure, far away from sugary sweetness, but refined to the smallest detail. The grandiose prelude to the third act shows how exciting - and most of all enjoyable - it can be to hear the Berlin Philharmonic play opera.'

To read the article in full, follow the link below:

Sandra Pfäfflin, Pforzheimer Zeitung

Haas/Debussy

'dark dreams' and 'La Mer'

Berlin Philharmonic

...The orchestra gave an excellent performance of a very good piece of music, which was particularly vivid in the theater-in-the-round
architecture of the Philharmonie and was brilliantly programmed just before Debussy’s “La Mer.” The two works have nearly identical orchestral forces, and the opening of the Debussy — involving two harps, quivering scales in the strings and a timpani roll — is like a 30-second summary of “dark dreams.”

“La Mer,” too, involves a delicate balance between true power and mere garishness. Mr. Rattle avoided the latter by conducting the work with a feverish edge and abrupt bendings of the tempo that kept it sounding unexpected and fresh. He emphasized the same intensity in Brahms’s Third Symphony, which opened the concert: The end of the first movement was a burst of released tension, and even the noble pastoral of the Andante had raw emotion.

I have never heard an effect quite like the vocal quality Mr. Rattle drew from the strings in the exhalations near the end of “La Mer.” It was, simply, as if an invisible choir were singing from the orchestra: astonishing. The passage is marked “calmer and very expressive,” but this was deeper than that, a peace which passeth understanding.

Written by Zachary Woolfe

Click on the URL below to read the article in full:

NY Times, Zachary Woolfe


....................................................................................................................

Sir Simon Rattle’s tenure at the Berlin Philharmonic will soon draw to an end. Who will be his successor, and where will he end up? It is too soon to say; but we should be grateful for the long period of goodbye because it gives us a chance to relish this Rolls Royce team for the short period that we’ll still have them together, and know that when he goes we will have lost something special. Hearing them in the Philharmonie (it’s their 50th anniversary in the hall this season) is a real privilege. They sound like a partnership that is entirely in step with one another, and they worked a special magic on everything they played.

For sheer excitement, this was the finest Brahms I’ve ever heard. Rattle kept the first movement moving forward with an unarguable sense of momentum so that everything felt just right, and the finale had a real harum-scarum sense of urgency to it. It was never just display for its own sake, however: behind the energy lay some tremendously exciting musicianship. Right from that opening fanfare, for example, the strings tore down the arpeggio that opens the main theme, but as soon as that phrase was completed Rattle drew them back, always holding something in reserve for later. That “later” came at the start of the coda, where that same violin theme was
let loose with a fantastic sense of urgency that made the scalp prickle. Here was the work of a true musical architect doing his best with his home team on their home turf. That Berlin sound, so clear and so bright, felt as though they were putting Brahms under a microscope, showing up every glinting detail in the most precise manner. That wasn’t at the expense of subtlety, however: other moments, such as the clarinet themes of both the first and second movements, moved with thoughtfulness and, in the Andante, magical beauty. The cellos, so important to this symphony’s tonal colour, surged with the pulsing, urgent quality for which the Berliners are so famous. They were the particular beneficiaries of Rattle’s use of vibrato, unafraid to embrace it so that it pulsed
through the sound like blood through veins, lending energy to that chocolatey, mahogany string sound that is the
orchestra’s own.

The brilliant sheen of the string sound made this Brahms special, and the same qualities were apparent in La Mer, too. While listening to this, though, it was the sheer precision of the playing that struck me. The Berliners weren’t particularly renowned for their French repertoire before Rattle arrived with them (Abbado didn’t do much of it, and Karajan’s French recordings with the BPO have been accused of being too lax and indulgent). But he has turned them into a top-class band for Debussy and Ravel. His recordings attest to this too, but tonight’s playing simply sparkled all the way through. Every facet of Debussy’s kaleidoscopic score seemed to glint like a diamond being held up to the light, be it the harp chords, the meandering violins or the turbulent basses. There was never a hint
of Karajanish gloop: instead this playing was precise enough to sound improvised, perhaps the highest compliment you can pay a Debussy orchestra, and nowhere more thrilling than when the brass brought the first movement to its climax. The highlight, though, was the astoundingly present shimmer on the high violins when the oboe solo reappears towards the end of the third movement, leading to the final wash of string tone that brings the music home.

The curiosity on the programme was the world premiere of George Friedrich Haas’ dark dreams. Rattle has championed Haas’ music during his time in Berlin, and a Philharmonie premiere is just about the highest compliment that can be paid to a contemporary composer. Haas didn’t let them down. Dark dreams is an enormously atmospheric work, full of suggestion, brilliant colour and also plenty of melody. Haas is keen on experimenting with quarter-tones (half the size of a normal semi-tone), and the quarter-tone trilling that began the work sounded like something from a horror film, appropriate enough considering the composer’s preoccupation with the night. The trilling swells and recedes like waves before some clarity emerges on the high brass, and the whole orchestra then begins to swing between two notes like a pendulum. An upward spiral of sound then emerges from the double basses and comes to be shared by the whole orchestra, climaxing in brilliant use of gongs and bells. Haas’ main technique is to introduce an idea for a small section and then build it up to ring out on the whole orchestra, and I found it very effective indeed, especially its conclusion, a doleful solo played first by the contrabassoon, then double bass and then tuba. How rare it is to hear those instruments get their moment in the sun! With its wave-like structure, and even a part for a rain-stick, it’s not a bad choice of companion piece for La Mer, and with an orchestra of magicians like this, it’s hard to imagine it sounding better.

This concert was relayed live via the Digital Concert Hall and can be viewed online.
Simon Thompson
seenandheard-international.com

Simon Thompson/Seenandheard-international

Prokofiev/Bartók

Lang Lang/Rattle: Prokofiev/Bartók

Berlin Philharmonic

THE TIMES

Lang Lang/Rattle: Prokofiev/Bartók 
(Sony Classical) 
★★★★☆

It’s hard to imagine two pianists more contrasted than Lang Lang and András Schiff. One is a global phenomenon, captured in 19 colour images in his new album’s typically glossy packaging. Schiff, meanwhile, is a favourite of connoisseurs; for him, one grainy black-and-white picture suffices. It’s hard to imagine them sharing a recital, even shaking hands. Happily, both these releases find them close to their best, and in well-suited repertoire.

As with his clothes and wristwatch, Lang Lang surrounds himself with nothing but the best. The orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic with Simon Rattle conducting, and their tone at the start of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 2 is ravishing. Possibly too much so: this is a performance that glides by, impeccably beautiful and fleet, yet a trifle short of character. Still, Lang Lang’s easy virtuosity is delicious; so is the absence of keyboard thumping.

Bartók’s Third Concerto balances things out. Orchestral niceties are finer still — try the second movement’s diaphanous night music — but this time they don’t seem de trop. The music making also offers genuine bite, whether from Lang Lang’s fingers or the bracing snarl of the Berlin brass. More penetrating accounts of both works may exist, but this album comes top for sonic splendour.


http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/music/albumreviews/article3909754.ece

Recordings

Simon Rattle: A Portrait

Janet Baker
Arleen Augér
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker + Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
EMI

The Second Viennese School

Berg, Schönberg, Webern

Kremer
Augér
Bryn-Julson
Mattila
Sofie von Otter
Moser
Langridge
Quasthoff
Rundfunkchor Berlin, MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Ernst Sennf Chor, Berliner Philharmoniker + City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
EMI

Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Christine Brewer
Soile Isokoski
Juliane Banse
Birgit Remmert
Jane Henschel
Jon Villars
David Wilson-Johnson
John Relyea
London Symphony Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus + Toronto Children's Chorus
EMI