Simon Rattle


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

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 appears 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 where he leads regular tours in Europe, North America and the Far East and has recently conducted in Lucerne, Salzburg and London's BBC Proms.  His most recent opera includes the Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper,  the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

From 2017, Simon will take up the position of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

For an up-to-date biography please contact Imogen Lewis Holland.

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Media Player


    LSO Live: Das Paradies und die Peri


Philharmonie Berlin, BERLIN

RAVEL Trois Poemes de Stephane Mallarme for voice and chamber music ensemble
BERIO Sequenza III for female voice
BERIO Laborintus II for voice, instruments and tape


Orchestra Academy members of the Berliner Philharmoniker

Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, BADEN-BADEN


Berliner Philharmoniker

Tosca: Kristine Opolais
Scarpia: Evgeny Nikitin
Spoletta: Peter Tantsits
Sciarrone: Douglas Williams
Schliesser: Walter Fink

Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, BADEN-BADEN


Berliner Philharmoniker

Tosca: Kristine Opolais
Scarpia: Evgeny Nikitin
Spoletta: Peter Tantsits
Sciarrone: Douglas Williams
Schliesser: Walter Fink

Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, BADEN-BADEN


Berliner Philharmoniker

Tosca: Kristine Opolais
Scarpia: Evgeny Nikitin
Spoletta: Peter Tantsits
Sciarrone: Douglas Williams
Schliesser: Walter Fink

Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, BADEN-BADEN


Berliner Philharmoniker

Tosca: Kristine Opolais
Scarpia: Evgeny Nikitin
Spoletta: Peter Tantsits
Sciarrone: Douglas Williams
Schliesser: Walter Fink

Philharmonie Berlin, BERLIN


Berliner Philharmoniker

Tosca: Kristine Opolais
Scarpia: Evgeny Nikitin
Spoletta: Peter Tantsits
Sciarrone: Douglas Williams
Schliesser: Walter Fink

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Simon Rattle: 17th January 2017: LSO: Announcement of Future Plans

There will be a 10 day celebration to mark Sir Simon's inaugural season as the LSO's Music Director and Artist-in-Association with the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music and Drama 14th-24th September 2017:

The celebration will include:

5 evening concerts with the LSO and Sir Simon
Inaugural programme with works by Ades, Birtwistle, Knussen, Elgar and the world premiere by Helen Grime, commissioned by the Barbican
Ades, Birtwistle, Knussen and Grime curate four concerts at Milton Court
Concert relayed live to Barbican Sculpture Court, bringing silent disco technology to classical music for the first time

Simon Rattle: The Maestro With the Busy Baton

"...a snapshot of a remarkable autumn in which Mr. Rattle has, to no small extent, defined New York’s classical music scene. He has led some of the city’s grandest events, opening the Metropolitan Opera’s season conducting an acclaimed production of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in Mahler’s grandly despairing Sixth Symphony at Carnegie Hall. He worked with Ensemble Connect on that “Winterreise,” and showed support for the city’s musical community by conducting a memorial concert at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in honor of John Scott, its organist and choirmaster, who died unexpectedly last year.

He returns to Carnegie on Wednesday and Thursday to conduct what he expects will be his last New York concerts with the revered Berlin Philharmonic. Mr. Rattle, who has been the orchestra’s chief conductor since 2002, will step down in 2018, shortly after he takes up his new post as the music director of the London Symphony Orchestra."

Click here to read the full story
Michael Cooper/NY Times

Sir Simon Rattle takes up the position of Music Director at the London Symphony Orchestra from September 2017

Sir Simon Rattle has said of the appointment, “During my work with the LSO over the last years, I noticed that despite the Orchestra’s long and illustrious history, they almost never refer to it. Instead, refreshingly, they talk about the future, what can they make anew, what can they improve, how can they reach further into the community. In terms of musical excellence, it is clear that the sky's the limit, but equally important, in terms of philosophy, they constantly strive to be a twenty-first century orchestra. We share a dream in which performing, teaching and learning are indivisible, with wider dissemination of our art at its centre. I cannot imagine a better or more inspiring way to spend my next years, and feel immensely fortunate to have the LSO as my musical family and co-conspirators.”

Click here to be directed to the LSO news page and press release

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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Le Grand Macabre London January 2017

London Symphony Orchestra/The Barbican

"Scattergun as the opera’s humour appears, the stunning virtuosity of the score was all the more effective for the taut, disciplined delivery by the LSO under Rattle."

Barry Millington/The Evening Standard
"...shut your eyes and explore the crazy flea-market of the music, conjured up by Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra with masterly grace and virtuosity."

Rupert Christiansen/The Telegraph
"Both Ligeti and Rattle rise to the Great Day (or Midnight) of Destruction, director and conductor between them making full use of Barbican spaces for the big rattle-bag processional that unfolds against a ground-bass distortion of the pizzicato theme in Beethoven's Eroica finale."

David Nice/The Arts Desk
"Musically, though, the performance under Rattle is superb. From the opening toccata played on car horns which parodies the canzona from Monteverdi’s Orfeo, to the radiant passacaglia that supports the final scene, everything in Ligeti’s score is heard more vividly than it could ever be in an opera house, and the playing of the LSO is astoundingly good."

Andrew Clements/The Guardian
"His score is a wacky hotchpotch of motor horns, sirens, quacking ducks, clocks, baleful brass blasts, eerie polyphonies, allusions to Beethoven, Offenbach and Monteverdi, and vast note-clusters that lift the ending into a cosmic realm after so many sardonic sendups. All this was delivered with razor-sharp precision and unflagging zest by the London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle’s incisive direction."

Richard Morrison/The Times

Boulez Eclat / Mahler Symphony No.7 / Webern 6 pieces

Berliner Philharmoniker USA Tour 2016

Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall Boston, Ann Arbor, Roy Thomson Hall Toronto, Walt Disney Hall LA, Davies Symphony Hall San Francisco

"With Rattle and Berlin players, the performance was more colorful and also more emotional, the music stabbed out in scattered phrases and gestures."

"The fervor and impetuosity of that interpretation was evident Wednesday night, with the substantial benefit of being channeled through the glorious Berliners. This was orchestral playing at its absolute finest. The dark, velvety strings produced enough volume on their own to fill the hall, and their plushness was a superb complement to the opening tenor horn solo. This solo normally overpowers the rest of the orchestra, but Wednesday night the instrument’s great body of sound blended in a true ensemble, deepening the music’s impact."

"Rattle’s attention to the judicious detail produced delights like a tango feeling in the pizzicato bass part of the second “Nachtmusik.”"

George Grella/New York Classical Review
" Sir Simon led a bracing performance (of Éclat) without the help of a conductor’s score, as he would the concert’s following music. What stands out are his utterly clear indications and full command of this score."

"Rattle’s approach to the Mahler seventh surprised and delighted me...what Rattle and the BPO brought to their reading was an unsurpassed clarity and exposition of inner detail of which I’ve never heard the like.  How their individual expositions of their instrumental parts were shaped, coaxed, and formed by Rattle was the evening’s particular revelation to me."

"So it’s safe to say that Rattle and the BPO are truly of one mind by now across this broad landscape."
"A word about this ensemble: it is unique."

John Ehrlich/Classical Scene
"Again and again, Rattle charged up the space between the notes with energetic stillness, then released it with a sudden cue and a spark of sound. The playing had purpose and polish throughout. “Éclat” cogently resonated."

"The Boulez expressively held its breath; the Mahler barely paused for it. Harmonically volatile, rhythmically mercurial, the Seventh seems forever trying to be more pieces of music than it is. Conductor and orchestra reveled in the multiplicity. Rattle’s pacing was broad enough to let Mahler’s dense counterpoint tangle without letting the thicket impede the journey. The ensemble, practically swamping the stage, leveraged its deep, layered sound into a cauldron of swirling color."

"Only considerable virtuosity from podium and players ensured that every mood immediately registered, every phrase immediately sang, every rhythmic jump-cut immediately locked into place."

Matthew Guerrieri/Boston Globe
"Webern’s Six Pieces are famously terse giants. The composer plucks sounds from a massive orchestra and gives each thought a single exhalation, nothing more. Cough, and a climax has sped by. Rattle made the score sound at once expansive and intimate, rendering a vast emotional panorama in close-up whispered detail. Threads of melancholy, terror, joy, and wistfulness were wound so tightly together that there was almost no time to register one before moving on to the next."

"In each of these moments, Rattle and the orchestra showed us the blackness behind the notes, an emptiness made more infinite by bright shards of beauty."

The Davidson
"In Rattle’s hands the result, while calculated and precise, was filled with curious life. Gestures became conversations of sentences which combined into paragraphs, and then chapters that remained open and unfinished."

"Much of the astonishing agility was due to Rattle’s simple and direct manner. While many lesser conductors will cue everyone and everything, including the oboist’s mother, Rattle moved with singular purpose. His vision seemed complete long before he walked out onstage; its execution inevitable: something you could count on."

"The Philharmonic’s Mahler was a tale told for the first time. Each climax was fresh and organic and left no sense of what was coming next. The movements were six different behemoths and Rattle left the last movement, and most
awesome, as a life-asserting pageant of herculean thrust and ecstasy."

The Toronto Star/Michael Vincent
"Rattle, who has brought the orchestra to the hall (Symphony Hall, Boston) three times before in his tenure as musical
director, exhibited the rapport that only a great conductor can have with a world-class orchestra."

"Conducting the Mahler (along with the brief Pierre Boulez piece "Éclat," that preceded it) from memory, he guided the ensemble with pin-point precision and they responded with an on-point performance that brought goosebumps during the piece's numerous climaxes and a sense of wonder during its more lyrical moments."

"In doing so he brought clarity to the symphony's organic design, which moves from a stormy opening to a joyous
finale, two longer movements that bookend three smaller-scaled ones (two of which named "Nachtmusik.") Each
were distinctively rendered - the second, stately but mysterious; the third, a bit sinister (it would be perfect for a
horror film), and the fourth, effusively sentimental. The rollicking finale is perhaps the most effusive music Mahler
ever wrote, and Rattle conducted it at a furious if exacting pace."

Boston Edge/Robert Nesti
"In the first movement Rattle conjured a cloud of dark sonorities from the low strings and winds. The tenor horn solo cut through like a knife. The blustery march that makes up this movement is a barking and at times sarcastic one that seems to look forward to Shostakovich. Its passages were drawn out in paragraphs of sound as Rattle took listeners inside the piece.
The soft sections were particularly intimate. The second and fourth movements are labeled “Nachtmusik.” The burbling wind figures of the former created an effervescent texture, and Rattle coaxed a forest of sounds that ranged from radiant horn calls, shimmering strings, and dusky basses. They are a picturesque walk through the night, full of sweeping melodies and soft colors. Rattle and the orchestra gave readings of delicate grace."

"The finale culminated in phrases of glorious sound, with trumpets sounding round and full in the main theme. The inner sections of this movement sparkled with clarity, and when the principal theme returned, Rattle and the orchestra highlighted its transformation. Sometimes it was bold and brassy, in others broad and sweeping. At piece’s end the theme broke into bright fanfares, which brought the symphony to a rousing conclusion. For Rattle, it was the beginning of a grand farewell."

Boston Classical Review/Aaron Keebaugh
"Most of the credit for this, one assumes, must go to Rattle and his decade-and-a-half tenure with the orchestra, now coming to an end. Rattle has the ability to see through a score, to X-ray it to find hidden structural principles that help guide him to a perfectly logical, seamless, yet passionate reading of the music he plays. And nowhere was this more evident than in his performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, which was the main work on the program Tuesday night."

"Rattle did the impossible – he made it all make musical sense. And he did so, to my ear, by underplaying the contrasts so endemic to Mahler’s musical palette, by forcing us and his musicians to consider the long game, the through line of emotion and musical logic that underlies all of Mahler’s complex, gargantuan musical thinking."

"Rattle took Mahler out of the picture by presenting us not him, but his music. He did so through sheer intellectual willpower, by helping us hear connections in the score, balancing moments from movement to movement, illuminating an overall shape. And he was aided in this by superb playing from his team – whether it be from individual wind and brass players with a note here, or a soaring phrase there, or a perfectly balanced string section, or a percussion complement
that could pound it out when necessary, but hold back when needed. The result, from 80 minutes of clarity, logic and transparency, was an emotional experience that was the opposite –liberating, joyous, ecstatic."

Toronto Globe and Mail/Robert Harris
"Rattle got everything he asked for in these performances, and he asked for a lot, from the extremes of ferocity to those of finesse. The orchestra is renowned for its discipline. Rattle also expects the opposite — a display of spontaneity and personality from his players that can bring with it a harshness of attack and climaxes that become overwhelming."

"As a custodian of the Berlin character and quality, Rattle has done the essential job. As mover and shaker, Rattle has made what is probably still the world's greatest orchestra also the Old World's most important one."

Mark Swed/LA Times
"Rattle and the orchestra brought a sense of warm spaciousness to Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. Now leading without a score, Rattle used both hands (often without a baton) to shape sounds in Segerstrom Hall’s enveloping acoustics. His tempos varied
from gentleness to urgency and the orchestra’s playing throughout was mesmerizing."

Orange County Register/Robert D Thomas

Mahler 6

Philadelphia Orchestra

“Simon Rattle led it (the Philadelphia Orchestra) in a stunning account of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony here at Verizon Hall.”

“As for the Sixth, Mr. Rattle showed complete command on Thursday, conducting from memory. The performance was most notable for its sheer beauty.”

“Mr. Rattle’s order, together with the tautness and ravishing quality of the performance, emphasized Classicism to fine effect.”


NY Times/James R. Oestreich


Tristan and Isolde

The Metropolitan Opera

"Mr. Rattle’s performance of Wagner’s monumental score, some four hours of music, impressively balanced clarity and richness, coolness and intensity, intelligence and impetuosity.  Mr. Rattle also brought uncanny transparency to the contrapuntal lines that mingle continuously in the music. Climactic passages crested with sound, and dramatic episodes generated plenty of heat.”

NY Times/Anthony Tommasini

“Rattle decided on a second act cut that reduces the love duet by about 10 minutes to half an hour.  The previous staging by Dieter Dorn that was used from 1999-2008 was always performed uncut by James Levine and Daniel Barenboim.  Rattle said last week ‘I’ve been begging the orchestra to be more like chiffon than wool’ and after a pulsating, glistening rendition he was greeted by overwhelming cheers and applause.”

Washington Post/Ronald Blum

Andersen, Dvorak + Brahms

Incantesimi, Slavonic Dances + Symphony no.2

Royal Albert Hall

"As expansive and romantic as Furtwängler, Rattle found depths of dark passion in the first three movements that this apparently sunny work is rarely credited with secreting. And the finale was super-fast, super-pianissimo and then super-hell-for-leather exuberant, with brazen virtuosity cascading from every corner."

Richard Morrison/The Times
"He (Simon Rattle) and his orchestra...were exhilarating and revelatory at every turn, making a compelling case for Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi in its UK première and, at times in the Brahms, literally suspending the hall’s collective breath."

"Rattle dispensed with a score for the remainder of the evening, conducting the Dvořák and Brahms with meticulous detail and elsewhere with just a gentle hand on the tiller."

"I cannot recall ever having heard an account of Brahms' Second Symphony as thrilling and yet sonically refined as tonight’s. The overwhelming sense of joy at the end of the symphony boiled over into an eruption of applause even as the last affirmation of D major blazed from the stage."

"The last moments, heralded by those blistering descending trombone lines, were perfection."

Rohan Shotton/Bachtrack
"But if the Anderson gave us the Berlin Philharmonic as spinners of an endless melodic tales, the Dvořák that followed was all about rhythm. These eight orchestra miniatures can so easily sound like a sequence of aphorisms – shiny, witty nuggets that dissolve almost immediately in the ear. With Rattle shaping the set, however, we got something much closer to a suite with a guiding emotional arc, finding pause and contemplation as well as helter-skelter thrills."

"The plush beauty of sound summoned by this orchestra in full spate never fails to startle, and when this sonic richness is rubbed up against sharp-edged cross-rhythms the effect is giddily exciting. This was music-making both impulsive and crafted – art music with dirty boots."

"Rattle gave us a symphony (Brahms no.2) at war with itself, constantly torn between two paths, two instincts. The flexibility of tempo, constantly shifting albeit ever so slightly, discouraged resolution or complacency, reminding us that even the most glorious of summer afternoons cannot last."

Alexandra Coghlan/The Arts Desk

Boulez + Mahler

'Eclat' + Symphony no.7

Royal Albert Hall

"No one has ever gone, or is ever likely to go, deeper in the creation of subtle perspectives than Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic."

"From the first Nachtmusik ("Night-music") onwards, miracles of sound abounded. Rattle drew a uniquely veiled, mysterious colouring from the horns' supernatural night processional, applauded by bow-on-wood second violins, and the wailing, klezmer-inflected and oboe-led woodwind in the trio subtly broke the heart."

David Nice/The Arts Desk
"After a sunburst of energy on the piano, the piece (Boulez's 'Eclat') unfolded in alternating silences and bursts of activity, Rattle’s imperious forefinger causing sudden volleys of piano and vibraphone to break the gathering tension. The trick is to make the piece seem both relaxed and potentially dangerous, like a cat waiting at a mouse-hole, and Rattle and the players got it just right."

"It seemed by the end (Mahler's Symphony no.7) that everyone had had a chance to shine – including Rattle himself, who made the electrifying contrasts of the last movement so extreme they felt like a hallucination."
Ivan Hewett/The Telegraph
"The Berliner Philharmoniker led off in ravishing brass colours that punched the air with exalted penetration before softening to an equally glorious restraint. Thereafter, with dynamics that turned on a sixpence and tempo choices to surprise the most seasoned Rattle aficionado, the near-80-minute symphony held together as persuasively as I’ve heard it."

"The BPO never shed its beauty, even at volume. And wherever Mahler posed a problem, Rattle had a solution. He brought warmth to the first Nachtmusik where other conductors might keep things cool, a choice that brought the night alive with mystery."

Mark Valencia/Bachtrack
"The Mahler was also brilliantly championed, yet the interpretation’s very flamboyance only underlined the symphony’s baffling non-sequiturs, ending with the “triumphant” finale that seems as debunked by irony as Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony."

Richard Morrison/The Times
"The Berlin Philharmonic played it superbly – the brass in particular, following the lead of the tenor horn, which drags the opening movements out of the depths, were faultlessly secure."
"Before the symphony, Rattle had placed a jewel-like account of Boulez’s Éclat, from 1965, whose soundworld of decaying percussion resonances interspersed with flurries of hyperactivity..." 

Andrew Clements/The Guardian

Peter Maxwell Davies + Berlioz

'The Hogboon' + Symphonie Fantastique

Barbican/London Symphony Orchestra

"It was remarkable how Rattle and his diverse forces achieved near flawless ensemble, with extraordinary finesse to the string tone, exceptional energy in the brass and striking vitality from the woodwind."

George Hall/The Guardian
"Rattle led a lively performance, directed for the stage by Karen Gillingham, with an able cast led by confident young Sebastian Exall as pint-sized hero Magnus."
"...for an old Rattle favourite: Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, brilliantly played and characterised."

Richard Fairman/The FT
"The Hogboon was Max’s last major work before he died earlier this year, and — as unleashed by Simon Rattle, the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Guildhall School Singers and Symphony Orchestra and the children of the LSO Discovery Choirs — it’s poignant, uproarious and a marvellous testament to Max’s vision of music as an essential creative force."
"As if that wasn’t enough excitement, however, after the interval Rattle tamed another monster: Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, in which the LSO was joined by Guildhall players for a plus-size performance.Rattle brought a lean, keen edge to music that’s too often treated as a series of lurid postcards, and in doing so ratcheted up the tension to thrilling heights. In a word, fantastique."

Neil Fischer/The Times
"..his (Simon Rattle's) sharing of skills and inspiration made for a viscerally exciting Berlioz Symphonie fantastique in the second half, the LSO boosted by more than 30 Guildhall students. Having given a riveting masterclass in giant-scale chamber music, Rattle unleashed his forces in a Witches' Sabbath of roof-raising energy. For those children who stayed, an unforgettable night with the orchestra."

The Arts Desk/Helen Wallace
"Rattle on the podium simply melded into this crowded vision and somehow kept everyone singing and playing from the same sheet." Jasper Rees/The Telegraph

Brucker + Rott

Symphony no. 6 + 'Scherzo' from Symphony no.1

Royal Festival Hall/OAE

"Eight double basses lined the back of the stage, presiding over the super-sized period-instrument orchestra. They were the music’s beating heart; its guiding spirit was Simon Rattle, one of the OAE’s principal artists, completely at ease as he conducted from memory and on inspired, galvanising form."

"...musically it was utterly compelling. Rattle and the OAE found in the Brahms the ideal blend of beauty and restless energy, with incisive strings and mellow trombones and horns. If you’ve never heard any Rott — it’s rarely programmed — just think Mahler and you’ve got the idea. In this rustic ländler-like scherzo, there were hunting-call horns, folky violin solos and an anxiety-inducing triangle. The OAE got it exactly."

"And so to the main event: Bruckner’s Cinderella symphony. Rattle allowed the music to ebb and flow with natural feeling. Most remarkable of all was the long Adagio, played with unforgettable intensity and finding a rare serenity."

The Times/Rebecca Franks
"It (Brahms' Tragic Overture) has a beautifully ruminative, nostalgic episode, especially telling here because one could sense the underlying fury of the beginning would come back at any moment. Relishing the moment while allowing us to feel the pull of the future is one of the gifts of a great conductor, which Rattle has in spades."

The Telegraph/Ivan Hewett
"On stage with them (the OAE), Rattle seems to unleash a pack of orchestral animals whose blood is up"

"The Brahms was both impulsive and implacable, spinning between the two sides of tragedy’s coin...

A Berlin-style weight of sound lies behind Rattle’s patient approach to the composer, cultivated from Nikisch to Furtwängler to Karajan to Abbado. Space and time was given to Bruckner’s surprising twist back to the pathos of the Adagio. When the first movement’s main theme finally returned, it did so not as a brusque sign-off, but in richly deserved triumph."

The Arts Desk/Peter Quantrill


The Seasons

Barbican/London Symphony Orchestra

"It’s a work that suits Rattle, with his fondness for drive and detail, uncommonly well. It’s easy to forget the experimental nature of Haydn’s music, but here it was impossible to escape the novelty of effect within the cumulative span of the whole. Fine articulation from the London Symphony Orchestra’s strings and wind brought out a myriad details as frogs croaked and crickets sang. There was wit and humour throughout, but also great majesty as pealing brass suggested the grandeur of God revealed in creation." 

"And the whirling wine harvest waltz – Rattle took it at an almost daunting speed – was glorious in its detail and elation."

The Guardian/Tim Ashley
"This performance of Haydn’s The Seasons opened with hard-stick timpani, lean sound and sharp attack. Anybody with their eyes closed could have sworn it was a period orchestra. "
"Rattle has always relished the old master’s rude sense of humour and the down-to-earth conviviality of the man.  Rattle has lost none of his youthful enjoyment of the music and Haydn’s pictorial effects — did the cock ever crow with more rasping joy? — were played up wittily."

The Financial Times/Richard Fairman
"It was the relaxed charm that breathed most strongly from this performance, for which Rattle pared down the strings and carefully spotlit the other instruments' more dramatic incursions."

"Overall, Rattle convincingly drew out the complexities of Haydn's eclectic blend of styles that look back to Mozart's Magic Flute but, in the vigour of the scene-painting, also look ahead to Beethoven's Pastoral."

The Times/Neil Fischer
"Haydn’s work, of course, rises above the text and forms one of the greatest of all oratorios, allowing The London Symphony Orchestra to shine in every department, commandingly overseen by Sir Simon Rattle, whose love for the piece was evident in every bar."

"There was so much outstanding work from the LSO that it seems unfair not to name every section, but there was particularly fine playing
from the oboes, bassoons and trombones. The presence of Sir Simon ensured a full house."

Music OMH/Melanie Eskenazi

Messaien + Bruckner

Couleurs de la Cité Céleste + Symphony no.8

Barbican/London Symphony Orchestra

"Rattle’s ear for balance and clarity makes him an ideal Messiaen conductor. Under his attentive direction, the LSO percussion and wind players delivered the full sonic spectrum of the composer’s visionary Couleurs de la Cité Céleste, with the Messiaen specialist Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing the work’s glittering piano part."

"When one first hears this work, the soundscape normally makes the greatest impact. In Rattle’s account, though, the unifying roots in plainsong and ritual were just as imposing."

"Rattle absolutely grasps the sense of personal and tonal struggle that is fundamental to this symphony (Bruckner 8). The tendency to quickness, which was even present in the great adagio, gave the performance a dimension of desperation that one does not often get from a more reverentially anguished Brucknerian approach."

The Guardian/Martin Kettle
"There’s far more to Bruckner than his devout, naïve image suggests. Rattle delivered the huge waves of humanity that surge through this score while achieving a level of intensity both subtly graded and consistently maintained."

"In Rattle’s hands the harps of the Scherzo’s trio sounded less celestial than life-affirming, while the Adagio moved with hard-won conviction in a huge arc from its opening of Mahlerian angst and heavenward aspiration to a sense of spiritual confidence."

"As with the preceding movements, every bar of the finale was stamped with both urgency and gravity, blazing to a stirring peroration. The players of the LSO covered themselves with glory, as they had done with the preceding performance of Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité Céleste."

"...what Rattle and his players did offer was bright, incisive articulation, razor-sharp precision and exuberant brass evoking the seven angels with seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation vision that inspired the composer."

The Evening Standard/Barry Millington
"Last and most imposing of Bruckner’s completed symphonies, the Eighth invites and frequently receives architectural comparisons. Such talk of pillars and cathedrals could only be wide of the mark in the wake of this unconventional, beautifully prepared and deeply humane performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and their principal conductor designate, Sir Simon Rattle."

"The tempi were flexible, so that one episode eased into the next and although the pulse often changed, the harmonic undertow remained strong and steady. So did the narrative coherence of a piece which is often heard in terms of imposing but essentially static blocks placed beside one another for contrast more than continuity."

"Evidently rehearsed and run in after concerts in Luxembourg and Paris, there was much truly quiet playing to treasure – the first movement expired like a guttering flame – but more pertinently the distinction between forte and fortissimo always meant something. Never once blasting or blaring, this was a Bruckner performance for the unconverted."

The Arts Desk/Peter Quantrill
"The mosaic-like Couleurs de la cité céleste, for solo piano, winds and percussion, is not an easy piece to love. But Rattle knows how to make it work: by indulging its extremes...every transition to stillness and grandeur came as more of a shock; Rattle negotiated them with precision."

"...we heard the eighth symphony, probably the most monumental of them all, in a performance showcasing Rattle’s trademarks: roaring climaxes, perfectly balanced brass, sumptuous lower strings."

" squeezing out every shred of warmth, Rattle gave us something that communicated directly, reminding us that, within this stony edifice, there lurks a Romantic soul. It also triggered genuine passion in these musicians, who clearly love playing under him."

The Financial Times/Hannah Nepil


Tristan and Isolde

Baden Baden Easter Festival 2016/Philharmonie Berlin

"Jedenfalls gehört bei der diesjährigen Produktion der Osterfestspiele Baden-Baden die Hauptrolle ganz und gar dem Orchester. Schon im Vorspiel zum ersten Aufzug ist zu hören, wie exakt der instrumentale Satz durchleuchtet und im Inneren belebt, wie also auf fast kammermusikalische Transparenz hingearbeitet wird. Zugleich steht das berühmte Vorspiel aber im Zeichen einer Farbenpracht, einer klanglichen Opulenz und einer Kraft, wie sie so nur dieses Orchester zu realisieren vermag. Das ist die Basis, auf der Rattle Bögen zu spannen weiss, welche die Weite dieser Musik ungeschmälert spürbar werden lassen."

Neue Zuercher Zeitung/Peter Hagmann
"Was Sir Simon im Graben zaubert, ist die Frucht einer langen Reise mit seinem Orchester durch französische Klangwelten, einer konsequenten Erziehungsarbeit. Hell und funkelnd klingt sein „Tristan“ wie die Vorstufe des „Pelleas“, der er ja de facto auch war, bei aller Wagner-Ablehnung Debussys. Im polyphon durchbluteten Klanggewebe prunken erlesene Soli; nur selten schäumt das Orchester machtvoll auf, bei der „Nacht der Liebe“, in „Isoldes Liebestod“.Die hochpräzise unterstützten Sängerstimmen können sich so wunderbar entfalten."

Der Tagesspiegel/Isabel Herzfeld
"Schon der Beginn des Vorspiels mit der exquisiten, extrem homogenen Cellogruppe... legt die Messlatte hoch. Das zerbrechlichste Pianissimo hat noch höchste klangliche Qualität. Die Crescendi und Decrescendi sind subtil und ganz organisch. Simon Rattle dirigiert mit kühlem Kopf und heißem Herzen. Vor allem entwickelt er mit den Berliner Philharmonikern eine Flexibilität, die das schnelle Umschlagen der Stimmungen zu einem Hörerlebnis macht. Das Orchester wird zu einem Meer – ruhig oder stürmisch, besänftigend oder aufwühlend, aber immer in Bewegung! Für die Einschwingvorgänge der Bläser nimmt er sich Zeit."
"Die Musik atmet, hat Luft und Raum. Dabei bleibt der Orchesterklang selbst in den dramatischen Ausbrüchen immer rund und warm. Die Farbmischungen zwischen Blech und Holz sind subtil. Die Soli entfalten eine besondere Atmosphäre. Nach Akzenten wird der Tuttiklang sofort zurückgenommen, sodass die Interpretation immer transparent bleibt, ohne an Dramatik zu verlieren."

SÜDKURIER/Georg Rudiger
"Musikalische blieben hingegen kaum Wünsche offen. Wenn die Berliner Philharmoniker vom Konzertpodium in den Orchestergraben eines Opernhauses wechseln, ist das immer ein künstlerisches Ereignis. Und Sir Simon «zaubert»! Sein «Tristan» klingt ganz schlank, durchsichtig, fast wie französischer Impressionismus. Rattle liebt die dunklen Farben: Bassklarinette und Englisch Horn kommen wunderbar zur Geltung, und die legendäre Cellogruppe der Philharmoniker darf in satten Kantilenen schwelgen."

Die Welt
"Das Ereignis dieses Abends ist die musikalische Interpretation. Und gerade mit jenem Liebestod, der musikalischen Apotheose eines jeden "Tristan", lässt sich exemplarisch zeigen, wie ergreifend Simon Rattle und die Berliner Philharmoniker Wagners Partitur umsetzen. Rattle hält diesen wunderbaren Klangkörper zurück, ganz so, wie es der Komponist notiert: p, pp, piu p steht da immer wieder, um Isoldes Weltabgewandtheitspredigt ganz für sich wirken zu lassen. Und dann plötzlich dieser Forte-Ausbruch: "Heller schallend…""
"Da ist er, der musikalische Rausch in immer wieder neuen Wellen. Rattle gelingt eine der farbigsten "Tristan"-Deutungen der vergangenen Jahre, ungemein differenziert und kontrastiert in Tempo und Dynamik, hinreißend musiziert gerade auch im Solistischen und überdies hervorragend ausbalanciert mit den Sängern: zweifellos der beste Opernauftritt Rattles und der Philharmoniker in vier Jahren Osterfestspiele."

Badische Zeitung/Alexander Dick
"Das Orchester ist der Star. Simon Rattle und seine Berliner Philharmoniker inszenieren Wagner. So vehement und eindringlich, so subtil und deutend, dass man manchmal versucht ist, die Augen zu schließen, sich ganz dem Orchesterklang hinzugeben..."

Pforzheimer Zeitung/Sandra Pfäfflin
"Rattle and his orchestra proved that they are such a leading ensemble with an exemplary performance including a great dynamic range and highly musical phrasing. The prelude already showed that there is a reason why the orchestra has such a marvelous reputation. The orchestral performance was ravishing, full of passion and very accurate at the same time. Especially during the second act the orchestra revealed such a high level of musicality and a great sense for the dramatic action. The sheer power of the orchestra during the great dramatic outbreaks was as impressive as the soft chamber musiclike attitude during the love scene."

Daniel Url/Operatic Musicologist
"This is a towering performance by the Berliners, both piercingly beautiful and dangerously overpowering, matching Wagner’s score for every love-drunk step it takes towards total annihilation... it’s hard to begrudge Rattle for not holding back: if you drive the best sports car in the world, would you keep the brakes on?"
"Beyond the sheer weight of sound, however, what impresses most is Rattle’s ability to weigh each texture: I've never heard the woodwind murmurs of Act II’s nocturnal reverie as pinprick clear; nor the dissonances of Act III as soulfully unwound."
"Eva-Maria Westbroek, though lustily acclaimed, fares worse as Isolde: the voice spread alarmingly at times, and high notes were cut short or not there at all. There is superb support from Sarah Connolly’s Brangäne, Michael Nagy’s Kurwenal and Stephen Milling’s Mark — but it’s Rattle’s triumph."

The Sunday Times/Hugh Canning


London Symphony Orchestra


"If it be a test of a great conductor that he/she can conjure a soundworld within a bar or two, then it is one that Simon Rattle passes with flying colours. Hard on the heels of his revelatory Pelléas Et Mélisande, he here conducted the LSO in an innovative French programme that from first to last had the ring of authenticity.

To Daphnis And Chloe, Rattle and his players brought glittering sonorities, a lyrical sweep and a thrilling surge to the finish. With or without a new concert hall, this partnership bodes well."

The Evening Standard/Barry Millington
"Sir Simon Rattle led the LSO in a gloriously, daring programme of French music. It was a fascinating concert: probably only the LSO’s Music Director Designate could have put on a programme like this and filled the Barbican.
Rattle’s conducting of Le tombeau de Couperin was exceptionally fluid, and he caught the composer’s most sumptuous side in a glorious account of the Second Suite from Daphnis et Chloé."

The Times/John Allison
"Rattle is in his element in Dutilleux’s pristine yet sensuous soundworld, beautifully teasing out every textural layer. The kaleidoscopic orchestration of L’Arbre des Songes, which takes the enchanted forests of Arthurian legend as a metaphor for human imagination, glowed with a heady intensity
Rattle’s Daphnis, though, a performance of deep sensuality and remarkable rhythmic precision."

Tim Ashley/The Guardian
"If the London Symphony Orchestra sounded simply magnificent in this programme of 20th century French music, it was their restraint that caught the ear rather than the demonstration of an orchestral engine at full throttle for which they are justly renowned. Tonal refinement and fastidious attention to detail were the key signatures of the evening, as they had been for Debussy's Pelléas et Melisande at the weekend. These are known particulars of Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting, too."

Peter Quantrill/The Arts Desk
"The French feast began and ended with Ravel in sizes small and large: a buoyant rendition of Le Tombeau de Couperin and, to end the night, the Suite No 2 from Daphnis and Chloe. It’s a Rattle party piece and the maestro coaxed a suitably dazzling climax from his plus-size forces."

The Times/Neil Fisher


Pelleas et Melisande

Philharmonie, Berlin and Barbican, London

"Rattle’s relationship with this score is a long one, and it unfolds here in spontaneous, giddy arcs of acceleration that shudder into eddying pauses. It’s storytelling of the most instinctive kind, its text picked out in gilded detail by the musicians of the LSO. There’s a delicacy here, even to moments of extreme violence, that seems the musical echo of Sellars’s staging – a series of suggestions, implications, possibilities that rarely coalesces into anything approaching a statement."

The Arts Desk/Alexandra Coghlan
"Simon Rattle also jumbled up the London Symphony Orchestra as Debussy wanted, with woodwind scattered among strings, brass facing inwards on either side, and the second fiddles audience-side of the firsts. The dislocation for the players at the first rehearsal must have been acute, but the result was incredible. I had never heard Debussy’s textures so beautifully blended, the eerie otherworldliness so subtly accentuated, or the LSO sound so mellow. As for Rattle’s ever-fluctuating pacing and rapport with the singers — that was a masterclass."

The Times/Richard Morrison
"Rattle drew playing of rapt, shimmering beauty and extraordinary subtlety, but tender and sensuous as his reading was, the broad, Wagner-influenced paragraphs had nobility, and passages of drama had a flesh and blood quality. Rarely has Maeterlinck's richly symbolist text been rendered with such immediacy: "the ice has been broken with red-hot iron", says Pelléas as Mélisande finally declares her love, and again we
heard the sizzle."

The Evening Standard/Barry Millington
"Yet this remained a wonderful experience, with Rattle (always at his best in French repertory) drawing silken subtlety from the London Symphony Orchestra’s strings and kaleidoscopic colours from its wind and brass. The fourth-act climax was thrillingly judged, as was the dying fall of the fifth"

The Telegraph/Rupert Christiansen
"Rattle delivered a focused and precise, yet notably sumptuous, account of Debussy’s enigmatic score, while every soloist produced singing of particular focus and precision."

MusicOMH/Sam Smith
"In composing Pelléas et Mélisande Debussy held up a kaleidoscope to Wagner, viewing his music as impressionist shards of colour and light. With its deep, sonorous textures Rattle’s performance came in at the darkest end of the spectrum. Has any conductor made the opera sound more Wagnerian since Herbert von Karajan, Rattle’s illustrious forebear in Berlin? Here was an awesome atmosphere of distant, shadowy legend, a deep well of emotions surging up from below. The LSO’s strings (second violins and violas at the front) have rarely sounded so rich."

The FT/Richard Fairman
"And Mr. Rattle and his orchestra? Perfectly sublime...“Pelléas” is rightly his signature piece. Mr. Rattle’s conducting was sensational. “Pelléas” perfectly suits his ability to craft pillows of sound, to build tension through color and balance, to sculpt phrases that are stretched taut and to refine dynamics to the most astonishing, distinct grades.
Here he turned his orchestra into another character, one representing the subconscious urges of the protagonists. Time and again just a handful of notes proved revealing..."

NY Times/David Allen


Cycle of Symphonies

Berlin, Vienna and New York

From the Philharmonie, Berlin: Beethoven IX

'Rattle’s Beethoven is no titan. We are left with a portrait of a composer who is erratic, frustrated, angry and yet capable of tenderness — human in the most personal way. Rattle and the Berliners have succeeded in scouring the cliché from these over-used symphonies, and turning them into utterances that we need to hear. That is what good musical relationships can do.'

Shirley Apthorp/The Financial Times

From the Philharmonie, Berlin: Symphonies 4 and 7

'... the performances were committed and energetic; above all, they managed to convey the sense of an orchestra and conductor having a tremendous amount of fun doing what they do best.'

'Throughout the evening, the tempi chosen by Sir Simon – who conducted both works without a score – tended to be on the quick side. In the fourth symphony especially, the allegro section, which followed a perfectly-paced adagio introduction, seemed almost perilously brisk on its first appearance; the fact that the orchestra was able to achieve such a clean, detailed performance at such speeds was, itself, a source of some astonishment.'

Jesse Simon/Mundo Clasico
From Carnegie Hall, NY: Beethoven IX

"If you are going to hear any performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the next decade, it should be from Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Beethoven’s message of brotherhood and camaraderie could not be personified
better than in the form of this oversized chamber orchestra whose members share meticulous eye contact, synchronize their movements, and even shake hands with one another before departing the stage, a formality unheard of in the United States."

Jacob Slattery/BachTrack
From Carnegie Hall, NY: Beethoven IX

"Simon Rattle imbued the Ninth with vital energy, his brisk pace in the first two movements creating an impulse that affected the entire performance. In the opening movement, he tended to press ahead in strong passages and then ease up slightly as the dynamic level receded, but such flexibility was not subjected to affectation. Rattle made good use of the BP’s radiant sound and forceful playing, carefully shaping crescendos toward stirring climaxes."

Lewis M. Smoley/Classical Source
From Carnegie Hall: Leonore, Symphony no. 2 and 5

"The rich, silvery corporate sonority of the storied Berlin ensemble under Rattle remains distinctive—nimble yet deep-cushioned strings allied to robust brass with a hint of grain, and elegant and wonderfully characterful woodwinds. A worthy case was made for the overture, but all sections were at their considerable finest in the two symphonies that made up the bulk of the evening."

Lawrence A. Johnson/NY Classical Review


Das Paradies und die Peri

Recording on LSO Live

‘He (Sir Simon Rattle) lavishes love on this score. His approach is full of affection…creating a gorgeous warm Romantic glow. Mark Padmore’s tenor sounds vivid and warm… Florian Boesch sounds sensational… Andrew Staples is very moving in his solos. It’s worth saying, that LSO Live have really gone to town on their presentation for this release.'

Simon Thompson/MusicWeb International
‘Rattle handles (Schumann Das Paradies und die Peri) with a loving lightness of touch…Mark Padmore’s narration and baritone Florian Boesch make the best impression’

Richard Fairman/The Financial Times
‘A tender and introspective performance of Schumann's rarely-heard opera… Only the most callous listener could fail to be moved by Kate Royal, Bernada Fink, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch’s spellbound quartet.’

Gavin Plumley/Sinfini Music
‘LSO Live have done Sir Simon proud with this new set… Expectations will be high when Sir Simon Rattle rakes over the reins of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017. This tremendous new release only heightens those expectations… LSO Live achieve a first rate recording.’

The Classical Reviewer
‘The concerts earlier this year by Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra had delighted the audience. The resulting recording discography confirms the outstanding quality of this beautiful interpretation'

Pierre Degot/ResMusica
'A new era in London is marked with this recording. Mr. Rattle has long been an advocate for the piece, and his forces here respond with an eagerness born of discovery.'

David Allen/NY Times
'The LSO shows its delicate and soulful side… This is a very good recording which, by force, dynamism and sensibility, does entirely justice to this wonderful romantic work.'

Remy Franck/Pizzicato
'Sir Simon Rattle leads the soloists, choruses and orchestra with absolute assurance and style here, showing Das Paradies und die Peri to be a work of grace and beauty, an unusual piece in Schumann’s oeuvre and one whose acquaintance it is well worth making.'
‘The London Symphony Orchestra fulfils its role with precision and professionalism, led by the talent and energy of its future Director…’
‘Rattle has an alert and curious orchestra at his disposal… With extreme care he integrates the vocal soloists, who – as a well-balanced cast – particularly convince as an ensemble.’
‘Rattle allows the large orchestra to play delicately with tremendously colourful sounds. All three parts of the oratorio sound immaculately beautiful…Everything flow(s) in seemingly endless melodies. – Beautiful Paradise.’
‘He (Sir Simon Rattle) is the star of the performance. The richness and breadth of his reading are magnificent and the London Symphony Orchestra plays with warmth and perfection under his leadership. And the London Symphony Chorus…are excellent in their different roles…’ 

Opera Nederland
"The LSO is on equally fine form. The high quality of their playing is evident right from the start… Rattle and his players really do show how fine and imaginative is Schumann’s orchestration in this score... A recording such as this enables us to savour Schumann’s mastery to the full. This is an auspicious launch on disc of the LSO/Simon Rattle partnership."

Musicweb Int./John Quinn
‘Simon Rattle deftly maintains an account of clarity and translucence, bringing out the delicate beauty of the score…(The soloists) rise to the occasion with sympathy and subtle allure'

Curtis Rogers/Classical Source


The Dream of Gerontius

Royal Albert Hall/BBC Proms/Vienna Philharmonic

"Saving the best till last, the Proms gave us the Vienna Philharmonic under Simon Rattle’s direction with Elgar’s Gerontius."

"Everything in Rattle’s sculpting of this intricate work came triumphantly together in its ecstatic close."

Michael Church/The Independent
"Anyone wondering what Sir Simon Rattle might have brought to the piece after thirty-two years would have given a simple answer: ‘intensity’. The changes in dynamic were even more marked, from the tiniest hushed passages in the introduction and at The Angel’s last exquisite farewell, to the massive crash of ‘the glance of God’; Elgar’s sudden crescendo/decrescendo moments were even more sharply observed, as were his many sudden brief shifts in tempo and massive allargandos. The lengthy setting of the hymn ‘Praise to the holiest’ was a masterpiece of light and shade – every phrase nuanced in speed, volume and timbre."

Music OMH/Barry Creasy
"It was a triumphantly European account of this determinedly English oratorio. Rattle’s tempi always felt right, the shaping of each phrase natural and unforced."

The Guardian/Fiona Maddocks
"Golden-sweet, the Vienna strings traced halos round Elgar’s lines, softly insistent but never striving to fill the hall, finding an exquisite simplicity for the opening of Part II. Where they were bright the brass glowed darker, urged by Rattle into barking frenzy for the demonic sections."
"A glowing ending to the Proms season with a celebration of British musical richness"

The Arts Desk/Alexandra Coghlan
"The Vienna Philharmonic strings, especially, brought out all the Wagnerian power and sensibility of Elgar’s score, notably in the Prelude. And Rattle paced and marshaled his forces with expert sensitivity, shaping the emotional surges and pulling-backs as Gerontius's soul makes his heavenly journey." Franks
"Rattle’s account of The Dream of Gerontius was audaciously spare and refined, with pianissimo entries as soft as breath."

Anna Picard/The Times


Australian World Orchestra

Sydney Opera House

Rattle's approach somehow encourages players to relax into the sound, playing through the phrase without over-emphasis or tension, and allowing the natural shape and tone to blossom.
His reading (of Bruckner's eighth symphony) was spacious and majestic, and the slightly lumpy quality that this work's fragmented sequence can sometimes engender was absent. Instead there was a deep coherence, binding together its rich Wagnerian sonorities and ideas compellingly over a huge timeframe.  The first movement was craggy and explosive, the scherzo deft, the slow movement timelessly expansive, while the finale unfolded with the mysterious logic of the waves of an unknown ocean.

Sydney Morning Herald/Peter McCallum
Everything about this magnificent, perfectly proportioned account of Bruckner’s Symphony No 8 was natural and spontaneous.

Conducting without a score, Rattle showed a deep understanding of the work’s architecture. The many transitions and changes of direction were seamlessly negotiated and Rattle allowed each passage its moment in the sun while always keeping the longer structural arc in focus.

He created spaciousness and momentum. Ferocious climaxes were generated with thrilling cumulative power, incisive rhythms and forceful unison attack enlivened the energetic scherzo, and his slow-burning realisation of the slow movement was profoundly moving. Textures remained clearly defined, Rattle highlighting the themes without neglecting the surrounding details.

The Australian/Murray Black
The 80-minute second half was Bruckner hewed from granite by a master sculptor in Rattle, with a finger pointing here and a nod of his famously curly head there, chiselling out the details and above all listening to his players’s every note as he conducted from memory.

At times he would peg back his massive forces to a murmur, especially in the eerie passage in the first movement when a lone flute goes on skittish looping run above the ominous double basses. And then he would shape the work’s relentless climaxes — a series of false dawns, each more glorious than the one before — with commanding attention to detail before the symphony’s magnificent resolution.

The Daily Telegraph AU/Steve Moffatt

Jonathan Dove/William Walton

Monster in the Maze/ Symphony no. 1

Barbican Centre

"Walton’s snarling First Symphony, a young man’s beast of a symphonic debut. With the LSO supplemented by Guildhall players, Rattle went for a high-voltage, glossy approach: the piece burst out of the blocks and stayed at a supernova level throughout."

The Times/Neil Fisher

"With Simon Rattle at the helm, Jonathan Dove's new community opera The Monster in the Maze has German, British, and French co-commissioners, and is getting its premiere in three countries, and in three languages. With two additional conductors positioned in the stalls, the whole thing was meticulously controlled... Dove's great blocks of sound created some majestic effects."

The Independent/Michael Church

"Simon Rattle conducted a passionate performance of Jonathan Dove’s exhilarating new children’s opera...provoking passionate performances from his orchestra and excellent soloists. Future projects include performances by Guildhall students playing side-by-side with the LSO — an example of which we heard after the interval, in Walton’s rarely performed Symphony No. 1. At its most boisterous, this testosterone-crazed piece can sound like a pack of fireworks set off in a broom cupboard, and Rattle’s reading wasn’t far off. But in moments of repose there were glimpses of the rich orchestral colours, not least in the Andante con Malincolia, that have marked Rattle’s reign with the Berlin Philharmonic."

The Financial Times/Hannah Nepil
"If Rattle’s concert last week reinforced expectations of high artistic standards when he joins the LSO, this one will have encouraged those who hope that broadening participation will be similarly high on his agenda. The adult LSO Discovery and Community Choirs gave their all for Rattle and choirmaster Simon Halsey, singing the Athenians’ heartfelt laments and then, as bloodthirsty Cretans, trading shouts in intricate cross-rhythms."

"Walton’s Symphony No 1 followed. With the LSO augmented by Guildhall undergraduates... it had a pulsing energy and a sense of elements being slotted together, that brought lean, mean Sibelius to mind even amid Walton’s excess."

The Guardian/Erica Jeal


Piano Concerto no.1 and tone poems

Barbican Centre

"Conducting without a score, Rattle chose to fill the second half of the concert with Dvorák. The Slavonic Dance No 4 was short, sharp and energetic...Rattle is never afraid to go for the grand gesture and the LSO players responded with playing that was exquisitely weighted..."

"Given the LSO’s characteristic blend of fragility and richness, of rasping fruitiness and haunting tenderness, the rapturous applause was inevitable: for Zimerman, of course, but at least as much for Rattle."

Evening Standard/Nick Kimberley
"The London Symphony Orchestra could not have come up with a much better indication of what the future might hold in the Simon Rattle era than securing Krystian Zimerman as the soloist for the music director’s first concert since his appointment. But as this unforgettable account of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor showed, he and Rattle have forged a very special musical partnership.

Following such a titanic concerto performance with lighter weight, pictorial Dvořák was a smart idea as well...Rattle and the orchestra brought them off with tremendous panache, and at the end of such an exceptional concert."

The Guardian/Andrew Clements


Der Rosenkavalier

Festspielhaus Baden Baden

"...It might go without saying that the Berliner Philharmoniker played like heroes tonight but they really did. They played
with a highly impressive depth of tone and warmth and a genuine, unforced virtuosity that was revelatory. To hear this miraculous score played with such precision and weight is a real privilege. Simon Rattle conducted a generally swift reading that was very much light on its feet. The waltz rhythms were beautifully present. Often the trio turns into this endless dirge but tonight Rattle did something very special. He took the opening incredible slowly, with Harteros sustaining
‘hab’ mir’s gelobt’ perfectly at a daringly slow tempo, but gradually, almost imperceptibly, the tempo picked up as the trio progressed, building up to that glorious climax. It was deeply impressive and unbearably moving to listen to..."

Opera Traveller


Tableau/Symphony no.2

Royal Festival Hall

"What struck me most forcibly about Rattle’s handling, however, was that...he is still able to conjure something so urgent, so thrillingly revelatory from his players. From the leisurely Ländler of the second movement, movingly evoking the suggestion of a dream memory, to the grave-busting apocalypse of the finale (the London Symphony and CBSO choruses immaculately drilled by Simon Halsey), everything was prepared and executed with complete mastery."

The Standard/Barry Millington

"The Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle reached the grand finale of their week’s residency in London with a revelatory performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony. It held hopes, fears, terrors and triumphs the like of which have not been heard in London for a long time. And the standing ovation seemed set to go on all night."

"This great Resurrection Symphony has surged through Rattle’s bloodstream for many decades — and here was the supreme instrument with which to realise his vision. Rattle works to extremes in Mahler. There are breadths of tempo that are stretched to near breaking point. There are rapid returns to strict, rhythmically biting time. There are fierce, sudden horrors: the darkest snarl of an opening, the tremendous unleashing of almighty power at the Day of Judgment. And there are moments of transient, evanescent beauty: the violins rising like mist from a lake, the simplicity of a neatly stepped Ländler which precludes sentimentality, and the avian woodwind soloists heralding the dawn."

The Times/Hilary Finch
"Lachenmann is a master of these unconventional techniques and the connection Rattle intended was that Mahler, writing a century earlier, does similar things. He has the double basses slap their strings with their bows and percussionists play on the edges of their instruments with a brush. His sound palette, including having a brass ensemble hidden in the upper wings, is extraordinary."

Reuters/Michael Roddy
"The Berliner Philharmoniker...pulled out all the stops. Rattle, seemed at his finest in terms of pacing; his skill with the plentiful gear-changes, swinging the giant orchestra round the twists and turns of Mahler’s mountainous roads as one, and his ability to pace the great crescendos and outbursts (nought to 90 in 20 smooth seconds), stirred and compelled every time"

"For the closing pages, though, Rattle more or less unleashed the orchestra and let them do what they do best: making that unbelievably glorious noise. And the audience was crazy for it."

The Arts Desk/Jessica Duchen
"Mesmerising, startling and occasionally forbidding,it (Lachenmann's Tableau) was perfectly suited to the incisive clarity of Rattle's style, and formed a remarkable demonstration of the grandeur and subtleties of the Berlin Philharmonic's palette.
Clarity and colour also dominated the Mahler, conducted from memory, and a performance that developed into something genuinely awesome as it progressed."
"The remaining movements... given without a break as an unfolding metaphysical drama that culminated in a shattering blaze of glory, were intensely felt and utterly compelling. The finale, so often episodic, was seamless in its evolution."

The Guardian/Tim Ashley


Cycle of Symphonies


***** Symphony no. 3 + Violin Concerto + Symphony no.4

"Rattle’s tempi are unhurried, intensity always more vital than velocity. Light glints in the murky pool of the Third, yet it occupies that same desolate world as its successor. These two studies in dark were separated by the Violin Concerto, played with diabolical fire and crystalline ice..."

"The muscular, impeccable string sound in this orchestra, the individuality of each woodwind principal, the ferocity of the brass and the refinement of the horns, set this orchestra apart.."

The Observer/Fiona Maddocks
***** Symphony no. 3 + Violin Concerto + Symphony no. 4

"Rattle conducted throughout with plenty of urgency, it felt as if the concentration was now more on symphonic structure and on the evolution of the Sibelius orchestral sound, much sparer in the third than in the first two symphonies, and reaching wonderfully austere new heights in the fourth, ultimate music of the north."

"Whether it is the richness of their string tone, the exceptional eloquence of their wind principals or simply the spacious texture of their ensemble, whose quietness has to be heard to be believed, the Berliners command an orchestral palette that few others can match, even the best."

The Guardian/Martin Kettle
***** Symphonies 1 + 2

"The way in which Rattle laid out the whole symphonic scheme provided the perfect platform for the Berlin players to demonstrate what a gloriously responsive orchestra they can be. The plush depth of string tone is never suffocating or opaque, while the woodwind and brass sections combine expressive freedom with faultless intonation and ensemble.."

"The Second Symphony was equally impressive...The finale was perfectly judged, its remorseless journey towards its final resolution as musically logical as it was emotionally convincing, so that the final chords were doggedly resilient rather than emptily triumphant."

The Guardian/Andrew Clements
***** Full Sibelius Cycle

"The huge personality of this orchestra was blazingly evident. Even the reduced band Rattle fielded for the lighter, more classical 3rd Symphony had a colossal sinewy depth of tone, which was more than merely loud."

"Rattle showed a genius for colouring and pacing those many moments in Sibelius’s symphonies when the discourse becomes cloudy. He held us on the edge of our seats, while the music groped about for its identity. When it eventually succeeded, as in the blazing final pages of the 1st movement of the 5th Symphony, there was no feeling of finality: more an intoxicating sense that a new adventure was just beginning."

The Telegraph/Ivan Hewett


From the House of the Dead

Staatsoper Berlin

"… It was Simon Rattle I heard in the pit of the Berlin Staatsoper for Chéreau’s From the House of the Dead. Everything you have heard about this great staging of Patrice Chéreau is true. London, for reasons I simply cannot imagine, continues to ignore Janáček; Berlin did him, and Chéreau, proud. The cast had not a single weak link and the orchestra, the great Staatskapelle Berlin provided the most richly post-Romantic Janáček I have heard, without any loss of bite."

Mark Berry


25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Symphony no.9

Philharmonie, Berlin

'Working without a score, Rattle ushered in a full-blooded Ninth with a thunderous first movement that exploded off the stage in a maelstrom and set a rapid tempo for the entire symphony...the momentum that Rattle built was irresistible, culminating in a dazzling rush that had the audience buzzing with excitement in the break after the second movement, as the soloists took their place with the choir.'

'...Rattle’s gift is creating organic music that starts deep in the orchestra and rises with passionate fervor, which worked to magical effect in the Ninth. A packed house leaped to its feet as the final notes still hung in the air, clearly feeling more
than just the excitement of an inspired performance.'

Frank Kuznik/Bachtrack
"The second movement was possibly even better; indeed, the ferocity and agility of the playing was so great that, even if Sir Simon had laid down his baton, it is doubtful he would have been able to stop the music he had set in motion. Rather, the music appeared to be governed by its own will, reaching a level of intensity that the orchestra was just barely able to contain. It was as thrilling a second movement as one might hope to hear. Only with the third movement was a sense of peace restored to the auditorium of the Philharmonie. The strings played with an unparalleled warmth, and there were several moments during which Sir Simon abandoned the baton entirely, preferring to sculpt the contours of the music rather than fixate strictly on pulse. As a result, the movement proceeded with an encompassing sense of inner calm."

Jesse Simon/Mundo Clasico


St. Matthew Passion

The Armory, New York

"...Mr. Rattle drew lovely, transparent performances from a reduced contingent of 50 musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic and 66 eloquent, versatile singers from the Berlin Radio Choir, admirably prepared by chorus master Simon Halsey. The expert solos on oboes da caccia and oboes d’amore lent a period-instrument feel to this modern performance, as did light vibrato in the strings. And the layout of the seating enabled thrilling spatial separation of the choruses and orchestras, echoing in broad terms how Bach arrayed his Leipzig forces..."

Barbara Jepson/Wall Street Journal
"Sir Simon Rattle conducts mostly from his podium in front of one of the orchestra, while occasionally directing the musical action in front of the other orchestra. When soloists are accompanied by solo musicians, Rattle often watches and observes without losing his keen concentration...

...Sellars and Rattle are to be commended for their vision and courage to bring Bach’s music out of church and concert hall into a live theater, with each musician actively engaged in the drama of the music. This performance even made the boundary between the performers and audience obscure as the audience was given a gift not only of a superb musical performance but of an opportunity to contemplate on life and death."

Von Ako Imamura/Bachtrack
"...Overseeing it all, leaping across the stage from one orchestra or chorus to another, mouth wide open as if singing along, was Rattle, setting a pace as sensitive to the text as could be imagined. Experiential? The images, both musical and theatrical, remain burned in the brain."

Susan Elliott/Classical Voice America


with Anne Sophie Mutter

Carnegie Hall, New York

"The great Berlin Philharmonic, an ensemble that has been especially innovative and exciting since Simon Rattle became chief conductor in 2002, opened the new season at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night with a program that on paper seemed intended to be short and festive...
...the musically inquisitive Mr. Rattle drew fresh and intriguing performances from his players. Ms. Mutter was inspired. The program, however short and familiar, wound up feeling musically substantive...
...The performance Mr. Rattle drew from the Berlin players brought out the music’s mercurial, complex and intricate elements. There was nothing flashy here. He did not try to sell the piece, or pump it up. Rather, he trusted the score and, in a sense, just laid it out for us through articulate, nuanced and textured playing by the orchestra..."

Anthony Tommasini/NY Times
"..From the very beginning of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, you could hear why this orchestra has such a formidable reputation. A huge, meaty texture and sharp articulation in the early going captured the piece’s bombastic side. There was something just the slightest bit grungy about their playing, as Rattle allowed his players to dig deep into the strings. Crackling warmth established the melancholy nostalgia of the waltz before the flighty finale as plush sound reached out into the auditorium.

...Finishing off with the closing scenes of Stravinsky’s Firebird, Rattle brought his players in on a powerful, almost ear-splitting opening chord. The orchestra maintained a crisp, cackling marcato throughout the “Infernal dance” before weaving a thick carpet of sound in the final transitional bars. The Berceuse was rapturous, from the haunting solo passed among the winds at the start to the ethereal transition into the finale. The pianissimo tremolo was about the softest you’ll ever hear a string section play while still producing a consistent tone. The effect was astonishing, and set up a stirring and majestic finale."

New York Classical Review/Eric C Simpson

Brahms + Schumann

Cycle of the Symphonies



"...Rattle is a master of sound, and he draws a range of colours from this virtuoso orchestra which few can match. From the strident opening of Rhenish to the stoic chorale in the second movement of the Brahms there is an attention to detail in the sound itself which impresses instantly. The pianissimos are particularly noteworthy, providing truly transformative moments in the Schumann; in Rattle’s hands Schumann is definitively a romantic composer, and not the classically minded extension of Beethoven, which many see him as..."

Max Woods/Bachtrack

"...With each of the Brahms symphonies Sir Simon’s interpretations felt urgently spontaneous with playing that conveyed a late-romantic power of unfailing  intensity. In the C minor score what sticks strongest in the mind is the grave and threatening timpani stokes that open the first movement and I fondly recall Albrecht Mayer’s beautiful oboe playing. Throughout this critical movement Sir Simon successfully provided liberal quantities of both beauty and menace. In the D major symphony once again it was the opening movement that made the greatest impression leaving a feeling of restrained joy with an undercurrent of dark foreboding. This dramatic music felt as if it had been hewn out of the granite of an Alpine peak tinged with a beautiful soft edge that evoked a picturesque Tyrolean scene of verdant pastures..."
Michael Cookson/Musicweb International

Rachmaninov + Stravinsky

Symphonic Dances + The Firebird

Berlin Philharmonic/Royal Albert Hall

"Ever one to plunge in even when the danger flags are out, Simon Rattle brought two wildly contrasting concerts to the Proms last week, each played with dazzling brilliance by the Berlin Philharmonic. In this worldleading ensemble every musician is an artist-gymnast of supreme skill. Rattle demanded everything of them. They delivered..."

"...the first of the Berlin Phil's Proms - Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and Stravinsky's The Firebird - [I] had no reservations, only superlatives. These two grand orchestral showpieces revealed the orchestra at its most flexible and virtuosic, with Rattle the magician conjuring maximum concentration and energy from all..."

Fiona Maddocks/The Observer
"A high point of the Proms season has come, once again, courtesy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The first of two Proms under its artistic director saw Simon Rattle welcomed like a hero on his home turf, and the players reminded us why many consider BPO to be the world's benchmark symphony orchestra."

"Some of that was to do with crispness and precision, something that infused Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances. Rattle made the most of everything these eclectic pieces have in them. The first dance was an orchestral masterclass."

"A sumptuous encore, the Intermezzo from Puccini's Manon Lescaut, showcased gorgeous solo string playing. In this orchestra, it seems, everyone is a soloist; yet everyone, even Rattle, is one of the team."

Erica Jeal/The Guardian
"First came the Rachmaninov, a work which opens with the dizzying energy of a tarantella and the edge of a danse
macabre. The second movement waltz is the aural equivalent of the gothic stories of Edgar Allen Poe: Sir Simon
Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic wove glittering cobwebs as they led us through the ghostly dancers conjured by
Rachmaninov’s music."

"I could talk about the unbelievable pianissimos Rattle coaxed from the orchestra or the nice touch of positioning the
trumpet section around the Royal Albert Hall arena or the glint of dark magic which infused the piece. But what made
this performance so exceptional was the undeniable sense that the players were enjoying the concert as much as we

BBC Music Magazine/Elizabeth Davis


London Symphony Orchestra

The Barbican

"...Yet it was Rattle everyone wanted to see, and in Schumann’s Symphony No 2 the conductor’s instincts for lean, muscular textures and lithe tempos in early Romantic repertory met the plush playing of the LSO, with infectious results. Schumann’s mental state (never exactly level) was particularly fevered during the symphony’s composition, and the music flickers between elation and nervous exhaustion. Thinning down the strings, Rattle led an utterly beguiling performance full of entrancing details. Most importantly, the orchestra sounded extremely happy without being allowed to run away with the music.

Works by Beethoven and Henze were equally deftly sculpted. Henze’s striking cantata Being Beauteous sets a perfumed Rimbaud text to evanescent music for four cellos and harp, and Prohaska’s clean, silvery soprano soared evocatively around the text. After a few intonation slips in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Eberle relaxed into a poised, affectionate performance, although a little small-scale in dramatic scope..."

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

Neil Fisher, The Times


Dialogues des Carmélites

Royal Opera House

"...The conductor was Simon Rattle, no less – addressing the score in a reading that was gently inflected, warmly coloured and delicately understated (more Ravel than Stravinsky, as my companion perceptively noted). Only in the final terrible march to the scaffold did he let his splendid orchestra rip, with gut-churning, heart-stopping results..."

To read the article in full please follow the link below to The Telegraph's website:

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

"...listening to Dialogues in this radiant account conducted by Simon Rattle, you can’t mistake its uplifting sincerity and devotional inspiration, as if the composer had simply translated to the theatre the Catholic piety of his liturgical works. Rattle moves from scene to scene with admirable urgency and expressive buoyancy, never letting the music sound sentimental...."

To read the article in full please follow the link below to The Financial Times' website:

Andrew Clarke, The FT


The Creation/OAE

The National Concert Hall, Dublin & Royal Festival Hall, London

A Rattling Good Creation


"...If there were such a thing as a Fantasy Orchestral League, the combination of Sir Simon Rattle, one of the world’s most imaginative, outstanding conductors, and the quirky, creative Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) would definitively be one of my top choices. The additional forces of the Choir of the Enlightenment with soloists Sally Matthews, John Mark Ainsley and Peter Rose made for a majestic performance of Haydn’s greatest work, The Creation. As this was the final International Concert of the 2013/2014 season, it was clear, to borrow a biblical comparison, that the best wine was left till last....

...From cosmic chaos to prelapsarian idyll, this performance had it all. As Heaven and earth sang praise to the Lord in the final chorus, the sonic crescendo achieved by both choir and orchestra, coupled with the raw energy of Rattle was spine-tingling. An immediate and thoroughly merited standing ovation followed. What a blessing to witness such a creation!"

To read the article in full please follow the link below to the BachTrack website:

Andrew Larkin, BackTrack
***** - The Guardian

..."There wasn't a dull moment, because Simon Rattle simply never allowed one. Something was happening in every bar. Sometimes the interesting points were the obvious ones, usually Haydn's gleeful depictions of the newly created animals: roaring trombone lions that almost startled us out of our seats, or the juddering rasp of the contrabassoon for the heavy beasts. But there were also small details, or hidden countermelodies – and it took Rattle's searching, driven conducting and the orchestra's imaginative responsiveness to draw them out."

To read the article in full please follow the link below to the Guardian website:

Erica Jeal
"...Rattle has long championed this least-played of great composers, and this cracking performance of The Creation showed that his interpretations have lost none of their zest or boldness.."

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

Richard Morrison, The Times


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' 

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."

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."

Sandra Pfäfflin/Pforzheimer Zeitung

"While the playing amply captures the music’s sparkle and ardor in Acts I and II, the orchestra and conductor (Rattle) take over alone in the gorgeous intermezzo that opens Act III and continue to hold sway when the action resumes. Especially shattering is the return of themes associated with happier times. And Manon’s lengthy death scene has uncommon vibrancy because of Mr. Rattle’s sensitivity to harmonic and instrumental colors. This is striking considering that this is Mr. Rattle’s first time conducting a Puccini opera..."

George Loomis/NY Times


'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."

NY Times/Zachary Woolfe
"...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 curiosity of 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."

Simon Thompson/Seenandheard-international


Lang Lang/Rattle: Prokofiev/Bartók

Berlin Philharmonic


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.



Wagner: Das Rheingold

Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Michael Volle (Wotan), Tomasz Konieczny (Alberich), Burkhard Ulrich (Loge), Elisabeth Kulman (Fricka), Herwig Pecoraro (Mime), Peter Rose (Fasolt), Eric Halfvarson (Fafner), Annette Dasch (Freia), Janina Baechle (Erda), Christian van Horn (Donner), Benjamin Bruns (Froh), Mirella Hagen (Woglinde), Stefanie Irányi (Wellgunde), Eva Vogel (Flosshilde)
BR Klassik

The Second Viennese School

Berg, Schönberg, Webern

Sofie von Otter
Rundfunkchor Berlin, MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Ernst Sennf Chor, Berliner Philharmoniker + City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Warner Classics

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
Warner Classics