I’ve shared in past blogs quite a few performances from Berlin Philharmonic’s incredible, and for the time being free, website. www.digitalconcerthall.com. Since its inception in 2008 is has helped to cement the Berlin Philharmonic’s deserved reputation as a leader among kings in the orchestral world.
On top of live-streaming every concert of the season, the concerts are then archived for future viewing. There are now many concerts now available to watch that were filmed before 2008, including many performances by their previous music directors, Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan. Also, there are interviews with every guest conductor and guest soloist, as well as profiles on many of the orchestra musicians. Finally, they have amassed a nice collection of musical documentaries to watch.
Here are the concerts that I have really enjoyed watching.
Kirill Petrenko is the current chief conductor, beginning in 2018. I have really enjoyed all of his concerts that are available, but here are some of the standouts.
His recent concert from February 15, 2020, with what I think is the most exciting and cohesive version of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances I have ever seen.
Kirill Petrenko conducts Stravinsky, Zimmermann and Rachmaninov
The music of the 20th century is often considered inaccessible. Kirill Petrenko shows how wrong this prejudice is with…
The same could be said of this performance of Mahler’s Symphony №6 from January 25, 2020. The last movement has never made so much sense to me than when watching Petrenko’s performance.
Kirill Petrenko conducts Mahler's Sixth Symphony
For the first time, Kirill Petrenko presents himself with the Berliner Philharmoniker as an interpreter of Mahler. The…
As a concert program and performance, I absolutely adored this concert from March 9, 2019. And this is a emotional coherent, yet ultimately earth-shattering performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony №5.
Kirill Petrenko and Patricia Kopatchinskaja
In this concert, Kirill Petrenko made his last appearance with the Berliner Philharmoniker before taking up office as…
Sir Simon Rattle was the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002–2018, but made his debut with the esteemed orchestra in 1987, conducting Mahler’s Symphony №6. The first video documentation of their partnership, however, comes from 1993, almost ten years before his tenure began, in a very exciting account of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Simon Rattle conducts Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique" in 1993
It is no exaggeration to claim that this live recording from November 1993 is a document of historic importance, for it…
This concert from 2003 is very special because its a collaboration between the Berlin Philharmonic, Rattle, and 250 young people, aged 8–22, who are dancing to the Stravinsky’s Le Sacre de printemps.
Dance Project: "Le Sacre du printemps"
It marked the launch of the Berliner Philharmoniker's highly acclaimed Education Programme in 2003: Stravinsky's ballet…
A collaboration between the American opera stage director, Peter Sellars, Rattle, and the Berlin Philharmonic created a sensational series of semi-staged events, one of the most memorable being Bach’s The St. Matthew Passion.
The St Matthew Passion by Johann S. Bach | Digital Concert Hall
The critics' reviews of St Matthew Passion in the Philharmonie were full of superlatives. The radio station RBB Kultur…
I’ve always felt Rattle had a knack for the quirkiness and fantastical qualities in Mahler’s music that is simply unmatched by any other conductor. The middle movements, the dance movements, are where he shines and this performance of Mahler’s Symphony №7 is almost beyond comprehension, it is so good.
The Seventh Symphony by Mahler | Digital Concert Hall
It was the largest project the Berliner Philharmoniker undertook during Sir Simon Rattle's time as chief conductor of…
Claudio Abbado preceded Rattle and was chief conductor 1989–2002. He gave many spectacular concert and I cherish many of their recordings together. Videos that I enjoy are this one, from Palermo, from his final tour with the orchestra.
2002 European Concert from Palermo with Claudio Abbado and Gil Shaham
Rapturous applause tinged with a little sadness characterise this European Concert from the Teatro Massimo in Palermo…
His concert from their 1994 tour to Japan, with a fantastic performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony №5.
Claudio Abbado conducts Russian works at Suntory Hall in Tokyo
There is nowhere else in the world that the Berliner Philharmoniker have been received with more warmth, enthusiasm…
And a searing performance of Mahler’s Symphony №1 from his inaugural concert in 1989.
Claudio Abbado's Inaugural Concert from 1989
It was only logical that Claudio Abbado should start his tenure with the Berliner Philharmoniker in December 1989…
Herbert von Karajan was their chief conductor 1956 — 1989. He was also fascinated with technology and was a leading voice in the creation of the compact disc, as well as filming of the symphony orchestra. This is a fascinatingly filmed performance and rehearsal of Beethoven’s Symphony №5, by the famous French film director, Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Karajan master class | Digital Concert Hall
Classical concert online: Karajan conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Conversation, master class and performance.
There are many exciting performances by a myriad of guest conductors, but here are a few of my favorites.
A towering interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony №3 with Bernard Haitink from December 16, 1990.
Bernard Haitink conducts Mahler's Third Symphony
Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony is a musical exploration of the natural and human world that includes landscapes, animal…
A beautifully paced Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss, conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
"An Alpine Symphony" by Richard Strauss | Digital Concert Hall
The Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov has been one of the orchestra's close artistic partners for many years, and…
Dudamel’s sensational debut with them on March 7, 2009, is worth it alone for the energy he brings to every piece. The Prokofiev Symphony №5 is extraordinary.
Symphony No. 5 by Sergei Prokofiev | Digital Concert Hall
The three composers in this concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker from March 2009 represent the stylistic diversity of…
Herbert Blomstedt conducts Bruckner with such conviction and passionate reverence. Here’s an epic performance of the Eighth Symphony.
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 | Digital Concert Hall
Herbert Blomstedt's Bruckner interpretations are exceptionally transparent and rich in detail. In addition, the Swedish…
Don’t pass up watching the documentaries and interviews. There are some real gems, particularly the documentaries, Rhythm Is It!
Rhythm Is It! | A film by T. Grube & E. Sánchez Lansch (2004)
A film by Thomas Grube, Enrique Sánchez Lansch (2004) Sir Simon Rattle, Suz Broughton, Martin Eisentraut, Royston…
The Reichsorchester | The Berliner Philharmoniker and the Third Reich
In 2007, the Berliner Philharmoniker celebrated their 125th anniversary. Film director Enrique Sánchez Lansch took this…