Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskappelle Berlin perform an entirely English programme, including Elgar's Second Symphony and the UK premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Deep Time.
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Elgar's Second Symphony at the Proms. Daniel Barenboim conducted
the Staatskapelle Berlin. Our apologies for the loss of
transmission for a few minutes during the first movement of that
performance. One of the great privileges of watching a performance
like that is seeing how much it means to Daniel Barenboim and the
players. Every second played with such full commitment that every
player of the orchestra, every moment, etched on Daniel Barenboim's
face. A rather different reception to the one Elgar got in 1911. An
audience not sitting there like stuck pigs, Elgar would be glad to
hear. The appreciation in the Royal Albert Hall. So many riches in that
performance. This idea we sometimes have of Elgar as belonging to a
different tradition than that of Strauss and Mahler, but every fibre
of that piece was about disproving that. An essential early document of
the early 20th century, very much of its time. The vividness of the
colours in that lament of the second movement, the sheer involvement and
commitment, I say again, the string playing part of this orchestra, the
Staatskapelle Berlin. They looked to be enjoying this so much, giving
this symphony, Elgar, to a British audience, to us, at the Proms. And
Barenboim made the point about how connected Elgar's music is with
Europe. Well, Richard Strauss announced the Enigma Variations as a
masterpiece, the first significant piece by an English composer, and in
one of the last concert she told me that just as Mahler conducted in New
York before he died in 1911, and the piece was Elgar's Enigma Variations.
Not only are the audience not sitting there like stuffed pigs.
These are uploading birds of paradise, one might perhaps call
them. They seem to want more from this orchestra as well. But the
woodwind section of the orchestra, on their feet. That astonishing oboe
sole plate tonight by Fabian Schar raver, kind of improvisation array
-- oboe solo, played tonight. You don't always associate Elgar with
sheer sonic power but there was a lot of that in that performance
here. The violence that Barenboim unleashed in that third movement,
inspired by her Tennyson poem of someone in a shallow grave hearing
the hooves trample on his head. The whole orchestra on their feet now.
And orchestra really have a close relationship with Daniel Barenboim.
He has been the general music director there since 1992 which is
means he is in charge of the Opera house there as well, and he has held
the conductor for life title since the year 2000. More applause. The
audience want more from Daniel Barenboim. They maybe think of his
previous appearances at the Proms, where he has given so many concerts.
In 2012 there was a cycle of Beethoven's named Symphony -- ninth
Symphony along with the complete performance of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
And more music... music in which Elgar surely shows
his soul. The Nimrod variation from the Enigma Variations. I wonder in
that performance if some of Daniel Barenboim's soul is revealed. This
deep connection with Elgar and his first wife, Jacqueline du Pre.
Somehow, the spirit of noble lament in that music is in a way what the
Second Symphony is about, albeit on a grander scale. Sometimes an encore
feel like they believed to a different spiritual universe but not
that one, it feels like a continuation of the world of the
symphony. Daniel Barenboim bringing this orchestra to their feet, the
Staatskapelle Berlin. He has created another of these
unforgettable experiences at the Proms, whether it is Beethoven,
Wagner, Elgar, Daniel Barenboim and this orchestra, something special
happens when they are here at the Royal Albert Hall, sharing music
with this audience and with you at home. Something you feel means more
to him, sums up his approach to music making, reaching the widest
possible audiences. Something that runs through his life as a musician,
with the West Eastern Divan Orchestra, other musicians, driving
everything he does as a conductor. He is on the podium. That could mean
there is still more music. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you
will bear with me. There are some words I would like to say today that
I would like to share with you. I don't know if all of you will agree
with them. I really would like to share that with you, but, first of
all, I would like to thank this wonderful orchestra.
APPLAUSE Not for being wonderful, this is
what they are! LAUGHTER But for having agreed to
postpone their holiday by a week, I think, or more, in order to be able
to come to London to the Proms, this weekend, to play, because to play
for you the Elgar symphonies is something very important to them.
They really fell in love with this music. And they really wanted to
bring it to London and I am very grateful they are only going on
holiday tomorrow. LAUGHTER APPLAUSE
And I would like to share with you some feelings, thoughts I have.
Not political. LAUGHTER Not political but rather of human
concern. When I look at the world with so
many isolation tendencies. I get very worried. I know I am not alone.
APPLAUSE You know, I lived in this country
for many years. I was married in this country and I
lived here for many years. I was shown so much affection whilst I
lived here, that this kind of gave me the impetus, if you want to say
what I would like to say, I think that the main problem today is not
the policies of this country and that country. The main problem of
today is that there is not enough education.
APPLAUSE That there is not enough education
for music, we have known a long time, but now there is not enough
education about whom we are, about what is a human being and how is he
to relate with others of the same kind?
APPLAUSE That is why I say it is not
political, but it is of human concern. If you look at the
difficulties that the European continent is going through now, you
can see why that is. Because of the lack of common education. Because in
one country, they do not know why they should belong to something that
whether other countries do. I am not talking about this country, no.
LAUGHTER I will come to that. I am talking in general. Our
profession, the musical profession, is the only one that is not
national. No German musician will tell you, I am a German musician and
I will only play Brahms, Schumann, and Beethoven.
CHEERING We had very good proof of it
tonight. Let me stay out of Great Britain. If
a French citizen wants to learn Goethe, he has to have a
translation, but he does not need a translation for the Beethoven
symphonies. This is why music is so important. And this isolationist
tendency, and nationalism in its very narrow sense is something that
is very dangerous and can only be fought with a great accent on
education of the new generation. We are probably all too old for that.
LAUGHTER But the new generation have to understand that Greece, and
Germany, and France, and Denmark, have all something in common called
European culture. CHEERING
APPLAUSE Not only Europe.
Culture. This is really the most important thing. And, of course, in
this cultural community called Europe, there is a place for diverse
culture. For different cultures, for a different way of looking at
things, but this can be done only with education. And the fanaticism
that exists in the world, with religious backgrounds, can also only
be fought with education. APPLAUSE
Religious fanaticism cannot be fought with arms alone. The real
evils of the world can only be fought with humanism, that keeps us
all together. Including you. And I am sure going to show you that I
really mean it. APPLAUSE
MUSIC: Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 by Elgar
Daniel Barenboim and his international cultural community of
musicians, the Staatskapelle Berlin. Am everybody here, with the Pomp and
Circumstance March. A tune that belongs all of us. Something you may
hear later in the season. From all of us at the Royal
Albert Hall, good night.
Inspirational maestro Daniel Barenboim makes his second appearance in this opening weekend of the 2017 Proms season. Conducting his German orchestra Staatskappelle Berlin, Barenboim brings an entirely English programme to the Royal Albert Hall, including Elgar's poignant Second Symphony and the UK premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Deep Time, a work dedicated to the memory of Birtwistle's friend and colleague Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.