Thursday 17 December 2009

There's Runnicles - In Berlin, and he's brought the Atlanta Symphony Chorus

Of course, it's hardly news these days that Donald Runnicles is in Berlin; he is, after all, now in charge of Deutsche Oper. However, it isn't every day that this happens:

Last time he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic it was for a performance of Berlioz's Requiem in May 2008, sadly just before the advent of the digital concert hall, though it did receive a Radio 3 broadcast (so one wonders if there's scope for the audio only version being made available via the digital concert hall). And that's not all: now, as then, Runnicles is bringing the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus with him (whom he well knows from his tenure as principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra). One does wonder whether importing a choir like this gets up the hackles of the local choruses. Indeed, when the Concertgebouw popped over to London last weekend, they didn't even bring their own choir. Then again, the Atlanta are a pretty special bunch and I look forward to hearing them.

This time they're doing Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. I haven't heard much Brahms from Runnicles (though his Edinburgh festival concert this year included the double concerto) so it will be interesting to see how it turns out - will he find the incredible drama of Furtwangler or, more likely, something fresh and not quite what I'm used to.

Either way, point your browser here for a report after Sunday's concert. But, of course, you don't have to wait to see what I have to say - you can watch and listen for yourself. I already have a subscription to the digital concert hall, and at €149 a year it is quite pricey - though that gives you thirty or so live concerts, and access to them at any time via the archive (and last year's archive too), it will become more cost effective with each passing year (unless the price increases dramatically or they remove the older material). That said, while it seems cost effective, you do actually need to ensure you view them and it can be easy not to get round to it - there are always too many things to listen to! The other option is a one off €9.90 fee to either stream the concert live or wait a few days and pay the same to watch it as many times as you like within 48 hours. If you're going to pay for the one off, I'd recommend the latter since it offers better value for money. There's also a 30 day pass for €39 euros.

Still, it goes to show how great an endeavour the digital concert hall is. After all, it's not like I can just pop over to Berlin to catch the maestro at work. (Actually, that isn't quite true - I'm doing precisely that in April when he conducts Der Ring, I hope to catch the Berlin Philharmonic live under Bělohlávek with Aimard while I'm there. However, I certainly can't do it every day.) I hope the digital concert hall catches on - how great would it be if I could catch Runnicles' Atlanta appearances in the same way, or see Jansons at home with the Bavarians, or enjoy those LSO performance that don't easily fit in with my schedule.......

Of course, if you're actually in Berlin, you can try for tickets to the concerts.

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