Rattle and Barenboim in Athens
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing its traditional May 1 European concert in Athens this year. The performance, at the Herod Atticus Theater, is also seen by observers as the end of a rumored rivalry between the orchestra’s principal conductor and artistic director, Sir Simon Rattle, and Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli-Argentinean conductor and pianist. Barenboim, who is chief conductor of the other big orchestra in Berlin, the Staatskapelle Berlin, had been seen as a candidate for principal conductor at the Berlin Philharmonic before the orchestra chose Rattle. Agence France-Presse, in a dispatch from Berlin on Wednesday, said that the rivalry between the two men appears to have come to an end. The two will perform together tomorrow. Rattle will conduct and Barenboim will appear as soloist in Johannes Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15. The concert also marks the opening of this year’s Athens Festival. The program, which will begin at 11.30 a.m. and will be televised live across Europe, will also include Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor Op. 25, in an orchestral version by Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). AFP also noted that it appears the longstanding rivalry between the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, two of the world’s top symphony orchestras, will come to an end. Rattle, who also has close ties with the Vienna orchestra, said that musicians from both ensembles would play together in a joint performance on April 2, 2005. The performance would mark the end of a «rivalry that dates back to a previous century» and had its roots in the era of the Berlin Philharmonic’s legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan, Rattle said. The rivalry began in June 1984 when von Karajan canceled a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic in Salzburg, Austria, and invited the Vienna Philharmonic to perform instead. Karajan and his Berlin orchestra had fallen out over the conductor’s decision to appoint the young female clarinettist, Sabine Meyer, as solo clarinet, an appointment the orchestra fiercely opposed. The Berlin-Vienna rivalry is also believed to have re-emerged very recently. Observers said the Berlin Philharmonic was miffed that Rattle, who took up the baton in Berlin in 2002, decided to record his recent, critically acclaimed complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies for EMI with the Vienna orchestra rather than with them.