Alfred Brendel Defends Rattle's Performance in Berlin

Classic Arts News   Alfred Brendel Defends Rattle's Performance in Berlin
Pianist Alfred Brendel has responded to critical attacks on Simon Rattle's performance as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, defending the conductor in a letter to the London Guardian.

Brendel wrote in response to a Guardian article published May 25 that quoted various German critics as saying that after making a splash when he debuted four years ago, Rattle has failed to sustain excitement in Berlin. Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung writer Fabian Bremer, one of Rattle's harshest critics, was quoted as writing that "the longing for a new Karajan is growing," referring to the legendary Herbert von Karajan, the music director of the Philharmonic from 1954 to 1989.

"The Berlin Philharmonic is in superlative shape," Brendel wrote. "Of course it is not a carbon copy of Karajan's or [Claudio] Abbado's orchestra. While it has fully retained its richness in Romantic symphonies, it has opened itself up to contemporary as well as 18th-century music in a novel way."

Brendel wrote,"I have never heard any playing surpass that of the BPO in three glorious performances of Mahler's Fourth Symphony I was able to hear [earlier this year]."

The 75-year-old pianist added, "I remember the times when it was chic in Germany to look down on Karajan."

The German media has speculated in recent weeks that Rattle will step down and be replaced by Christian Thielemann or Daniel Barenboim. The orchestra has denied that any change is in the works, insisting that the rumors are the result of a "campaign" by a few people. Some observers have even suggested that Fabian Bremer is a pseudonym for Axel Br‹ggemann, a writer for Die Welt and another critic of Rattle's.

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