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Hamburg International Music Festival with NDR (April 26–May 5)

21cmediagroup / 25th March 2024 / News

The annual Hamburg International Music Festival brings together some of the world’s leading artists and orchestras in one of its greatest musical cities. All too topically, the theme of the 2024 edition is “War and Peace.” In keeping with this, Gilbert has chosen to open the festival with Friede auf Erden (“Peace on Earth”) by Schoenberg, whose 150th anniversary falls next year. Performed by the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the a cappella choral work will share the Opening Night program with Ives’s Fourth Symphony, along with Four Walt Whitman Songs, Weill’s post-Pearl Harbor setting of four of Whitman’s Civil War poems, for which Gilbert and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra will be joined by Grammy-winning American baritone Thomas Hampson (April 26 & 27). The conductor’s live recording of Ives’s symphony came fourth on Rhapsody’s list of the “Top 25 Classical Albums of 2013,” prompting Seth Colter Walls to write: “[It] still gives me chills. This is one of the finest Ives recordings in recent memory.”

For their second appearance at the Hamburg festival, Gilbert and the NDR turn once again to Schoenberg, opening their program with A Survivor from Warsaw. Written in 1947, two years after the close of World War II and four before the composer’s death, the cantata pays tribute to victims of the Holocaust. The NDR’s performance will feature narration by French-German actor Dominique Horwitz and a men’s chorus drawn from the Berlin Radio Choir. Together with a stellar quartet of vocal soloists – soprano Susanna Phillips, contralto Gerhild Romberger, tenor Maximilian Schmitt and bass John Lundgren – the full choir will then join the conductor and orchestra for the message of solidarity and hope offered by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (May 3 & 5; livestream May 3). Gilbert’s way with the work has already won praise; in a rendition at London’s BBC Proms, he and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra “found Beethoven’s fire, with clear and controlled playing in the earlier movements giving way to an explosive choral finale” (The Guardian).

The festival also sees Gilbert take part in “Time’s Echo,” a special event combining a conversation between the conductor and author Jeremy Eichler with a chamber performance of Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen for string septet, featuring Gilbert on violin (May 2).

April 26 & 27, 2024
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
2024 Hamburg International Music Festival, “War & Peace”: Opening Concert
SCHOENBERG: Friede auf Erden (“Peace on Earth”; with Prague Philharmonic Choir)
WEILL: Four Walt Whitman Songs (with Thomas Hampson, baritone)
IVES: Symphony No. 4

May 3 & 5, 2024
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Arnold Schoenberg : A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125