RAT­TLE’S KNACK

The Berlin Phil­har­monic’s glam­orous con­duc­tor Si­mon Rat­tle is re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia next year, he tells

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile -

writ­ten within a cou­ple of years of each other, as Rat­tle points out. “The Bruck­ner Eight is one of the big­gest, most mov­ing and pro­found pieces we play,” he says, “and they tell me it’s not so of­ten played in Aus­tralia.” He is in­trigued to learn that while Aus­tralian au­di­ences are forcefed Mahler, they are not so fa­mil­iar with Bruck­ner. “Well, that’s go­ing to be fas­ci­nat­ing,” he says. At least he knows that Aus­tralians like their sym­phonies big.

Kozena came to fame singing mu­sic from the much ear­lier baroque and clas­si­cal eras. Her record­ing of Vi­valdi’s opera Ju­ditha Tri­umphans with Alessan­dro de Marchi is a tri­umph, and she has recorded com­pi­la­tions of Vi­valdi, Han­del and Mozart arias. De­bussy seems a jump. “But that’s what she’s been do­ing for years,” Rat­tle says. “She lived in Paris, and French mu­sic has been very much the cen­tre of her reper­toire in the last 10 or 15 years. Peo­ple in Europe for­get she was a baroque singer, but peo­ple get to know record­ings.”

Rat­tle has done his time with baroque too: he was made prin­ci­pal guest con­duc­tor of the Orches­tra of the Age of En­light­en­ment a cou­ple of decades ago and re­mains its prin­ci­pal artist. “It was hi­lar­i­ous at one point. I was tour­ing Rameau with the Berlin Phil­har­monic, and tour­ing Ber­lioz with Orches­tra of the Age of En­light­en­ment,” he says. The mind bog­gles slightly.

Just think­ing of the sonorous depths of the Berlin Phil­har­monic con­jures the Ger­man tra­di­tion: Haydn, Beethoven, Wag­ner. But the brit­tle so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the French baroque? “But you know, it’s all one con­tin­uum,” he says. “They all af­fect each other. Peo­ple talk about how Stravin­sky is in­flu­enced by Haydn, but they al­ways for­get to say how much Haydn is in­flu­enced by Stravin­sky back­wards.

“I think the whole point of mod­ern orches­tras is that they should take in ev­ery­thing. If you’re not play­ing a lot of Bach, then you prob­a­bly shouldn’t play Bruck­ner ei­ther.” He and his orches­tra have won rave reviews in re­cent years with their per­for­mances of the Bach Pas­sions, staged by Amer­i­can di­rec­tor Peter Sel­lars. RAT­TLE was born in Liver­pool in Jan­uary 1955, the son of a naval com­man­der, and started at the Royal Academy of Mu­sic in London at the pre­co­cious age of 16. The year he grad­u­ated, he

Si­mon Rat­tle, top; Rat­tle con­duct­ing the Berlin Phil­har­monic at the Syd­ney Opera House, left; Rat­tle’s wife, Czech mez­zoso­prano Mag­dalena Kozena, fac­ing page

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