WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Germany, 2015

Tour Dates: 9th - 24th October, 2015

Existing more than 65 years, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne has a reputation for being one of the most important radio broadcast orchestras of Europe.

Tour Dates
  • 9th - 24th October, 2015

 Saturday, 10th October, 20:00, Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou
Sunday, 11th October, 20:00, Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou
Thursday, 15th October, 19:30, The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing
Friday, 16th October, 19:30, The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing
Saturday, 17th October, 19:30, The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing
Sunday, 18th October, 19:30, The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing
Monday, 19th October, 19:30, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai
Thursday, 22nd October, 20:00, Seongnam Arts Center, Seongnam, South Korea
Friday, 23rd October, 20:00, Seongnam Arts Center, Seongnam, South Korea

Existing more than 65 years, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne has a reputation for being one of the most important radio broadcast orchestras of Europe. Stylistic variety is the specific characteristic of the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Garry Bertini was Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra from 1983–1991. Under his direction, the orchestra became one of the leading interpreters of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies and other major works of the 19th century.

Working with Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor from 1997–2010, defined the profile of WDR Symphony Orchestra even more. For their performances of compositions of Dmitrij chostakowitsch, Richard Strauss, Sergej Rachmaninow, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner they received many awards and received rave reviews. Successful tours of Europe, America and Asia increased the international reputation of the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Numerous first performances of commissioned works made a contribution to the history of music and to the support of contemporary music, as did the cooperation with extraordinary composers of our time. Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Igor Strawinskij, Karlheinz Stockhausen are some of the composers, who performed their works with the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Also the great number of excellent productions of contemporary music bear witness to the exceptional position of the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Its competence in historically informed performance practices in baroque and classical music are due to continuous cooperation with conductors like Ton Koopman, Christopher Hogwood or Reinhard Goebel.

Since the 2010/2011 season, Jukka-Pekka Saraste is Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Conductor and orchestra already have worked together successfully for a long time. In November 2009, their performance of the 9th Symphony of Gustav Mahler in Cologne was acclaimed as “announcement of a great aera” in press reports. Also the awards from the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik and the magazine Gramophone, which the Orchestra and its Chief Conductor received for that concert’s CD release, prove this. CD releases with works by Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Johannes Brahms as well as invitations to major festivals and concert halls in Europe bear witness to the artistic success of their collaboration.

Conductor: Jukka - Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as a conductor demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Saraste has held the position of Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne since 2010. He was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to
2013. After his tenure, he was named the orchestra’s first ever Conductor Laureate.

His previous positions include the principal conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1987-1991); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1987-2001), after which he was made Conductor Laureate; Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1994-2001), and he served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2002-2005). He has also held the position of Artistic Advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, for which he is still Artistic Advisor. He also founded the orchestra’s annual Tammisaari Festival, for which he is Artistic Director. He has taken the WDR Symphony on an extensive tour around Europe as well as returning to the Salzburg Festival Hall, where the orchestra has anannual residency.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartok, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev. His recordings of Mahler’s sixth symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic and Mahler’s ninth symphony with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne have received widespread acknowledgement, including the latter’s being named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal and the Finnish State Prize for Music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University, Toronto, and recently, an honorary doctorate from the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki

Violinist: Frank Peter Zimmermann

Born in Duisburg, Germany, Frank Peter Zimmermann started playing the violin when he was 5 years old, giving his first concert with orchestra at the age of 10. Since finishing his studies with Valery Gradov, Saschko Gawriloff and Herman Krebbers in 1983, Mr. Zimmermann has been performing with all major orchestras in the world, collaborating on these occasions with the world’s most renowned conductors. His many concert engagements take him to all important concert venues and international music festivals in Europe, the United States, Japan, South America and Australia.

Highlights in 2014/15 include performances with the Berlin Philharmonic / Mariss Jansons, the Boston Symphony / Juanjo Mena, the New York Philharmonic / Sakari Oramo, the Philharmonia Orchestra / Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Gewandhaus Orchestra / Christoph von Dohnanyi.

Mr. Zimmermann is also an avid chamber musician and recitalist. His interpretations of the classical, romantic and 20th Century repertoire are received with great critical and public acclaim. His regular recital partners are pianists Piotr Anderzewski, Enrico Pace and Emanuel Ax. Together with viola player Antoine Tamestit and cellist Christian Poltera he forms the Trio Zimmermann; the string trio performs in among others Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, London, Lyon, Milan, Munich, Paris and Vienna, as well as during the festivals in Salzburg and Edinburgh.

Mr. Zimmermann was awarded the “Premio del Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena 1990”. In April 1994 he received the “Rheinischer Kulturpreis 1994” and in October 2002 the “Musikpreis” of the city of Duisburg. On 21 January 2008 he received the “Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”. Numerous and award-winning CD recordings of Mr. Zimmermann, covering a wide and varied choice of repertoire, are available on EMI Classics, Sony Classical, BIS Records and ECM Records. Mr. Zimmermann plays a Stradivarius from 1711, which once belonged to Fritz Kreisler, and which is kindly sponsored by Portigon AG.

Pianist: Gerhard Oppitz

Gerhard Oppitz is a German pianist with an unusually broad repertory, encompassing from traditional works like the complete output of Brahms and Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Ravel, Liszt and Weber, to modern works by Boulez, Henze, Ligeti, Messiaen and others. Not surprisingly, the gifted Oppitz is multi-lingual, with fluency in seven languages, and has a passion for flying, often taking his plane to concert locales.

Oppitz was born in Bavarian on February 5, 1953. He began playing the piano at the age of five and by 11 gave his first public concert, an event attended by Paul Buck, professor of piano at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule. Oppitz then studied with Buck in Stuttgart and later with Hugo Steurer in Munich.

In 1973 Oppitz met renowned German pianist Wilhelm Kempff, who became his mentor. From master classes held by Kempff in Positano, Italy, Oppitz acknowledged he gained valuable interpretive insights into the piano works of Beethoven. In 1977 Oppitz won first prize in the Artur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv as the first German pianist to achieve this distinction. At 28, Oppitz was named music professor at the Munich Musikhochschule and became the youngest musician ever appointed to the faculty. By this time his career as a soloist was in full swing, with appearances at the most prestigious recital halls and with major European orchestras and conductors.

Over the next two decades Oppitz established an international reputation as one of the most talented and versatile pianists before the public. He has recorded for a variety of labels, including Tudor and Bayer, but most prominently for RCA and Hanssler Classics. In 2004 RCA released a compilation by Oppitz of the complete solo works of Grieg, and followed the next year with the complete solo output of Brahms.

"Saraste’s WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln is on magnificent form in performances that feel bold, urgent and highly charged…this is an excellent release that I will reach for often."

- MusicWeb International