Recital I (for Cathy)

With the performance of »Recital I«, soprano Alma Sadé, pianist Ohad Ben-Ari and conductor Joolz Gale, together with Ensemble Mini, celebrate Cathy Berberian’s role-play – excessive to breaking point – with a nonsense collage of circus brass music, Schönberg(ish) Sprechgesang, Berlin burlesque and atonal music.

The composer Luciano Berio dedicated this absurd masterpiece to one of the most versatile singers of the 20th century: his (then) wife, the mezzo-soprano and avant-garde composer Cathy Berberian. Berberian was known for her vocal interpretations that fused concert situations and acting. Her Beatles cover »Beatles Arias« is often quoted as an embarrassing low point of the classical music establishment. Wrongly so, because Berberian was aware of the absurdity of her attempt to appropriate Beatles songs for contemporary compositions. Persiflage and comedy are an important part of her artistic work. 

Berio’s piece will be fully staged: The spoken monologue is interrupted by 44 musical quotations spanning from Monteverdi to Berio’s own songs, representing the full scope of Berberian’s repertoire.

The Ensemble mini will then perform Arnold Schönberg’s »Five Pieces for Orchestra« which marks the full transition of Schoenberg into his »free-atonality« phase, as well as Shostakovich’s 9th, one of his most popular works. Originally intended to be a celebration of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, Shostakovich decided to change direction and completed a much smaller scale and a much lighter-mood piece. After its premiere some 75 years ago, Soviet critics censured the symphony for its »ideological weakness« and its failure to »reflect the true spirit of the people of the Soviet Union«.


Ensemble mini, founded in 2010 by Joolz Gale and members from the Berliner Philharmoniker, is a radical collective of super-sonic-soloists from Germany’s top orchestras that repackages symphonic music for new audiences. Addressing the need to make classical music more accessible, its mission is to revolutionize the symphonic concert experience through new style, sound and setting.

Innovative late-night projects include »Mini-Mahler« at Philharmonie Berlin, »Strauss 150: New Perspectives« at STATTBAD Berlin and »Bartók Beyond Borders« at Musikbrauerei Berlin.  They have collaborated with artists such as Regula Mühlemann, Marlis Petersen, Ferhan & Ferzan Önder, Gerhild Romberger, Tanja Tetzlaff, Ruth Ziesak and Elisa Carrillo Cabrera. Ensemble Mini has performed at Konzerthaus Berlin, Budapest Palace of Arts, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Essener Philharmonie, Mozarteum Salzburg, and at Zaryadye Hall Moscow, among others. Ensemble mini and Joolz Gale have recorded several live concerts for Deutschlandfunk Kultur, RBB Kulturradio, NDR Kultur and SWR Classic, as well as an award-winning debut CD, Mahler’s 9th Symphony.

Joolz Gale was born in England and studied at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Music in London. Graduating in 2007, he became an inaugural apprentice to the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, at which time he began to develop his skills as a conductor. In the same year, he took part in the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, resulting in an immediate invitation to make his début radio recording with Bayerischer Rundfunk and the Bamberger Symphoniker.

He has since gone on to make conducting debuts with choirs and orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America, including Orquesta de Cadaqués, Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Cape Philharmonic, China National Symphony, KZN Philharmonic, Cor de Cambra del Palau de la Música Catalana, Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, Shanghai Symphony and Taiwan Philharmonic, among others. Recent highlights have included a return to Bamberg for the theatre production »Die Deutsche Seele« with Orchesterakademie of Bamberger Symphoniker and Handel’s »Messiah« in Barcelona’s Palau de la Música (recorded for Medici TV).

In 2010, Joolz Gale founded Ensemble mini to reach new audiences with alternative concert formats in Berlin. Upcoming concerts in 2020 include a tour with Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (Beethoven’s 7th), guest appearances in Berlin, Köln and Moscow as well as a significant tour schedule with Ensemble mini that includes Budapest, Dortmund, Hamburg and New York.

Alma Sadé is an actress and opera singer who grew up in Israel and moved to NYC, where she studied at the Mannes College in New York. She has been a permanent member of the ensemble at Komische Oper Berlin since 2014. She has worked together with directors such as Guy Joosten, Immo Karaman, Karoline Gruber or Martin Schläpfer and in many different roles like Suzel (L’amico Fritz) in Tel-Aviv; Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in New York; Carolina (Il matrimonio segreto), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Soeur Constance (Les Dialogue des Carmélites), Stasi (Die Csárdásfürstin), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte für Kinder), Frasquita (Carmen), Zweite Nichte (Peter Grimes), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Eine fremde Prinzessin (Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse) an der Deutschen Oper am Rhein.

Ohad Ben-Ari, Israeli-born pianist and composer. Ohad Ben-Ari’s career has begun when he was 12 years old with performances as a soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. The following year, Ohad was officially enrolled as a student at the Tel-Aviv University, where he studied piano and composition, and later also conducting and scoring. As a pianist, Ohad has won numerous top prizes at international competitions, among them the ARD Competition and the coveted Arthur Rubinstein Master Competition. As a result, he received many invitations to appear as a soloist with Orchestras and with chamber music ensembles all around the world.

Since 2010, Ohad Ben-Ari has been residing with his family in Berlin, where he continues his extensive work as a pianist and a composer. He partners frequently with violinists Guy Braunstein and Noah Bendix-Balgley, as well as with mandolinist Avi Avital. He also collaborates with other world-renown classical musicians such as Sol Gabetta, Andreas Ottensamer, Alisa Weilerstein, Emmanuel Pahud, Magdalena Kožená and Yuja Wang. In the years 2011-2016, Ben-Ari has served as the artistic director of the Rolandseck Chamber Music Festival. Ohad currently serves as the director of the “ID Festival Berlin”, which he founded with the support of the German government in 2014. That same year, a debut solo performance of H.W. Henze’s “Requiem” took place with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

Ohad Ben-Ari’s compositions and transcriptions are performed world-wide by leading musicians. His first major original work, “Tips”, has seen its debut in 2013 with the Hamburg Symphony. In 2014, his “Concerto for Marimba” was premiered in Tokyo by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and “Violins of Hope” was commissioned and performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2015. His latest epic, “Messe di Requiem”, has premiered this season in Hamburg.

Daniel Kühnel, born in Jerusalem in 1973, has been the director of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra since the 2004/2005 season. He achieved international acclaim in 2009 with the engagement of Sir Jeffrey Tate and in 2018 with the engagement of Sylvain Cambreling as principal conductor.  In Hamburg, Kühnel trusts in a tradition-conscious, artistically demanding and accessible schedule policy at the highest level. He is also an internationally active festival director. In 2018, he succeeded in establishing the Martha Argerich Festival in Hamburg. The independently financed festival under the umbrella of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra was relaunched in 2019 and is scheduled to take place again in June 2020.

Ensemble Mini conducted by Joolz Gale

Luciano Berio // Recital I (© Universal Edition AG Wien) I Schönberg // Five Pieces for Orchestra (arr. Greissle) | Shostakovich // Symphony No. 9 (arr. Gale, © Sikorski Musikverlag, Hamburg)

Daniel Kühnel

Mezzo Soprano
Alma Sadé

Ohad Ben-Ari

© Christoph Neumann

Joolz Gale

© Alma Sadé

Alma Sade

© Do Hyung Kim

Ohad Ben-Ari

© Wilfried Beege

Daniel Kühnel

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Fri 24 April 21:30

radialsystem Halle

14 € | 10 €

1 hour 30 minutes, incl. intermission