Berlin, 26 to 30 October 2007, placeholder and links

Berlin had been on our list for some time and we hadn’t taken one of these short city breaks for a while, so a late October slot ahead of the pre-Christmas madness seemed like an excellent idea. It was.


This was another job for “Auntie Janet” of Ultimate Travel fame. All done by e-mail – how wonderfully modern.

Further to our telephone conversations today, I confirm that Kirker Holidays could arrange a four night holiday to Berlin for you staying at the Brandenburger Hof Hotel in a de luxe room for four nights on a bed and buffet breakfast basis.  They can also book the following British Airways flights for you:

26 October      BA 982          Depart Heathrow: 08.55          Arrive Berlin: 11.40
30 October      BA 985          Depart Berlin: 16.25            Arrive Heathrow: 17.20

You will also be met at the airport and taken to the hotel and transferred from the hotel to the airport on 30th October.

Sounded good to me.  Further correspondence booked a restaurant table and a chance to see a concert.  Me to Janet:

Please confirm booking for hotel’s amazing restaurant 26 October as originally requested and please also book the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra concert for evening 27 October.

…but we’d left it too late for the Rattle/Berlin Phil. Me again:

Shame about the Rattle concert.  Can you please instead book us for the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin concert at 16:00 on the Sunday, 28th October.  Hopefully there’ll be good tickets remaining for that concert.

There were; it was wonderful to see them play at home. I’ll write up the concert when I get around to fleshing out my notes etc. from this short trip.

Interestingly, these phone calls and e-mail exchanges with Auntie Janet started about five weeks before dad’s demise (so indeed before we knew that anything was badly wrong with him) and concluded just a couple of weeks after he died. I don’t recall how I felt about this at the time, but Janie and I must have decided that we’d need the break by then and I’m sure that decision was the right one.

Here is the hand-written journal, with only some fairly duff scanning possible from that particular notebook, so good luck to you if you try to read this: Berlin October 2007 Journal Notes. There’ll be a few good yarns once I write these up.

Here is a link to photos on Flickr; some interesting, some wacky, some neither, some both.


Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Berlin Philharmonie Großer Saal, 28 October 2007

So, we’re in Berlin having a short break – summarised here.

We have a chance to see one of our favourite visiting orchestras at the Wigmore Hall, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, play at home for once, at the Berlin Philharmonie.

Did they score? Of course they scored – they were playing at home.

It was an afternoon concert – the Philharmonie looked like this when we came out after the gig.

This was a Vivaldi fest – three of Antonio’s big choral works, with the RIAS Kammerchor doing the singing:

  • Magnificat RV 611
  • Dixit Dominus RV 594
  • Beatus vir RV 597


Very suitable hall for this sort of big work and a great occasion for us as part of our short break.


One of the highlights of our short trip to Berlin, for sure.

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of Akademie CDs on the day, both of which have had plenty of play as it happens, certainly avoiding the “doesn’t travel well; I suppose it is a souvenir” pitfall:

I know, we heard Vivaldi on the day, not Bach. But I have good recordings of those Vivaldi works, I wanted to hear some good Bach recordings by that orchestra. OK?

Kebab by Gianina Cărbunariu, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 20 October 2007

I recall this being a very powerful play/production – archived in all its detail by the Royal Court here. This resource includes plenty of reviews, from the play’s original outing in Dublin and also from the Royal Court.

With Rhinoceros on downstairs at the same time, I suppose this was Romanian month at the Royal Court.

I remember we left feeling uncomfortable; sexual exploitation is that sort of subject on the stage – you feel a little complicit in the exploitation even though you know you’ve been watching a play. In this play that exploitation is as raw as a symbolic uncooked kebab.

Lots of good reviews shown in the Royal Court link above, but Michael Billington in the Guardian absolutely hated it – see here. He felt he’d seen it all before. So did Charles Spencer in the Telegraph – see here.

It certainly wasn’t a fun play, but it was very well acted – we were more with the good reviews than the haters.

My diary is silent on what we had for dinner after the play, but it might easily, ironically, have been some form of kebabs, as we would often as not go to Ranoush or Mohsen after the Royal Court. But perhaps we went to May’s for Chinese food on this occasion, even if that choice was a change of tack after seeing the play.


Once We Were Mothers by Lisa Evans, Orange Tree Theatre, 13 October 2007

My recall of this one is extremely sketchy. I vaguely recall the scenarios, as set out in the Orange Tree Archive – click here. I remember the cast being a collection of Orange Tree regulars and a few new faces. I remember the play not really fitting together – it was basically three separate stories, merely linked by being essentially mother and daughter scenarios.

Michael Billington wasn’t too sure about it – see here.

John Thaxter in British Theatre Guide quite liked it – here.

We’ll have dined at Don Fernando afterwards, that I can say for sure.

David Greilsammer, Wigmore Hall, 12 October 2007

This concert was sponsored by the Tabor Foundation, so Janie and I went along and hoity-toitied with Michael and Doreen Tabor, plus Angela Broad and I think Catriona Oliphant was also there that evening.

Better yet, read the Classical Source Piece – click the picture

Anyway, this was a young musician concert and a very impressive young pianist is/was David Greilsammer. I can only find one preview of this concert – in the Telegraph – click here.

This review in Classical Source is enthusiastic and helpful – click here.


Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco, Royal Court Theatre, 6 October 2007

I’ve liked this play for almost as long as I can remember; certainly since school. Janie and I saw a quirky production of this at the Lyric Hammersmith years ago, but I thought this version at the Royal Court, translated by playwright Martin Crimp might have a bit extra. It did.

Benedict Cumberbatch was a young actor on the “one to watch” list in those days; now (writing in 2016) one might pay good money to avoid him – simply because of extreme overexposure to his manifest talent, you understand.

The above link (or click here if you prefer) takes you to the Royal Court archive, which has the who’s who and excellent reviews, saving me time and effort. But the absence of Michael Billington’s name in the Royal Court resource led me to suspect that Billi-o didn’t like it and I was right – click here for his review.

Philip Fisher in British theatre Guide (also unmentioned) did like it – click here.