Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beethoven Symphony 9

Conductor Matthew Halls
I'm unsure where I heard it, but regarding conductors it was said that "the score needs to be in their head, not their head in the score".  Never was that more clearly demonstrated then at the Toronto Symphony concert Wed. Feb. 13 Beethoven Symphony 9.  Guest conductor Matthew Halls, conducted the entire evening from memory.  What a memory to contain not only Beethoven's longest symphony but his "Coriolan Overture" and "Serenade in E Minor for String Orchestra" by Elgar as well.

I really enjoyed the "Coriolan Overture".  It opened with a decisive series of chords and ended, in a way I don't expect from Beethoven, by literally fading away.  The orchestra did a fantastic disappearing act at the end, bringing the sound level ever so gradually to nothing.

Elgar's "Serenade" was just beautiful with lovely playing from the string section.

The meat of the evening and the reason everyone was there had to be Beethoven's Ninth Symphony!  It was my first time hearing it live and just the way the stage was set up indicated something was going to be different.  Rather than relegating the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir to the seats in the choir loft, the orchestra was pushed to the front of the stage and the choir seated on risers behind them.
(Photo by John Terauds)
Obviously the part everyone knows is the "Ode to Joy" from the fourth movement, but I discovered there's so much more to the piece than that.  For example in the second movement there was a great melody that would start to develop and each time it reached a peak it would drop away into something else.  Not sure where he was going with that because I was anxious to hear it continue and to my ears it never did.  Even in the fourth movement the "Ode to Joy" theme is of course there, but it's expanded on and left then returned to.  All things I wasn't expecting.  It was truly an uplifting evening, and I hope to catch Beethoven 9 again sometime.  To top it all off, it was Mr. Halls first time conducting the Ninth Symphony.  No one ever would have guessed and I wonder how his approach may change as he conducts it in the future after such a successful first experience.  For a more detailed review check out the Toronto Star article.

No comments:

Post a Comment