What Comes Before Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’?

Manfred Honeck, a leading Beethoven conductor, guides us through the beginning of the end of the mighty Ninth Symphony. (From the NY Times)

I think you need to have a Times subscription for this, but it is SO EXCELLENT.

I have loved “The Ninth” since I was little, long before I ever knew of its Kubrick connection or any other pop culture references. And not only does this do a marvelous job of explaining some of the sneaky brilliance Beethoven put into the first three and a quarter movements before singing starts, the HD fidelity of the short musical excerpts is breathtaking! Put on your best headphones.

Personally, I feel this conductor is a little too break-neck in his fourth movement tempos, even if as conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic he is considered a top Beethoven interpreter. But I am going to seek out and buy the recording in none the less.

But I must be careful. This is heap big magic. Uber powerful stuff that I know it too well.

Like “Wish You Were Here” and side 2 of “Abby Road,” if I even start to think about the opening of such albums, the entire thing will play in my brain note for note and there isn’t much I can do to stop it.

NYYS Masters Scheherazade’s Mysteries – Concert Review

And Beethoven’s Many Moods

With Joshua Gersen conducting,  guest star Elena Urioste shone bright in Beethoven’s violin concerto, opus 61, followed by an NYYS ensemble rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, op. 35, full of memory, passion, and promise. I couldn’t have been more delighted.

“I have no idea whose credenza Urioste was interpreting at the end of the first movement, but it was punctuated by dramatic double stops, with fluid runs up the neck, and heart-piercing tone in the lengthy sustain she achieved time and again in the highest notes, clear and poignant as tears in sunlight. And all of it crowned by a marvelous passage where she accompanied her own trebly melody with a sonorous counterpoint across the lower strings….

During the interval, the stage lost the featured soloist, and gained considerably more orchestra members, including a second row of bassists and the full complement of percussionists required to achieve the depth and splendor of Rimsky-Korsakov’s lavish tone poem…Their performance across all four movements was magnificent.”

Read the Full Review