Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Beethoven in an age of...

Tradition has it in Vienna that while the Wiener Philharmoniker ring in the New Year to the strains of the Blue Danube and other Strauss family hits, the Wiener Symphoniker give festive performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Konzerthaus. The contrast between light music and more substantial fare was particularly pronounced this year, with the Symphoniker’s chief conductor designate Philippe Jordan leading a performance so lean and mean that ‘Ode to Austerity’ would not be an inapt description. I sometimes wondered if he was being too inflexibly joyless.
Yes, on Sunday I went to Vienna's other New Year's concert and wrote about it for Bachtrack. You can click here to read more. According to the Symphoniker, the New Year Beethoven tradition has been going strong for over thirty-five years. And in this interview, Jordan makes some HIP-friendly comments about Vienna Eroicas sounding like the Rhenish symphony, so what I wrote about the winds not being doubled was probably the case. It sounded like it but I couldn't see them, obscured as they were (looking from the parterre) by the humongous string section. They put in a plucky effort, as I mention, but the balance wasn't ideal. In his interview Jordan does however also make some remarks about not playing Brahms all the time, so there's something we can agree on.

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