11 November, 2007

Our New Maestro

Ahhhh! We were blessed with a refreshing date night at the symphony this weekend. Not only do we get to go with some of our oldest best friends, we heard all Beethoven (the first composer that I studied in high school who happens to be my favorite composer) and Our new resident conductor from the Netherlands is here.

His style is so very crisp, light, lilting. He conducts with a down beat! (not all do, they seem very hard to follow!) He uses hand signals and moves that, well, I have not seen from just one conductor before. My husband was distracted by so much movement, but most in the audience (including me!) seemed exhilarated by his energy and style.

First, the symphony played the Overture to Fidelio in E major (the final rendition of it, that is...Beethoven was not happy with the first three versions). It was a mere six minutes of dramatic loveliness, complete with and "attention-getting" fanfare.

Next came the Symphony No. 8 in F major, ties with the first symphony for short length. This is a mature work by Beethoven that suggests a sense of peace with where he was at the time, around 1812. This work is "small" only in the sense of a feeling of intimacy, instead of that of grandness and heroism. It is said that Beethoven was able to compose this symphony with some ease, instead of the "angst" that we may think of him having while trying to make some of his works just perfect. This piece includes varying and exciting dynamics and a sense of humor. Our new conductor was amazing on the point of dynamics, as well.

Last, we heard Beethoven's Seventh Symphony in A Major, which was written in 1811 but debuted on the same night in late 1813 as the 8th symphony. The 7th is grand and enthusiastic. The second movement, the slow Allegretto, was performed with such quiet as I have never heard it played before. The cellos and basses begin this movement somberly, and move slowly and quietly through and our new Maestro directed them in a very laid-back way, ever-so-gently to increase in volume. It was so moving, and my husband was happy at this point, because his favorite sections of the symphony were being highlighted. This second movement is also the one we hear in the children's DVD of Beethoven lives upstairs when the narrative recounts the sad tale of his frustration and hearing loss. Also appearing in this movement is the wonderful woodwind trios of flute, bassoon, and oboe. The fourth movement, the Allegro con brio, is lively and heroic, with lots of dotted eighths and 16th notes...ending in what I think is typical Beethoven fashion.

The French horns had some spectacular moments and my favorite players, the tympanist, the principal flute player, oboist, and bassoonist, had big nights, as well!

The audience roared and cheered for a second encore, like we hadn't seen in a couple of years...since perhaps the orchestra performed Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with the huge symphony chorus, or Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with symphony chorus. I think only James Galway received a third encore...but this night was mostly all about our new Maestro.

So next month, we have Beethoven's Ninth, the "Ode to Joy," to which we are looking very much forward to seeing and hearing. It promises to be a wonderful evening! We were able to exchange our normal cheap section tickets for excellent seats on the floor. I am prepared to be blown away and have the hairs on my arms standing on end. Although I must say that the sound in our normal seats is phenomenal, because of the excellent acoustics in the symphony hall. We have also sat directly behind the orchestra before, where we could feel the music so much more and read the music right along with the musicians. THAT brought back excellent memories of my years in band and symphony.

Sweet note: We've taken our kids to hear our city's symphony quite a few times through the years, and their grandparents actually serve on the board of one of the symphonies in our area, so they enjoy the magic and grandeur of hearing and seeing the beloved pieces they've grown up listening to live. They have made a connection, and for that, I am grateful.


No comments: