Sunday, December 02, 2012

All Beethoven, All the Time!

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra played a nice concert of Beethoven standards last night under popular guest conductor Douglas Boyd. It was also the "Parade of the Lights" night downtown, so the house had a pretty good crowd, which is always good to see.

The evening opened with the Overture to his only opera, Fidelio. Beethoven had a lot of problems with this opera, and especially the overture. Like many others, I prefer the overture titled Leonore #3, but this performance was nice. The orchestra for the evening seemed to be of a slightly scaled-down size from what one might expect.

The second piece and perhaps the highlight of the evening was the Piano Concerto #3 with guest Lise de la Salle (pictured above). I swear I heard some wrong notes in her playing, but her passion certainly came through in the music, especially in the second movement, which she began sotto voce, which was quite effective.

After another lengthy intermission, the final was the Symphony #6. Although I feel this is one of those pieces I could listen to an infinite number of times, I did get the feeling from the concert that these pieces had been overplayed. It would have been nice to include something less familiar to the audience but that's a tough call on a Beethoven-only night. There are a few other overtures but other than Egmont they are not very well known because they are not as interesting musically. Perhaps de la Salle could have played a movement from a lesser known piano piece as a encore. (She did not play an encore at all.)

Boyd introduced the Pastorale by saying that it was a North American premiere for an alternate ending to the second movement, but the difference was so slight as to be instantly forgettable. Overall the piece was well-played. Both the concerto and the symphony seemed to have rushed tempos throughout, perhaps just to be different, or perhaps trying to use Beethoven's own metronome markings, which many have assumed to be "speed limits" rather than actual suggestions. The only time in the evening I felt the orchestra breakdown was at the end of the last movement, which was unfortunately the end of the evening, ending on a bit of a down note. However, my wife and I still had a great time, and I always leave looking forward to our next concert. Unfortunately, that is not until February.

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