Beethoven & Stravinsky
is always a sense of celebration & ritual at the first concert of
the season. It feels right. The summer is over & all of us are
"back to business". The PSO is back to work & I am back to soak in
live music. What I crave for a start, is a great performance of highly
significant composers. (At the end of the season I expect a great
performance of monumental composers.) When this happens, all is right
with the world…
Well, in reality, and unfortunately the world these days is nothing
but right… Another reason to come to a live concert. This is the
medicine for my soul.
I never thought about Beethoven & Stravinsky as a pair. I do not
remember ever being in a mood of listening to their music
consecutively. And it’s not only the four generations between them.
(Beethoven & Shostakovitch are a splendid pair!) It is their
musical language & imagery they evoke. But I was surprised,
intrigued & delighted!
How interesting: Here are two composers who have in common a
relationship with nature. Two elaborate "stories" of the same thing,
yet so very different in outcome. What a unique approach to a program.
I am right away interested in the Conductor: Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos.
And he was monumental!!!
A few personal reflections, I might even say: speculations. (Still, I am not a musicologist.)
I can’t imagine my life without Beethoven’s music. Most of us
probably couldn’t. The "Pastoral" Symphony lets me into Beethoven’s
personal feelings. Even if I would not know anything about this
composition, I would feel his tender heart. His delicate touch. His
love for beauty. His charm. How wonderful when added to his monumental
Symphonies. No wonder he "has it all". No wonder I can’t imagine life
Stravinsky: Yes, if I need to choose, I can imagine my life without
Stravinsky. Still, yesterday. the PSO created magic & while
listening, his music started to affect my deepest feelings. Is it
because of Katerina? I don’t know (yet). But what I do know is that
Stravinsky’s depiction of nature touched a row nerve. Never mind the
story of pagans & their brutal sacrifices. The music with it’s
terrifying rhythm & urgency became valid to me. Nature is still
terrifying at times. We might wish to conquer it by technology or
ritual but we are still scared…
So here we are: Two composers I would never "invite for tea" on the
same afternoon, making me rethink their place in my perception of
A final note: I came to the concert with a fourteen year old boy,
Everett Altherr, who is the son of my "buddy" from a previous firm I
used to work for. Everett plays the viola at the school orchestra and a
local youth orchestra. He likes coming to classical concerts but he
never attended an opening night. It was a pleasure to watch him watch
the orchestra. Especially when he concentrated his focus with the aid
of the binoculars. And than, a surprise: After the intermission, when
we are already seated, I said to him: Now, hold to your seat. If you
have never listen to "The Rite of Spring" you will be shocked! Lo &
behold, the first notes of the solo bassoon cut through the air and
Everett whispers: I know that! Later I found out that he recognized it
from Walt Disney’s "Fantasia". So, "there is more than one way to get
to Rome"… and, he loved the music! "It is so powerful!" he exclaimed.
It added to my delight of the opening night of the season!