Brahms/Beethoven – October 28, 2006 – Stephanie Heriger

What a way to start my life as a PSO blogger…

And what a way to end what was, for me, a rather hectic and harried day.  I took my seat silently cursing all of mankind (well, maybe it was just the lone soul who dared to steal my parking spot) and by intermission, I was practically swooning.  Brahms tends to have that effect on me.

I’m lucky in that the choral pieces presented Saturday night weren’t new to me.  And I’m really lucky to have had the chance to actually sing Nänie (as an undergraduate at Dickinson College).  At the time, the piece seemed particularly poignant given our performance was in observance of the centennial of Brahms’s death.  But even today, I find the work to be exceedingly moving.  In fact, Nänie is on the (very) short lists of pieces that have a good shot of making me cry (the Adagio from Brahms’s first piano concerto and the fifth movement of Mahler’s second symphony being the only other two).  Brahm’s quiet consolation seems to get me every time.

Beethoven, on the other hand, is far less quiet.  And although I’m not likely to cry, the opening of the finale to the fifth symphony will forever give me goosebumps.  With this performance, I was especially pleased with Maestro Frühbeck’s almost seamless presentation.  This is a work where continuity is key – so to hear it with very little pause between movements (of course there is none between the third and fourth) was, to my ears, a refreshing and effective way of keeping the symphony "whole."

I look forward to the rest of the season!

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