To Joy

Arrive an hour early for the final concert of the first year of our Beethoven Project and enjoy a Concert Prelude with PSO Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh.

I did make it almost on time to see Resident Conductor Loh and his description of the ‘Ode to Joy’ Symphony by Beethoven. Lawrence Loh was very entertaining. In this sequence we see him describing all the movements of the symphony, and their depiction of various emotions from sad to joy, and along the way all the developments in the composition that take us on this journey into an amazing harmonic weaving which builds on the simple themes and melodies (for instance the third movement) and intertwines various flavors of the same phrases for different instruments and sections of the orchestra in a beautiful statement of both melancholy and ultimately joy.

Well the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led by Manfred Honeck did not disappoint, their triumphant return to Heinz Hall along with the soloists and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh delivered the nicest and fullest performance of this Symphony No. 9 that I’ve ever heard. Well I’ve only heard it one other time live in concert, and that was at Heinz Hall a few years ago. But this time it was such a treat. I’d like to hear it again and again. I’ve got several recordings on CD, and I only wish this one was available for purchase.

During the performance it was fun to watch various members of the orchestra and also the chorus. I couldn’t help but notice them smiling from time to time, something about this symphony makes one smile: It’s ‘to joy’, I suppose that’s why. The magic of Beethoven is the affect his music has on everyone.

Fire pink my native child

One more thing: I kept hearing that word repeated again and again by the chorus. That was the style that Beethoven used, to repeat the words over and over, to great effect. It was the word ‘feuertrunken’ which is always translated ‘fire imbibed’. Well the actual literal translation would really be: ‘drunk with fire.’ Somehow, I think after hearing this symphony, I am drunk with fire (and I wanted to use my photo one more time to demonstrate 🙂

Next week I’m really looking forward to Mahler: Symphony No. 3, a new piece for me.

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