Phoenix >Phoenix Symphony
Beethoven's 9th Performance.
Classical music has long stood as some of the most complex and beautiful music of the ages, and since it’s existence there have been those who have stood, from their contemporary times even until today, as great and masterful composers. One such composer, well known by many, even those not adept in classical music, is Ludwig Van Beethoven. Furthermore, amongst his many achievements in composition, few of his works stand out with such recognition as his 9th Symphony. Though many are familiar with it, few can play it with the grandeur and perfection with which Beethoven undoubtedly intended it to be played, and as it should in no other way be played. Only a truly adept orchestra, group of soloists, and conductor can evoke its full greatness. The Phoenix Symphony attempted such a performance in September of 2009, and there is much to be said about their valiant effort.
For one, the powerful performance that everyone on the stage seemed to put on came though clearly. The conductor, who I paid much attention to, and kept an eye on even if looking at others on stage, was clearly well practiced and engaged, and I at a few times even found myself swirling my index finger and wrist around in the air above my lap in time with his motions. The timpani and brass sections were excellent, however, from where I was sitting, perhaps almost even a little too loud and overbearing compared with the strings and choir. However, the strings and the woodwinds and brass managed to mesh quite well at the most essential parts of harmony, namely in the first and second movements. Also, like the timpani and brass, the choir, even though located in the direct posterior of the stage, managed to be too forceful at times, not properly meshing with the rest of the players’ dynamics. I must say that by far the four vocal soloists in the fourth movement were by far the most exuberant, and likely the most passionate performers in the entire performance. Overall, the stage held together well throughout most of the Symphony.
I feel that the power of the performance, which I find to be maybe the most important part of this symphony whenever performed, was shown quite effectively. The general feel and atmosphere was near ideal, and I attribute this to the conductor, who held the various parts of the orchestra together with a steady hand, and an even steadier demeanor. The timpani, one of my favorite featured instruments in this piece, were wonderful in their part in the second movement, and the rest of the orchestra seemed to fall in sync almost perfectly at this time of the production. Even though the choir, though almost too overbearing near the end, as I said earlier, fulfilled their role, and an especially important one, backing up the soloists once the “Ode to Joy” part of the fourth movement started, and then right up until the finish of the show. The strings and winds, too, met or exceeded my expectations, as they played every note as I have heard it performed before, in many other cases, beautifully. But truly I feel the greatest admiration, and in reality as sense of thanks, towards the four vocalists who made the show: the soprano, tenor, contralto and bass. They were beautiful, flawless, and as heavenly as I think one could become without being true angels sent from the divine.
Though I am not sure if any symphony has, or ever will, perform this wondrous work of Beethoven’s to his own standards, I am satisfied, as I think many are, with the wonderful performance attempts that we have produced since Beethoven first wrote this opus. The Phoenix Symphony’s attempt is nothing short of such an effort, and though perhaps not flawless, was certainly an attempt beautiful enough to make all in the room of the performance feel the light-hearted merriment and kinship towards his fellow man that Beethoven’s grand symphony, in it’s great finale, kindled in his own heart long ago.
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