Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The storied repertoire of Beethoven will be represented well this week by the KSO- the Coriolan Overture, the Third Piano Concerto and the Eroica Symphony.

I personally have a relationship with each Beethoven piece I have ever performed. They are like Facebook friends, only more in tune. As a sophomore at Hartt College, the Coriolan Overture excerpt was on the orchestra’s audition. It is a note-y little gem with a lot of surprises. The doofuses at International Music Company published the excerpt book with some of the lines out of order and only people who went the extra mile and played off a REAL part placed high on the audition. I learned the value of score study through this experience.

Two years later, I found myself playing in the Hartford Symphony. (Bulletin: the preceding music director of the Hartford Symphony, Edward Cumming, will be leading an all-Mozart concert in January). Pianist Rudolf Serkin, age 80, was scheduled to play the Beethoven Third concerto with us, but the concert had to be postponed because Mr. Serkin had broken his hip. Luckily the recovery was fast and he was resilient enough not to be diminished by the experience. His Third was epic; the way the arpeggios after the first movement cadenza just seemed to waft from the piano will always stay with me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of that concert was an exact duplicate of this week’s KSO repertoire. The KSO’s most recent performance of the first movement of this work featured our sons’ piano teacher, Mark Hussung, at Carson-Newman College in (I am totally guessing here) 2007. Our soloist this week, Alon Goldstein, can be seen on the KSO website playing Mozart; it is dynamic and sensitive.

To cap it all off is what is widely regarded as the first monster symphony, the Third (Eroica). As I mentioned before, this work also headlined the opening concerts of the 1988-89 season, and will soon be the first Beethoven Symphony that Maestro Richman has repeated. I have literally lost track of the number of times I have played the Eroica, but there is no losing track of the pathos, humor and majesty that Beethoven lavished on this work. There are some passages in Beethoven’s music that can only be described as Elysian; for me, it is the wind chorale deep into the finale after a grand fugue (poco andante between “E” and “F” if you have a score). Every time I get to this spot, I feel that if all of my life has come to this, then it has been a good life.

Remember: 7:00 start to this first pair of concerts!!!

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