Nettle and Markham Mendelssohn Shostakovich Omri Hadari CTPO #ConcertReview

Nettle and Markham Mendelssohn Shostakovich Omri Hadari CTPO #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Omri Hadari
Soloist: Nettle and Markham
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 10 November 2016

Program:

Mendelssohn Ruy Blas Overture, op. 95
Mendelssohn Double Piano Concerto in E
Shostakovich Symphony no. 5 in D minor, op.47

This concert honored Maestro David Tidboald, congratulating him on his 90th birthday. Tidboald’s contribution to the industry in terms of infrastructure is unparalleled. He established and conducted the KZN Philharmonic and the CAPAB and NAPAC orchestras. He also founded two major youth music festivals that provide vital performing experience to young instrumentalists, and prepares them for orchestra playing. With celebrations for Ruth Allen’s 90th the previous week at the Gala Concert (and again the following week on the 17th, which was her actual birthday) members of the city’s classical musical community experienced a trans-cultural custom as old as stone: honoring its elders. Our modern lives are so unrecognizable from their roots in pre-industrialised, pre-nuclear, tribal, socialist civilisation, that moments like these of gratitude for our tribal elders are strangely reassuring: In the throes of global madness, we are maintaining our humanity.

The overture revealed Hadari’s clear time-keeping and demanding expectation from the CTPO to play at the standard of the best orchestras in the world, to which his conducting style is accustomed. The result was a virtuosic performance with exceptional work from the strings. His outstanding control of dynamics was immediately discernible, always keeping us on our toes, and always assuring enough potential energy for climaxes to explode wonderfully.

Nettle and Markham, Omri Hadari, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Nettle and Markham one second after completing the Mendelssohn double concerto in E, with Omri Hadari and the CTPO

The concerto (MWV 5) performed by Nettle and Markham has a tremendous history, beautifully told by David Nettle in the program. Mendelssohn composed it in 1823 aged 14, but revised it later on. The concerto remained in a state of flux until his early death and was not published, hence it does not have an opus number, but a Mendelssohn-Werkverzeichnis number or MWV, German for Mendelssohn Work Index. The MWV was established because the composer did not keep up with his admin – He cataloged only 72 works with opus numbers, and then died, leaving 121 works to be added posthumously. Several versions of the concerto exist, in various states of development, and in all the confusion Nettle and Markham found it best to create their own edition, favoring the original 1823 version.

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Nettle and Markham with Omri Hadari, Mendelssohn double concerto in E

Their edition is scintillating, playful, and wise – all our favorite reasons to listen to Mendelssohn. As entertaining to see as it was to hear, watching the runs and witty exchanges was simply delightful. Nettle and Markham are extremely well matched, sharing a flawless technique and shapely sense of phrase. Repetitions are never the same, but explore a different interpretation of line, changing the meaning of the sentence even though the words are the same. The exciting acellerando into the coda of the first movement had everyone on the edge of their seats. The CTPO was outstanding – lively soft lyrical violins and a horn entry in the Adagio that was dolce de leche.

Shostakovich 5th is a treat for the romantic music lover, an explicit emotional expression of sarcastic submission and yearning for freedom under tyrannical rule. Hadari’s dynamism is ideally suited to such dramatic works as this. Many people experience great romantic works as a journey in the imagination, where the music tells the story. Hadari’s mastery articulates the subtleties of his interpretation, like the terrifying power of Stalinist Russia: a dread march that develops a splinter motive of resistance and hope from the trumpets. This leads to a cacophonic anticlimax, like the momentary appearance of the cold sun on a freezing Siberian evening. After the trumpets had stated their protest, Hadari’s Stalin marched on without so much as blinking. Political propaganda swallowed that trumpet’s protest, as if it had never happened.

Omri Hadari, Patrick Goodwin, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Omri Hadari congratulating concertmaster Patrick Goodwin and the CTPO after the Shostakovich 5th symphony

The show stealer for me was concertmaster Patrick Goodwin’s awkwardly pretty solo in the midst of a macabre, military ball, a paradox beautifully illustrated by Hadari’s skill. The CTPO painted these musical pictures in world class standards. String technique was astounding, annunciating a perfectly synchronous pianonissimo pizzicato, with accellerando! Stunning ensemble playing from winds, bassoons expertly handing the oddly high register. Beautiful solos by Gabriele von Durckheim flute, Daniel Prozesky clarinet, and Caroline Prozesky horne. As the first movement drew to a close, the melody seamlessly passed from flute (von Durckheim) to picolo (Bridget Wilson) to violin (Patrick Goodwin) – an outstanding moment of magic.

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Standing ovation for Hadari and the CTPO after the Shostakovich 5th symphony

Hadari’s demands on the orchestra are relentless, continuously sculpting the balance and tempo, and insisting on absolute precision. The results that he produces are spectacular and remind us why we attend classical concerts. Pressure makes diamonds – If sound is anything to go by, playing under Hadari is extremely good for the CTPO!

David Nettle, Richard Markham, Louis Heyneman, Omri Hadari

From left: David Nettle, Richard Markham, Louis Heyneman, Omri Hadari

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Rachel Lee Priday, CTPO & Daniel Boico – Ravel Prokofiev Rachmaninov #ConcertReview

Rachel Lee Priday, CTPO & Daniel Boico – Ravel Prokofiev Rachmaninov #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: Rachel Lee Priday
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 30 June 2016

Thousands of years from now, archaeologists will say that the internet is one of the most important and transformative tools in the history of human development. Cape Town is a small city, but it is still relatively easy to be disconnected and believe that there is no money here, and that all the great events in classical music happen overseas. Just the other day I sat next to someone at a concert who had not heard of Fine Music Radio! But that is all changing at fibre-optic speed. Frequent events like the 35th Belvedere Singing Competition are constant reminders to Capetonians that our orchestra and facilities are a beacon on the map of Africa, a stunning destination for classical musicians and competitions. The internet is our ticket to being included in the rich explosion of classical events that seems to be growing in our Mother City. And what would happen if our City Hall and Baxter concerts were video broadcast onto a website for all the world to see, like the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall?

Are we ready to go global?

Ravel – Alborada del Gracioso
We have a world-class orchestra, I hear it all the time from people who travel. Last Thursday the CTPO was on top form and impeccably synchronised with their percussion section. We have world-class conductors, Daniel Boico has worked closely with Barenboim, Boulez, and Mehta. His Ravel was scintillating, conveying the timeless allure of a Mediterranean village. Approximately translating as “Morning song of the Jester”, it is an orchestral show-piece with plenty of mystery and passion befitting the genre. The bassoon of Simon Ball serenaded over the atmospheric pianissimo orchestra that occasionally exploded in surprising and spectacular colour.

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Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico, Simon Ball, Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky, Brandon Phillips, Hamman Schoonwinkel, Patrick Goodwin, Olga Burdukova, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

Rachel Lee Priday with the CTPO for Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 conducted by Daniel Boico

Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No.1
Priday is an alluring, enigmatic performer, delighting in the contrasts of ethereal serenity and electrifying volcanism. Her interpretation of the concerto was an exploration of these ideas, opening on a single glistening gossamer thread that became darker, thicker, and more menacing. Accentuating the harmonic angst of the second subject and its edgy awkwardness, she revealed the volcano – a lava-flow of shredding scales and explosive pizzicato. She’s a live wire! … And only too easily, it’s all dreamy back-lit misty dew drops again. There’s a kind of amnesia following the storm, an almost post-apocalyptic surrealism that quite aptly describes human nature. We want to forget – we want to go back to the blissful dream again.

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Daniel Boico, Simon Ball, Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky, Brandon Phillips, Hamman Schoonwinkel, Patrick Goodwin, Olga Burdukova, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

The CTPO with Daniel Boico after Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

Rachmaninov – Symphonic Dances
We really do have a phenomenal orchestra. I know they’re just doing their jobs, but performing as a job means doing the job perfectly. Double-basses took their tricky fast wide reaches in their stride, the wind solos were breathtaking by Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky and Brandon Phillips. And the award for #ShowStealer goes to: Hamman Schoonwinkel for his melancholy, lyrical, totally Rachmaninovian saxophone solo!

The Scherzo was bliss and rapture. This macabre, deeply beautiful waltz has three of my favourite things: 1) Ominously muted brass; 2) a concertmaster solo; (sublime, Patrick Goodwin) and 3) Olga Burdukova’s cor anglais.

Boico’s conducting is bold and sumptuously romantic. Never afraid to pause slightly or take his time describing a particularly beautiful phrase, his tempi are organic and expressive. His communication with the CTPO is excellent: they understand each other well. This could only be true because in many parts of the symphonic work, the timing is off beat and complex, and last Thursday the CTPO handled the corners like a Ferrari – mastering a finicky timing chicane into the final accelerando and coda – what an amazing ride!

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Louis Heyneman, Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico

Louis Heyneman, Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico

 

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Where ever you are in the world, you can watch the
35th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition FINALS

STREAMING LIVE ON THE INTERNET
SATURDAY 2 JULY AT 6:00pm (GMT+2)

CATCH THE FREE VIDEO BROADCAST HERE: http://www.capetownconcerthall.com/

Peter Martens, Bernhard Gueller – Shaun Crawford Dvořák Tchaikovsky #ConcertReview

Peter Martens, Bernhard Gueller – Shaun Crawford Dvořák Tchaikovsky #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Bernhard Gueller
Soloist: Peter Martens
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 16 June 2016

Shaun Crawford – Overture
The opening is enticing – flutes trill enchantingly over a soft bed of strings that blushes in Debussiesque tones. The pastoral air is thick with magic and the promise of exciting adventures to come. A show-piece of Crawford’s talent as a film and symphonic composer, Overture is a resolutely successful journey full of optimism and idealism. It was originally conceived to inspire young musicians, and as such it was well placed on National Youth Day. Crawford encourages international film-makers to take advantage of the Rand by completing their scores in Cape Town, with our world class musicians and production facilities. Examples of his work can be found on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/sdalecrawford

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Peter Martens, Bernhard Gueller, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

Peter Martens and Bernhard Gueller after performing the Dvořák cello concerto with the CTPO

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Dvořák – Cello Concerto
Martens has an innate ability to communicate through his instrument. Far beyond technique, he plays “with the blood”. The composer’s intentions seem to make sense to him as a fluent language spoken by his cello, expressing states of being, emotions, states of mind, thoughts, and sensations. His performance was an exploration of the mind and soul of the concerto, delivered in the sheer beauty of his phrasing and clear understanding of line.

Beneath all this, Martens walks on the solid ground of polished fundamentals, which shine in astonishing octave runs, soaring projection over the orchestra at full gallop, and hummingbird trills that hover for a while and then shoot off to another chord note. His pronunciation of staccato consonants and legato vowels is effortless. Vibrato is like a column of incense smoke – beginning strait and undulating as it accelerates.

Dramatic colours emanated from Gueller’s pallet, and the CTPO responded with distinction. The full tutti entry in the adagio was sudden and frightening, immaculate, totally in unison. Alluring solos by concert master Suzanne Martens and Caroline Prozesky horn.

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Bernhard Gueller, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

Bernhard Gueller’s final upbeat of the Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony with the CTPO

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Tchaikovsky – Symphony no. 5
Over the last two decades of this writer’s experience, the manner of applauding at the City Hall has passed through a number of behavioural changes. In the mid 1990s it was fashionable to stamp ones feet while clapping, almost like a drum roll. The effect was rather a pleasing roar, above which could be heard applause and one or two whistles. In the last two years (the duration of this review) the City Hall audience has been reserved to clapping and occasionally standing up. That mould was gleefully smashed after the symphony last Thursday, by elated cheering and a full house standing ovation for Maestro Gueller and the CTPO.

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Bernhard Gueller, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

A full house standing ovation for Maestro Gueller and the CTPO after Tchaikovsky 5

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Conducting from memory, Gueller delivered an inspired, beautifully phrased performance that portrayed a sensitive and intelligent interpretation. He is a master of dynamics, seeming to nod or shake his head to indicate for a section to play piano or forte, with stunning effect. The composer’s beloved wind section featured excellent solos, and horns were exceptional in their pianissimo triplets. Exemplary ensemble playing by principles Brandon Phillips bassoon, Sergei Burdukov oboe, and Gabriele von Dürckheim flute. Mesmerising solos by Caroline Prozesky horn and Daniel Prozesky clarinet.

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Shaun Crawford, Louis Heyneman, Bernhard Gueller, Peter Martens, Andy Wilding

Shaun Crawford, Louis Heyneman, Bernhard Gueller, and Peter Martens after the concert

Next week the CTPO returns with Conductor Daniel Boico and pianist François du Toit:

 

Christo Jankowitz – Revelation

Schumann – Piano Concerto

Saint-Saëns – Symphony no.3 featuring Erik Dippenaar organ

 

BOOK NOW AT COMPUTICKET OR ARTSCAPE DIAL-A-SEAT: 021 421 7695

FOM Gala Concert – Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Bernhard Gueller, CTPO

FOM Gala Concert – Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Bernhard Gueller, CTPO

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Antonio Pompa-Baldi plays Brahms 2 in Cape Town

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 19 November 2015

What an amazing year for classical music in Cape Town! We have seen some of the brightest celebrities on the international circuit – Joshua Bell, Maria Kliegel, and last week Antonio Pompa-Baldi – walking onto the City Hall stage. As a non-profit organisation, FOM will direct all proceeds from this gala to support Cape Town’s orchestras and instrumentalists in 2016.

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Brahms – Symphony no.3
Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

We are very fortunate to have Bernhard Gueller as a frequent guest conductor. His style and sound are characterised by a lyrical balance of sensitivity and surging power. Leading often by the mere change of facial expression, he always brings the best out of the orchestra and last Thursday was no exception, with stunning solos from the wind section – Sergei Burdukov oboe, Caroline Prozesky horne, Daniel Prozesky clarinet, Gabriele von Dürckheim flute – artfully carrying Brahms’ beautiful melodies.

The standard of performance was such that it allowed the natural function of Brahm’s music to emerge. His music has the potential to hold a space for the audience in which they can unpack accumulated stress, mental turmoil, and emotional anguish, and let go. It reaches all the sadness in ourselves and the world and establishes a dogma for it, a system of order that emerges from the wash of emotion. And somehow this dogma is very compassionate, and essentially in the case of this symphony, uplifting and liberating. In the paradoxically private sanctuary of a concert hall, one can experience the feeling of being moved – but only if the delivery is of an exceptional quality, and this was the wonderful case in both works for the FOM Gala Concert.

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Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Antonio Pompa-Baldi after playing Brahms Piano Concerto No.2

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Brahms – Piano Concerto No.2
Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

It occasionally bears observing, that Brahms was himself a phenomenal pianist. He invented a previously unknown style of rapidly overlapping, widely spaced arpeggios, that require a somewhat unbelievable grasp of the instrument. It has been a long time since I heard a performance like this, and I don’t think I have ever seen one. Pompa-Baldi’s control of balance and dynamics enable hand-aching technique to sound like soft velvet, the hard edges of the keys seeming to melt into colours. His concerto was a rich luscious painting by an Italian master. There is a sense in his phrasing that speaks of profound mental and emotional understanding of the material, and of exceptional physical expression. The balance in his fingers is stunning, lifting the melody from a rippling accompaniment that spans the entire resister and frequently crosses the melody. His double octaves are astonishing. The orchestra was oceanic and nurturing – a transcendental cello solo from Kristiyan Chernev in the 3rd movement. There was such a tranquillity and beauty to this performance that it may well be remembered as one of the finest moments in the City Hall.

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Bernhard Gueller and Antonio Pompa-Baldi

Bernhard Gueller with Antonio Pompa-Baldi after the concert

Maria Kliegel, Bernhard Gueller, CTPO – Bruch, Dvořák, Bloch, Beethoven

Maria Kliegel, Bernhard Gueller, CTPO – Bruch, Dvořák, Bloch, Beethoven

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic and Youth Orchestras, City Hall, Thursday 12 November 2015

This concert was dedicated to CPO board member Ronnie Samaai, mentor to many of Cape Town’s current professional musicians. As a glimpse into the future, I always find our Youth Orchestra encouraging to watch, and last night they honoured Mr. Samaai with a polished performance of high standard.

Brandon Phillips with the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra after the Dvořák

Brandon Phillips with the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra after the Dvořák

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Curtain Raiser – Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 (iv.)
Brandon Phillips, Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

Conductor Brandon Phillips achieved a professional pace and good balance, with strong strings against Dvořák’s beloved trombones. His energised and physical conducting style is an agreeable blend of uniqueness and accuracy, and draws a comprehensive response from the orchestra, delivering dramatic dynamics while maintaining sufficient reserve for the climaxes. The CPYO performed outstandingly, particularly woodwinds, with excellent running flutes in the new world theme by Madré Loubser and Robert de Vries, and masterful control from William Hendricks, clarinet. The coda was concise and crisp – in all areas a most encouraging performance.

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Maria Kliegel, Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Maria Kliegel after Bruch, Kol Nidrei, with Bernhard Gueller

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Bruch – Kol Nidrei
Maria Kliegel, Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Quite a way into this work I realised that I was too spellbound to make any notes! Kliegel is phenomenal. Far beyond mastering the demanding techniques of an imperceptible attack and limitless legato, she demonstrates extraordinary knowledge and effortless use of natural harmonics to echo the ends of her phrases. Even more mesmerising, is her ability to use bow harmonics, which were clearly audible throughout her longer strokes. Her sound is exquisite – a contemplative, meditative delivery of each phrase, as if she were merely observing the melody naturally growing from within the instrument.

 

Bloch – Schelomo
Maria Kliegel, Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

In her second appearance, Kliegel sang of the lush exotic romanticism of one of history’s most illusive figures – King Solomon. She interpreted the loosely-metered introduction in the style of ancient Indian, Middle Eastern, and Klezmer music, where the mode or raga of the piece is stated and explored through free improvisation, before developing into the rhythmic section. Kliegel performed as if phrases were coming to her in the moment. She narrated with a humanism that seemed to span every major emotion, and reflect on the wonderful magnificence and pointless wrongs of the world. Her cello was a contemplative observer of joy and suffering alike, acknowledging as if looking down from above, occasionally becoming involved with appropriate passion, indignation, sensitivity, or hopelessness.

Extremely complex, the work comprises frequent mood changes and often portrays the disparateness that occurs when differences can not be resolved. Fragments of the orchestra wonder off in different directions, and accelerate away from the central tempo. It must be maddening to play, and it is a great accolade for the Cape Town Philharmonic to deliver this work at the international standard that we heard last Thursday. Their synchronism was amazing – perfect entries after pauses, even with percussion. If this concert were broadcast and viewed internationally, the world would see a top performance by cellist, conductor, and orchestra.

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Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

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Dvořák – Noon Witch
Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Rather a dark tale, this is never the less, a very magical work and these are always delightfully, and animatedly brought to life by Gueller’s characteristic exciting, dynamic style. We often hear the layering of parts, so that each has its own space in the sound. Atmospheric parts are a softer, in the background, to highlight the melody or soloist, wonderfully illustrated with the appearance of the witch: wispy wraith-like violins supported the wonderful mysterious resonant tones of Brandon Phillips, wearing his bassoonist hat. The winds had much of the descriptive work, sounding convincingly mediaeval and folky, with stunning synchronisation between Daniel Prozesky’s clarinet and the flute of Gabriele von Durckheim.

 

Beethoven – Symphony No. 7
Bernhard Gueller, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

As a piano student of Beethoven specialist Dr. Stewart Young, I have long been a supporter of the “new school” concerning the tempi of Beethoven’s works. The metronome was invented during his time, and the issue of tempo markings is clouded because his metronome seems to have been faulty – many of his tempo markings are absurdly fast and impossible to play. For this reason, most publishers omit tempo markings from Beethoven’s scores, leaving only the Italian terms: allegro, andante etc. However, recent scholars of music such as Dr. Young, David Zinman, Kurt Zandar, and Bernhard Gueller, seem to agree that some clarity can be found with Beethoven’s pupil: Carl Czerny. Czerny’s tempo notes at performances given by Beethoven or approved by him, still exist. It is largely from these notes that accurate tempi can be allocated.

One difference in the “new school” is that some works are quite a lot faster than interpretations by the likes of Klemperer and Karajan. When it comes to the symphonies, the higher tempi makes them rather more challenging for orchestras, and this makes sense to me because Beethoven was after all a virtuoso. To play his violin concerto is among the greatest achievements, sonatas are among the most challenging – should we not then expect that his symphonies would be equally demanding? By Czerny’s indication, the symphonies could be interpreted almost as concerti for orchestra.

Gueller’s tempi for the four movements of this symphony were very close the only recording in the Fine Music Radio library that I will play: the Zinman, with the Tonhale Orchestra, Zurich. Both Gueller and Zinman give a decidedly Czerniesque interpretation that demands virtuoso from the instrumentalists, and fortunately, we have an amazing orchestra, who rose to the challenge with accuracy and synchronism. If Gueller’s recording with the CTPO were available in the Fine Music Radio library, I would have two to choose from!

References:
http://www.twopianists.com/Catalogue/TP1039053.html
http://www.petermartens.co.za/recordings.html
http://thebeethovenproject.com/how-fast-shall-we-play/