Friday, November 02, 2007

CSO playing Beethoven, too

November 1, 2007
Cincinnati Post

By Mary Ellyn Hutton Post music writer
How do you like your Beethoven?
Plaster bust on the piano? Writing passionate love letters to his "Immortal Beloved?" Or unkempt, hair flying, with an un-emptied chamber pot in the corner?
Come to this weekend's Cincinnati Symphony concerts - 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Music Hall - and hear how music director Paavo Järvi and the CSO view him in his Symphony No. 3, "Eroica".
The concerts officially open the CSO's Stravinsky Festival (see related story, Page 3). Beethoven's familiar "Eroica" gives balance to the program, since the Stravinsky works, "Symphony of Psalms" and Chorale-Variations on "Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her," are heard less often on symphonic programs.
Järvi has been doing a lot of Beethoven recently, having won the German Record Critics' Prize in October for his RCA CD of Beethoven's third and eighth symphonies with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. As opposed to some of the more Apollonian versions, Järvi and the DK go for an earthier, more fast-paced Ludwig.
(Järvi is the DK's artistic director, and he and they are recording all nine Beethoven symphonies. They took the symphonies on a world tour this summer.)
A setting of verses from Psalms 38 and 39 of the Latin Vulgate (39 and 40 in the King James version) and of the complete Psalm 150, Stravinsky's three-movement "Symphony of Psalms" (1930) is unique for its instrumentation. There are no violins or violas, just lower strings, plus a large wind and brass section, harp, timpani, bass drum and two pianos. Omission of the warmer upper strings heightens its emotional reserve, a trait Stravinsky cultivated, though he gives himself away in the soft, sublime "Laudate Dominum" at the end of Psalm 150.
The 1956 Chorale-Variations on "Vom Himmel hoch" (the Christmas carol "From Heaven High I Come to You"), after Johann Sebastian Bach, utilizes a similar wind-heavy orchestra.
Get a preview of the music with Järvi's "My Space" program notes, posted on the CSO Web site, Järvi and CSO assistant conductor Eric Dudley will present an in-person "Classical Conversation" one hour before each concert.
Tickets are $12-$75.25, $10 for students, half-price for seniors (evening concerts only), $5 for ages 6-18 for the Sunday matinee, available at (513) 381-3300 and through the Web site. Friday night is "College Nite"; college students attending the concert are invited to a reception afterwards in Corbett Tower at Music Hall, with free food, cash bar and music by Sasha's Gypsy Caravan.
Contact Mary Ellyn Hutton at

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