Way back in September 2012, when I was still gaily gallivanting around in the gorgeous G’s of my collection, I wrote about finding ‘something old, something new‘ in relation to Gershwin’s work.
The same sentiment occurred to me while listening to a concert I went to a couple of days ago with a dear friend (who also happens to be wife of musicalduffer).
We were listening to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus perform in Glasgow’s City Halls, which I was visiting for the first time (my friend had been there as a girl many years ago). What a wonderful venue this is – dating back to 1841, it was recently refurbished and re-opened in 2006. The Grand Hall has a ‘shoe-box’ style auditorium, with fabulous acoustics which allowed the music of the orchestra and chorus to sparkle and soar.
The programme? Schumann’s Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op52 to start – something I had never heard. Followed by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in D minor, a work with which I am of course extremely familiar.
The Schumann was described to me by another friend whom I met unexpectedly at the concert as ‘all the best bits of a symphony without having to listen to a long piece’. At approx 20 minutes long, I thought this was rather apt. It was certainly played brilliantly by the SCO, and conducted wonderfully by their new Principal Guest Conductor, Emmanuel Krivine. What a mesmerising conducting manner he has – as entertaining as listening to the music itself.
Here is a YouTube clip of the Schumann. It was the best I could find, although I must admit the playing is a tad laboured to begin with. But stick with it – it gets much more jolly and uplifting as you go along.
When I got home, I decided to compare this with whatever other of Robert Schumann’s music I had in my collection. Much to my surprise and dismay, I discovered that I had nothing by this giant of the romantic era. So I have broken my own LeapingTracks rules and downloaded an album containing this work, plus all four of his symphonies. I went for the one by John Eliot Gardiner after a bit of research – this seemed to be something of a definitive recording according to the Amazon reviews.
And what of the Beethoven? Well what indeed. is there any time when it is not enjoyable to listen to a bit of old Ludwig’s music? All the more salutary, clichéd though it may be to mention it, to remember that he wrote his later works, such as the 9th, while profoundly deaf.
Here is a clip of the fourth movement of the symphony – the part of the work which includes the chorus and Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ section. You will also find in it a link to the whole 75 minute work. (Here is Wiki’s analysis, and the text.)
As you will see, this version is played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the legendary Leonard Bernstein. It gives a wonderful picture of Bernstein’s conducting and is also a fabulous rendition of the work. The soloists are amazing, as is the orchestra (as you would expect) and the chorus.
So, music old and new. Conductors old and new. A new concert hall to visit. A new download to encourage me back to the old blog again. Life ain’t half bad, is it 🙂