In Sacramento a Beethoven Festival has been created from a spectacularly disastrous concert in Vienna in 1808 where everything was composed and performed by Beethoven. It was intended to be a benefit for Beethoven, but everything seems to have gone wrong. For one thing it was freezing cold inside the venue. It was Beethoven's final public appearance as a soloist because he was obviously going deaf. Concerts that lasted 4 hours were not uncommon in Beethoven's time, but we are not so enduring and have divided it into two concerts. It is important to remember that at this time Berlioz had not yet invented standing in front of an orchestra and waving a stick. Beethoven would probably have sat at the piano the entire time.
Our series of two concerts are created around conductor/pianist Jeffrey Kahane. People who conduct and play as soloists at the same time are regularly seen at the Sacramento Philharmonic. This works better than you would think.
First Concert January 19Piano Concerto No. 4
Kahane, our conductor/pianist, was a definite hit in this piece and handled both his tasks well. After the concerto, he played an extemporized solo version of "America the Beautiful."
"Ah, Perfido" concert aria.
Soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley
She was fine in this piece, but I couldn't help thinking her Italian diction could have been better.
Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”
This is a program symphony, which means there is an associated story. Heiligenstadt, a town up the Danube from Vienna, was a favorite place for Beethoven to compose, and the story is sort of an homage to this place. The ensemble became a bit ragged toward the end.
There will be more later.