Marathon performance was definitely worthwhile
BRISTOL Ensemble's Beethoven Series continued with a unique concert starting with a piano recital by the eminent local pianist Allan Schiller who performed four of this composer's sonatas before a sold-out audience in Hall 2. He started with the well-known Moonlight Sonata.
This was a carefully constructed performance with the tempestuous finale warranting the comment "like a storm bursting" as Allan rushed through the music with a certain bravado. Two short works, Op47, were the precursor to the main work the Waldstein dedicated to Count Ferdinand Waldstein, a patron of the composer. A turbulent opening is a real test for the soloist coupled with the expansive and technically demanding finale but the soloist took to the tricky music with little trouble. Although looking rather tired after this stentorian performance he obliged us with an encore playing with much feeling the magical Adagio from the Pathetique Sonata.
Beethoven himself was supposed to have premiered both the Fifth and Sixth symphonies at the same concert. The Ensemble went one better presenting the Fourth as well at this mammoth occasion. Cleverly starting at the exact time of the symphony's number the orchestra at 4pm were ready to start the Fourth in front of a sizeable audience. This is one of the lighter ones showing the Mozart influence in all the movements. There was a break until 5pm when we all gathered again for the famous Fifth with its "fate" opening chords proud, defiant and exciting which leads on to the forward motion which is evident throughout the whole work. After a rumbustious Scherzo the music quietens before leading into the triumphant finale. This was a performance of tremendous vitality by the Ensemble.
Another break, then, dead on 6pm the Pastoral (No 6). The composer wrote "the meaning of the work is obvious without verbal description" and the players certainly showed this in a superb performance. So ended this tour-de force which was definitely worth while. Ben Gernon was the excellent conductor.
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