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Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Can't miss concerts (that I will miss)
Never in my life have I wanted more to be in New York.

 As part of their celebration of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven, Carnegie Hall has John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique performing all nine symphonies in five concerts, in order, tonight through Sunday. He gave a talk last night.

The ORR plays on period instruments using techniques of the time. While there are many great recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, the Gardiner/ORR set is my all-time favorite. Hearing them performed live would be ... awesome.

A short promo video from Carnegie Hall:


The New York Times recently interviewed Gardiner about their approach to playing Beethoven. Note that this includes a playlist of their recorded version on Spotify. (You can also find some of their recordings on YouTube.) An excerpt:
So in a sense Beethoven’s orchestra never really existed; it was a figment of his vivid aural imagination. The performances he attended and went through the motions of conducting were with pickup orchestras made up of rather unmotivated Viennese musicians sight-reading this new, incredibly complicated and challenging music on only one rehearsal.
It wasn’t until shortly after Beethoven’s death that his symphonies were really scrupulously prepared for performance. And that was by the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in Paris in 1828 to 1831. For the first time they were rehearsed properly, with clear phrasing, articulations and unified bowings for the string players. This was an orchestra made up of Conservatoire professors and their pupils. They approached Beethoven very seriously, and their performances seem to have made a huge impact on the musical world. Berlioz was present, Wagner for some, Chopin for some others. 
When we started the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique 30 years ago, our aim was to see if we could actually reconstitute or reconfigure that imaginary orchestra that Beethoven had singing in his inner ear, but never truly heard. Our model, if we had a model at all, was this Paris orchestra. 
While writing this, I discovered that they will be performing the cycle in Chicago next week at the Harris Theatre -- beginning on Feb 27 with Nos. 8 and 9, for some odd reason. While it's not Carnegie Hall, Chicago is closer and cheaper ... but I still can't make it. :(

If you live in or near New York or Chicago -- or London, for that matter -- and you love Beethoven, I think these would be spectacular. Go. Enjoy.

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