08 Aug 2018

Delight and Dragons

 

This year sees Prometheus Orchestra celebrating its 10th Anniversary. A special
concert at Orford Church in April marked the milestone and the festivities continue this
autumn with a wonderful program played twice over the weekend of 13th and 14th
October. First night at St Mary’s Church Woodbridge at 7.30 pm and encored the next
day in the famed Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall at 4pm.

The early years of the 19th century (the concert’s 3 pieces were all premiered in the first
15 years) were colored by the aftermath of the French Revolution and war in Europe.
The spirit of revolution outed itself in music too, led by Beethoven, and then joined by
Schubert. The two, held by many to be equal and superlative geniuses, had quite soon
instigated an exciting dynamic of surprise and shock. A more emotional and dramatic
musical landscape had appeared.

Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony abandons the traditional and stately minuet for a Scherzo
(Literally ‘Joke’ but not necessarily funny) which bursts out strident chords interspersed
with hushed answers and moves at the cracking pace of a bar or even two to the beat
instead of the minuet’s steady dance in 3.

This is one of the pieces that marks the start of Beethoven’s ‘middle period’. In other
words; by now this man has something to say which is totally new, in his own voice and
he’s ‘going for it’!

The 2nd Symphony is full of these surprises, has tremendous energy and, despite the
calm of a beautiful lyrical slow movement, after its first performance in 1803, a music
critic exclaimed ‘It is a wild and savage dance’.

Another reviewer from the Austrian media wrote ‘It is a monster, a … wild and writhing
wounded dragon. In the finale, before drawing its last breath, the Dragon crashes about
crushing convention with a mighty tail.’

The concert begins with Schubert’s 5th Symphony … a tender announcement and then
cascading down to a simple rapturous melody. Written 14 years later than Beethoven’s
2nd Symphony but harking back to Mozart’s time, Schubert wrote in his diary
‘O Mozart! Immortal Mozart! What countless impressions of a brighter, better life hast
thou stamped upon our souls.’

This is joyous music and then follows a glowing ’slow’ movement and more delight
brings a dance and a bouncing dash in conclusion.

Schubert expresses his love of Mozart with a tribute to his idol, but the music also has a
freedom of emotion that looks forward to the romance of the mid 19th century.
Between these two something different again; the leader of the Orchestra, Michael
Dolan, plays Beethoven’s Romance in F.

This is a most beautiful work and despite Beethoven’s growing deafness this piece
shows no sign of angst, is delightfully simple and yet is a small masterpiece. An elegant
and formal theme of great refinement opens the piece, an assertive statement in the
middle but always poised and controlled. It climbs to its summit then tails off gently
…. And then a drink and ready steady, go Beethoven 2!

Edmond Fivet, Conductor

Prometheus Orchestra 10th anniversary year

There will be a retiring collection by the NSPCC following the concerts:
‘Every childhood is worth fighting for’

Saturday 13 October 2018
St Mary’s Church Woodbridge at 7:30pm
Tickets £15 Under 18 £5
Woodbridge Violins, Browsers Bookshop or call, text & WhatsApp 07365 621716

Sunday 14 October 2018
Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall at 4pm
Tickets £15 Under 18 £5
Snape Maltings Box Office on 01728 687110
www.snapemaltings.co.uk

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