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Barenboim/WEDO at Carnegie (4): the Second and the Ninth

5 February 2013

(Melanie Buford / NPR)

… as Barenboim has said repeatedly, WEDO is not an orchestra for peace but an orchestra against ignorance, an orchestra that teaches what might be possible. WEDO’s playing shows that music-making cannot exist in a bubble. If it is not to be political – an idea that musicians, critics, and politicians have been arguing about for two centuries – it must, and Beethoven in particular must, be human and humane….

The Ninth was a fitting capstone to what has been a variable but fundamentally inspiring cycle. And if inspiration is not the point of Beethoven, I don’t know what is.

You can read the rest of my review via Bachtrack here. Forgive the encomium.

At least I didn’t go on for thousands of words after this as I did after the Barenboim/WEDO Proms performance. (My write-up of that concert is here, Boulezian’s profound appreciation is here, and the video is here.) You can listen again to this concert, which including a beautiful performance of the Second, via WQXR here. Although Barenboim did his usual thing of shaking every orchestra member’s hand, there was this time no speech.

In truth, the Proms Ninth was probably better than this one: what the Royal Albert Hall took away in terms of immediacy of sound, it added in a sense of communal fulfilment. The Carnegie version was also far less securely played. But really now, who cares? If ever anybody needs an answer as to why classical music matters, this performance – or any Beethoven from these forces – should be demonstration enough.

So, with 3023 words in five days of four concerts down, I get a rest, right?* No. Daniil Trifonov plays at Carnegie Hall tonight, and as Jessica Duchen reports, the concert will be recorded and released as Trifonov’s first album as a Deutsche Grammophon artist. No pressure!

* As far as I’m aware, no other writer has covered each concert in individual reviews (and I can understand why…). If anyone knows otherwise, I’d be happy to be enlightened.

Photo: Melanie Buford / NPR

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