When it comes to concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the one turned out by the San Diego Symphony on March 4 was special.
Never in my life could I have imagined anyone conducting like guest conductor Markus Stenz. His style reminded me of an echo from my Sunday School past.
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In order to attain heaven we must become like a child.
Stenz conducted as if he were a child. He was childlike but not childish. There's a difference.
Childish brings to mind a spoiled brat. Childlike means something quite different and altogether superior.
We've all been accosted, via social media, by the quote, “Dance like nobody's watching.” That's the epitome of childlike and the foundation of Stenz’s brilliance.
All children dance like nobody's watching. They are too consumed by exuberant joy to worry about public opinion.
Such was Stenz on the conductor’s podium. Exuberance and joy where the passwords for his rendering of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 as he conducted as if nobody was watching.
How do you make this all too popular piece of music become fresh and new? Fill it up with exuberance and joy.
I am sure his style was not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm also sure that he didn't care because he was too busy being true to the way he feels about this music.
Did this childlike approach work for me? Yes, it did, especially when we entered the kingdom of heaven in the final movement of the symphony as the trombones made their debut into the symphonic repertoire.
The orchestra appeared to respond in kind to Stenz. I feel as though there was more bobbing and weaving happening than normal. Whatever the case may be, the concert was a resounding success.