Beethoven 7th: San Diego Symphony
I could have done without Strauss II and Saint Saëns on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, they were well played and nice but when the Beethoven 7th Symphony is on the program, it’s tough to get excited about much else. I would have been happy if the San Diego Symphony had only played the 7th but that doesn’t fly when people pay up to ninety-some-dollars for a concert.
The Strauss II music was the overture to Die Fledermaus and the Saint Saëns was his Cello Concerto. Of the two, I have to say I was disappointed in the Saint Saëns. It didn’t have any of the lyricism I have come associate with Saint Saëns.
I found myself wondering what the point was as the music wandered aimlessly. I wasn’t familiar with the piece and I’m still not familiar with it and have no plans to listen to it in the future. I am in love with most of Saint Saëns’ music but not this one.
The solo cello part was played beautifully by San Diego Symphony principal cellist Yao Zhao. I wish he had been the soloist earlier this season with the Schumann Cello Concert.
Beethoven’s 7th Symphony was the second half of the show. Symphony “front man”, Nuvi Mehta came out and provided a few nuggets of information to whet our appetites.
Mr. Mehta mentioned the famous “Immortal Beloved” letter that was discovered in a hidden compartment of Beethoven’s desk shortly after his death. Mr. Mehta explained that Beethoven’s brother was searching for bank notes when he found the letter. “Some families are like that”, quipped Mehta.
The relevance of the letter is that Beethoven was most likely in love while writing the 7th Symphony. I can buy that. To me, the second movement is nothing if not pent up sexual energy longing to be fulfilled.
Beethoven’s love went unrequited but the 7th Symphony remains a work of joy and gratitude. We can almost hear Beethoven chuckling in the dotted rhythms of the last movement.
How did the symphony play? They played well. Maestro Ling went sans score and turned in a masterful rendering of Beethoven. It was a performance the orchestra should be proud of.