The Fifth Symphony is the best-known and most popular of all Beethoven’s works, and the most popular symphony ever written by any composer. Such is its stature, it has become a tradition to perform the Fifth at the inaugural concert of a new symphony orchestra - following the example of the great orchestras of Chicago (1891) and Philadelphia (1900). Of course, its remarkable drawing power and frequent performance bring risks of over-familiarity and a loss of freshness to the ear. However, with an interval of time and especially performance under an able, young conductor with his own individual approach and interpretation, it can be heard again with involvement, even with a sense of new discovery.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will be performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka at its Premieres Concert at Ladies’ College on Saturday, October 18 at 7 p.m. The young guest conductor will be Tokyo born Ms. Keiko Kobayashi who has a Master’s degree in conducting from Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo and who was the winner in 2007 of the First Prize at the Mid Europe International Conducting Master Class.
No words can properly prepare a first time listener for the shocking impact of the first four notes of Beethoven’s first movement. He virtually seizes the audience by the throat compelling attention with his ominous, descending phrase ta-ta-ta-TAH, and its powerful suggestion of “Fate knocking at the door”. Everything grows in the movement from these four notes with restless pent-up energy now finding release. The urgency, strength and directness, and equally the intensity, simplicity and inevitability of this movement never cease to astonish.
The four note pattern appears thereafter as a ‘motto theme’ idea in all four movements, an innovation by Beethoven which links and gives unity to the whole work.
In contrast to the revolutionary turbulence of the first, the second is a lyrical slow movement of exquisite beauty.
The power of the scherzo gives way to spellbinding music so hushed and awesome it creates darkness and dread at what could happen. Then without pause it leads into the finale via an electrifying crescendo to emerge from darkness into the blazing light and intensity of a mighty and triumphant finale - a most noble and uplifting culmination to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
The other works at the concert, both premieres in Sri Lanka will be Mozart’s delightful Concerto for Flute & Harp with guest soloists Mayumi Mori, harp and Kimihiko Akiyama flute; and the Japanese composer, Yuzo Toyama’s Rhapsody for Orchestra.
The principal sponsor is Asian Alliance Insurance with LOLC, Cinnamon Grand and Toyota as associate sponsors. Tickets are available at Titus Stores Liberty Plaza..