BREAKING NEWS
Parts of cliffs collapse following severe Christchurch quake ... Read more
Close

Review: Beethoven and Beyond

DAVID SELL
Last updated 09:49 26/05/2014

Relevant offers

Music

Kanye West disses Taylor Swift in his song Musician Jamie McDell to partner with Sustainable Coastlines to clean up Hauraki Alternative band OK Go's latest music video with zero gravity Barry Manilow rushed to hospital following performance in Memphis Marlborough Wine and Food Festival weekend offers rich pickings See Kiwi singer Lisa Crawley's new video Showgirl AUT student releases Parris Goebel choreographed music vid 14 Kiwi love songs for Valentines Day Hozier to donate proceeds to NZ charity Shine Kanye West wows NY crowd with new album

The series as a whole offered a worthwhile perspective of musical innovation.

Like any innovation, it was sometimes successful and sometimes not. Each of the three concerts consisted of a symphony and concerto by Beethoven, together with something modern and unfamiliar.

By way of introduction, Tom Woods reminded us that Beethoven's music was once modern and unfamiliar, and received with the same range of audience tolerance - or not - as we react to something new today.

I would add that not all of Beethoven was great, either, as I was reminded on hearing his Eighth Symphony, that it is an uneven work, and that this in itself warrants renewed contemplation.

Perhaps unfamiliarity had something to do with it, because in contrast there was no doubt that the Fifth Piano Concerto is a work of consistent strength. Henry Wong Doe gave it a firm and honest performance, although his flamboyance often became intrusive rather than expressive.

The new piece in this concert was Signature, by the Finnish composer Sampo Haapamki. It opened the question of whether there is an intrinsic virtue in virtuosity. I struggled in vain to find musical sense beyond the many outmoded devices that the composer asked of his performers. There were nice sounds and nasty sounds, instruments playing at the extremes of their registers, making funny sounds, and interacting with each other in unexpected ways.

Signatures sounded and looked as though it was difficult to play. And the programme note told us so. But neither the programme note nor the performance itself revealed anything much of musical interest.

Had the emperor merely put on some new clothes?

Having said this, however, I strongly commend the CSO for programming music of this kind that extends the skills of its players and takes risks of critical opprobrium.

Beethoven and Beyond, presented by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, with piano soloist, Henry Wong Doe, conducted by Tom Woods. The third concert of three, Saturday night, May 24, in the Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margaret's College.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Comments

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content