Saturday, October 01, 2016
OK, so I didn't get my post written on Borodin's Symphony No. 2 done, so in the meantime, we'll go back in time and back to good old Ludwig van Beethoven. We heard the mighty Ninth Symphony a while back in a remarkable performance from the BBC Proms, but here's the work as it well might have sounded around its premiere. This orchestra performs the Ninth on period instruments, using performance techniques and tempi that were likely in use at the time. I'm not always totally excited or satisfied by period instrument performances, but they can be a fascinating exercise in noting how music has changed in ways not just related to compositional styles. Music is an art that lives in time, moreso than any other. A person in 1716 looking on the Mona Lisa likely saw the same thing that we see when we look on the same painting, but a concert hall patron in 1816 (or later, whenever the Ninth was actually written) is most certainly not hearing the same thing that we might hear in 2016.