Ode to Joy
Venue Details: Lighthouse
- Graun : Sinfonia Grosso in D
- Graun : Sinfonia á 16
- Beethoven : Symphony No.9 "Choral"
- Conductor : Kirill Karabits
- Soloist: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
- Soloist: Jennifer Johnston (Alto)
- Soloist: Toby Spence (Tenor), Neal Davies (Bass)
- Soloist: Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
Johann Gottlieb Graun was one of the composers in Frederick the Great’s court who helped establish the early Classical style. He was a student of Pisendel and later Tartini, and regarded as one of the leading violinists in Germany of his time. The many instrumental works he wrote include 50 sinfonia, 60 concertos and 50 trio sonatas. The Sinfonia Grosso in D is a late work, dating from 1768, and is written for strings with pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons and horns as well as three trumpets and timpani. Opening with a fanfare-like motif which returns later, it is full of melodic interest and expressive dynamic contrasts. The Sinfonia á 16 is as equally inventive and charming.
That the Ninth Symphony is, even by comparison with such mighty works as the Eroica and Fifth Symphonies, on a totally different psychological plane, and raises vaster issues than anything in Beethoven’s previous symphonic writing is without doubt. In this single work Beethoven takes the model of the sonata form four movement symphonic cycle and pushes it to its dynamic and expressive outer limits. It is clear from Beethoven’s sketchbooks that the idea of incorporating a choral finale to a symphony had been in his mind for more than six years before the final premiere, and it is also known that he had been contemplating setting Schiller’s Ode to Joy to music. Few works use the formal and textural elements of Classicism more daringly; few works in Western music have exerted more influence on subsequent composers. Variously described as “one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit” and “standing taller, striding longer, reaching higher toward the Infinite than any work remotely like it”, even Chopin said Beethoven “embraced the universe with the power of his spirit”.
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