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Benjamin Zander: Light of The Ninth

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Benjamin Zander: Light of the Ninth

Into the Light of Beethoven’s “Ninth” with Benjamin ZanderAnd yet nothing in those two movements can prepare one for the deep solemnity of the seemingly interminable Adagio, a creation that’s almost unbearably moving in its troubled tranquility. But Beethoven’s instructions: Adagio molto e cantabile marked ♩=60 (by Beethoven) through several tempi changes, make for its unequalled and songful beauty at the hands of Zander and the Philharmonia. The finale’s clamorous introduction leads to a review of all of this great symphony’s themes. Delving into each one the music settles in favour off Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” theme, an amazingly simple melody that employs a mere five notes. But genius that he is, Beethoven introduces it gently at first, and then allows it to grow in boldness. A repetition of the opening is halted by the poem’s opening lines, delivered like a clarion by the baritone Derek Welton:

“O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,
und freudenvollere.
Freude! Freude!”

The chorus and other soloists respond to the call magnificently. Beethoven’s melody then transforms into a jaunty march reaching ♩=84, but only after Beethoven challenged his performers with a staggering array of tempi: from Presto 𝅗𝅥=88 through Allegro assai 𝅗𝅥=80, Presto (“O Freunde”), Allegro assai (“Freude, schöner Götterfunken”), then Alla marcia; Allegro assai vivace 𝅗𝅥.=84 (“Froh, wie seine Sonnen”), Andante maestoso 𝅗𝅥=72 (“Seid umschlungen, Millionen!”), Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato 𝅗𝅥=84 (“Freude, schöner Götterfunken” – “Seid umschlungen, Millionen!”), followed by Allegro ma non tanto 𝅗𝅥=120 (“Freude, Tochter aus Elysium!”), and finally Prestissimo 𝅗𝅥=132 (“Seid umschlungen, Millionen!”)

The “jaunty march” is led by the choir, conducted by Stefan Bevier (who passed away suddenly after the release of this recording). This is followed by a long orchestral interlude which leads to the core of the movement – a religious invocation to universal brotherhood:

“Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel Weilt.
Freude, schöner, Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Freude, schöner Götterfunken!”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marie-Lou saldanha

    Jul 23, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    for the author of the article on Benjamin Zander…..
    …a fine, beautiful and inspiring article written by Raul da Gama.It is a true description of the the way the renowned artist, Benjamin Zander presents his deep, discerning and profound musical mind to the world.

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