The Philharmonie Zuidnederland conducted by Kevin John Edusei perform Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No.8 in F major, Op.93, at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, on December 3, 2017.
Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Eighth Symphony in 1812, and conducted the first performance at Vienna on February 27, 1814. The year 1812 was both eventful and productive for the very deaf but very famous Beethoven. In July, at Teplitz spa, he finally met the great Goethe (1749-1832), but was disappointed to find (in his opinion) an aging courtier who was neither a firebrand nor a fellow democrat, and furthermore a musical dilettante. In turn, Beethoven's power both as a person and as an artist impressed Goethe, but the old poet-playwright was fatigued by his high-pitched intensity and offended by a lack of manners bordering on rudeness.
Withal, Beethoven somehow made time in 1812 to compose a final Violin and Piano Sonata (Op.96), and to complete a new pair of symphonies. Nos. 7 and 8, begun in 1809 (the year of the Emperor Concerto), were related in much the way his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies had been. In 1813 he conducted the Dionysian Seventh to great acclaim, but saved the elfin Eighth for an 1814 concert where it was fatally sandwiched between the Seventh Symphony and Wellington's Victory, or the Battle of Vittoria. This last was adored by the audience in direct proportion to its awfulness, but they only sniffed at the Eighth.
Compared to the Seventh, No.8 is benign as well as brief. There are four movements, in all of which the old Classical forms are clearly delineated but somehow thrown out of balance by a constant barrage of curiously humorous distortions. Were the work not such an essentially lyrical joy, one might divine hints of the creative crisis to come for its maker. Its metronomic second movement (which is perhaps an actual tweaking of the recently invented metronome) has only 81 bars – the fewest in Beethoven's symphonic canon. The composer asked that the third movement be played Tempo di minuetto (in fact it is a Ländler), rather than at scherzo speed. The movement's heavy, graceless accents seem to poke fun at the courtly world only recently passed.The first and final movements are both written in sonata form, both marked Allegro vivace – con brio, too, in the first.
Beethoven reserved for the finale a leviathan-length coda, by then one of his musical signatures – 236 bars, only 30 fewer than the combined exposition, development, and reprise! The movement wears its complexity so lightly that its true subtlety may all too easily pass unnoticed. Sudden loud interruptions in a very remote key herald still more radical explorations in the development. Here, the main rondo theme is debated in counterpoint, with cross rhythms and unexpected harmonic twists. But the giant coda is only the last joke in a work of cloudless skies and merriment. As John N. Burk summed the work up in his evergreen Life and Works of Beethoven: "[His] humor seems to consist of sudden turns in the course of an even and lyrical flow, breaking in upon formal, almost archaic periods. It is a sudden irregularity, showing its head where all [had been] regular – an altered rhythm, an explosion of fortissimo, a foreign note or an unrelated tonality... like divine play in that pure region of tonal thinking [where] melody and invention pour forth... and fancy is furiously alive". Beethoven himself thought it one of his best Symphonies, while Robert Schumann praised its "profound humor" and wrote that the second movement particularly filled him with "tranquility and happiness".
Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
♪ Symphony No.8 in F major, Op.93 (1812)
i. Allegro vivace e con brio
ii. Allegretto scherzando
iii. Tempo di Menuetto
iv. Allegro vivace
Philharmonie Zuidnederland (South Netherlands Philharmonic)
Conductor: Kevin John Edusei
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, December 3, 2017
|Photo by Marco Borggreve|
Since the season 2014-2015 he brings exceptional new vision to the Münchner Symphoniker as their chiefconductor and has established a strong relationship with the audience.
Starting in the season 2015-2016 he also acts as chiefconductor at the Konzert Theater Bern where he has led the productions Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Salome, Herzog Blaubarts Burg, Le nozze di Figaro, Tannhäuser and Symphonie imaginaire, a new concert format that he has developed.
He first attracted international attention in 2008 when he won the first prize of the "International Dimitris Mitropoulos Competition" in Athens. Since then he has been invited as guest conductor by many prestigious orchestras as the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Tonkünstler-Orchester Wien, the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and the Ensemble Modern. In the year 2017 he gave his USA debut with the Colorado Symphony and for the first time appeared with the Chineke! Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Following his successful debut at the Semperoper Dresden with Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 2009 he took over Hindemith's Cardillac the year after. In 2013 he presented himself to the Viennese audience with Mozart's Magic Flute at the Volksoper Wien. At the Komische Oper Berlin Edusei took over the production of Don Giovanni. At the NTR ZaterdagMatinee at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam he led a spectacular concert performance of John Adams' Nixon in China in 2017.
Kevin collaborates closely with leading soloist as Jan Vogler, Albrecht Mayer, Christoph Prégardien, Arabella Steinbacher, Lauma Skride, Lise de la Salle, Edgar Moreau, David Orlowsky, Daniel Müller-Schott, Chen Reiss, Martin Stadtfeld, Nareh Arghamanyan, Anna Vinnitskaya and many others.
He was a prizewinner of the 2007 Lucerne Festival's conducting competition under the artistic direction of Pierre Boulez to conduct Stockhausens opus magnum Gruppen. During the Aspen Music Festival 2004 maestro David Zinman awarded him the fellowship for the American Academy of Conducting. Kevin John Edusei received important artistical guidance from maestros Jac van Steen, Kurt Masur, Jorma Panula, Sylvain Cambreling and Peter Eötvös.
Furthermore Kevin was awarded the "Dirigentenforum" stipend of the German Music Council, the fellowship of the International Ensemble Modern Academy and the stipend of the Deutsche Bank affiliated organization "Akademie Musiktheater heute".
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (Philharmonie Zuidnederland) was formed in 1985 with the merger of three existing ensembles: the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The latter had been founded in 1953 by conductor Anton Kersjes. He succeeded in broadening the appeal of classical music, partly through his regular television appearances and partly by programming the popular "warhorses" of the repertoire.
Kersjes did not just conduct; he enthralled his audience with the fascinating stories behind the music. His approach set the tone for the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra which has always been ‘the orchestra for everyone’.
Marc Albrecht has been chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Dutch National Opera since 2011 but the collaboration dates back to 2008 when Albrecht was invited to conduct the opera Die Frau ohne Schatten. "The mutual connection was so strong that we were able to make the impossible possible. At every performance there was a yearning to do it differently and even better." Marc Albrecht has certainly brought the Orchestra onto a higher plane but he remains down to earth. "Since I moved here I go everywhere on my bike!"
Marc Albrecht's arrival coincided with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra's move from the Beurs van Berlage to its new permanent headquarters, the NedPhO-Koepel. It is here that it rehearses for concerts at the Royal Concertgebouw, the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, the National Opera and many other major venues at home and abroad. "On the one hand, each member of the Orchestra should retain his or her individual identity. Everyone must be able to flourish and shine", says Albrecht. "On the other, these one hundred musicians should meld to form one harmonious whole. Everything forms part of the bigger picture, the grand story we are here to tell. Good musicians have a direct connection with the conductor, and a good conductor never loses contact with the musicians. They can play anything: I just have to invite them to do so!"
Since its formation in 1985, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has also been the house orchestra of the Dutch National Opera. Chief conductor Hartmut Haenchen was the first to take on this unusual dual role. Under Albrecht's baton, the orchestra has made a huge impression with repertoire such as Schreker's Der Schatzgräber – the recording of which won an Edison Classical Music Award in December 2014 – and Der Rosenkavalier, which earned five-star reviews from the national press.
The Orchestra is widely regarded for its interpretation of the work of Gustav Mahler, which it frequently includes in its programmes. "The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra certainly has an affinity with the style of the late romantic period and the early twentieth century. The musicians understand Mahler's language", states Marc Albrecht. He and the Orchestra are also well known for their interpretations of other late romantic masters: Brahms and Bruckner on the concert platform, Strauss and Wagner in the opera house.
The Orchestra expanded its symphonic horizon with the appointment of the Russian-born American Yakov Kreizberg as its chief conductor in 2003. He introduced Slavic and Russian composers such as Dvořák and Stravinsky to the repertoire. Kreizberg died in 2011 at the tragically early age of 51.
Like Kreizberg, Marc Albrecht has a fondness for large-scale symphonic works, especially those which reflect the Orchestra's operatic connections. In 2014, he recorded Mahler's Symphony No.4, which includes a part for soprano. "The strings have the texture of a baby's skin while the brass parts are well shaped and never strained", enthused the music critic of De Volkskrant. "Conductor Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra deliver a perfect performance."
Ludwig van Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies, Coriolan & Egmont Overtures – Wiener Philharmoniker, Christian Thielemann (HD 1080p)