Just before Christmas in 1808, four notes opened Beethoven’s latest composition and those notes according to fellow composer Robert Schumann, “will go on centuries hence, as long as the world and the world’s music endures.”
Those four notes, or rather three Gs’ and an E-flat, would live on in concert halls and become somewhat of a calling card for Beethoven. That majestic opening theme is probably the one thing most identified with a composer and for their kick-off concert of the new season, The National Philharmonic added their version of those notes to live on in the rafters at the Marriott Concert Stage at Strathmore last night.
The second act opener, Beethoven’s famous 5th Symphony in C Minor was a playful way to end their tribute to Beethoven. Maestro Piotr Gajewski energetically conducted the very capable orchestra without music or baton and put his whole body into conducting the piece, and he brought each section out with great dynamics and color.
While the famous Beethoven piece was a great closer, the true showstopper of this concert was violinist Soonvin Kim. Playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major (Opus 61), Kim was performing with a youthful radiance that he poured his whole soul into. The piece, written in 1806 while Beethoven was composing his 5th Symphony, has a similar feel and it is appropriate for these two pieces to appear together.
Kim made the most of his instrument during Beethoven’s cadenzas. In the opening movement (Allegro ma non troppo), Kim navigated through the first section with great ease, followed by a beautiful and subtle entrance by the pizzicato strings that brought a great understated intensity to the piece. The final two movements are connected together without a pause, and Maestro Gajewski and Mr. Kim made the final movement fierce, energetic, and utterly impressive.
Beethoven was a perfect opening for this season’s schedule, and having a young artist like Kim performing was a wonderful addition to the already fantastic season.
Running Time: Two hours, with one intermission.
The National Philharmonic’s Beethoven’s Eternal Masterworks plays again TODAY – Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 3 PM at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. Purchase tickets for today’s performance here. For tickets for future Strathmore events, go to their website.