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All four soloists were featured in the main work of the evening, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, given an impressive and memorable performance. The vast first movement unfolded with tension and drama, weighty yet lucid, with motivic clarity in the oft-blurred development section, and the sonority of the ensemble coloured with a polish reminiscent of great historic recordings, many produced by Josefowitz during his recording career. An intrepid Scherzo and particularly pointed, pastoral Trio, led the way to the expressive heart of the work, a sublimely lyrical, flowing account of the third movement, in which every tonal shift and phrase found its place, the woodwind especially well sculpted, the horns always mellow. It was nothing short of heavenly inspiration, bathed in the glow of the audience's rapt attention. Thence to the Schreckensfanfar and the ebullient finale, in which the forces were augmented by the formidable Pro Musica Chorus, a cohesively projected complement of rich toned voices, in a fiery and risk taking rendition, the Turkish March tripping gaily, fugues weighty and powerful, the movement rising to a peak of passion in the final double-fugue and suspense-laden conclusion. Cheers from the sizeable audience were well deserved.

The final 'Totally Beethoven' concert, at 7.30pm on 28 June 2002 at London's St Martin-in-the-Fields, features the concert aria Ah! Perfido, the Choral Fantasy and the Eroica Symphony No 3. As they used to say, Be there or be square!

Copyright © 21 June 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK



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