April 8, 2010

James Gaffigan Leads Beethoven's Seventh

Tonight and Saturday, the brilliant young American conductor James Gaffigan leads the RPO in Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. I had the chance to hear a bit of the rehearsal earlier this week, and I now see why the piece was named the most popular work in WXXI's "Classical 35 for 35" last December.

Although I am personally not as familiar with this Beethoven symphony as the Fifth or the Ninth, once it got to the second movement I recognized the familiar repeated notes and found myself humming that tune later on. The piece is engaging and exciting, and I'm looking forward to hearing it in full tonight.

The orchestra sounds in fine form after the break, and Gaffigan was fun to watch at the podium. He is clearly enjoying himself, and his dynamic energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

Plus, the concert includes my all-time favorite classical piece – Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Similar to an impressionist piece of art (and this was written around the same time), you can just lose yourself in the music and let your imagination transport you.

The Orchestra will also place a piece new to me – and it's also the first time the RPO has performed it – Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety." This is a very unusual symphony, since it features the piano as if in a concerto, and is in six movements instead of the typical four. Bernstein was inspired by W.H. Auden's poem of the same name, and each movement has a story behind it based on something in the poem. If you want to know more, click here to read the full program notes.

And to find out more about the concert, use this link.

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