Halle Orchestra: Beethoven 250 – Beethoven Symphony No.8 and Fidelio Act II
The Bridgewater Hall, 27 February 2020
You can never have too much Beethoven.
Here the Halle orchestra, choir and colleagues gave us a hat trick of hits:
- Tremate, Empi, Tremate: Trio for soprano, tenor and bass with orchestra
- Symphony No.8
- Fidelio: Act II
Tremate, Empi, Tremate was a fairly short work, which Beethoven apparently wrote as an exercise, a way of exploring Italian opera and song. Still, it was a genuine work of music and didn’t feel at all academic. It had an elegant, filigree quality and was an aperitif for what was to come.
And what came next was the magnificent eighth symphony, with the Halle being conducted by Ben Gernon. What to say about this work, that has not already been said before and better by Sir Donald Tovey? Well it was prodigious, monstrous (recalling that monsters dwell always on the border of becoming), wondrous, fabulist – and over far too soon.
After the interval Sir Mark Elder conducted the Halle orchestra and choir and diverse singers (notably Rachel Nicholls as Leonore) in Act Two of Fidelio. Maybe Jeff Bezos was thinking of this opera when he said that what he valued in a wife was will and resourcefulness. He wanted someone who could, if needs must, get him out of prison. That is what happens here, anyway: Leonore in disguise goes into prison to get her husband Florestan (the excellent Simon O’Neill) out. It was like the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, only with the roles reversed and a happy ending. A series of dramatic scenes, each studded with a brilliant aria or two.
Too much Beethoven is not nearly enough.
Details of future Halle concerts can be found here.