San Francisco Symphony’s “re-enacts” Beethoven marathon concert from 1808

Posted on: June 24, 2015

“I would have imagined going in that a 4½-hour immersion in Beethoven’s music, no matter how glorious, would probably be too much of a good thing. I would have been wrong,” writes Joshua Kosman in Monday’s (6/22) San Francisco Chronicle. “Saturday’s concert, with Michael Tilson Thomas … served as a historical re-creation of one of the most famous—and famously insane—events in the musical record. In December 1808, Beethoven tried to drum up some money and public recognition with a huge concert of his own music … The lineup included the premieres of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the concert aria ‘Ah! perfido,’ as well as three movements of the Mass in C…. And to top it off, there was the Choral Fantasy…. At about the three-hour mark [in San Francisco], you could feel everyone in the hall get a big second wind, as something akin to a runner’s high set in. That’s when Thomas and the orchestra unleashed the full fury of the Fifth Symphony…. With the historical conceit of hearing it through the ears of those first-time listeners, the work’s raw energy and triumphal power sounded more explosive than ever.”

Posted June 24, 2015