Y’all know by now that I’m more of a Mozart guy myself, but that still leaves plenty of space in my coal-black heart for good ol’ Ludwig Van Beethoven. I’ve been enjoying a bigger helping of the great man’s work than usual the past month, courtesy of the local classical station’s celebratory programming to commemorate the musical giant’s birthday. Somewhat curdling my pleasure, alas, is the fact that I had to grit my remaining teeth through the blasted 9th Symphony three fucking times today.
Understand, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the 9th as the genuine masterpiece it inarguably is. It’s just that I’ve heard it so many times I long ago got sick of the damned thing. If I never hear the 9th again in my life that will be entirely satisfactory, with no insult whatever to either the symphony nor its composer expressed or implied. For the record, I feel exactly the same way about Handel’s Messiah, another earwig which to my discomfort is nearly impossible to avoid this time of year.
Funnily enough, there’s another piece by Ludwig Van that I haven’t tired of, one that’s closely reminiscent of the 9th’s renowned Ode To Joy in certain spots. Let’s have a listen, shall we?
Also funnily enough, one of the YT commenters commends the tempo of this particular rendition as being “exactly correct.” The reason the comment merits a “funnily enough” is that I’ve been noticing, with increasing irritation, how many modern conductors seem to want the orchestra they’re in charge of to perform every work from the Classical or Romantic Period as if their foremost consideration is to just get through it as speedily as they possibly can. Hearing the musicians stampede through these classics as if the recording studio was burning down around their very ears just gripes me no end. I can’t begin to imagine why these conductors think it’s a good idea. And I fervently wish they’d just cut this crap out already.
While we’re at it, there’s another fantastic Beethoven piece I’ll leave you with—the Adagio movement of a piano piece not quite as well-known as the Emperor Concerto is, I reckon, but an unforgettable one in its own right nonetheless.
Happy 250th, Beethoven, and thanks for all the fish.