Capitol Chamber Artists performed the US premiere of the chamber version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in Albany, NY at the 1st Congregational Church, 405 Quail St., Saturday, June 7 with an 8pm concert and 7pm pre concert recital. Program was repeated in Benson, Vermont at the Community Hall on Sunday, June 8 with a 3pm concert and a 2pm pre concert recital. This was the final series concert of CCA’s gala 34th season.
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has been called “the greatest of all symphonies”. Beethoven, suffering most of his adult life from deafness, reconciles his anger and accepts his affliction in this extraordinary symphony. It has been said that, in his Choral Symphony no. 9, Beethoven is finally at peace with himself and with God.
This magnificent work was chosen by the great composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein, to celebrate the return of freedom to millions of people, as signified by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Bernstein helped organize two concerts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on Christmas Eve and Day, 1989. This concert was televised to more than 20 nations and was viewed by more than 100 million people. This, in Bernstein’s last year of his life, was his way of expressing the joy of freedom.
Capitol Chamber Artists for some time has been aware that a chamber ensemble version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was published during Beethoven’s lifetime. We even knew that the publisher was Schott. CCA contacted the publisher and they had no record or plate of the publication. It appeared to be a dead end, but CCA continued the search with extensive research and correspondence with libraries all over the world. After three years, CCA succeeded in locating one copy of this rare music. It was mailed to us across the seas this past December. The work was performed once in Vienna last spring, but has never been heard in the United States. The music is extremely rare and does not exist anywhere in the U.S.
The man who transcribed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was a colleague of Beethoven, a virtuoso pianist and composer named Frederic Kalkbrenner. He was a French pianist and composer of German parentage. The most important part of his musical instruction was received at the Paris Conservatory. He studied composition with Haydn and Hummel and became one of Europe’s foremost pianists, along with Chopin and Liszt. Chopin, who studied with Kalkbrenner, dedicated his Piano Concerto in e minor to Kalkbrenner.
Kalkbrenner’s transcription of Beethoven Symphony 9 is scored for flute, violin, cello and fortepiano. Four singers performed both solo and choral parts for the last movement of the Symphony Ode to Joy (text by Schiller). Soprano was sung by Debbie Savoy, mezzo-soprano by Lucille Beer, bass by Jack Brown and tenor by Rand Reeves.
Artistic personnel included Irvin Gilman playing his newly acquired, rare wooden flute; Mary Lou Saetta, with her authentic 1780’s violin made in Cremona, Italy; Laura Chapple, English cellist and prize winning Japanese fortepianist, Mariko Koide, both debuting with CCA this season. Mariko Koide played CCA’s beautiful fortepiano by Robert Smith, a replica of a German instrument made in 1790.