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Esa-Pekka Salonen: Beethoven250

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Anvil, BasingstokeBasingstoke, South-East, RG21 7QR, United Kingdom
On Saturday 14 March 2020 at 19:45

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts a new production recreating one of the most famous concerts in the history of classical music: Beethoven’s epic Vienna concert of December 1808.

Reaching towards heaven but constrained by reality: Beethoven’s ‘Akademie’ concert at Vienna’s Teater an der Wien, three days before Christmas 1808 was both a crowning triumph and plagued by mishaps.

Remarkably, three of Beethoven's masterpieces – the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, and the Fourth Piano Concerto – received their public premiere in this unique and extravagantly lengthy concert conducted by Beethoven himself. Other recent music considered important enough to be included was the first performance of the Choral Fantasy in which the composer himself, as in the Concerto, was also the soloist. It was the great composer displaying to the Viennese public the full panoply of his genius – as composer, conductor, virtuoso pianist and improviser.

Yet, the event was at times farcical: the audience shivered in a cold auditorium; amateurs had to fill in gaps within the orchestra, and the Choral Fantasy was barely finished in time for the concert.

In this Basingstoke performance, Esa-Pekka Salonen takes on the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, while Andreas Haefliger takes on the role of Beethoven, performing the Choral Fantasy and Fourth Piano Concerto.

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