Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Triple Concerto was performed on Tuesday night by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under conductor Marek Janoski, and featured Yulianna Avdeeva, Carolin Widmann and Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt on piano, violin and cello, respectively.

Marek Janowski © Felix Broede
Marek Janowski
© Felix Broede

Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, officially called the Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello in C major, was composed in 1803, though its premier was delayed for five years after publication. Dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, a Czech nobleman and one of Beethoven’s patrons, the Concerto features three movements: an Allegro, a Largo, and a Rondo alla Polacca. It’s a clever piece, not quite heroic in tone, but generous and with just enough pomp to make it swagger. The soloists worked well together, perfectly in sync throughout. Yulianna Avdeeva played the piano with grace and humor, while Carolin Widmann’s violin shimmered opposite Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt’s rolling cello. The result, set against the orchestral backdrop, was one of an evening’s entertainment, glittery and fun without sacrificing its dignity. Avdeeva, Widmann and Schmidt made four bows, and ultimately encored with an unaccompanied version of the Rondo all polacca.

With the Triple Concerto finished, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester moved on to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. Known to many as the music that accompanies frolicking ponies and flying horses in Disney’s Fantasia, the Pastoral is Beethoven’s homage to the Vienna countryside that he loved to ramble in the summertime. From the opening bars of the first movement (entitled by Beethoven as “The Awakening of Cheerful Feelings on Arriving in the Countryside”) to the “Scene by the Brook” and the “Thunderstorm”, Janowski led the orchestra in a fast-paced and flawless performance. The Sixth is a transportive work; though sitting in a concert hall, the listener “sees” the Austrian countryside so beloved of Beethoven, the stream, the dancing peasants, the outrageous thunder storm (and, if one is incredibly unlucky, a drunken cartoon Bacchus being chased by Zeus’s lightning bolts, à la Walt Disney). It was certainly the case with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, which did not miss a note throughout the entire performance. They played with a light touch, which suited Beethoven’s symphony well.

In all, it was an excellent concert with fine performers and a fine orchestra. It is small wonder that the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester is so beloved in Germany, when they make such beautiful music.