William Tell Overture
Symphony No. 7
Benjamin Zander, conductor
Guy Braunstein, Violin
Beethoven is a necessity. He is the composer I have devoted more attention to than to any other. I do not need to explain why I’ve chosen his Seventh Symphony; we haven’t performed it for over 30 years - it’s high time! I am thrilled to open our season with this masterpiece from Beethoven’s “heroic decade.”
I’ve put it together with Rossini’s William Tell Overture, in part to feature our wonderful cello section and also because I’ve always felt that the 7th is too often played with an excessively aggressive and Teutonic approach, which obscures Beethoven’s inspiration. Beethoven was aware of Rossini’s enormous success in Vienna and this symphony was his response. So, you may hear a rather different view of this beloved masterpiece, surely the most vigorous and joyful of all of Beethoven’s symphonies.
The Elgar Violin Concerto has been a favorite of mine ever since, as a boy, I heard the–in my view never equaled recording of the 15-year-old Yehudi Menuhin, with Elgar himself conducting. It is music of intimacy and generosity, subtlety and power, in which soloist and orchestra are inextricably entwined, like chamber music writ large. For this reason, when we performed this concerto forty years ago, I chose Oscar Shumsky. as the soloist, the legendary concertmaster of the NBC Symphony. This time we turn to one of the great concertmasters of this era, Guy Braunstein, who served for thirteen years as the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and is steeped in the European culture that Elgar knew so well. Boston hasn’t heard him yet but a German critic said "with his intense playing and sheer endless musical imagination, Guy Braunstein joins the ranks of history’s great violinists" (Hans Ackermann, RBB KulturRadio). I can’t wait.
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