This week it’s school half term and I’m immersing myself in Beethoven’s music in preparation for next weekend’s Sheffield Chamber Orchestra concert (Saturday 1st March, Firth Hall, Sheffield). There are a few tickets left, so visit the orchestra’s website if you want one!
Our programme begins with the overture to Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage) by the Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa; it’s very fast and good fun to play! We will then be joined by the wonderful violinist Ben Nabarro for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
In the second half of the concert we will perform Beethoven’s third symphony, the ‘Eroica’. This work was premiered in 1805, just a year before the violin concerto, and initially was not well received by the critics who found it too long. Beethoven himself later suggested that it be performed near the beginning of a concert while the audience was still alert!! It is much grander in scale than his first two symphonies and the first movement is uncharacteristically long for the time (691 bars). The second movement is a sombre, evocative funeral march and this is followed by the light Scherzo and Trio and the Finale, a theme and variations.
Initial sketches for a third symphony date back to 1802, but during the years Beethoven was composing it he took a break to work on several other projects, including the ‘Waldstein’ Piano Sonata op. 53. A few months ago I heard the latter performed by the pianist Tim Horton, who is currently part-way through a cycle of all Beethoven’s piano sonatas. The next installment will also be next weekend (Friday 28th February at Emmanuel Church, Barnsley) and includes Op.26 in Ab, Op. 22 in Bb, Op. 90 in E minor and Op. 101 in A. Fabulous playing not to be missed! (For ticket information visit Music in the Round)
If you are a Beethoven fan then South Yorkshire is definitely the place to be next weekend!