Will’s asked me to write a few lines about our Beethoven 9 project (or ‘patch’ as we call it in the office) last month, but I’m not really sure where to start- it was extremely eventful!
It started off as a concert in London on the Friday, followed by a concert in San Sebastian on the Sunday. First change: San Sebastian ende
d up being Valladolid. Then the Spaniards decided they wanted a concert in Madrid on the Saturday and possibly in Barcelona on the Tuesday. Then the Barcelona concert was scrapped. At this point we were very sad to hear that Sir Charles Mackerras was unwell and could not do our concerts, so the hunt was on for another conductor, who could do all three.
Fortunately Ilan Volkov came to the rescue, so back to the grindstone to organise those last minute flight details. One week to go, and after months of hanging on to finalise the details we thought we were finally there, and then,
the Madrid concert was cancelled! Unfortunately it was too late to change our flights to go a day later so the orchestra were very pleased to find out they had a free night in Madrid (especially as this was the night of THE big football match – Madrid vs Barcelona…). With the Madrid concert cancelled we had some last minute changes with the instrument transport and we enrolled Bonzo ‘our man with a van’ to truck our instruments to Spain for us (we now had an extra day to do this and it is a lot safer for the instruments than flying).Read More
Here’s a selection of reviews from our recent performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 at the Royal Festival Hall with conductor Ilan Volkov (who stepped in for Sir Charles Mackerras at the last minute). The performance is available to listen to on radio 3 here until Tuesday20 April.
Classical SourceRead More
As you may know conductor Ilan Volkov replaced Sir Charles Mackerras for our concert of Beethoven Symphony 9 last Friday at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert also toured to Valladolid, in Spain and Spanish newspaper El Mundo asked Ilan a few questions ahead of the
What was it like to take over this project at such short notice?
How do you organise and prepare yourself mentally to conduct – unexpectedly – such a huge work as Beethoven’s 9th?
Luckily I conducted Beethoven 9th at the the Proms last summer so it’s fresh in my mind. Its very exciting to do this with period instruments- there are so many details that sound completely different. Quite amazing. With these instruments one really feels the radical nature of the work and how modern it still is. I’ve admired the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a long time so its a fantastic thing to work with them for the first time.
Tell us about your vision of this work as the conductor
The 9th has so much in it. In many ways its an utopian work of art ,way ahead of its time. Each movement has such a distinctive character so that when the last movement begins the listener has travelled far. And then this monumental movement opens more doors and has such power that it is impossible to stay unmoved. For each musician in the orchestra and choir this work demands total commitment and strength, but it also gives many rewards both to player and listener.Read More