Catch These NYC Concerts If You Can!

Photo courtesy the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

I certainly am no stranger to the idea that a "student" orchestra can turn in a performance undeniably superior to those offered by many "professional" orchestras. After all, my favorite commercial recording of Mahler's Symphony 6 is by the orchestra of The Manhattan School of Music, conducted by Glenn Cortese.

But what a special treat it was to hear Daniel Barenboim conduct the orchestra he founded with Edward Said in Weimar in 1999, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, in a program of Beethoven's Second and Third ("Eroica") Symphonies at Providence's Veterans Memorial Auditorium on January 26. The concert was presented by the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University. The communication between the conductor and the orchestra members, who obviously revere him, was a wonder to behold. Further, when the carefully-nurtured dynamics finally opened all the way up, the near-stunning sound was a rapturous feast of tactile tonal richness.

My advice: If you live in Big Apple-Land, do whatever it takes to hear Maestro Barenboim leading his young charges in all the Beethoven Symphonies at Carnegie Hall, January 30 to February 3.

Pick your favorite symphony, and just go! If the distance is too great, Decca is ready to help, by selling you the boxed set. Here's the YouTube trailer.

That the young musicians come from a variety of diverse backgrounds, at least in my estimation, pales into near-insignificance beside the passionate commitment in their music-making. Bravi!

P.C.'s picture

I couldn't agree more. Watching their Beethoven performances over five days at last years BBC Proms was the highlight of the season and my year.

dalethorn's picture

I got the set of nine Beethoven symphonies at HDTracks ("Beethoven for All"), at a bargain price, and the performance and sound are very good. The pacing is fairly relaxed, so Mr. Barenboim was not in a hurry to get home that day - something I've observed with a few recordings.