Sunday, March 16, 2008

Practiced Beethoven Eroica today...

On our final concert of the season with the APO, we're putting on Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, "Eroica". I've actually never played this piece before, despite it being a very popular piece and often played by college and pro orchestras. Fortunately, I have a copy of one of the classic recordings of this piece, performed by the Columbia Symphony under Bruno Walter in 1959. And I even have an original LP, the semi-collectible "Columbia Six Eye Stereo" version, in good condition. Now, it looks like to get this one, it's either eBay or an expensive audiophile version. However, this recording is available on CD as well, together with the 8th Symphony.

Upon first reading it just a few weeks ago, I immediately liked the piece and felt that there were many good passages for the viola section. It reminds me a lot of the 7th Symphony in structure and even somewhat in style. And the 7th has long been one of my favorites. And as we've rehearsed it a bit and I've been practicing my part, I've begun to appreciate it even more.

Today I mostly spent time on the last movement, which has a few tricky passages. Nothing too outrageous, though, and overall it is very playable with a certain amount of work. The 3rd movement reminds me a lot of the scherzo from the 7th, but isn't quite as fast nor as demanding. However, it is a tad tricky to count. And as I learned in rehearsal last week, there are some exposed viola section parts that need to be nailed for the movement to hold together. So, I spent time making sure I understood the counting and how to enter decisively without being too loud (most of the passages are marked pp!)

In the mornings, when I do my stretches before breakfast, I've been listening to my LP. One thing that struck my about the last movement is that it appears to be a theme and variations, with perhaps either a false theme to start (as an introduction), or the original theme really is at the beginning, and the theme we all know is one of the variations. Let me know what you think about that idea.


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