BBC Philharmonic: Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 at The Bridgewater Hall

Part of our Classical Music in Manchester and the North guide

Johnny James, Music Editor
Matt Squire

BBC Philharmonic: Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre, 15 February 2020, from £12.50 - Book now

Ludwig van Beethoven – Cantata for the death of Emperor Joseph II (39’)
Ludwig van Beethoven – Leonore Prohaska: Trauermarsch (6’)
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 in A major (38’)

From Beethoven’s defiantly optimistic Seventh Symphony to two works marking lost lives, get ready for a BBC Philharmonic concert full of emotional extremes.

Written under the clouds of ill health and romantic failure, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is, against all odds, one of the composer’s most ebullient works. Described by Richard Wagner as “the apotheosis of the dance”, the symphony’s opening movement is full of nimble dotted rhythms, sudden dynamic changes and abrupt modulations. This leads to a slow, funerary second, before a propulsive and rollicking Presto third, which bursts into being with ecstatic joy. The boisterous finale is even more heart-pounding, subverting expectation with its whirlwind speed, rhythmic complexity and muscular prowess.

A counterweight to the Seventh Symphony’s life and energy, next up is Beethoven’s Cantata for the death of Emperor Joseph II. Intended for a memorial service for Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, the cantata was in fact never performed on the occasion, or in fact in Beethoven’s lifetime. Today, though, it is regarded as one of his most important early works, displaying remarkable maturity considering the composer’s tender age of nineteen. Featuring Miah Persson (soprano), Kitty Whately (mezzo-soprano), Anthony Gregory (tenor) and Brindley Sherratt (bass), we’re expecting a wonderful performance of this sombre work.

Lastly, we’ll hear the funeral march from Beethoven’s Leonore Prohaska. This was written in 1815 as incidental music for a play of the same name by Johann Friedrich Duncker. It follows the story of a female soldier who, disguised as a man, joined the Prussian army and was killed fighting the forces of Napoleon. A work of four movements, the closing Trauermarsch is an orchestration of the third movement from the composer’s Piano Sonata No.12, Op. 26. A particularly dark piece of music from Beethoven’s late period, it combines with Cantata for the death of Emperor Joseph II to balance this Bridgewater Hall programme perfectly.

From triumph to tragedy, this wide-ranging BBC Philharmonic concert showcases two emotional poles of Beethoven’s rich output – another great concert to celebrate Beethoven at 250.

BBC Philharmonic
Mark Wigglesworth – conductor
Miah Persson – soprano
Kitty Whately – mezzo-soprano
Anthony Gregory – tenor
Brindley Sherratt – bass
Manchester Chamber Choir

BBC Philharmonic: Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre

15 February 2020 7:30 pm
From £12.50

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