Spring Drive Premium: Beethoven Symphonies

OSM Nagano cover

With your sustaining membership of $20 or more a month, we’re giving you the latest recording of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano, with all of Beethoven’s ground-breaking symphonies.

It’s only available during the 2016 Spring Membership Drive. Call (502) 814-6565 or give online by clicking the banner at the top of the page.

Audio: Anne Richardson and Sharon Lavery

Anne and Sharon

VAN Beethoven hits the road Friday

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic VAN Beethoven truck will tour Los Angeles, Sept. 11 – Oct. 18, 2015, offering five minutes of Beethoven Fifth in immersive, 360-degrees. Visitors will be welcomed aboard the customized VAN Beethoventruck, complete with carpet and seating from Walt Disney Concert Hall, where they’ll put on the Oculus headset and be transported to the iconic venue. The immersive visual private experience is augmented by a soundtrack that adapts to the viewer’s perspective; whether the viewer is in front of the orchestra, behind or standing amidst the symphony, the music will subtly shift to reflect listener-specific positions and enhance the feeling of being up-close-and-personal with the renowned orchestra.

VAN Beethoven will visit diverse communities throughout Los Angeles, including parks, cultural festivals, museums, and more, providing access to audiences that otherwise may not be able to attend.

Read more here.

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All images courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Minnesota Orchestra Live from Cuba

Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vanska, March 2014 - credit Greg Helgeson

(Photo credit: Greg Helgeson)

Classical 90.5, in partnership with American Public Media, is proud to bring you two live, historic performances of Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra from the Teatro Nacional in Havana, Cuba! These are the first performances and broadcasts of an American Orchestra from Cuba since President Obama moved to normalize relations in December 2014.

On Friday, May 15, Osmo Vänskä will lead the Minnesota Orchestra in a concert of Beethoven masterworks that will prominently feature Cuban artists. In addition to Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont and Eroica Symphony, they’ll be joined by the Cuban National Choir, Coro Vocal Leo and pianist Frank Fernandez for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.

The Saturday, May 16 concert includes the unforgettably Mediterranean melodies that comprise Leonard Berstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story as well as Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite.

These landmark performances will take place Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16 at 8pm on Classical 90.5 and wuol.org!

Review: Louisville Orchestra Closes 2014-15 Season with Time for Three

time for three under a bridge

(Photo credit LeAnn Mueller)

The Louisville Orchestra concludes its 2014-2015 season this week featuring Time for Three, John Williams’ The Cowboys overture and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Op. 67.

The Cowboys overture is everything you want from a western film score and John Williams: driving string melodies, brass fanfares, evocative percussion and folksy woodwind tunes. The Louisville Orchestra played it as cleanly and effortlessly as any Hollywood studio orchestra.

Violinists Zachary DePue and Nicholas Kendall, and bassist Ranaan Meyer, collectively known as Time for Three, gave an electric performance of their signature arrangements that are filled with improvisation and jams. With no shortage of charisma and stage presence, the virtuosic trio was a crowd pleaser and didn’t shy away from engaging, even verbally, with the Thursday morning audience.

The set arranged and re-imagined several popular songs, from Leonard Cohen’s oft-covered “Hallelujah” and the bluegrass tune “Orange Blossom Special,” to Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man” and an amalgam of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Justin Timberlake’s “Cry me a River.” (Yes, you read that last phrase correctly.) The most successful arrangements involved the orchestra more than just as a backup band, as in Vittorio Monti’s Czardas, a Hungarian folk-inspired showpiece. The orchestra arrangement was colorful and supportive, but also fun for the ensemble. Concertmaster Michael Davis was even allowed to cut loose for a solo. The creative Barber/Timberlake mashup made eloquent use of the strings’ lyrical and percussive qualities. Other arrangements were less fulfilling, pushing the orchestra to an almost inaudible level in the background. This is something you can expect on a pops concert, but not during a mainstay subscription performance.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 isn’t a quiet one. It can be easily generalized as loud and vigorous, but hidden in the details are delicate, quiet moments. Playing loud is easy, playing soft is difficult, because the latter requires more refinement, if the music is to come across as cleanly, similar to edging the window sill instead of painting the wall with a roller. Playing loud takes care, too, and the orchestra or Abrams never lost control.

The orchestra created a seamless connection between the brash and subtle music, assured that even the details would stand out. Abrams’ tempo decisions were appropriately on the edge of too fast — the right place for Beethoven’s fifth. The final movement was triumphant and exhilarating, and speaking of details: the slight lingering on the third chord in the final movement’s opening fanfare (and its subsequent returns) was hair-raising.

The Louisville Orchestra, Time for Three and Teddy Abrams perform this program again on the final concert of the 2014-2015 Saturday at 8pm in Whitney Hall.