14 May 2016


It was Beethoven Choral Symphony no.9 the other night at Llewellyn with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, CSO Community Choir Canberra Choral Society including Canberra Choral Society and choirs form Canberra Girls Grammar and Radford led by Stephen Mould with soloists from Opera Australia, Emma Castelli, Brad Cooper, Anna Dowsley and Andrew Moran. B9 is always awe-inspiring, especially after a relatively anaemic Schubert Unfinished Symphony. I know it's popular, but it's nowhere near the league of Beethoven. Also a short modern piece, Cudmirrah Fanfare by Nigel Westlake. Apparently it was written for ABC RN, but despite being a daily listener, it didn't ring bells for me. Obviously it was B9 that was the high point. It's easily recognised, and not just the final movement, but every movement and several themes within movements; hugely involving; very demanding for the players (I watch the basses: there were plenty of very fast sequenced, scalar phrases with little letup); great and memorable lyricism and that incredible Beethoven ability to move you through musical changes without the jarring of many composers, virtually unnoticeably, inevitably. It's a great achievement for the CSO, if not a perfect one. To my ear, AM could have milked some passages; the soloists could have been better balanced (that could be my ears or location). A friend commented on the excellence of the choir and it was satisfying, although my attention was mostly elsewhere. But what an achievement, both for the composer and the performers. My first B9 was CSO from one of the front rows, louder and more involving if oddly balanced, but feeling like a part of it all. That was my best experience of it. Like your first ... whatever. But no B9 experience is to be dismissed. Loved it.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra performed Beethoven, Westlake and Schubert with CSO Community Choir comprising the Canberra Choral Society, Canberra Girls Grammar Choir and Radford Choir led by Stephen Mould (conductor) with soloists Emma Castelli, Brad Cooper, Anna Dowsley and Andrew Moran.

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