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Classical 101

Beethoven, Prokofiev and Simon Rattle With Two Top Orchestras

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Sometimes rating orchestras and conductors seems like a riddle as mysterious as  the Sphinx.  This month on Symphony @ 7, I'm featuring orchestras and conductors on Bachtrack's list of the top-ten for this year.  

This British music concert website compiles lists each year in "most popular" and "best" categories.  The Cleveland Orchestra won for "most popular" orchestra recently but didn't appear on this year's "best" list at all in the top-ten.   The "best" category is decided by an international group of music critics who selected, perhaps not too surprisingly, the Berlin Philharmonic as No. 1.  

This evening to begin Symphony @ 7, I'll have the Vienna Philharmonic (No. 3 on this year's best orchestra list) with Sir Simon Rattle (No. 2 on the best conductor list) in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C (one of the best first symphonies in anyone's list).

This delightful symphony which premiered in Vienna in April of 1800 was the beginning of a remarkable symphonic odyssey in what is still considered the most significant set of nine symphonies in music.  The influence of Haydn and Mozart is still present, but there is also that unmistakable sound of Beethoven's spirit expressed through music that also hints at bigger things to come.  Just listen to the playful (and slightly  mysterious) way he plays with our expectations in the introduction before the symphony clearly settles into the key of C major. 

The other work on the program features the No. 1 orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, with Simon Rattle conducting again and pianist Lang Lang for Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3.  The premier of this fine 20th century Russian concerto took place in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Prokoviev himself as soloist in December of 1921.

Join me for some very fine music-making by top orchestras and conductors (and soloists) regardless of what polls you read, on Symphony @ 7, every Thursday evening on Classical 101.  But just a hint, next week I'll have the No. 1 orchestra and conductor (according to Bachtrack) for music of Bach and Brahms.