Hard Times At The Not-so OK Chorale
Last night's live streamed performance of Beethoven's Ninth - his mighty "Choral" - Symphony by the reduced Thrupiece Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus was, according to the Mappowder Mirror's music critic Dee Flatte "not so much a damp squib as a complete f**kfest". Whether the result of social distancing amongst the performers, programming ineptitude or the complete absence of an audience it was difficult to say, but a success the livestream was not and indications are, heads will roll at the TPO's next Board Meeting.
Scored for large symphony orchestra and even larger chorus as well as for four solo singers, Beethoven's final contribution to the symphonic canon stretches the resources of even the best endowed ensembles - both artistically and financially - and, for this reason, it is generally only heard at the commencement or conclusion of significant festivals where the combination of high-volume ticket sales and commercial sponsorship can justify its outrageous demands.
So it was a brave choice for the TPO's opening concert last night given that the orchestra is facing the inevitable economic consequences of a catastrophic CONTRIK-69-related lockdown as well as something of a crisis vis-a-vis its artistic identity and direction. [See Dorset Music Monthly June 2020 "When the Legova's Over: Living with post-climactic ennui"]. With more than three quarters of its personnel laid off indefinitely and the remaining players "living on a knife-edge", this was not an orchestra in confident mood - insofar, that is, as it was an orchestra at all.
"Bringing off the ninth with reduced forces - here an ensemble of 7 players and one soprano [doubling contralto, tenor, bass and chorus] - is never easy, however skilled the re-orchestration", commented Dee Flat. "In this respect, arranger Sean Ovenny-Brass did a good enough job but the musicians and/or the technology just weren't up to it. So widely spread were they that stand-in conductor Ivor Baton found it hard to keep them in vision let alone in time. Clearly out of practice and out of sympathy, the players were so far apart, they would have benefitted from smart phones to help them keep in touch with each other. Sadly the absence of such devices meant that viola player Beau String finished the second movement some time after leader and principle violin Fürste Deske had commenced the third. Pianist Ivor Tinkler [doubling percussion] was so tardy entering the finale, he simply gave up, rejoining the "ensemble" only for the climactic last chord which he augmented a bar and a half too late. All in all it was a night at the Thrupiece Philharmonic Hall to forget [if only one could!] ".
FOR YOUR DIARY: NEXT UP:
September 6th: The Doris Slocombe Washboard Trio: Mahler: Symphony No 8 “Symphony of a Thousand” (with special effects). Ticket price includes socially-distanced outdoor light finger interval buffet.
September 13th: Gladys Bellowes (Piano Accordion) and Mildred Drone (Recorder): Arnold Schoenberg (arr. Gladys Bellows) “Gurrelieder fur Chor und Großer Sinfonieorchester'. Season Ticket Holder Priority booking suspended.
September 20th: Annual Mr Threadbone Memorial Concert: Mozart Requiem in D minor performed by members of the Balcombe Junior Wolf Pack Choir and Balcombe Girl Guides Ukelele Duo with special guest Sally Airy (Harp). At the conclusion of the concert, a minute of hands-free contactless applause is requested.
September 27th: Ivory Tinkler (pianoforte) Boulez: Sur Incise for solo piano (Ticket Price includes full automatic refund) (Cancelled)