Beethoven’s 'Symphony No 7' is one of maestro Edo de Waart's favourites.
He says, "So much has been said and written about this magnificent symphony, that it almost feels unnecessary to praise it. While the haunting second movement is in all but name a funeral march, this is an optimistic and life-affirming work from a complex and very human composer."
It was also a life-affirming work for Beethoven himself and he regarded it as one of his best. He wrote it in 1813, and its premiere in December counts as one of his most successful concerts, with Beethoven himself conducting and Salieri, Meyerbeer and Hummel all playing in the orchestra. So successful in fact that it was repeated a couple of weeks later and then twice in the new year. Not only was it an artistic success but it completely dug him out of the money troubles that had been plaguing him. Which made him doubly happy, of course.
And it is one of the most written-about pieces of music of all time. Berlioz thrilled to the sound of the rustic peasant dances, some have even called them Bacchic orgies, of the first movement. The second movement is either a funeral march or the love-dream of a sumptuous odalisque. The presto scherzo which is the most overtly dance like has been called an unbridled wedding dance: and the finale, which Beecham famously referred to as a lot of yaks jumping about, is where the rhythm reaches its apex – above any of the others, this is Beethoven’s rhythmic symphony.
NZ Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart
Recorded 12 August 2017, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.
Producer: David McCaw
Engineer: Graham Kennedy