Beethoven's Ninth at Carnegie
There are a few tremendous pieces of music that I could happily hear live several times a year, every year of my life. Beethoven's Ninth is certainly one of them, and as it happens, I have already heard it twice in the last six months: once last night at Carnegie Hall, and once in June in San Francisco. Both performances were thrilling in almost equal measure, I would say, but they were very different in approach. At Carnegie, John Eliot Gardiner conducted his period-instrument Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and his Monteverdi Choir (I say "his" because he founded both groups) in a performance that was at once quicker, lighter, and quirkier than the more traditional San Francisco Symphony version. But the Ninth was all there nonetheless, and its peak moments--in particular, that final joyous movement in which the voices enter in, at first singly and then in full force--remained the kind of experience that one wants to go on having over and over again. I was deeply glad to be there, and so was the rest of the roaring, standing, vociferously applauding audience.